There's a saying to 'take a moment to smell the flowers' and there's no better time to do that than spring. As the air warms and the ground thaws, little buds will find their way out of bushes, trees, brambles and thatches, emerging luscious pops of colour all over the world. So in the spirit of the season, we've selected six stunning destinations where you can witness the transformation in full effect.
Known famously for their endless displays of tulips, The Netherlands generally sees spring between mid-March and May, with festivals like Keukenhof hitting full stride in April. It's in these botanical gardens in South Holland that you'll find more than seven million tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths stretching across 32 hectares of totally-flat land. Make sure you visit well before April 30th if you want to witness the 800 varieties of tulips, as the farmers will head them all (cut the flower off) around this date. By doing this, the farmers can increase the strength of the bulb itself, which is later taken out of the ground and shipped worldwide as a famous export product. If you're traveling from Amsterdam, the gardens are a mere 45 minutes drive away, with multiple tour busses and private chauffeured cars available at your leisure.
In case you were unaware, people are freaking out over the wildflowers in southern California right now. From Antelope Valley and Diamond Valley Lake to Palm Springs and Joshua Tree, the sand-covered stretches of desert have miraculously birthed bright flowers in an assortment of hues. If you travel south of Los Angeles, expect to see orange poppies, evening primrose, desert lilies and more. The bloom is expected to last until at least mid-April thanks to a few more predicted rains, but overall you should plan a trip before June. For a better idea of which area to visit in which month (and what kind of flowers to expect) check the state's peak blooming periods chart.
Sakuras (or cherry blossoms) are a tell-tale sign that spring has arrived in Japan, and the country is one of the most mesmerizing places in the world to see them. With the bloom already blanketing the city in a sheet of pastel pink, you can get the most out of a trip on March 30 in Tokyo, April 4 in Hiroshima, and April 6 in Kyoto and Osaka. We recommend taking a trip to Hirosaki Castle Park, Ueno Park, or Fukuoka Castle Ruins at Maizuru Park for their cherry blossom festival (March 25 to April 3) where 1000 trees are lit up at night to cast a pink glow over the castle. For more places that have stunning displays of sakuras, check out our lengthy list of alternative destinations.
Taking a trip to Kazanlak, Bulgaria will lead you to the Valley of Roses, which spans over 1,200 square miles just south of the Balkan Mountains. While the fields are by all means beautiful, their purpose extends beyond visual enjoyment, actually leading to the largest harvest of rose oil in the world. Around March the roses are usually just coming into leaf, but by June, their pretty pink petals can be seen scattered across the fields. Every year on the first weekend in June, a rose festival takes place in Shipka (just 4km away from Kazanlak), calling for families of Roma gypsies in traditional clothing to pluck the buds and petals into bags for harvest. We suggest planning a trip between May 25 - June 1st to see the sensational display in its prime.
Provence, France may be known for its delicate blend of herbs, however it is also home to some of the world's largest lavender fields. Blooming from June to late August in the Luberon region of the country, fields completely surround a gorgeous romanesque cathedral that houses a community of Cisterian Monks. Known as the Notre-Dame de Sénanque, you can follows the rows of purple petals straight to the doors, and enter for a tour of the cloister, church, chapter room, and more. Should you just want to take a drive among the perfumed airs of Provence, check out the lavender roads, with stops at a distillery and museum along the route.
In the spring, Jeju Island in South Korea is home to fields upon fields of wildflowers. While there is of course a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, the most dominant are canola flowers, whose bright yellow buds are used to extract the popular cooking oil. You'll typically find these from late-March to early-April, and the city of Seogqipo hosts an annual canola blossom walking festival at the Jeju Sculpture Park (which, by the way, is a graphic park of pornographic statues). Not to joke or anything, but if the flowers don't have you fully entertained, the park certainly will.