By March, spring is stirring across the northern hemisphere, thawing a number of high-profile destinations from their chilly, off-peak periods – with the added bonus that the crowds have yet to arrive. Meanwhile, in the southern hemisphere, the mercury is starting to slide in the opposite direction, attracting thrill seekers and bargain hunters for low-season adventures.
No matter what you’re looking for, it’s a rewarding time to hit the road. Find out some of the best places to go in March.
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The best places to travel to in March for relaxation
Head to Gran Canaria for a wellness escape © Getty Images/iStockphoto
Gran Canaria, Spain
Why now? Spring clean mind and body with a tai chi and chill-out break.
Gran Canaria is a perfect destination for a wellness escape amid sand dunes and blissfully balmy weather, with temperatures reliably above 20°C (68°F) and over seven hours of sunshine daily in March. The beautiful belly-button of the Canary Islands is a hotbed of yoga, meditation, tai chi and qigong retreats, with several clustered around Las Palmas, Gran Canaria’s culturally diverse capital. Pick a location according to your interests – after your early-morning tai chi session, you’ll have plenty of time to relax or get active. You’ll fnd beaches galore on which to get horizontal, but consider striking out onto the trails, too.
Why now? Ride reliable waves in a surf and yoga hotspot.
A string of surf camps stud Morocco’s coast between Agadir and Essaouira, mostly clustered around Taghazout and the quieter fishing village of Tamraght. The surf is reliably good between October and March, when the weather starts to warm up but waves are still big, long and consistent. Most camps offer a simple recipe: limber up with sunrise yoga, then grab a board and find the best breaks, sparing time to explore the galleries and souqs of Essaouira’s fortified medina.
Where are the best places to travel to in March for adventure?
Driving a 4×4 in Costa Rica; Welsh mountain sheep standing on the hills above Llangollen, North Wales © iStock
Why now? Enjoy coasts, cloud forest, volcanoes and whitewater rivers.
A tiny country with a huge range of landscapes and wildlife, Costa Rica also has huge weather – hence the lush rainforests. Come in March to hit the dry(er) season on both Pacific and Caribbean coasts and in the highlands (though showers are always likely). It’s also after the peak US holiday period, so crowds are thinner. The hardest part will be deciding what to do while there.
Why now? Experience outdoor activities among daffodils and spring lambs.
Springtime in Wales: lambs wander hillsides sprinkled with clusters of butter-yellow daffodils. Though sunshine is never guaranteed here, the Welsh countryside is glorious in March, which is a great time to dust off wintry cobwebs and explore some of the UK’s less-visited countryside. The Dee Valley is a year-round destination for active adventures – the River Dee being one of the few that offers great whitewater year-round, with rafting, kayaking, body-boating and even stand-up paddleboarding providing adrenaline highs.
The best places to travel to in March for food
Pouring maple syrup onto snow to make maple sugar taffy at a sugar shack; spice baskets at a market in Istanbul © iStock
New Brunswick, Canada
Why now? Succumb to your sweet tooth amid snowy landscapes.
March is maple syrup month in New Brunswick, a province as peaceful and little-touristed as it is packed with natural beauty and history. In this “fifth season,” temperatures start to peek above freezing and the sap rises in maple trees. Sugar camps (or shacks) welcome hungry visitors to sugarbush events with cooked breakfasts of eggs, bacon, sausage, beans and pancakes – all smothered with that sticky syrup, of course. With snow lingering on the ground, work up an appetite cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or winter hiking in spectacular settings such as Fundy National Park.
Why now? Discover bazaars, ancient wonders and culinary secrets in peace.
Istanbul always astounds, but in March, as things begin to warm up toward the end of the low season, you can enjoy discounts, smaller crowds and more-forgiving weather. Be sure to save some time for the greatest legacy the Ottomans left the world: food. Why else would the Spice Bazaar be so huge and bustling? From simple kebabs to meze feasts and the luscious aubergine masterpiece, İmam bayıldı, there are few cuisines as indulgent as that of Turkey. Over the past couple of decades, a roster of excellent food-themed walking tours and cooking schools has sprung up in İstanbul, providing the opportunity to combine a city spring break with a culinary reboot.
The best places to travel to in March for culture
The Muluwurri Magpies from Melville Island (in black and white) play against the Tapalinga Super Stars in a game of Australian Rules football; the Farnese Collection at Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples © Getty Images
Tiwi Islands, Australia
Why now? Revel in the excitement of the annual Football Grand Final and Art Sale.
If you thought the rest of the country was football-mad, wait until you experience the extraordinary levels of fandom among the Indigenous people of this two-island archipelago, 80km (50 miles) north of Darwin. Here, more than one third of the population of under 3000 plays the Aussie-rules game, many at the highest level. As March ebbs and the rains start to ease off, the annual Tiwi Islands Football Grand Final and Art Sale draws lovers of both sport and culture, who hop across from mainland Northern Territory to watch the match and pick up unique pieces from the “Islands of Smiles.”
Why now? Quieter sites and a gritty city in early spring.
Naples is unapologetic. This southern Italian sprawl is scruffy around the edges, yet has an indefatigable spirit, a dramatic location (on the Bay of Naples, in the shadow of Mt Vesuvius) and, of course, the best pizzas in the country. Off-season March is neither too hot nor too cold, and well before most visitors descend. That means unmissable sights such as the Museo Archeologico Nazionale (packed with Pompeiian artifacts) are crowd-free – as is Pompeii itself, just a 45-minute train ride south.
The best places to travel to in March for wildlife and nature
Someiyoshino cherry blossoms in full bloom; a sea turtle in Tobago © Shutterstock
Why now? Be dazzled by cherry blossoms during early sakura season.
A cherry tree in bloom is a delightful sight – sure. But 2000 cherry trees blossoming in the clear spring air – now, that’s a mind-boggling spectacle. Japan’s warmer southwestern island of Kyūshū blushes before the better-known spots on Honshū, its Somei Yoshino and Yamazakura trees blooming from mid-March in parks around Fukuoka and magnificent Kumamoto castles, and in Yoshino Park in Kagoshima, set against the dramatic backdrop of aptly named Mt Sakurajima.
Why now? Spot dazzling birdlife and watch nesting sea turtles.
This emerald isle afloat off the coast of South America is everything you’d expect from a Caribbean paradise: palm-fringed beaches, relaxed pace of life, sunshine. And plenty you might not expect, too. Rather than big cruise ships and package tourists, little Tobago attracts nature lovers, snorkelers and divers. March brings the fine weather you’d want on a beach holiday, but also nesting sea turtles – green, leatherback and hawksbill – who return to the patches of sand from which they hatched to lay their own eggs. Watch (with care!) as the lumbering females haul themselves ashore, or join monitoring and conservation programs to help these threatened beauties.
Looking to plan further ahead? Here are the best places to travel in every month of the year.