Yes, the weather is highly unpredictable now everywhere and yes, unexpected cold snaps are still carrying snow and freezing temperatures. But some places in Europe continue to boast sun and warmth for most of the year — and particularly during the spring months.
Unsurprisingly, many of those spots are in Spain and Italy. But in this list comparing recent rankings, you will find some lesser-known jewels and a tempting array of beautiful beaches, charming cities, islands and small towns to choose from for an Easter break to warm your body and soul.
Comparing the average number of sunny hours per month of the 300 most-populated cities on the continent, Euronews publishes a list assembled by Holidu based on data from the World Weather Online and that ranks the top 30 sunniest destinations.
According to that ranking, the picturesque city of Alicante, on the Spanish Costa Blanca, it has the highest number of sunny hours in Europe: an average of 349 hours of sunshine per month. That means “roughly half of the day, every day, is sunny in Alicante,” writes the publication.
Number two is catania, Italy, along the eastern coast of Sicily, with an average of 347 hours of sun per month. “The baroque ‘old town’ of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, bringing rich history and culture in addition to its sun.”
In third place, with 346 hours of sun per month, is Murcia, on the southeastern coast of Spain. It’s a university city with warm waters year-round and a recent high-speed train connection with Madrid.
Spain also grabs fourth spot: the port city of Málaga on the southern coast, with an average of 345 hours of sun per month. The birthplace of Pablo Picasso offers a wide variety of hotels, resorts and sandy beaches.
Fifth is Messina, in northeastern Sicily, with beaches along two coastlines and an average of 345 hours of sun per month. It’s well known as a popular destination for cruise ships.
The next five places are: Valencia, Spain, the birthplace of paella, with an average of 343 hours of sun per month; nice, on the French Riviera, with an average of 342 hours of sun per month; Las Palmas, in Spain’s Canary Islands, with an average of 341 hours of sun per month and year-round pleasant weather; the Spanish Andalusian city of Granada, with an average of 341 hours of sun per month and the Italian city of Palermoalso on Sicily, with an average of 340 hours of sun per month.
As you might expect, destinations along the Mediterranean coast appear high on most lists of European places with good year-round weather and particularly pleasant climate during the spring.
In the South of France, Nice lands at the top of 12 favorites of Family Traveler for a sunny Easter holiday. “The weather is warm enough to dip a toe or two in the Med,” the site notes. ‘The picturesque towns of Vence and Grasse are easy drives without nose-to-tail traffic and the old town of Nice will steal your heart.”
Their #2 is Sicily: “Holy Week is marked with processes and feasts in every town and village. Spring weather is warm and sunny enough to enjoy any number of beaches from the awe-inspiring Scala dei Turchi to the long, golden sands of Sampieri. Temperatures of 22˚ are just about perfect for in-depth exploration around cities like Palermo and Catania.”
The Balearic islands of Ibiza, at #3, offers a spring family trip “when it’s too early for the party people but sunny and warm on the southern beaches…It’s also the best season to get to know Ibiza Town and appreciate why it’s one of the most admired small cities in Spain.” March, April and May are great for exploring the spring-flowered countryside and for discovering hidden coves and tucked-away villages.
Portugal’s Algarve region, with its dramatic coastline and “some of the Iberian Peninsula’s best weather in April, better than anywhere else in Portugal, Spain and Andorra” lands at #4. “The resorts along the coast between Portimão and Lagos almost guarantee sun and blue skies with temperatures upwards of 22˚ from March onwards,” the site adds.
Three of Spain’s Canary Islands take the 5th, 7th and 11th positions: Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, and Tenerife offer from eight to 10 hours of sunshine a day and temperatures between 20–25˚ centigrade from March to May.
The “multi-faceted” island of Maltawith its bold coastline and temperatures of 20˚ and rising in April, appears sixth in the ranking.
At #8, Málaga, on the Spanish Costa del Sol, is a fixture of every list of sunny places, with its iconic beaches and some of the best restaurants in the Andalusian region.
At #9, the southern part of the island country of Cypruswith spring sun and Mediterranean beaches, has average temperatures ranging from 22˚ in March to highs of 27˚ in May. According to Family Travel, that makes for “a lovely time to visit the coast and even better for exploring the countryside, mountain towns and villages and doing a bit of walking or cycling.”
At #10 on this list appears Seville and spring time seems to be the best time to visit the capital of the beautiful Andalusian region in the south of Spain, when the parks are in bloom, the orange trees gracing the old city spread their citrus aromas and the city holds its annual fair, the Feria de Abrilis.
Majorca at #12 is an entirely different island in the spring than in summer. With temperatures ranging from 20–25˚ in the south, and the sea at its purest aquamarine, that’s the season for exploring the countryside. “Urban beaches are quieter at this time of year and holiday-ready seaside towns still feel fresh and enthusiastic in the lead-up to June.”
On its list of 15 “best destinations to visit this spring,” the European Best Destinations organization includes some surprising choices. (The entire list can be seen here.)
These are the first five on the list:
1. stavanger, Norway: Famous among trekkers for its extraordinary landscapes, the city is so pleasant in spring with the trees in bloom and the beautiful houses illuminated by the sun and has many beaches (along the coastline of Jaeren) perfect for watching fauna and flora.”
2. dublin, the capital of Ireland, “alive on sunny spring days with numerous music and cooking festivals, walks and cultural offers.”
3. San Sebastian, Spain (Basque country) “in one of the most beautiful bays in the world, it is both traditional and modern, offering some of the best gastronomy in the country, incredible architecture, superb museums and amazing beaches.”
4. Porto, Portugal, thrice-chosen “European best destination.” It’s ranked among the safest cities in the world and the most romantic destinations in Europe.
5. Montreux, Switzerland, “known worldwide for its quality of life, clean air and breathtaking landscapes. Freddie Mercury stayed in Montreux at the end of his life, surrounded by its serenity. Made in HeavenQueen’s last album, was created in Montreux.”