At last, the mercury is rising in Europe – bringing vibrant festivals, blooming flowers and beach-worthy weather in the southernmost isles. Further afield, now’s your chance to find adventure in the Middle East, as Jordan and Ras Al-Khaimah are ripe for sightseeing, snorkelling and hiking. Or, how about wildlife watching in Namibia, skiing in Italy and a city break with a difference in Baku? Here’s where to go in March, and the best places to stay

See Petra at its breathtaking best

Nothing prepares you for the sheer majesty of Petra

Petra, Jordan (Photo: Getty Images)

No matter how many photos you’ve seen of Petra, nothing prepares you for the sheer majesty of its colossal Treasury, cavernous temples and 8,000-seat amphitheatre – all hand-carved by the Nabataeans around 2,000 years ago. Jordan’s ancient metropolis is a perfect destination for March with warm weather but peak season still a few weeks away: ideal conditions for exploring the fabled ruins. Base yourself at the Petra Marriott Hotel, which overlooks the breathtaking valley and is just a ten-minute drive from the park entrance. From here, head south for hiking and canyoning in Wadi Rum, or north for a restorative soak in the Dead Sea’s mineral-rich waters.

Follow the Dutch tulip trails

Spring has sprung in the Netherlands

Tulips, Netherlands (Photo: Getty Images)

Spring has sprung in the Netherlands – and with it, millions of magnificent tulips. In the Bollenstreek (literally ‘bulb region’) near Amsterdam, the fields are striped with a rainbow of blooms, transforming the landscape into a riot of pink, yellow and crimson from late March until May. Start your trip in the Keukenhof Gardens, in Lisse, which alone has seven million tulips in 800 different varieties: from the classic fluted-head flowers, to frilly-petalled forms in exotic colours. But the surrounding meadows are just as beautiful, so hire a bike from outside the Keukenhof (there are multiple rental stations) to see the Dutch countryside at its most colourful.

See the night shine brightly in Valencia

Valencia's festival of Las Fallas

Valencia, Spain (Photo: Getty Images)

The skies of Valencia are alight with fireworks, firecrackers and burning effigies this month, as the festival of Las Fallas brings five days of flammable theatrics (exact dates vary, but are always mid-March). The finale of Spain’s celebration of San José sees local people parading huge papier mâché caricatures of politicians and celebrities – known as ninots – through the streets. The towering figures are then set alight as brass bands play and fireworks pop: it’s utterly spectacular.

Find adventure in Ras Al-Khaimah

One of the lesser-known emirates of the UAE, Ras Al Khaimah is a real hidden gem, and March is the best month to visit. With highs of 30ºC, it’s certainly sunny enough for a beach holiday on the golden sands of Al Hamra, where you can snorkel with sea turtles, splash about in kayaks, and sip sundowner cocktails on the beach. Inland, adventure awaits – with hiking trails and zip lines up in the mountains, and camel trekking and wildlife watching in the desert dunes of Al Wadi nature reserve, to which The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert enjoys unparalleled access.

Think pink in Namibia

Hot-pink flamingos are a feature of Namibia in March

Namibia (Photo: Getty Images)

As Namibia’s coastline emerges from the rainy season, a babble of wildlife arrives in Walvis Bay – including hot-pink flamingos, pelicans in their thousands, and the playful pups of the Cape fur seal colony. It’s a rich cacophony, but the bay’s dolphins might just steal the show, with both bottlenose and Benguela species commonly sighted. The latter are unique to this coast, and resemble miniature orca whales, thanks to their black-and-white markings.

Discover off-beat Baku

Baku is full of surprises

Baku, Azerbaijan (Photo: Getty Images)

The festival of Novruz – Persian New Year – sees Azerbaijan celebrate with feasts, fireworks and parades, and the country’s capital Baku is full of surprises: from the ancient markets and hammams in the UNESCO-listed Old Town, to its Dubai-style appetite for skyscrapers and modern museums. At Novruz, the city celebrates the changing seasons with folk dancing, bonfire-jumping and lashings of traditional treats – such as almond-sweet shekerbura pastries, served with dainty glasses of black tea. The date of Novruz varies, but is always in March.

Catch the Canary Islands’ first rays

Sunrise in the Canary Islands

Sunrise in the Canary Islands (Photo: Getty Images)

While the rest of Europe is still in coats, the weather is warming up in the Canary Islands – reaching a reliable 20ºC throughout March. The archipelago feels positively balmy thanks to its southerly location, yet is refreshingly free of crowds. If the mercury isn’t quite high enough for sunbathing, go to Santa Cruz – Tenerife’s main city – for museum hopping, art galleries, tapas bars and shopping instead. With its rooftop pool and central location, AC Hotel Tenerife is the ideal island base, and the hiking and cycling trails of Teide National Park are only an hour’s drive away too.

Celebrate all things Irish

Visit Dublin in mid-March to see Ireland’s capital in full swing

Dublin, Ireland (Photo: Getty Images)

To visit Dublin in mid-March is to see Ireland’s capital in full party swing, but there’s much more to St Patrick’s Day (17 March) than leprechaun hats and Guinness-soaked parades. The festivities start around 12 March, celebrating all aspects of Irish culture – with traditional céilí dances, music and comedy performances throughout the city, and everything from food stalls (try a Dublin Coddle stew) to poetry readings in the streets. On the big day itself, the famous parade is always great fun – so don your green face paint and enter the fray.

Published: July 26, 2022

Last Updated: June 19, 2023

Article Tags:  Amsterdam , Baku , Cortina d'Ampezzo , Dublin , Petra , Ras Al Khaimah , Tenerife

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