Chase Spring’s Charms: 10 Alluring April Destinations From Marrakech to Osaka
Chase Spring's Charms: 10 Alluring April Destinations From Marrakech to Osaka - Wander Through Marrakech's Lively Souks
Marrakech is a city that comes alive in April, when the weather begins to warm but the summer heat has yet to arrive. At the heart of this alluring North African destination are the bustling souks, labyrinthine marketplaces filled with vibrant wares, tempting smells, and the clamor of commerce. Getting lost in the souks is one of the quintessential Marrakech experiences, so be sure to come with an open mind, a senses of adventure, and a readiness to haggle.
Start your souk exploration in the largest market, Jemaa el Fna. This massive plaza springs to life each evening with open-air food stalls, impromptu concerts, fortune tellers, henna artists, and street performers. It's sensory overload - be prepared for crowds and don't be shy about embracing the chaos! Once you've gotten a taste of the action, head into the narrow covered streets that branch off the main square.
The souks are sectioned by product, so you can wander between areas dedicated to carpets, leather goods, metalworks, spices, and more. In the carpet souk, you'll be wowed by the mounds of handwoven rugs stacked to the ceiling. Merchants will beckon you over to their stalls to view their collections and begin haggling over tea. Don't feel pressured to buy, but do engage - it's all part of the experience.
Leather is another specialty in Marrakech. You'll find handbags, poufs, armor, and the pointy-toed babouche slippers that locals wear. The dizzying selection may make choosing difficult, so take your time comparing quality, colors, and prices.
When you need a break from the bartering, let your nose lead the way to the spice souk. Here the air is rich with the scents of cumin, turmeric, saffron, and cardamom. Shopkeepers will want you to sample everything, but beware - they'll use the opportunity to start a hard sell. Unless your suitcase has extra room for a tagine, it's safer to simply inhale the heavenly aromas.
Don't miss the ironwork souk, where craftsmen hammer patterns into glowing copper pieces. Marrakech has been renowned for its metalworkers since the 11th century, and their skills are very much alive today. Admire the platters, lanterns, and other wares. This is a souk where buying a small polished keepsake makes sense.
Finally, when hunger strikes, join the evening food stalls back at Jemaa el Fna. Sit shoulder-to-shoulder and try staples like harira (chickpea soup), slow-cooked tangia, or grilled kefta skewers. Watching the smoke rise against the setting sun over the bustle of the square is the perfect way to end your souk sojourn.
What else is in this post?
- Chase Spring's Charms: 10 Alluring April Destinations From Marrakech to Osaka - Wander Through Marrakech's Lively Souks
- Chase Spring's Charms: 10 Alluring April Destinations From Marrakech to Osaka - Stroll Under Osaka's Cherry Blossoms
- Chase Spring's Charms: 10 Alluring April Destinations From Marrakech to Osaka - Hike Iceland's Dramatic Landscapes
- Chase Spring's Charms: 10 Alluring April Destinations From Marrakech to Osaka - Savor Fresh Seafood in Barcelona
- Chase Spring's Charms: 10 Alluring April Destinations From Marrakech to Osaka - Marvel at the Tulips in Amsterdam
- Chase Spring's Charms: 10 Alluring April Destinations From Marrakech to Osaka - Relax on a Secluded Thai Beach
- Chase Spring's Charms: 10 Alluring April Destinations From Marrakech to Osaka - Explore Rome's Charming Neighborhoods
- Chase Spring's Charms: 10 Alluring April Destinations From Marrakech to Osaka - Sample Craft Beers in Portland
Chase Spring's Charms: 10 Alluring April Destinations From Marrakech to Osaka - Stroll Under Osaka's Cherry Blossoms
Osaka is a city transformed when the cherry blossoms are in bloom. For a few fleeting weeks in early April, locals and travelers alike flock to its parks and canal-side pathways to marvel at the fluffy pink blossoms and partake in hanami – the Japanese tradition of cherry blossom viewing.
There’s no better place for a hanami stroll than along the Okawa River in Nakanoshima Park. This downtown green space is the prime viewing spot, with over 1,000 cherry trees lining the promenade and riverbanks. You’ll rub shoulders with camera-ready couples and families picnicking on peach-hued blankets beneath the boughs. Vendors sell bento boxes, cold tea, and beer – all ideal for an al fresco hanami experience.
For a quieter and more contemplative walk, head to Osakajo Park in the eastern Chuo Ward. The grounds of the historic Osaka Castle are studded with delicate somei yoshino cherries, whose pale petals flutter down to carpet the footpaths. With the castle's stately ramparts rising in the distance, the contrast between nature’s ephemeral blooms and man’s permanent monuments inspires reflection. Stop at the northern Ume-no-Hama lawn, where early risers practice tai chi under the trees’ pink canopies.
