Reader Recs: Alternative Spring Break

For much of the world, winter is out and spring is in. Temperatures are rising, flowers are budding, and the itch to travel is becoming hard to ignore.

Nat Geo Travel just unveiled its list of this season’s best trips, so we asked our Nat Geo Travel Facebook fans to share spring break escapes that go beyond the warm-weather clichés.

Here’s what they had to say:

Lauren G. starts us off in England’s Lake District National Park, a veritable natural wonderland with plenty to discover. With “stunning hikes, lambing season, tiny villages [full of] friendly people, and great food,” she writes, “what more could one ask for?”

Farther north in the United Kingdom, Katrina S. recommends traveling to the Scottish Highlands to test out the North Coast 500, a scenic 500-mile loop beginning and ending in Inverness that offers “wild, rugged beaches, mountain ranges, castles, and ruins.”

If it’s elevation you crave, Facebook fan “Screwed Fizzics” suggests taking on the Annapurna Circuit of central Nepal. “I found heaven,” gushes the native of nearby Lalitpur. The circuit, which can range between 100-150 miles, is counted among the best long-distance hikes in the world and takes trekkers through Hindu villages, the Tibetan cultural stronghold of the Manang Valley, and high-altitude Thorung La pass.

In search of beautiful views? Karine B. singles out the scenic beauty of Zurich. “On a clear day, you have a beautiful panorama of the Alps behind the [city’s eponymous] lake,” she says. In addition to exploring Zurich’s many cultural charms, Karine advises travelers to avail themselves of the outstanding trails in the mountains surrounding the Swiss city.

Jessica M. casts her vote for the charming medieval town of Évora, the capital of Portugal’s central Alentejo region. “A historic treasure trove for the explorer-at-heart and a bustling university town, Évora offers plenty of opportunity to relax, discover, and enjoy the local culture,” she writes.

If urban adventures are up your alley, Dubai may be the perfect place to spend your spring break. The most populous city in the United Arab Emirates ranks high on Benjamin H.’s list for its exceptional spring climate, rich scenery, and stunning views. This city is “the best for dreaming,” he contends.

Finding a spring break locale with a side of culture doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing warmer climes. Pack your swimsuit and head for Panama’s San Blas Islands, an archipelago that’s home to the indigenous Kuna people. Oscar R. says that travelers who time their visit right and pick the right resort will be rewarded with solitude, snorkeling, seafood, and some of the best stargazing opportunities around. It’s “pretty remote and rather primitive, but that is the allure,” he says.

Travelers can get their culture fix in the Philippines as well. Maricar A. recommends Vigan, a 16th-century city recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site because it represents one of the few remaining colonial towns left in the Southeast Asian republic. The result? A glorious blending of east-meets-west.

Key West may be an iconic (and debaucherous) spring break staple, but Mary W. prefers sparsely populated Cudjoe Key. This sleepy island boasts beautiful lagoons “that glow the color of emeralds” and shoreside rentals that make it easy to relax and commune with the natural world. If you get the urge to party, head 20 miles south on Highway 1 to Key West for the night.

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Chi K. paints Malta’s Valletta as the ultimate off-the-beaten-path spring escape. Planning a visit to the carless island during shoulder season means you can admire the city’s historic charm, wander the streets, or “get lost in peace and quiet” without competing with crowds. “What more would one want, right?”

What did we miss? Share your recommendations for the best off-the-beaten-path spring break destinations with the Intelligent Travel community in the comments section below.

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