Several homes and farms in Akureyri overlook the blue Eyjafjordur fjord, the longest in Iceland. TNS
From snowy escapes to fiery festivals and sand dunes, what better way to put a spring in your step than booking one of these holiday ideas for March.
Spicy scents waft from food stalls, tuk tuks beep and cows wander the narrow streets — Jaipur’s old town is a riot for the senses at any time of year, but none more so than during the powder-paint hurling high jinx of Holi (March 9-10).
This Hindu celebration is the liveliest time to experience India’s Pink City, named for the rose-hued sandstone of its historic monuments — three must-sees being the towering Palace of Winds, the hilltop, marble-decked Amber Fort and the sprawling City Palace complex.
During those Indian nights, follow the locals’ lead by catching a Bollywood movie at iconic Art Deco cinema Raj Mandir.
Average temperature in March: 31C
Visiting Iceland in March means you side-step the bleak, total blackout of mid-winter, yet still have a strong chance of seeing the northern lights — in fact, there’s a remarkable shift as the month continues, with each day adding about 10 minutes of daylight.
After wallowing in the Blue Lagoon’s geothermal waters — yes, it’s probably the country’s most famous sight but still ethereally awe-inspiring and, frankly, unmissable — you’re right on time to soak up Reykjavik’s cool arts scene at DesignMarch (25-29 March), featuring talks by international designers and creative showcases across the capital.
Want to get away from it all? Iceland certainly has off-the-grid covered, like the northerly Fljot Valley’s luxe retreat Deplar Farm (starting at approx. Dhs8,700 per room per night), which tempts with a divine spa, adventurous outings (from fat biking to heli-skiing) and front-row seats to the aurora borealis from the lodge’s indoor-outdoor pool.
Average temperature in March: 0.5C
Join the party spirit in Spain’s third-largest city at the annual Las Fallas festival.
Picture this: a host of giant, comic papier-mâché celebrity figures (named “ninots”) are paraded around town and set ablaze, accompanied by fireworks, costumed dancers and folk music.
While March may not be quite warm enough to take a dip off Valencia’s 3 kilometre-long beaches, there’s the City of Arts and Sciences’ futuristic architecture, with buildings inspired by a water lily, giant eye and whale skeleton, as well as the UNESCO-listed gothic La Lonja, where silk merchants used to trade their wares.
Feeling peckish after all that sightseeing? Draw up a chair at family-run restaurant Navarro for the region’s superlative seafood paella or sample your way around the spectacular covered market.
Sleep may be at a minimum in this fiesta-loving city, but Caro Hotel (from Dhs652 per night) makes for a supremely chic, characterful stay, incorporating segments of the old city wall into the architecture.
Average temperature in March: 13C
For a winter sports resort without the hefty price tag, swap the usual alpine suspects for this Bulgarian up-and-comer.
Tucked at the foot of the Pirin Mountain, clued-up travellers are making a beeline for Bansko’s reliable snowfall, lively après scene and unpretentious vibe.
As for its 75km of runs, these cater best to beginners or intermediates, but the area has extensive backcountry to keep more advanced skiers and boarders occupied.
Our tip: it’s worth coughing up for a VIP lift pass, available to guests of selected hotels — like the five-star Kempinski Grand Arena (from Dhs1,021 per night) or the friendly, family-run Pirin Hotel (from Dhs340 per night) — to cut the gondola queues to the mountaintop.
It’s still a steal by most resorts’ standards, at around Dhs312 for three days.
Average temperature in March: 4C
It may be called the Empty Quarter, but the vast sand seas of southern Oman are far from devoid of attractions.
With Salalah as your jumping-off point, follow old Frankincense trade routes into the towering dunes on a wild camping expedition (chief mode of transport: camel), where campfire tales with Bedouin tribes, stargazing sessions and ancient city ruins await.
This outdoorsy adventure ties in nicely with a few days’ R&R at a luxurious coastal resort like Al Baleed Resort by Anantara, which offers its own desert glamping expedition in collaboration with Oman Expeditions — led by a former royal marine, no less (from Dhs26,900 for a four-night stay including two all-inclusive luxe camping nights).
Salalah city itself holds lush papaya and banana plantations, a frankincense-filled souk and beautiful white-sand beaches. Falling neatly between the winter rush and stifling summer, March makes the perfect time to discover this Middle Eastern gem.
Average temperature in March: 27C
Spain's prettiest towns, Albarracin, where distinctive pink-hued medieval houses act as a tourist magnet, other villages are dead.
Thousands of revellers hurled tonnes of tomatoes at each other on Wednesday, cavorting in the red pulp beneath their feet in the Spanish town of Bunol.
Daylight is only just breaking over Spain's Cantabrian Mountains and already a dozen enthusiasts are up and about in the hope of spotting a brown bear.
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Ahmad said, “My goal for the trip was to photograph the Burj Khalifa. The trip was for two days, the filming took half an hour, but the observation took 7 hours. Then we started to descend gradually from the back.”
Clutching a small saw, Syrian volunteer Rana Jreij cut away at bushes growing up the centuries-old walls of one of the world's most famous Crusader castles, Krak des Chevaliers.