Hi all. My son is studying in Florence for the spring semester. We would like to meet him there during our Spring Break and do some local things while he has class and then go to another destination with him for 4-5 days. We have been to Italy (including Tuscany and Florence) before so would like to visit another country. I very briefly looked at the Best of Europe book and looked on Google Maps to see what was not terribly far away, but got very overwhelmed. I briefly looked at Spain, France, Switzerland, Germany and Austria. Our spring break ends on Easter Sunday, which this year 4/12. We like to sightsee, do a little hiking, take some historical tours, eat local food, etc. We are not big skiers. I haven't come up with a budget but in the past we have done a combination of airbnb and hotels (we realize we need 2 hotel rooms) so either is fine for us. I think my husband was hoping to go somewhere a little warmer than the NY area is in April, but it looks like most of the destinations are pretty similar to what it is here. I am guessing the Alps would be still ski season and maybe too cold? Any advice is helpful. Many thanks.
You could look on skyscanner.com from either the Florence, Pisa or Bologna airports to EVERYWHERE (its the first drop down choice) to see if there are some reasonably priced, nonstop flights to a warmer destination. Sometimes we’ve enjoyed doing that to see what the possibilities might be.
April is the shoulder season in the Alps with things really winding down and highly variable weather - much like upstate NY.
Have you considered Sicily? Flights can go Florence - Rome - Palermo among others. RS has some recent shows on it for a quick update and it will be much warmer.
Barcelona and Madrid are about 2-3 hour flights away.
Sicily's so large that it wouldn't be my choice for such a short visit, but in any case be sure you find a non-stop flight. By the time you patch together two flights (possibly not single-ticketed) on a budget airline, you'll have lost too much time.
RyanAir (beware the fine print) has flights to Seville from both Pisa and Bologna. Seville's one of the warmest places in Europe in April, and it looks very different from Florence. It would be a great destination for a trip of 4-5 days. You could include a day-trip to Cordoba if you wanted to, or even spend a night or two in Cordoba. That would be my top suggestion. However, Holy Week is a very busy time in Andalucía, and you'd need to nail down hotel reservations pretty quickly or else resign yourself to possibly paying more than you want to. I suspect flight costs will not be low, either. It you decide to go to Cordoba, you'll save money by buying Promo rail tickets well ahead of time; because of the holiday week, you might need to snag them just about as soon as tickets for your travel date go on sale. For that purpose, monitor renfe.com.
Other possibilities in Spain are Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid and Palma de Mallorca. I think Madrid might be a bit cooler than the others in April.
Orthodox Easter is April 19, so you avoid the Holy Week issues you would encounter in Western Christianity.
If you want somewhere warmer and drier at that time of year, you need to go south, so Spain or Portugal maybe better options.
You want somewhere with direct flights (I can’t see any direct flights from Florence to Athens, for example) - check out the Florence airport website for a list of destinations covered.
You are going to spend time getting to the airport and hanging around for your flight plus at the other end, getting off the plane, getting through the airport and transit to your accommodation. Therefore, whether you spend an hour or 2 hours in the air isn’t going to make much difference to the overall journey time. It’s going to take half a day no matter where you go.
You are travelling during European school holidays. Flights have been available for months, so you are unlikely to find any bargain airfares.
Your son will have been there, and will now be familiar with the city. He may enjoy showing your around the less touristy parts.
We met our daughter on just such a visit. Local touring was far more satisfying. Why go a long distance for a short stop? Possibly different parts of Italy would be more interesting. Another approach would be Slovenia (not far by car). Ljubljana is fun and small.
With 4/5 days, you will spend two days of it traveling. Have you been to the Piemonte region? Stay in Alba. Or Liguria, lovely Santa Margherita Ligure? They are near each other, easy to combine.
Or fly to Bari in Puglia, and stay in beautiful Polignano a Mare,, on the Adriatic. Very different from Florence and Rome.
Or visit Umbria, base in Spello.
Croatia is not far. Or Nice and Provence in France.
Thank you so much for all your replies. Our family has only been to Europe 2x. Once to Croatia this past summer (so that would be out) and to Italy where we did Positano, Rome, Florence and Tuscany, and Venice. I think because of our limited travels, we would like to go somewhere we haven't been before. (My husband and I have done a short trip to Paris, but the kids have not). I looked to see where we can fly direct out of Florence airport, and it seems there are quite a few including: Vienna, Prague, Munich, Geneva, Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Catania, and Santorini. I wonder if due to the spring weather and the length of the flights we should focus on Germany and Austria? My younger son is studying German. Perhaps we should do Munich and Salzburg? I have not looked at the trains to see what options are available there. I am not very good at reading those schedules. I appreciate the advice already given and welcome any other advice.
We did this last year visiting our daughter (study abroad) in early April in Florence. Your son will have the complete skinny by then on where to eat and what to do in Florence past the 'big bucket list' places. You could certainly explore Italy more in the short amount of time you have left and hit Ravenna, Padua, Verona and Lucca - we have done this loop and there is great walking/hiking, marvelous towns and food you will talk about for years to come. Another option is to train up to Cote D'Azur and see Nice, St Paul de Vence, Grasse etc. It's another lovely corner of Europe with great food and hiking. It will be offseason and you should be able to score some great deals. Food for thought.
Barcelona has pretty good weather in April, 52-65 on average. We once drove in the snow in February from Santiago de Compostela to past Leon. The snow stopped there and when we arrived in Barcelona it was sunny and in the 60's. We had a great 5 days there with splendid Mediterranean weather. We booked a wonderful paella cooking class that included 10 other guests with 5 being college students studying in Europe. Your son might enjoy that. Also, took two other food tours, took in a Barca soccer game and enjoyed the outstanding architecture of the city.
As others have mentioned, Sevilla would also be a good warm spot with plenty to do.
Check www.skyscanner.com for flights. Here's what I found flying out of Florence nonstop: Vienna, Munich and Frankfurt, Cantania and Palermo, Paris, London, Madrid and Barcelona, Amsterdam, Zurich and Lisbon.
If you ski, consider taking a direct train to Bolzano in the Dolomites (3h 15m) check www.bahn.com. You can also take a direct train from Bolazno to Innsbruck (2h).