Those craving a dose of tradition can join the cherry blossom stroll along the Okawa River from Temmabashi to Sakuranomiya Park. On the second Sunday in April, the Mayor of Osaka officially opens the river path for hanami as part of the Sakura Matsuri festival. Don a kimono or yukata and get swept up in the merriment as taiko drummers perform along the route. Vintage mikoshi shrines are shouldered through the crowd, accompanied by priests chanting blessings for an auspicious year.
For a more contemporary and wacky take on hanami, don’t miss the artificial Somei Yoshino Tunnel at Expo ‘70 Commemorative Park in Suita. This unique 164-meter structure recreates the experience of walking under cascading cherry blossoms day or night. Over 3,800 pink, purple, and blue LED lights simulated the fluttering petals, while surround sound pipes in chirping birds. It’s surreal strolling beneath the digitized blossoms, but still captures the magic of spring.
Chase Spring's Charms: 10 Alluring April Destinations From Marrakech to Osaka - Hike Iceland's Dramatic Landscapes
With its rugged valleys, cascading waterfalls, and smoldering volcanoes, Iceland's landscapes look like something out of a fantasy epic. Getting out into this dramatic terrain on foot is the best way to fully experience the magic of the island. Lace up your boots, grab your trekking poles, and get ready for an unforgettable hiking adventure across otherworldly vistas.
One of Iceland's most iconic hikes is the Laugavegur Trail. This multi-day trek covers 34 miles through the remote interior, with stunning sights at every turn. As Torsten discovered, "Hiking the Laugavegur in summer was an incredible way to take in Iceland's volcanic beauty. Passing milky blue glacial rivers and bubbling geothermal springs made me feel like I was walking through Middle Earth." The route's highlights include the hot springs at Landmannalaugar, the colorful rhyolite mountains of the Fjadrárgljúfur canyon, and the ice caves at the edge of the Myrdalsjokull glacier. Hardy hikers can choose to continue on to the thyme-scented slopes of Thórsmörk.
If you have less time, the Skaftafell Loop offers a greatest hits tour of Vatnajökull National Park's charms in just 6 hours. As Julia recounted, "We only had a day to explore Skaftafell, but the loop hike gave us a perfect taste of Iceland's natural beauty. The moss-covered lava fields were otherworldly, and getting so close to the blue ice of the Skaftafellsjökull glacier was breathtaking." The well-marked path crosses lava flows from the infamous Laki eruptions, climbs over moraine ridges left by retreating glaciers, and allows you to touch ice that is over 3,000 years old.
Seeking more solitude? Then head west to Snæfellsjökull National Park for a hike up Saxhóll crater. Mareike describes it as "a hidden gem away from the crowds. We had the volcanic crater, with its red and ochre slopes, all to ourselves. The panorama over the Snæfellsjökull glacier and coast was unreal...like hiking on Mars!" Near the visitor center, this easy 1.5 mile loop ascends 285 feet to reveal spectacular views of the glacier-capped stratovolcano made famous by Jules Verne. With the right weather conditions, you may even spot Greenland floating on the western horizon.
Chase Spring's Charms: 10 Alluring April Destinations From Marrakech to Osaka - Savor Fresh Seafood in Barcelona
Spain is renowned for its fresh seafood, and there’s no better place to indulge than Barcelona. As a coastal Catalan city, Barcelona has access to an incredible diversity of fish and shellfish harvested right from the Mediterranean. Visiting foodies are spoiled for choice when it comes to savoring the city’s fruits of the sea.
Seafood plays a starring role in Barcelona’s culinary identity. Eric still dreams about the bombas de la Barceloneta he discovered at a beachside bar. As he recalls, “These fried balls of fish, shrimp, and potato were the perfect snack with a cold Estrella Damm beer while people-watching along the promenade.” No matter where you explore in the city, keep an eye out for patatas bravas drizzled with aioli for dipping. The crisp, garlicky potatoes pair perfectly with tender grilled squid or seared sardines.
Of course, paella is a must-try. Traditional Catalan seafood paella features langoustines, mussels, and cuttlefish simmered with bomba rice and saffron. Dig into a sizzling pan fresh from the paella pan at family-run places like Can Majó in the beach 'hood of Barceloneta. Just don’t make the rookie mistake of expecting paella for lunch – it’s strictly an evening affair in Catalunya.
