With spring on the horizon, the romance of Europe seems more appealing than almost any other time of year. Rich in heritage, architecture, arts, music, and food, the Continent's cities welcome visitors with pretty flowers lining elegant boulevards, scintillating scenic coastlines, fine wines, and an expansive roster of museums and shopping. Spring in Europe is guaranteed to dazzle and delight your senses, whether you're looking to take off to an exclusive enclave, the newest hot spot, or a trendy metropolis for shopping and time on the beach. Here are Europe's best city escapes for spring.--Anisha Shah
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The Netherlands takes pride in its tulips, and the buds are big business. This spring, explore the countryside by bicycle to see vast fields carpeted in the vibrant flowers. Keukenhof Gardens, located in nearby Lisse, is famed for rows upon rows of tulips that blanket views as far as the eye can see. Take a day trip there when the gardens are open from mid-March to mid-May by direct bus (No. 858) from Schiphol Airport.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Amsterdam Guide
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In spring, Europe’s westernmost capital is bathed in warm climes, with picture-perfect hues that pervade al-fresco alleyways. A spring trip to Lisbon is a fairytale fling in a global city that's undergoing something of a renaissance. Neighboring castle-clad towns Sintra and Cascais are an easy day-trip away.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Lisbon Guide
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The hip capital Budapest ranks as a popular budget-friendly destination. The city offers medicinal thermal baths, edgy ruin pubs, and a post-Communism gritty exuberance. For touring around, the lower Pest side of the Danube River boasts opera, theaters, and the city's historic Jewish quarter, while Buda on the upper side features the castle district's posh residences.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Budapest Guide
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Deeply etched in European history, Riga in Latvia is synonymous with classical music, elegance, and historic architecture. Get lost through the quaint side streets on a spring morning and make sure to visit the city's medieval center, which offers the widest collection of art nouveau buildings in the world. Here, the concentration of remarkably intact medieval architecture dates back to the 12th century, which contributed to Riga's World Heritage status. The European Union also recently recognized the city as the European Capital of Culture for 2014.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Riga Guide
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Spring kick-starts a year of Danish design and architecture exhibitions. Start at the iconic Hotel D’Angleterre, which is newly refurbished and overlooks famous Kongens Nytorv square. The hotel neighbors the Nyhavn Canal, the Royal Danish Theatre, and shopping street Stroget. Spend another afternoon at The Blue Planet, Northern Europe's largest aquarium.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Copenhagen Guide
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Serbia’s fierce history gives beauty an edge in Belgrade, where Soviet blocks nestle between modern artistic masterpieces. The city radiates an outdoor lifestyle: During Easter, the rivers spring to life with cruises, floating bars, and clubs—called splavovi. For trendsetters, Savamala is the elite spot to be seen. Don’t miss new Ada Bridge, already an iconic landmark.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Belgrade Guide
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Croatia’s dramatic Dalmatian Coast is spectacular at Dubrovnik. Christened by Lord Byron as the "Pearl of the Adriatic," the city is fringed by bold blue sea and outlined by rugged peaks. From March 1 to 4, the Dubrovnik Carnival Fest transforms the city into a masked playground, where classical musicians serenade dancers in the streets. A 2-kilometer historical city wall, which is easily navigable on foot, overlooks ancient monasteries, aristocratic palaces, and baroque churches.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Dubrovnik Guide
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A haphazard mix of stone settlements chaotically piled together defines this Southern Italian city, where an air of peace pervades Matera's streets. As one of Italy’s oldest inhabited cities, the historical center is a treasure chest of Baroque palazzi, Romanesque and rock churches, and traces of nobility. Work up an appetite exploring Matera's nooks and crannies, and then head to Trattoria Lucana, a restaurant run by two brothers, Tonio and Gigi Sancrocco.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Matera Guide
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Home to the music of Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss, the Austrian capital boasts symbolic architecture of carved cherubs, flamboyant figureheads, and dramatic domes. Alluring and romantic, Vienna is quintessential Europe with arts, music, and culture overflowing into elegant Parisian-style boulevards. Spring opens a big year, as Vienna celebrates nearly 200 years of dancing during the city’s ball season. Museums will also be covering the 100th anniversary of World War I.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Vienna Guide
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The attractive Swiss Riviera embodies splendor in spring, when temperatures thaw and flowers blossom along Lake Geneva’s lakeside promenade. Montreux’s hauntingly beautiful landscape features lush, mighty alpine hills, the crystal-clear Lake Geneva, and beautiful views of snow-capped Mont Blanc. The clean, crisp air is perfect for hiking, boating, or relaxing outdoors.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Montreux Guide
Anisha Shah is a luxury and emerging destinations travel journalist. Her background as BBC TV & radio news reporter combined with long-standing love affair for travel, sees her first on the scene of new and exciting travel hotspots. Her work has appeared in Huffington Post, Fodor's and Yahoo Travel. Follow Anisha on Twitter: @anishahbbc.