West Europe March, Best Cities

Best Cities West Europe March, sightseeing in good weather

Travel in Europe is still limited in March, though spring is appearing in southern and middle regions and days are not too short.

The Tourist go-zone now extends north to include England and France. Note that the weather can still vary greatly at this time.
n. b. major tourist locations are likely to be overcrowded, overpriced and overbooked around Easter. The Easter festival  is sometime between February and April, depending on the year but otherwise March is unlikely to be a busy month for European tourism.

 • South England – nearly not Europe now! – could be warmish and pretty with spring flowers. London always makes a great visit even if accommodation is pricey, the superb free museums and galleries make up for it. Stonehenge is not far, nor is CanterburyOxford or Cambridge.

• Spain: with the exception of Madrid(cold) and the North(wet), Spain is generally warm and pleasant in February.

The best bet for a dry cultural experience is in the south, visiting the magical Moorish cities of Seville, Cordoba and Granada, where the days are warm and the nights coolish, as well as Malaga and Cadiz cities that don’t depend on beaches for tourism.
Barcelona too is a lively, fascinating city – spiced up by weird Gaudi architecture, though it may well be chilly and/or wet in February.
Swimming in the Mediterranean in winter is no fun, nor is the sad, overbuilt Spanish coast that is now dedicated to stuff-the-culture, we want sun, sea and sangria tour groups.

• South  Portugal  – which is cooled by the Atlantic Ocean – is now open for business, tho not the Algarve beaches. Lisbon and spectacular attractions nearby, such as Sintra, Obidos and varied astonishing churches and monasteries are worth a trip and tourist costs reasonable.

• France: The Côte d’Azur should be warm and getting a reliable quota of sunshine this month. Cannes, Nice, AntibesMenton, Monaco, St. Tropez – along with the delightful little villages such as Eze, St Paul de Vence – are all attractive, interesting and uncrowded in March. If Nice Carnival is in March this year   then it’s a brilliant attraction and well worth a visit, along with little Menton’s Lemon Festival at the same time.

Don’t even think about swimming in the Mediterranean, but you could make a side trip to ski, around an hour away.

The best ski resorts nearby are Isola 2000, Auron and Valberg/Beuil but there are many smaller resorts that offer low cost lift passes and are in easy reach for a day or weekend trip.

Skiing is big business in all over the Alps and Pyrenees in March, but north and southwest France will still be very chilly while a month in Provence will freeze tourists with irregular blasts of the bitterly cold Mistral wind down the Rhone valley.

• Greece: March is OK in Athens; it’s warming up, crowds and pollution levels are down. Central Greece and the Peloponnese peninsula are loaded with sights, ruins and landscapes.

The Greek islands are gorgeous, though the it’s still chilly, the Med’s too cold for comfortable swimming and tourist/ferry services are limited.

• Italy: Central Italy will be waking up to tourism now, so add Tuscany’s Pisa, Lucca and of course Florence to Rome and south Italy. Venice is cool and maybe foggy, but goes completely crazy during the stunning seven day Venice Carnival.

Europe March Festivals

There are pre-Lent Carnivals all over Europe in January/February/March depending on the date of Easter, see festival links below. Some of the best are:

Italy: #1 for colour has to be Venice. But also Viareggio,  a lovely seaside city and Italy’s maddest event with parades sporting huge puppets among the kaleidoscopic folk, revelry of all sorts and fireworks of course. . . but only on successive Sundays.

Belgium: Binche Carnival (very strange and colourful) 3 days, near Brussels.

France: Nice Carnival (huge, wild, colourful and long) 3 weeks.

Germany: Cologne, and Munich Carnivals (both mad), 5 days

Spain: La Tamborrada, beautiful San Sebastian-Donostia on the northern Basque coast and another excellent gay carnival at Sitges.

Austria: Vienna Opera Balls, (elegant and expensive), the Thursday before Lent.

Also see European Festivals or Arts Festivals for suggestions, information and dates.