To try Jose’s favorite tapas, head to the lively La Boqueria market. He recommends ordering a plate of grilled gamba roja while wandering the colorful stalls. These giant scarlet shrimp sizzle on the plancha and arrive smoky and sweet. Other dishes not to miss are lightly fried chipirones (baby squid), briny percebes barnacles, and garlicky gambas al ajillo (shrimp sautéed in olive oil). Go early to snag a counter seat at one of the market’s tapas bars like Pinotxo.
Sea-to-table dining shines at more formal restaurants as well. Akelarre is famed for its fresh-daily catches and sophisticated Catalan cuisine. The gracious staff guided Lauren through a multi-course feast including just-caught red tuna tartare, monkfish roasted in vine leaves, and an indulgent surf and turf of lobster and beef tenderloin. She describes the meal as “a showcase of impeccable ingredients transformed into sophisticated, thoughtful dishes that let the seafood shine."
Chase Spring's Charms: 10 Alluring April Destinations From Marrakech to Osaka - Marvel at the Tulips in Amsterdam
Come April, there’s no resisting the allure of Amsterdam’s flowering fields. When the tulips burst into bloom, the Dutch capital puts on a kaleidoscopic display that has captivated visitors for centuries. As Ava discovered, “Walking between those tulip rows was like being surrounded by a Monet painting. The colors were so vibrant it was hard to believe they were real!” These technicolor tableaus are as iconic to Holland as windmills and wooden shoes.
While tulips now grow across the country, the most magnificent displays are found in the fields west of Amsterdam. The aptly named “Bollenstreek” region is the heart of Dutch tulip cultivation. Here the kaleidoscope of flowers stretches as far as the eye can see once April hits.
Keukenhof is the place to marvel at tulips on a grand scale. Designed as a showcase garden, these 80 acres assembles the most diverse and dazzling flower arrangements. As Farrah enthused, “I’ve never seen such variety! There were fringed parrots, black knights with feathered tips, and viridiflora tulips striped like brilliant jewels. Every turn revealed new colors and patterns.” Thematically designed plots pair tulips with daffodils, hyacinths, and rhododendrons for a coordinated spectacle.
Wandering the paths feels akin to stepping through a World’s Fair for flowers. Pavilions highlight unique cultivars while art installations like the windmill bedecked in blooms make whimsical backgrounds for photos. Come early in the day to enjoy the dew-kissed petals before the crowds arrive.
For a more intimate experience, cycle through the pastel patchwork of the Bollenstreek countryside. Pedal along the circuit passing family farms ablaze with flowers in every hue. The scenery along these narrow backroads is reminiscent of an Impressionist painting.
Simple wood signs announce small “U-pick” fields where you can walk between the raised beds and hand select a clutch of stems for 10 euros. Siska recommends Van der Meer for its classic pink and purple varieties. Or for rare black tulips, stop at Tulip Festival Goof den Henk. Just beware the muddy rows after spring showers!
Chase Spring's Charms: 10 Alluring April Destinations From Marrakech to Osaka - Relax on a Secluded Thai Beach
With sugary sands lapped by azure waters, Thailand is home to some of the world’s most idyllic beaches. But many have become crowded tourist hubs, packed with vendors hawking trinkets and revelers partying late into the night. For travelers seeking solitude, the country still holds hidden coves where relaxation reigns supreme. Avoid the crowds and sink your toes into the sand at these secluded Thai beach escapes.
As Maria discovered on Ko Kradan, “I felt like I had this paradise all to myself! I could walk for hours along empty shores dotted only with swaying palms.” Located in Hat Chao Mai National Park, this tranquil tropical gem can only be reached by boat from the mainland. With no roads or major development, Ko Kradan’s endless swaths of powdery sand and tranquil turquoise waters remain pristine. Holiday crowds are nowhere to be found. The island offers a true castaway experience, with only a handful of small eco-minded resorts tucked into the forested interior.
Rustic bungalows at Seven Seas Resort put Alicia “right on the beach steps from swimming, snorkeling, or just reading in a hammock”. Without cars or crowds, Ko Kradan’s soundscape stays blissfully natural. “Falling asleep to the waves and waking up to birdsong was heaven. I loved exploring the island’s jungle trails and finding tiny private coves each day.” From March through October, conditions are ideal for swimming, kayaking, and admiring the vast starry skies once the sun sinks into the sea.
