Once the February blues have passed and the March doldrums are underway, the travel itch starts up along with the promise of April showers and May flowers. Need some inspiration? These are the most popular spring attractions around the world, according to Viator.
TripAdvisor’s activity booking site, offers private tours, planned day trip itineraries, and pre-booked tickets — easy ways to skip the lines at the most beloved sights around the world. This list of spring must-sees is drawn from data from Viator’s travelers. In March through May of 2018, U.S.-based users booked activities at these 10 attractions more than any others worldwide.
The list includes year-round treasures such as the Vatican and the Colosseum, both of which have spring holidays that fill the historic centers with parades and re-enactments. Paris’ Eiffel Tower and Moulin Rouge also make the list. Combine the two in one evening and you'll have a sparkling diamond of an itinerary in the City of Lights.
Of course, spring's floral wonders are also popular with travelers. See: the cherry blossoms of Mount Fuji and the Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands, where tulips paint the landscape with bright reds, yellows, and pinks. Feeling a historical expedition? New York’s Statue of Liberty, Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia, England’s Stonehenge, and London’s Tower of London round out the list.
Below, we've listed each attraction from 10 to one — and tossed in a few suggestions of what else is worth adding to your itinerary while you're there.
10. Keukenhof Gardens
Located in Lisse, just an hour outside of Amsterdam, Dutch Keukenhof Gardens is made for a spring visit. In fact, the garden is only open from March through May for the blooming season and annual tulip festival.
There are millions of tulip bulbs planted here each year, with more than 800 floral varieties. Each year, the festival has a different theme and for this year’s 70th occurrence, the theme is “Flower Power.” (Think: groovy 1970s vibes.) There are 10 miles of walking trails to explore here, with manicured gardens, tulips blooming in the midst of verdant green woods, and bubbling fountains.
To make a whole day of an expedition out of it, see the countryside’s best with a private Viator day tour visiting a clog workshop, cheese maker, Dutch windmill, and the tulip-filled gardens. Pro tip: Grab a package of Stroopwafels from the Original Stroopwafel stand at the Albert Cuyp Mark for backup snacks.
To book: viator.com, activities from $21/person
9. Tower of London
With the end of dreary winter weather in London comes ample time to explore the banks of the Thames for a tour of the English capital’s most famous sites. The Tower of London, home to the crown jewels and 1,000 years of British history, is the easternmost spot on the Thames’ offerings of historic sights.
Viator’s Thames sightseeing cruise creates the epitome of a British outing: a waterfront tour leading from the Tower to Westminster Palace and Abbey and an afternoon tea complete with scones and sandwiches.
Across the Tower Bridge, you’ll find Borough Market, London’s oldest food market. Wares range from English cheeses (look for regional specialties Cheshire and Leicester) to teas to fresh produce both grown locally and imported from tropical locales.
To book: viator.com, activities from $9/person
8. Sagrada Familia
Unfinished yet resplendent, Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí's Sagrada Familia is one of the most eye-catching sights in Barcelona. The church has been under construction for nearly 140 years, since Gaudí began his work in 1882. His signature architecture style blends aspects of Gothic and Art Nouveau to create kaleidoscopic patterns across the entire building. From the intricate exterior steeples to the interior stained glass windows, it’s impossible to look away from this architectural marvel.
Entry to the basilica includes entry to the Sagrada Familia Museum, where visitors can learn about the construction of the church and see models of the structure and a studio where ongoing work on the basilica takes place. For those travelers looking to immerse themselves in Barcelona’s array of Gaudí's work, Viator has an afternoon tour of his masterpieces including La Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, Casa Milà, and Casa Batlló.
Both Casa Milà and Casa Batlló are located on the Passeig de Gràcia, a stretch of beautiful Barcelona boulevard. Just off the street in a stunningly converted automobile warehouse, El Nacional houses four restaurants and four bars — the perfect spot for post-tour tapas.
To book: viator.com, activities from $20/person
7. Moulin Rouge
The unmistakable windmill of Paris’ Moulin Rouge beckons to theater fans from around the world to come enjoy its time capsule cabaret. The famous theater opened in the Belle Epoque era of Paris and can-can dancers still strut their stuff on the 1880s-style stage today. Visitors looking for a Parisian spectacle to match the high expectations set by Baz Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge" movie can expect eye-catching choreography, kick lines, and plenty of sequined costumes.
As one of the most popular evening activities in Paris, Moulin Rouge tickets sell out quickly. Viator offers pre-booked tickets that include transportation to and from the theater (the late performance runs even later than the Parisian metro). Those headed to dinner and a show at the storied venue can expect a seasonal spring menu culminating in desserts such as chocolate custard and raspberry brioche or a fruit tart with a green tea marshmallow.
Prepare to dress to impress for your evening out. For inspiration to fit the Moulin Rouge’s elegant dress code, browse nearby Montmartre boutiques such as Spree or Ba&sh for an outfit with some savoir faire.
To book: viator.com, activities from $109/person
6. Statue of Liberty
Once you’ve spotted the Statue of Liberty, you know you’re in New York City. The towering structure, gifted to the U.S. by France in 1886, has symbolized a welcome to the country for more than 100 years. Perched on an island a short ferry ride away from Manhattan, the historic site makes an educational day trip when combined with neighboring Ellis Island where immigrants arrived in the United States from the late 1800s until the 1950s.
Upon visiting the statue, you can choose to view the landmark from the ground, pedestal, or crown. However, going up to the top means climbing 354 stairs into the statue’s crown. Not feeling that level of hike? The pedestal alone is 10 stories above ground.
