Where to travel in April
Tulips in the Netherlands, light festivals in Thailand and new adventures in Gambia
Gjirokaster | Albania
Banjul | Gambia
Kos | Greece
Florence | Italy
Our top pick for April this year is Thailand.
April is the celebration of Songkran - 13th to 15th, this is the Thai new year. In Bangkok especially it's experienced by visitors as a city-wide, multi-day water fight when everyone throws water over everyone else. April is the hottest part of the year so you'll usually be glad of the chance to cool down, and it's a chance to see Bangkok at its best - the city is always wonderfully noisy, riotous, friendly and chaotic and Songkran is a perfect example of this.
Thailand's most drool-worthy islands
The best of the best - white-gold sand, clear-blue waters and som tum on the beach.
Gjirokaster | Albania
Some of our top picks are easier to get to than ever. That's not the case for Gjirokaster, an almost comically-inaccessible medieval town in between the Gjerë mountains and the Drino river. It's more than three hours from Tirana, the Albanian capital, or an hour from the northern Greek border.
Why then add Gjirokaster to the list? Partly because lesser-known eastern European breaks in cheaper countries are one of the two clear winners this year as UK holidaymakers head off the beaten track in search of bargains, and with everyone coming back from city breaks to Lublin, Rzeszow or Iasi you might want to top them with somewhere even more exotic.
And partly because Albania is in the news at the moment for all the wrong reasons. It's good to head out and see the place and the people for yourself and get a feel for the warm welcome and friendliness for which Albania is rightly famous.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the medieval town is home to unsually well-preserved Ottoman architecture, overlooked by a spectacular fortress and the perfect base for exploring the nearby countryside. It's stunning, remote and peaceful, and if you want some photos to really brag about when you get home this is the spot to take them.
April is a great time to go to the Netherlands - that's because of the tulips, which just about start to come out in March but are at their glorious technicolour best in April.
That means the Keukenhof Gardens are open. You can head out from the city to the tulip fields for a visit, and Amsterdam holds its tulip festival all through the month. Amsterdam is a great city break any time of year, but April sees it at its beautiful blooming best so if you're planning a trip, now's the time.
We visited Amsterdam a few years ago to make our video guide for visitors to the city - follow the link below for a general tour guide, or watch our video for an unusual video tour of one of its most infamous attractions.
Our guide to Amsterdam
Make the most of your Amsterdam city break with our hassle-free guide - including where to go, what to eat and what weather you can expect.
Banjul | Gambia
Banjul is a completely new package holiday destination for 2023. Capitalising on its success taking UK winter sun seekers to Dakar last year, TUI has opened up the country to package holiday travellers this year with regular flights to Banjul for Brits looking for some extremely reliable sun and sea but in a much more interesting and exotic setting.
The long dry season in Gambia lasts from October to May, so April is a perfect time to go - the hottest part of the end of the dry season, so you can enjoy the sunshine without the rains.
The tiny west African nation, surrounded on three sides by Senegal and to the west by the warm Atlantic coast, runs on UK time so you can head there without any jetlag. And once there it's easy to explore - 30 miles wide at its widest point, nothing is too far away. The eponymous river Gambia flows through the whole country, giving you chance to see African river wildlife like hippos, monkeys and crocodiles (from a safe distance!). And the Atlantic coast is pleasantly uncrowded, with remarkably affordable bars and restaurants to enjoy. Our top tip is to get here while it's still relatively empty, and enjoy the peace and quiet.
Where did everybody go?
The top ten fastest-growing holiday destinations for UK holidaymakers
Kos | Greek islands
If you want reliable early-season sun without flying long-haul, you've got the Canaries, Madeira, the Azores, Cyprus, Turkey and Greece. Currently Greece is proving a popular choice with its combination of beaches and ancient culture, and of course the superb hospitality you can always expect when you head to the islands, especially after two years starved of a proper tourist season.
This time of year we especially recommend Kos. At the end of the month the spring flowers are just coming out. It's the hottest of the major islands in April, with an average temperature in the low twenties in the daytime and a pleasant 12 at night. At 17 the sea's probably bit chilly for a swim, but hardier souls will be happy enough in the water and if a relatively cool dip isn't for you, it's perfect sunbathing weather.
Which Greek island shoud you visit?
Our guide to five of the best Greek islands for summer
Florence | Italy
Most of the fastest-rising destinations of 2023 are new, exotic or relatively unexplored - Banjul, Tirana, Varadero and Enfidha top the early 2023 list.
Not so Florence, which makes the fastest-rising top ten despite being a well-established European city break - the only such place to do so this year, so definitely worth another visit.
Florence is packed over the Easter weekend and you'll be lucky to get into the Uffizi without booking well ahead. Come any other time in April though, and you'll be able to dine outside in comfort, enjoy the museums and not yet hit the sweltering and overcrowded summer when tourists descend on the city in droves.
If you come to Florence we always recommend heading up into the nearby hills to Fiesole. From there you get a much better view of Florence that you'll ever see from the city itself, and the relative cool, peace and quiet are a delighful counterpoint to the bustle of the streets below.
Our guide to Florence
Watch our original video guide to the birthplace of the Renaissance
April is autumn in South Africa. Nothing's too crowded, so you can get out of the cities and see the animals in peace, but it's still warm and the end of the month the rainy season is coming to an end. Late April also sees the public holiday Freedom Day, commemorating South Africa's first elections, and is the start of good surfing off the coast, so whatever you're planning to do with your visit April is a great time to go.