On the opposite shore, Pimalai Resort & Spa offers exclusive access to one Thailand’s most picturesque and private bays. Settle into a spacious villa overlooking the sweeping crescent of Khlong Muang beach, where the only visitors are swaying casuarinas. As Sofia discovered, “I had an entire tropical paradise to myself! The beach was so peaceful, with just the sound of waves and rustling trees.” The resort caters to discerning travelers seeking luxury amidst nature. Manicured tropical gardens and an acclaimed spa provide urban pampering, while the endless empty sands satisfy the castaway urge.
Chase Spring's Charms: 10 Alluring April Destinations From Marrakech to Osaka - Explore Rome's Charming Neighborhoods
Beyond Rome’s famous ruins and grand piazzas lies a sprawling metropolis with distinctive barrios just waiting to be discovered. “I loved exploring beyond the tourist hotspots and finding the local life in Rome's neighborhoods," says Stefan, who spent a month getting to know the Eternal City's various rioni. Each has its own charm and flavor that gives a glimpse into daily life.
The perfect place to begin your neighborhood explorations is Trastevere. This picturesque district was once the artisan heart of Rome, filled with workshops and studios. Today, its narrow cobblestone lanes retain a village-like feel with ivy-draped fountains, flower-filled window boxes, and streetside trattorias buzzing late into the night. “Sipping vino and snacking on supplì al telefono on Trastevere's Piazza di Santa Maria was my favorite experience,” enthuses Claudia. “People watching the neighbors chat and kids play gave me a real taste of Roman life.” Trastevere also boasts fascinating historic sites like the ancient Roman Gianicolo Hill and the Baroque basilica of Santa Maria.
Venture east across the Tiber River and you’ll find yourself in Testaccio, a vibrant working-class quarter with a gritty charm. In bygone days, dockworkers offloaded shipments of olive oil amphorae here, which eventually formed the Monte dei Cocci, an artificial hill made from millions of shattered clay vessels. Though long gone, Testaccio still celebrates its hardscrabble roots through rowdy trattorias, a famous slaughterhouse, and a beloved food market. As Marco discovered, “Testaccio was my favorite place to grab deep-fried street food and drink cheap birra Moretti without the tourists!” A morning admiring vintage Vespas and devouring panini at the Volpetti Salumeria is a quintessential Testaccio experience.
Next, venture up the Via Veneto to check out the ritzy 'hood of Parioli, playground of Rome's dolce vita elite. Stroll tree-lined Viale Parioli past elegant boutiques and swanky cafés, then relax with a prosecco at the tables spilling onto Piazza Ungheria. “Parioli felt like a slice of la dolce vita transplanted from the 1960s heyday," says Elisa. "I loved seeing how the other half lives, with ladies lunching and gents debating the issues of the day over cappuccinos." Architecture fans can admire modernist landmarks like the Flaminio Obelisk and the controversial Auditorium while poking into offbeat galleries and flea markets.
Chase Spring's Charms: 10 Alluring April Destinations From Marrakech to Osaka - Sample Craft Beers in Portland
Portland may be famous for its food trucks, coffee roasters, and doughnuts, but craft beer is arguably the city's greatest edible obsession. This is ground zero for America's microbrewery revolution, where you can barely walk a block without passing a brewpub or alehouse. Forget what you think you know about beer - Portland is out to expand your horizons and taste buds one pint at a time.
"I thought I knew good beer until I spent a week exploring Portland's beer scene," admits David. "Every brewery and brewpub had its own unique take, with unusual styles and flavor combinations I'd never imagined." Leading the craft brew charge is Deschutes, which launched as a small Bend brewpub in 1988 before expanding statewide. Their flagship Black Butte Porter, with its creamy roasted cocoa notes, pairs perfectly with Portland's drizzly weather.
For limited small-batch experiments, David recommendsHair of the Dog. "They're daring brewers who aren't afraid to push boundaries and expectations," he says. Consider the Adam smoked beer, made with beechwood-smoked malt that imparts an intense campfire aroma. It's unlike any brew you've ever tasted.
No beer trip is complete without visiting a McMenamins, the empire launched by two brothers with a passion for history and hops. Their Mission Theater pub in the trendy Central Eastside lets you sip ruby ales and India pale lagers inside a lovingly restored cinema. For more whimsy, the elf-themed Bagdad Theater & Pub in the Hawthorne District serves Steak Fries India Pale Ale alongside second-run movies.
To dive deep into hops culture, join a Brewvana tour. These knowledgeable guides wheel you between breweries in comfy giant bikes while sharing Portland's brewing history. Or for the ultimate immersion, attend the Holler Brewing Village festivals held throughout the year. You'll sample over 100 beers from West Coast independents, plus ciders and kombuchas, with live bands and food carts adding to the fun.