Although the Easter school holidays are approaching, April is a great month to travel – the clocks will have gone forward, we’ll have tipped past the spring equinox into longer days and temperatures should be on an upward trajectory.
It’s also a good opportunity to make the most of coastal resorts before summer crowds descend, and cities before the heat becomes too stifling. Rural locations are arguably at their best, too, as nature emerges from the hibernation of winter – spring blossom and gambolling baby animals just two highlights.
For most, the school holidays are the first two weeks of April, when prices are pushed higher by demand. However, there are still sweet spots for families yet to book a break, and those not tied to term time who can wait until later in the month will reap the rewards. Flight fares generally drop significantly from 14-26 April, though rise again over the last weekend of the month when the first May bank holiday falls.
Eurostar has £39 one-way fares to Paris available in the third week of April, and the same fare available to Rotterdam and Amsterdam on 19 April. Return fares are higher from Amsterdam, but a round-trip to Rotterdam comes in at £113 from 19-22 April. Accommodation in the buzzy Dutch port city is considerably cheaper than in Amsterdam.
Rotterdam has several sleek hostels with private rooms and rates from around £60 per night (kingkonghostel.com and stayokay.com/en/hostel/rotterdam), rising to around £120 for a room at Hotel Unplugged (hotelunplugged.nl), The Bellhop (thebellhop.com) and Motto by Hilton (hilton.com/en/hotels/rtmblua-motto-rotterdam-blaak). And if you crave a visit to the canals of Amsterdam, trains take as little as 40 minutes, costing €17.90, making day trips easy – and cost-effective.
Skyscanner’s cheapest destinations for flights next month include several cities in Poland – Wroclaw, Gdansk, and Katowice the three cheapest. Again, fares fall in the second half of April.
The maritime city of Gdansk feels quite unlike much of the rest of Poland, much of it rebuilt after the Second World War. The neighbourhood of Zaspa is bright with huge murals and street art, but for a more historic feel aim for the picture-perfect coloured houses that line Ulica Dluga. Cultural attractions include the Musem of the Second World War (muzeum1939.pl) and European Solidarity Centre (ecs.gda.pl). There are also several sandy Baltic beaches nearby, including Brzezno and Jelitkowo. On stormy days, amber hunters head to Sobieszewo in search of the “gold of the sea”.
The cost of living in Gdansk is around 40 per cent lower than in the UK, with main courses in restaurants costing around £8 and a beer around £2.50 (aim for Ulica Piwna, the Old Town’s “beer street”). A four-star hotel such as the Radisson will cost around €105 (£95) per night. The historic Gotyk House has doubles from €75 (£68) in the Old Town, and an on-site café (gotykhouse.eu).
It may come as a surprise that flights to Spain are also cheap in April, if they are outside school holiday dates. Destinations with return flights under £100 include Palma de Mallorca, Malaga, Barcelona and Santiago de Compostela. From the latter, the green region of Galicia awaits, where prices are cheaper than in southern Spain and Balearic islands.
The Rias Baixas estuary is a highlight, renowned for its beautiful bays, Cies Islands and Albarino wine. Vintage Travel has several villas in the area, including La Casa de las Ranas in Vilarino de Arriba. It sleeps eight, has a pool and costs from £780 per week (vintagetravel.co.uk).
In terms of low costs on the ground, Post Office Travel Money’s (accounting for one-in-four UK foreign exchange transactions,) recent holiday money index shows that sterling has gained most against the Egyptian pound in the 12 months to January 2023 – visitors can expect to get more than £210 extra in Egyptian currency on a £500 exchange transaction.
Red Sea Holidays has flight-inclusive B&B packages to Naama Bay in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh from £640pp in the third week of April, when temperatures are likely to be in the high 20°Cs (redseaholidays.co.uk). Further north, April is also a good time to visit the pyramids of Giza, where the world’s largest archaeological museum, the Grand Egyptian Museum, is scheduled to open imminently; and to cruise along the Nile.
Holidaymakers will have also gained more than £100 in Turkish lira on the same £500 transaction, making Turkey another good choice for a spring escape. There are also marginal currency gains in South Africa, Iceland, Japan, Norway and Hungary. Of these five destinations, the cost of living is lowest in South Africa, followed by Hungary, which will be considerably cheaper to reach. The Hungarian city of Veszprem is one of this year’s European Capitals of Culture and presents an enticingly affordable city break proposition, where a bowl of goulash can cost less than £2 and there are plenty of free cultural attractions.
In the UK, Forestry England has highlighted where to see spring wildflowers over the coming months – among them Mortimer Forest in Shropshire, Fineshade Wood near Corby in Northamptonshire and Dymock Woods in Herefordshire – three locations around which hotels cost far less than in hotspots such as Devon and Cornwall.
The Talbot in Ledbury, a 15-minute drive from Dymock Woods, for example, has doubles for £70 throughout much of April (talbotledbury.co.uk). The woods will soon burst to life with wild daffodils, known as the “Lent lily” around the trunks of native sessile oaks (visitdeanwye.co.uk/explore/nature-and-wildlife/daffodils).