Though, the best way to appreciate New York's skyline is by sky or sea. So you can pre-book a ticket for the Statue of Liberty (skipping the lines), book a cruise, or for the ultimate view including Lady Liberty, take to the sky in a helicopter tour over Manhattan. Once you return to land, head to buzzy South Street Seaport to explore (and eat and drink at) some of the city's coolest new venues.
To book: viator.com, activities from $19/person
5. Mount Fuji
At 12,388 feet, Mount Fuji is Japan’s highest mountain. And with its dramatic setting overlooking five lakes, it offers hiking, boating, and panoramic views. Located two and a half hours from Tokyo in Hakone National Park, it’s an unmissable day trip from the nonstop neon rush of the capital city. Nearly a million travelers climb to the top of the peak each year, but you don’t have to summit Mount Fuji to have a delightful nature experience.
Japan’s famous cherry blossoms bloom from March to April (this year’s peak bloom is expected around March 21) and Hakone has many of the pink flowering trees. But travelers visiting past the peak blooms shouldn’t worry. Spring views are some of the best of the entire year; it's when you’re most likely to catch a clear-skied glimpse of the entire mountain, including its postcard-worthy snowy summit.
You can reach the trails around and up the mountain via train or bus from Tokyo, or grab a seat on a Viator tour that takes you directly to Mount Fuji. Some of the best views can be found on the water, so consider a cruise on Lake Ashi or Lake Kawaguchi.
To book: viator.com, activities from $57/person
Older than the Greek Acropolis and the Roman Colosseum, Stonehenge dates back 3,500 years. The awe-inspiring and puzzling circle of standing stones is a two-hour journey from London in Wiltshire. To this day, no one knows why it was built, but folklore connects Stonehenge to Merlin — and even in 2019, druids will celebrate the spring solstice here in pagan ceremonies.
Although much of the United Kingdom stays green for most of the year, spring rains make the countryside glow greener every second closer to summer. If the weather holds up for a picnic, gather supplies from the onsite cafe, including pasties (British savory pastries), salads, rock cakes (regional sweets similar to a scone but crunchier), ice cream, and beer from the Stonehenge Brewery.
To make an epic English itinerary, visit Stonehenge along with Bath and Windsor Palace. Bath is famous for its Roman-style baths and Windsor is your chance for a brush with royalty, where Queen Elizabeth still lives when not at Buckingham Palace. Or substitute Bath for a visit to Oxford, home to some of Britain’s most recognizable architecture styles, ranging from Gothic to Baroque to Neoclassical.
To book: viator.com, activities from $8/person
3. Eiffel Tower
We likely don’t have to remind you how many songs have been written about Paris in the spring. The cliches exist for a reason: flowers beginning to bloom, rain showers "forcing" you take shelter in a chic cafe, window shopping in Le Marais, and, of course, a peek at the Eiffel Tower. You can get much closer than a peek with a line-skipping ticket pre-booked through Viator or go full diva and book a photo shoot with an in-the-know local pro who can get all of your (and the Tower's) best angles. Hello, best Instagram ever.
For those who want to make an evening of it, you can choose an evening cruise on the Seine followed by a visit to the Eiffel Tower when its nightly light show begins. Or you can opt for dinner in the tower at glass window–filled 58 Tour Eiffel, named for its location 58 meters up in the tower. Want a great view of the tower after you’ve climbed its iron heights? Book a table for dessert at Le Georges, a terrace restaurant on top of the Centre Pompidou, home to the National Museum of Modern Art.
To book: viator.com, activities from $42/person
One of the most iconic symbols of Italy, Rome's Colosseum is a common bucket list entry for a reason. The enormous amphitheater sat 50,000 spectators in its heyday (that’s about the same as Yankee Stadium in New York) and guests can walk in the footprints of spectators from 80 AD.
Rome’s April 21 birthday falls on Easter this year — that’s birthday number 2,772 for the ancient city. So visitors to the Colosseum this spring might see a few more gladiators around than at other times during the year. The city puts on a parade of up to 2,000 armored centurions and Roman civilians and battle reenactments around the magnificent amphitheater. The day’s festivities end with a fireworks display set off over the Colosseum.
Want to get an even more detailed look at the gladiators of old? Viator tours can take you into restricted underground passageways that are off-limits to the public where fighters waited for their turn in the Colosseum’s arena.
To book: viator.com, activities from $33/person
The geographically small but religiously large-looming city-state of the Vatican — surrounded on all sides by Rome — fills with Catholic travelers on pilgrimage for the holy season leading up to Easter (April 21 in 2019). If you’re looking to join Easter mass inside the basilica, you’ll need a ticket and you'll have to arrive at the church hours before the start time. However, all visitors can expect to see intricate flower displays inside churches across the city in honor of the holiday.
Lines can be long to enter the Vatican’s most famous sites such as St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, but you can skip the wait by booking a mobile ticket ahead of time with Viator. Want to see artwork by Michelangelo and Raphael without the crowds? Join a small group tour of both stunning places of worship in the early morning, before the museums open to the public.
We suggest a wake-up espresso and pastry for early bird museum-goers, while afternoon sightseers should treat themselves to a scoop or two of gelato after all that art-gazing. But a heads up, if you head to the Eternal City on Easter or Easter Monday, watch out for restaurant and shop hours — some local businesses may be closed.
To book: viator.com, activities from $38/person