Slideshow: 10 Glorious Places to Spend Easter Weekend
Easter Weekend Destinations
Easter is a bit later this year than usual, but that gives you more time to plan where to go and what to do. Many cities celebrate this religious holiday with festivals and outdoor markets, while others may be more private depending on religious preferences — but long family meals are an Easter tradition in many cultures.
Regardless of where you are in the world, Easter weekend is spent with family and close friends. Children decorate eggs and go egg hunting while adults mingle and eat. And if you head to any of the destinations listed you’ll be able to enjoy all of these things as well as explore these glorious cities during springtime.
This time of year in Amsterdam is beautiful — a bit chilly at night but comfortable to walk around during the day. In addition to the mild weather conditions, flowers are blossoming. Stroll or bike through the famous spring garden of Keukenhof, enjoy Easter brunch at Bluespoon Restaurant in the Andaz Hotel, check out the beautiful Tulip Festival, and stop into one of Amsterdam’s many churches for the loveliest Easter weekend.
Buenos Aires is home to the Holy Land theme park (Tierra Santa), and if you visit on Easter weekend you’ll be able to see special performances that only occur once a year. The city’s restaurants fill up with locals during this weekend, since most will eat out, but if you make reservations in advance you’ll be fine. Be sure to eat fish (which is the traditional dish for Easter) and the ring-shaped sweet bread, rosca de pascua.
Easter week is when most of the Jamaica Carnival (Bacchanal) events take place in Kingston, Negril, and Montego Bay, making this particular weekend one of the more exciting times to visit the island. Jamaicans will spend Sunday at church, which is a perfect time for you to do some quiet exploring of the town, and Easter Monday is spent lounging by the beach. Bands will be playing all kinds of music from reggae to calypso, and outside will be windy so you’ll see plenty of kites lining the sky. If you’re still in town during the carnival’s last days (April 21 to 23), don’t miss the rowdy and vibrant parade that takes place on Beach J’ouvert. Oh, and of course you’ll have to eat the Jamaican staple, bun and cheese, while you’re there — no questions about it.
Easter in Paris is a culinary affair. The day is traditionally spent eating long meals with multiple courses, often featuring the traditional meat option of roast lamb. You’ll hear church bells all day and kids hunting for hidden eggs. There will be plenty of chocolate eaten during Easter as well, so be sure to stop into a chocolatier for a festive chocolate treat like the friture — little chocolate fish traditionally eaten during Easter.
Although the Czech Republic isn’t known for being particularly religious, Easter is still celebrated by many in Prague and you’ll see pomlázkas all around (braided willow twigs with colorful ribbons hanging from them). The weather is mild during this time, flowers are blooming, and open-air Easter markets are set up in the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. The markets are a must if you’re in Prague for Easter; as is trying the traditional Easter fare of lamb or rabbit.
Rio de Janeiro
During the week leading up to Easter Sunday, Rio de Janeiro is decorated entirely with colorful flowers. These flowers make for a festive atmosphere accompanying the week of rituals and procession walks known as Semana Santa (Holy Week). You’ll probably be given paçoca while you’re there — this is an Easter candy specialty that is typically given to visitors and is made of sugar, ground peanuts, and salt. Everything will still be open that weekend so you don’t have to worry about the city shutting down for the holiday.
Due to the idea that Rome will be crowded during Easter, many choose not to go, but that’s what makes Easter weekend the perfect time to visit. Visit the Vatican on Easter Sunday, or head out to the Colosseum instead. You won’t be able to enter the Vatican Museums on Sunday or Monday, but you can watch Pope Francis hold Easter morning mass in St. Peter’s Square.
The week before Easter in Spain, as in Brazil, is called Semana Santa, and is one of Seville’s largest festivals of the year. You’ll see floats of wooden sculptures depicting biblical scenes during the pasos (processions) that take place from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. Regardless of how long you’re there for, there are events and processions taking place daily.
Tokyo is a beautiful destination during the spring, with cherry blossoms in season and temperatures averaging in the 60s. You probably don’t think Japan when you think of Easter destinations, but you might be surprised at how much there is to do for Easter Sunday. Book Easter brunch at the Grand Hyatt and take a peek at their artistic pastry boutique; make time for the Valrhona chocolate company’s Chocolat de Easter festival, which showcases crazy Easter-themed chocolate displays along with family friendly activities; and pick up some cute, festive treats at bakeries around the city. If you want to experience Tokyo Disneyland, there is a huge Easter parade that this year will be accompanied by Hello Kitty’s Sanrio Puroland.
During the month of April leading up to Easter, Vienna opens decorative and romantic Easter markets, such as the one conveniently located in front of the Schönbrunn Palace. Along with checking out the markets and Schönbrunn Palace, you should definitely make time to visit St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Museum of Fine Arts and catch a performance at the House of Music. If you have spare time between all your activities and would like to see the other markets, head to the Old Viennese Easter Market on Freyung, or the handicraft market on Am Hof Square. Also, don’t miss the Easter Sunday party in the Prater, where you’ll hear live music, theatrical performances, and games.