5 European Destinations for Cultural Travel in Spring
Spring is just around the corner, we can already feel it in the air! Are you also excited to finally go on trips again without your winter jacket? To assure you a great start to the warmer seasons with a lot of culture, we have put together our top 5 favorite European destinations for cultural travel this spring. Enjoy! Where would you like to go first
Why go far, when good things are often so close at hand? If you don’t want to take an extensive journey, why not visit our hometown, and also the most livable city in the world, Vienna? Spring awakening definitely hits differently here, and you’ll be amazed by the magnolia and cherry blossoms that turn the city into a pink twilight when you wander through the historic streets of this metropolis.
Our favorite spot to admire the cherry blossoms is gorgeous Setagaya Park in the 19th district. It’s a Japanese Garden that was designed in 1992 as the result of the cultural agreements between Vienna’s Döbling district and Setagaya, a suburb of Tokyo. The park is stunning in any season, but nothing beats its beauty in spring when the Japanese cherry trees are in full bloom!
Setagaya Park is an especially beautiful sight when the cherry trees stand in full blossom.
When the weather gets warmer, you can immediately feel the buzz and vibrant atmosphere in the many street cafés with outdoor seating! If you want to sip your ‘Melange’ (there is a lot to say about Vienna’s coffee culture) while deciding which museum to visit next, we highly recommend one of the cute cafes in the courtyard of MuseumsQuartier. Literally the heart of Vienna’s museum life, you are already next to numerous great museums such as mumok, Leopoldmuseum, and the ZOOM Children’s Museum, and the famous Natural History Museum and the Kunsthistorisches Museum are just across the street!
For more action, plan your visit to Vienna between May 13th – June 18th when the Wiener Festwochen, Vienna’s largest multidisciplinary cultural festival, takes place. It doesn’t matter if you’re into dance, music, or theater, there is something for everyone! Some of our highlights this year are the performances of the Arnold Schoenberg Choir, Les Cris de Paris, and the Pygmalion Choir from France, three of today’s most important choirs. You can find the full program here.
If you prefer to discover smaller cities off the beaten track on your cultural travels, we have a special gem for you! We are pretty sure you’re familiar with Belgium’s capital Brussels, but have you ever heard of Leuven? Leuven is a picturesque city located in the heart of Belgium and is not only rich in heritage, but there is also a lot of explore when it comes to art, culture, science, and… beer! The city has an extensive brewing history that dates back as far as 1366 and is home to the world-famous Brewery Stella Artois. Some people even go as far as saying that Leuven is the capital of beer, but it’s still up for debate!
As the city is quite small, everything lies within walking distance, and you can soak in its hip, urban vibe in a historical setting on a lovely spring walk (just make sure not to have too many beers before :P). For exploring culture, make sure your walk leads you to the M (useum) Leuven, Leuven’s biggest museum. The museum showcases old and new art inspired by Leuven’s versatility. The permanent collection is mainly focused on the art production in Leuven from the Middle Ages to the 19th century and includes artists such as Constantin Meunier, but there are also temporary exhibitions of contemporary artists to check out. Moreover, you should pay attention to the impressive design of the museum by Stéphane Beel, which successfully integrates historical buildings and contemporary architecture. Our pro tip: Don’t miss the enclosed garden and rooftop terrace if you want to relax a little after your exhibition visit.
Explore scenic Leuven while having a beer or two.
Another spring evergreen is Barcelona! If you’re in for some sunshine and beach vibes, make sure you pay a visit to this Spanish metropolis that seems to never sleep. In our opinion, the city attracts all kinds of travelers as there are so many things to do, but it’s also an amazing destination for cultural travel! If you’re looking for scenic nature, go check out the trails of the colorful and absolutely gorgeous Park Güell or soak in the romantic atmosphere in the narrow alleys of Barri Gotic. For a more vibrant bustle, visit the heart of the city around Las Ramblas, a series of narrow streets and alleys packed with restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and a vivid pedestrian market.
Barcelona is also the city of famous architect Antoni Gaudi, and it’s a must to check out his impressive masterpieces such La Sagrada Familia, undoubtedly one of the most stunning cathedrals in the world, as well as Casa Milà or Casa Batlló.
In case you come to Barcelona between May 5th and May 7th, you should combine your stay with a visit to the OFF Festival, the largest showcase and window of contemporary visual creativity and design. OFF describes itself as a way of understanding art as a way of life and invites online/offline designers, developers, professionals, students, and many more to join this inspiring festival full of creativity to connect.
The stunning La Sagrada Family looks beautiful in every season!
Of course, Paris shouldn’t be missing on any bucket list, but it’s not the only place in France worth visiting! What about a trip to Amiens? Amiens welcomes you as a peaceful haven of canals and floating gardens, and it will take your breath away with its stunning architecture and natural heritage. Compared to Paris, its vibe is cozy and relaxed, and it’s the perfect place to unwind.
The city is also home to an international garden festival to be discovered at the famous Hortillonnages site. The Hortillonnages, a 300-hectare green paradise in the heart of the city, can also be explored by row boat, kayak, or even on a paddleboard from the surrounding canals.
Amiens is the only French city that features three UNESCO heritage listings, dominated by its imposing cathedral. The city also served as a source of inspiration for celebrated writer Jules Verne, who settled here in 1877, and whose influence is still visible today in every corner of the streets.
For the museum lovers among you, we recommend checking out Musée de Picardie, one of the largest regional museums in France. Its collections feature archaeological artifacts, Medieval masterpieces, and a fine arts collection with painters such as Pablo Picasso and Jan van Goyen.
Amiens has wonderful canals and floating gardens! @ atomik_eyes
Last but not least, another European destination we highly recommend in spring is picturesque Athens! Athens’s streets are full history and culture, and there are many highlights to discover while wandering around.
When you’re there, you can’t miss the Parthenon on top of the Acropolis, Greece’s most famous landmark. The temple dedicated to the goddess Athena almost looks unreal, and it’s a sight you definitely have to visit at least once in your life. We also have an audio guide if you want to learn more about the Acropolis, either from home or on location.
You should also see the extraordinary stone theatre Odeon of Herodes Atticus and soak in the vibrant atmosphere at Monastiraki Square, one of the most popular squares in Athens. It includes everything: ancient ruins, a mosque, a Byzantine church, a flea market, and many more sights.
For a relaxed stroll, the neighborhood of Exarcheia offers a lot of local eateries and coffee shops, and its streets are lined with incredible street art! Another picturesque neighborhood is Plaka, where you can get lost in the small alleys and see the bougainvillea trees bloom.
By the way, from May 21-22nd, the 18th Athens Digital Arts Festival | Future Retro takes place. The International Festival celebrates digital culture through an annual gathering which brings together a global community of artists and audiences and features a lot of exhibitions, screenings, live performances, and workshops.
Let’s get lost in the scenic streets of Plaka!
We hope you could get some inspiration for your upcoming spring trips! For more gems in Europe, check out our recommendations for 10 small cities worth visiting off the beaten track. See you all outside in the sun!
Featured image: @vienna_alexxandra