Written by The Leap on 17 / 02 / 2015
Gap Year Advice
Rejoice! We’re over halfway through February, meaning spring is almost upon us. And, whilst this change of season doesn’t necessarily imply that the British skies will be any less grey, there are a few places where you can guarantee sunshine, stunning landscapes and all the other ingredients you need for a relaxing spring break.
Whether you’re looking to stay in Europe, or you're exploring options for some gap year travel further afield, you’ll be spoilt for choice with all these options for places to go backpacking this spring.
Yosemite National Park has to be one of the best places to go hiking during the spring months. Expect to see fields of blooming flowers, herds of sheep and rivers and creeks, which begin gushing with water as soon as the warm weather melts the snow.
I’d recommend hiring a car and driving to the park, then walking across its verdant meadows before stopping for a picnic lunch at the top of Nevada Fall - the views from there simply can’t be topped.
Amsterdam really comes to life in the spring, when tables outside busy cafés and bars sprawl out across its cobbled streets. As well as enjoying a drink in the sunshine, you can take a ride along the river in a canal boat or visit the marvellous Keukenhof Garden.
Located just 25km outside the city, the garden itself boasts thousands of the famous Dutch tulips. Spring is also when the Dutch celebrate some of their biggest and most important holidays, such as Queen's Day, Remembrance Day and Liberation Day.
Essaouira, a popular 18th century port in Morocco, is the perfect spring getaway for the active ones amongst you. This little harbour town’s pleasant temperatures and high winds also make it a great place to take part in activities such as windsurfing and kitesurfing.
But if this doesn’t float your boat, you can opt to take a stroll along its arc of golden sand instead. Visitors can also check out the galleries near the old Kasbah and browse the colourful Market Al-Dhaid, before taking a seat on the rooftop of Taros Café and watching the sun go down with a nice cold beer.
The vibrant old town of Cartagena in Colombia has gained popularity over the years, due to its charming cobblestoned streets and delightful colonial churches and plazas, which are surrounded by the original fortress walls. The town also features clear blue waters that are teeming with coral reefs, making it the optimum year-round diving destination.
Cartagena should be on any history fan’s 'must visit' list, for it is rich in history and culture, and film buffs should be sure to attend the Cartagena International Film Festival, which takes place in March and is the oldest film festival in Latin America.
Osaka’s main draw is its wonderful blooms of cherry blossom, which are a true spectacle when they burst open in spring. You’ll find cherry blossom in every park, but there are few better settings for photos than Osaka Castle Park, which contains a whopping 4,300 cherry trees.
Once the blossom has fallen, the city’s focus turns to sumo wrestling and the annual Osaka Tournament, which takes place in mid-March. During this time, the colourful banners that belong to each wrestler are displayed before the venue where the tournament is held, and huge wrestlers can be seen on every corner of the city.
The Dominican Republic offers everything you could want from a Carribean break and Punta Cana is the nation’s most happening city. It’s most famous for its white sandy beaches with refreshing open waters and, of course, it’s thriving party scene.
Spend your days partaking in water activities, such as scuba diving, snorkelling and deep sea fishing, or go on an exotic jungle safari. At night, you can party on the beach, attend a concert, go clubbing or try your luck in one of the many casinos.
Spring in the UK means it’s autumn in Cape Town, one of the city’s most beautiful seasons. During this period, the temperatures are mellow and pleasant, the winds are low and the vineyards become a vision of red, brown, orange and yellow.
It is also a more peaceful time to visit, as most tourists vanish once summer comes to and end. Take a trip to Robben Island to learn all about its rich cultural territory, climb Table Mountain (if you’re feeling energetic!) or simply lie back and enjoy the sunshine on Clifton Beach.
The high season for travel in Costa Rica is December through to April, which is known as the ‘dry season’. By travelling to the country in spring, you’ll beat the crowds that flock there for summer, whilst avoiding the rain. Accommodation will also be cheaper around this time of year.
The magnificent Manuel Antonio National Park offers spectacular yet uncrowded beaches, lush tropical rainforest and all sorts of wildlife, such as monkeys, sloths, iguanas, snakes and bats – you may even spot a whale or two if you’re lucky.
Here at The Leap, we have teams heading off to all sorts of different countries at the start of April, including Madagascar and Costa Rica. If you really want to make the most of your spring, why not travel with us whilst carrying out a range of worthwhile volunteering projects?
To find out more and to see which countries we offer programs in, check out the destinations page.
Have you been to any of the places listed above? What did you think of them? More importantly, is there somewhere I’ve missed out? Let me know in the comments box below!
on 17 / 02 / 2015