Easter Weekend gives plenty of time to explore smaller cities, such as Edinburgh, Scotland. Credit: Jorg Angeli/Unsplash

The Best Easter and April Long Weekends in Europe 

Make the most of your Easter and Spring holidays with our picks for the best short-term trips on the continent

Published 03/17/2022 by Joey Tyson

Colorful celebrations, the beginning of spring, and a giant rabbit dishing out chocolate eggs can only mean one thing: Easter is on its way. But beyond the usual, Easter for Europeans means the first of several long weekends to explore the sights and sounds of nearby destinations. You’ve got four days to escape the mundane and discover a new city, hit the hiking trails, or dig into a different kind of cuisine. 

To give you some ideas for spring in Europe, we’ve put together a list of places, from bustling metropolises to quiet natural spots, that offer something a little different this Easter. Renew your love of travel this spring with these Easter city breaks in Europe. 

Edinburgh, Scotland

For a city with a healthy dose of greenery, it’s hard to beat Edinburgh for a weekend break in April. And as it’s close to other major cities in the United Kingdom via train or bus, getting there is a hop, skip and a jump away.

Head to the Scottish capital and climb Arthur’s Seat, the ancient dormant volcano that looms over the city. From the top, you’ll have awesome views out over the city’s brooding castle and the steel-blue waters of the Firth of Forth beyond. For a longer walk, trek out to Morningside and Blackford Hill. With sweeping views of the city and the surrounding Pentland Hills, and fewer people, this walk is well worth the extra effort.

Edinburgh

Back in the city, don’t miss The Pitt Market, Leith’s award-winning street food and craft beer bonanza. Running from Friday to Sunday, the market hosts some of Edinburgh’s best food trucks. If the sun’s shining, head out to Portobello Beach for a stroll along the seafront.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

If fresh air, spectacular scenery, and sustainable travel are what you’re craving for a European break this April long weekend, little Ljubljana is the city for you. Its proximity to Zagreb, Croatia and northern Italy makes it even easier to get to.

Greener than the Hulk on St Patrick’s Day, Slovenia’s capital sits at the center of the country, surrounded by forest (Slovenia is more than 60 percent trees), lakes, and mountains. Base yourself here and you’ll be within day-tripping distance of Lake Bled and Triglav National Park. At Bled, walk the nearly four-mile loop around the lake, before taking Rikli’s Path for panoramic views of Bled’s fairytale church island. If you’re after something a little wilder, head to Lake Bohinj and Triglav National Park, home to the eponymous peak.

Ljubljana

The city itself is an explosion of flora in spring, especially in the sprawling grounds of Tivoli Park. Keep things green with a cycle tour of the city or SUP trip along the city’s river. Spring also means the return of Ljubliana’s Open Kitchen street food market, which brings together stalls selling Slovenian classics with cuisine from around the world (Fridays in Pogačarjev trg Square).

Marseille, France

Edgy and enigmatic, Marseille serves up a combination of heady Mediterranean culture and heart-pumping outdoor adventures. And as it’s a major port, getting there is easy.

Since its 2013 UNESCO Capital of Culture appointment, France’s second city has done much to reinvent itself while staying true to its frenetic soul. For a taste of the new, visit MuCEM for the story of life in the Med. For a taste of the old, book a spot at Chez Fonfon for Marseille’s signature dish, bouillabaisse, a delicious concoction of fresh seafood, tomatoes, saffron, and cayenne pepper.

Marseille


Not far from the city, you’ll find Calanques National Park, a spectacular little chunk of France’s southern coastline, and the antithesis of Marseille’s manic streetlife. Expect insanely clear water and stunning white sand beaches, framed by imperious cliffs of limestone. The park is traced with hiking routes leading to bay after beautiful bay. Some of the most dramatic include Sugiton, Morgiou, and En Vau. If you’re looking for more of an adventure, Calanques is also renowned for its world-class rock climbing and scuba diving. For more day-trip suggestions, check out Q&A with chef Ludovic Turac.

Florence, Italy

Celebrate Easter with a city break in Florence. Home to the Scoppio del Carro (the explosion of the cart), one of Europe’s strangest spectacles. Florence is the gateway to Tuscany and other iconic regions.

Watch as a 500-year-old cart stuffed with fireworks is dragged through the city by white oxen. Accompanied by soldiers, musicians, and Easter revelers, there’s a festival atmosphere as the carro reaches the doorstep of Florence’s spectacular Duomo, its final destination. After a short sermon, the city’s archbishop lights the fuse; the fireworks go boom. The party gets underway. 

Florence

After the festivities, escape the crowds and take a walk up to the Giardino Bardini, a serene hilltop garden estate with some of the best views in Florence. The ticket is twinned with the more famous Boboli Gardens. Both are at their blooming best in April.

For a taste of traditional Tuscan cooking at its best, head to Trattoria 13 Gobbi (Via del Porcellana) in the Centro Storico. Book well in advance as the place is popular.

The Black Forest, Germany

A vast expanse of dense forest, rolling meadows, and quaint villages, the Black Forest takes the concept of rest and recuperation to the next level. And it’s super easy to get to by train and bus from major hubs such as Frankfurt.

The area has an extensive network of hiking trails stretching more than 12,000 miles in total, all well marked and easy to follow. Hardcore hikers can take on long-distance routes that go on for well over 62 miles, while weekend walkers can tackle smaller, shorter trails. Somewhere in the middle? Try the nine-mile trail from Freiburg, a buzzy university town, to Lake Constance, a moderate hike packed with epic views out over the southwest of the park.

Germany


If you don’t fancy staying right out in the sticks, it’s easy to explore the park from Freiburg with its tree-cloaked hills. The mediaeval old town is a winding warren of beer houses and cafes but don’t let the ancient vibes fool you—Freiburg is as forward-thinking as they come, with much of the city’s energy generated by renewable sources. Perfect for a break from the monotony and a European holiday in April.