Between ancient wonders, city-wide water fights and lots of laughs amid mellow weather, there is something for everyone in this round-up of April’s cultural offerings.
Rub shoulders with Roman gladiators at the Colosseum before summer temperatures hit; get your Indiana Jones on in Jordan; bask in Melbourne's balmy weather and get a bellyful of laughs at the comedy festival; and escape Thailand’s scorching heat with water sports galore.
Discover your inner Indiana Jones in Jordan
Compact Jordan is the complete package. Ancient wonders? Visit the 2000-year-old rock-hewn city of Petra or Kerak’s Crusader castle. City sights? Try Roman Jerash or the souks of Amman. Jaw-dropping landscapes? Camp in the alien-esque deserts of Wadi Rum. Wildlife? Explore Dana Nature Reserve. Beach? Pick between the salty Dead Sea or snorkel-friendly Red Sea.
More surprisingly, Jordan can also be very green – especially at this time. In April, humidity and rainfall are low, temperatures loiter delightfully around the low 20°Cs (68-73°F), the central valleys are lush from winter rains and there are wildflowers everywhere. In particular, Ajloun Forest is abloom with strawberry trees and rock roses and Dana’s oases are bright with oleander and birds. Also, the vastness of Petra can be explored without breaking a sweat. In short, a beautiful time to travel across the country.
- Trip plan: From Amman, nip north to Jerash and Ajloun before veering south towards Aqaba, stopping at the Dead Sea, Dana, Petra and Wadi Rum en route.
- Need to know: The khamseen (hot, sandy wind) can hit Jordan in spring; it usually only lasts a few days.
- Other months: Mar-May – springlike, ideal; Jun-Sep – very hot; Oct – fleeting autumn, pleasant; Nov-Feb – cold in many areas, Aqaba warm.
Get hot and wet with cool festivities in Thailand
All of Thailand sizzles in April – from the highlands of Chiang Mai to the islands of the south, the mercury is rising above 30°C (86°F). Sweaty stuff, but a great time to hit the beach. Ko Samet is an easy white-sand escape from Bangkok; further afield, try paddling around the James Bond karst rocks of Ao Phang Nga, diving off Ko Tao, water sporting on Phuket or simply lolling on offbeat Ko Kood.
If you’re stuck in the city, head to one of Bangkok’s many rooftop bars for a bit of a breeze. However, come mid-month, cooling down gets easier. Songkran, Thai New Year, is held 13 to 15 April and is celebrated with the world’s biggest water fight. Traditionally, family members gently sprinkled each other for good luck; now water balloons and pump-action pistols are employed. It’s all refreshing good fun. Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai are two of the best places to go for a festive drenching.
- Trip plan: Leave boiling Bangkok for the southern beaches as soon as possible. For Songkran celebrations, head north from Bangkok to Chiang Mai (12 hours by train, 70 minutes by plane).
- Need to know: During Songkran, don’t wear white clothes or expensive watches; consider buying goggles.
- Other months: May-Oct – rainy, southwest monsoon (Sep-Oct: wettest); Nov-Feb – cool (Oct-Jan: northeast monsoon); Mar-May – hot.
Spring temperatures make Rome ideal for sightseeing
History buffs might like to visit Rome on its birthday. The Eternal City was founded on 21 April 753 BC, and every year it celebrates with events, illuminations and truck-loads of fireworks.
Festivities aside, April to May is a delightful time to visit. Rome is a city for sightseeing, which is far better done on milder spring days (15-20°C; 59-68°F) than in the depths of winter or heights of summer with the largely shadeless Forum being particularly unforgiving in the latter. It’s also less busy (and a little cheaper), though seasonal attractions are open; for instance, atmospheric after-dark tours of the Colosseum run April to October. To top it all, menus fill with good spring things, such as artichokes and asparagus. Vignarola, a Roman speciality combining peas, fava beans, lettuce and artichokes is the season’s signature dish.
- Trip plan: Rome warrants several days. As well as visiting its famed ruins and piazzas, take a walk along the Via Appia (the first Roman road), which is particularly handsome in spring.
- Need to know: Free drinking water is available from nasoni (public fountains) across the city.
- Other months: Apr-May & Sep-Oct – manageable weather, quieter; Jun-Aug – sweltering; Nov-Mar – cool, wet.
Head to Melbourne for laughs, mellow weather and fewer people
It’s all happening in Melbourne in March. The city explodes with events: Fashion Festival, Food & Wine Festival, Formula 1 Grand Prix. Which is great – if you want to fight your way to the bar and pay a premium for your bed... Alternatively, wait until April and visit Australia’s culture capital when there’s more room to breathe.
The Comedy Festival (the world’s third-largest laugh-fest) runs to the middle of the month anyway; the pleasant autumnal weather continues (highs around 20°C; 68°F), but the city isn’t so overrun. That means you’ll have more space while browsing the creative laneways, walking in the Botanic Gardens (aflame with autumn colour), cycling the buzzy neighbourhoods of Fitzroy, Collingwood and Carlton, and strolling seaside St Kilda. If you do get some autumn rain, shelter in one of Melbourne’s 100-plus art galleries or aboard the free City Circle Tram.
- Trip plan: Allow at least three days. Make time to explore the inner-city suburbs, where the best bars and cafes are found. The vineyard-streaked Yarra Valley makes a lovely, easy escape, especially during autumn’s grape harvest.
- Need to know: Free wi-fi is available in public spaces, including in Federation Sq.
- Other months: Dec-Feb – very hot; Mar-May – milder, festivals; Jun-Aug – cold, wet; Sep-Nov – mild, quieter.
Looking for more inspiration? Check out our book Where To Go When for 360 ultimate escapes from family-friendly adventures to animal encounters and relaxing retreats.