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One week in Europe

Hello, I'm a retired American living in Thailand.  For my next visit to the US I want to go via Europe.  That would be around mid March for one week.  On the return I would do the same; one week in early May.  I'm open to anything but my biggest concern in the weather.  I don't mind some cold but don't want to be sheltering for days from nasty weather.  Given the time of year I've chosen it will be a roll of the dice, so I'm looking for advice from seasoned travelers.  I like to visit historical sites, beaches (just one or two beach days would be enough), and places that might offer the potential for colorful photography. I like food and wine but I don't party in the evenings.  I confine my walking around to the morning hours, and in the afternoons I like to sit and sip coffee and meet other travelers, although my language skills are limited to English and some Thai.  I'm not averse to some organized touring, but not a steady diet of it.   For each week I intend to pick one country and one city as home base and make day trips from there.  Five-star resorts are not necessary.  I'm happy, and so is my wallet, as long as the accommodations are reasonably quiet, clean, and the bathroom is private (us old people visit it frequently in the wee hours).

3 Answers
answered by
Marie-France from Toronto

In early May, the weather should be decent in most places. For mid-March, I'd recommend southern Spain (Andalusia) basing yourself in either Malaga or Seville. That part of Spain is very sunny. I had clear skies and 17C in Málaga even in the middle of January! The Canary Islands, which belong to Spain, are the southernmost part of Europe (at the same latitude as southern Morocco) and should be the warmest, although being islands, the weather may be more changeable. I just wrote a mini-guide about Las Palmas de Gran Canaria which is the main city of the archipelago and an excellent base for side trips all over the island: The bus system is excellent.

Comments (2)

Hi Marie, thank you for your response and for the link to Las Palmas. I live in northern Thailand and the time to get gone from here is mid-March to May, when the air gets very smokey-smoggy and the weather is hot. That's when I would be on my way to the US and making a diversion through Europe. I like the idea of visiting the Canaries. So, I'd like to ask another question, please: Is there a time in March or April when the area is jammed with tourists, such as around Easter or when colleges have Spring break?

I'm not sure... Carnaval is the busiest time in the Canaries I believe, and that's already past. Spring breakers would probably head for the beaches and resorts, not the city. As for Easter, it's probably better avoided anyways since the price of flights is likely to go up with everyone visiting relatives. That's the best answer I can come up with, having only visited once in January.

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answered by
Mary from Leicester

Daarth (Hi daarth, it's leics! :-) is absolutely's a very difficult question. No European country can guarantee warmth in March, however southern it may be, nor can you be 100% of not having several days of unpleasant weather. 'Beach weather' (in terms of sunbathing/swimming) is also unlikely, though not impossible.  However, it does make general sense to aim for more southerly countries and just keep your fingers tightly crossed.

You haven't said whether you've visited anywhere in Europe before so....

I'd suggest you first consider Italy, perhaps basing yourself in Rome(avoid Easter week unless you enjoy crowds!), Province of Florence or Naples. All three cities are vibrant and lived-in (i.e. not just full of visitors), full of history, art and interest...and all have excellent and easy potential daytrips by public transport. 

Central and northern Spain can be more chilly in March so perhaps think of somewhere on the southern coast, though aware from the concrete costas. Maybe Malaga as a base? Again, a vibrant place with plenty of history & art, with easy daytrips by train and Alsa bus.

Portugal, again, can be chilly but maybe Lisbon or Portoas a base? Lots of historical interest, easy public transport (train, Rede Espressos bus) for daytrips.

Alternative options:

Malta (based in Valletta) or Cyprus(based in Larnaca or Paphos)? Both islands are stuffed full of archaeology & history and both are more likely to have warmer weather (no guarantees!) ....even, at a stretch, beach weather in Cyprus. There is a decent bus service on both islands though it will be much easier to explore more widely if you hire a car (both countries drive on the left).

May will be warmer, of course (and hopefully!), so you might consider more northerly European countries. Almost all have excellent public transport (train + bus) for daytrips so: MunichAmsterdamBratislavaYorkBrugesBrussels,Vienna?The choice is almost is the choice of decent accomm with en suite (look at for oodles of choice and trustworthy reviews). :-)

Comments (1)

I've been looking at hotel prices and Spain looks more affordable. I'm thinking Tenerife for a short week on the March leg, and Madrid or Barcelona for more like 10 days in May. I also failed to mention that on the return trip from the USA I will be loaded with "stuff," from size 13 shoes to xxl clothing to books and various other essential things that I can't get in Thailand, so parking my big bags at a hotel in Madrid while I play tourist would be easier than carting them around. Italy is tempting and I may just do that next time around. Thanks very much to you and Daarth for getting the rusty wheels of my brain working in travel again. And Daarth, I am also contemplating a trip to Norway... someday.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Italy (country)
  2. Rome (city)
  3. Province of Florence (metro area)
  4. Naples (city)
  5. Spain (country)
  6. Malaga (city)
  7. Portugal (attraction)
  8. Lisbon (city)
  9. Porto (city)
  10. Malta (attraction)
  11. Valletta (city)
  12. Cyprus (attraction)
  13. Larnaca (city)
  14. Paphos (city)
  15. Munich (city)
  16. Amsterdam (city)
  17. Bratislava (city)
  18. York (city)
  19. Bruges (city)
  20. Brussels (city)
  21. Vienna (city)
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answered first by
daarth from Bergen

That's one tough question as there are 51 countries i Europe. However it sounds like you might mostly be interested in Mediterranean countries? In that case there still are several to choose from like Portugal Spain France Italy Greece just to name a few. Your trip in May, you might want to go further north as the weather is warmer?

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Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Portugal (attraction)
  2. Spain (country)
  3. France (attraction)
  4. Italy (country)
  5. Greece (attraction)

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