There are loads of reasons to travel at Easter: it’s spring in the northern hemisphere, with warming temperatures and trees in bloom. Southeast Asia is also warm and dry. This makes it the best time of year to visit Vietnam, which usually experiences a varied climate up and down its length. Kids are largely off school. And cities and countries around the world celebrate one of the most important festivals in Christianity, showing off a different side to themselves. Street parties, religious services and all manner of annual events take off around the world. From the ancient Inca capital of Cusco, Peru, to the special services of Ephesus, Turkey, here are some of the best places to visit for an Easter holiday.
Easter is probably the most celebrated religious festival of the year in Peru, owing to the country’s Catholic beliefs. Known as Semana Santa, it sees a packed itinerary of processions, street parties (featuring delicious local dishes) and religious services, drawing in visitors and locals alike. Nowhere is this celebration better experienced than in the former Inca capital of Cusco. The city pulses with a vibrant energy for the entire week. And what better way to follow up the Easter holiday celebrations than with a trip to nearby Machu Picchu, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World?
Vietnam – from top to bottom!
The majority of Vietnamese are not religious or follow traditional folk religions and strands of Buddhism. So, there is little in terms of Easter celebration across the country. But Easter is a great time to visit Vietnam for a different reason.
As you probably know, Vietnam is very long and very narrow. This makes exploring the country tricky at times, because whilst it may be warm, dry and pleasant in Ho Chi Minh City, it’s likely to be monsoon season elsewhere, and vice versa! The spring months of March and April are the best time to visit if you’d like to enjoy warm weather and little rainfall throughout the country. It’s a narrow window to get the very best from Vietnam. Which just so happens to coincide with the Easter holidays for many schools across the world.
Stellenbosch, South Africa
Located in South Africa’s glorious Winelands, Stellenbosch is one of the best places to visit at Easter, especially if you have kids to keep entertained. Many of the region’s wine estates put on special events for children. These can include Easter egg hunts, petting zoos, and more. And there’s nothing to stop mum and dad enjoying a tipple or two at the same time!
This part of the world is home to some of the world’s finest scenery, and if you are heading to South Africa over Easter then you can do far worse than exploring the surrounding area. Temperatures over Easter are pleasant, and you’re unlikely to see much rain. There are bound to be special Easter events for adults too, with chocolate and wine pairings taking over wine tasting tours – a combination we aren’t going to argue with!
Although Turkey is today a majority Muslim country, there has historically been a large Christian population. And during the Easter holidays, the ancient Roman city of Ephesus takes on a new significance. At the top of Mt Koressos, just outside the city, lies the House of the Virgin Mary. According to legend, this is where the Virgin Mary lived out the rest of her days on Earth. The house is a popular pilgrimage site for many Catholics throughout the year. It takes on extra importance at Easter, with several special services taking place throughout the Holy Week. It can be a beautiful time to visit one of Turkey’s most famous attractions.
Morocco is another majority Muslim country and so in terms of Easter holiday celebrations, there is little to expect from Marrakech. However, these spring months are the best time to visit the city. Temperatures are warm without being boiling, the pink almond blossom is in full bloom and the lively souks of the city are open for business. It can be a pricey time to visit, so make sure to book well in advance. But the extra cost is worth it to explore Marrakech in all of its glory.
We’ve chosen Crete as the largest of the Greek islands. But, to be honest, all of them burst into life during the Easter period. Easter is the most important celebration in the Greek Orthodox calendar and is the ideal time to sample the best of Greek food. Roasted lamb, Tsoureki Easter bread and other delicacies are consumed up and down the country as Lent comes to an end. Another specialty is Lychnarakia, a small pie filled with creamy goats cheese. Chocolate eggs aren’t eaten in Greece. Instead, eggs are dyed red to symbolize the blood of Christ. Greece is a foodie heaven at all times of year. But the end of Lent and resulting celebrations take things to a different stratosphere! Plus, by the time Easter rolls around the Greek islands are warming up, and the sailing season is beginning. Sounds like a dream holiday, doesn’t it?
Cartagena is Colombia’s prettiest destination, the Spanish colonial era city being located right on the Caribbean coast and boasting beautiful battlements. Beach weather lasts all year round and the city comes alive during Easter. All manner of services and other celebrations take place in the pretty colonial-era churches that dot the city.
Perhaps the highlight of a Cartagena Easter holiday (especially if you’re travelling with the kids) are the homemade sweet stalls which spring up all over the city. Made using local fruits, flavours typically include coconut, mango, pineapple, and guava.
Easter is a wonderful time to travel. Many destinations are at their prettiest and local people are celebrating the holidays with traditional customs and religious services. If you are looking to get away during this period then make sure you book well in advance. Hotels can book up quickly, meaning things can get expensive if you leave it too late!
Many of our most popular group tours depart over the Easter period. This allows you to experience different destinations at this exciting time of year! Head to our Easter breaks page to browse our range of trips!