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How to spend a long weekend in Europe

Written by David Prior, Founder and CEO of PRIOR members-only travel club


While the mercury may still be on the ascent in Europe, traveling over long weekends comes with several advantages: prices are lower, crowds are sparser and the sun shines a little higher as springtime comes into bloom.

There’s good reason springtime in Paris is so immortalized in song and on screen: city parks flower anew, plane trees sprout new foliage over boulevards, and Parisians cast off winter coats to bare their Breton stripes in café terraces. Besides the timeless pleasures of strolling the blossom-lined Seine or enjoying a makeshift picnic by Canal Saint-Martin, you can admire impressionist masterworks in the Courtauld Collection exhibit at Fondation Louis Vuitton (until June 17), take in the retrospective of seminal 20th-century designer and architect Gio Ponti at the recently rechristened Musée des Arts Décoratifs (until May 5), or simply peruse farmers’ markets where new-season rhubarb, asparagus and berries populate the stalls.

If it’s sun you seek, Crete has one of the earliest springs in the Mediterranean, with the temperatures well and truly risen by the Easter break on Greece’s largest island. While the ocean may still be cold to the touch at this time, you can make the most of the northern seaside hubs of Heraklion and Chania minus the high-season crowds. For the more intrepid, a one- or two-hour drive beyond the resorts to the southern coast reveals a truer Crete where the rugged terrain is dotted with gorges and lesser- visited villages.

Even after the Salone del Mobile has wrapped up in mid-April, Milan still hums from the energy and exhibits brought by the world’s most influential design and furniture fair. At the Palazzo Morando, you can catch an exhibit spanning four decades of Italian fashion seen through the lens of photographer Bob Krieger (until June 30), including images and campaigns of Gucci, Valentino and Missoni. Head to the Fondazione Prada Torre for a permanent collection ranging from Jeff Koons to Damien Hirst and take an espresso break or order an evening spritz at the on-site Bar Luce, a suitably kitsch Wes Anderson-designed drinking spot that channels the ambience of an old Milanese café.

The streets are a little busier come April in Amsterdam, as locals emerge from hibernation to seek out some extra sun. While you’ll see freshly flowered tulips in gardens in and around the city during the month-long Tulip Festival, the most impressive display is a short ride out of town at Keukenhof Gardens where literally millions of bulbs push up through the soil in a patchwork of petals. On the weekend of April 27, the Dutch dress themselves in orange, take to the streets and clog the canals of the capital to celebrate King’s Day.

Written by David Prior, Founder and CEO of PRIOR members-only travel club. Discover PRIOR’s tailored itineraries and library of one-off experiences, journeys, events and parties across the globe at www.prior.club.

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