The Best Places to Visit in March


PHOTO: Happy tourists taking a selfie. (photo via gpointstudio/iStock/Getty Imags Plus)
Slide 1 of 7: There’s more to traveling in March than package trips to beach resorts for thirsty Spring Breakers. As spring looms in the northern hemisphere, temperatures tick up and destinations emerge from winter hibernation (well, except for the ones determined to eke out a few more weeks of skiing). It’s an off-season time to visit Europe, for example, so fares and hotel rates will be lower, and a terrific month to head to parts of Asia, when the heat won’t be as punishing as summertime. Here’s our pick of the six best places for a vacation in March, whether you want to join the Traveler team in Texas, or explore Japan’s prettiest city in sakura season.
This gallery was originally published in February 2017. It has been updated with new information.
Slide 2 of 7: Make it a two-stop trip to Spain this month. First, head to the capital just as the madrileños emerge to embrace the temperatures, which usually hover in the balmy 70s for most of this month—it’s far more pleasant to linger over a long, al fresco lunch now than in the blazing midsummer—or explore some of the city’s old school tabernas. Then head down to Valencia, the coastal city famous for its oranges and avant-garde architecture at the City of Arts & Sciences, designed by locally born starchitect Santiago Calatrava. This month, Valencia holds the week-long Las Fallas festival: satirical, papier-mâché sculptures, often a nod to current events, will be hoisted aloft and dragged around the city before they’re burned in a celebratory pyre, which basically forms an excuse for another party.
Slide 3 of 7: This year, forecasters predict peak sakura in Kyoto during the last week of the month: wander down the footpath by the river known as the Philosopher’s Path to the Silver Temple or Ginkakuji, while the cherry blossoms are blooming, and the surface of the water will be carpeted with color. The city is postcard-pretty before that, though, thanks to the surfeit of umeor plum blossoms, which burst into flower early in the month. See a forest of 2,000 such trees at the Kitano-Tenmangu Shrine, or escape the crowds at the secret garden, Shosei-en, a short walk from the main train station in the heart of town. Book a room at the just-opened luxury ryokan Sowaka, a 23-room hotel close to Kodaji temple; it combines a restored ryotei, or restaurant, with a new annex overseen by architect Shigenori Uoya. While you’re there, don't miss the chance to sample some Ki-No-Bi in situ; Japan’s first small batch gin is made in Kyoto, a city with a longstanding reputation for craftsmanship.
Slide 4 of 7: March is a busy month for Texas’s quirkiest city. Rodeo Austin, a fifteen-day fair and contest, has been luring top tier riders to compete from across the country here since the 1930s, while 2019 is the first year that the IndyCar Classic racing championship will pitstop here, complete with a concert from rock band Muse. The biggest event on the calendar, though, is the return of South by Southwest (SXSW), the annual mega-festival and conference featuring film screenings, music shows, demos of emerging tech, and an intriguing line-up of panel discussions—including, for the first time, two helmed by the team at Traveler. If you have opinions to share with our panels, which focus on overtourism and the impact of U.S. border policies on women, pick up a day pass or two and swing by the convention center on March 10 and March 12, respectively. Bunk down at the brand new East Austin Hotel, a 75-room spot close to downtown—the cabin rooms, with shared bathrooms, are a great bargain alternative to sky-high rates elsewhere during the fest.
Slide 5 of 7: Sure, everyone was hoping that early 2019 would mark the opening of the much-anticipated Grand Egyptian Museum, a $1 billion temple housing the country’s antiquities (think Tutankhamun’s treasure haul), but just because it’s been delayed it doesn’t mean you should defer a trip to the pharaohs’ onetime turf. There’s been a recent rush of activity in river cruising along the sultry Nile: take Sanctuary Retreats, which has just launched weekly sailings of its boutique wooden boats, where you can channel your inner Poirot amid art deco fixtures. Oberoi’s Philae boat has just been refurbished, adding a rooftop pool and reducing room count to make each suite more spacious. There’s also the smaller, barefoot lux boats run by Nour El Nil, and Viking’s Ra, which was specifically built to navigate the most intriguing section of the more than 4,000-mile long river.
Slide 6 of 7: Yes, this archipelago will enjoy tropical weather this month–expect heavy, if brief, downpours—but water temperatures, and clarity, are at their peak. Twenty percent of the marine life here is found nowhere else in the world: head to Camaño Islet, Santa Cruz Island for the chance to see marine iguanas hunting for food underwater, or El Arco, Darwin Island, which is renowned for shark-spotting. On land, however, it’s turtle-hatching season. After invading rat species reduced the population of turtles here to barely 100 by the 1960s, conservationists responded by hand-rearing the turtles, before finally launching Project Pinzon six years ago, aiming to eradicate the predators. It was effective enough that the first baby Pinzon turtles hatched here in the wild for the first time in a century in 2015. Linger a little longer, and by the end of March, you should also witness the return of the islands’ famed Winger Albatross, which fly back from Peru.
Slide 7 of 7: The salt flats of Uyuni in Bolivia’s south are the country’s most compelling tourist attraction: almost 4,000 square miles of salt, like a white desert, stretching across the barren landscape. (It’s the remnants of an ancient lake that dried up, millions of years ago, and left the flakes behind.) Many people opt to visit during the dry season, but consider a trip when it’s wet (around January through April). That’s when rain drenches the ground, and turns the flats into a trippy mirror. You’ve seen the Instagrams: pose for a photograph, and it will seem like you’re walking on the clouds reflected in the shiny ground. Even better, the weather will be warm, and you’ll likely spot flocks of pink, black and white flamingos, as well as volcanoes both dormant and smoldering. Just remember to bring sunglasses—the brightness of the reflection on the salt is unpleasant unless your eyes are shielded. The best way to visit is to book a tour in an SUV from the nearby town of Uyuni.

There’s more to traveling in March than package trips to beach resorts for thirsty Spring Breakers. As spring looms in the northern hemisphere, temperatures tick up and destinations emerge from winter hibernation (well, except for the ones determined to eke out a few more weeks of skiing). It’s an off-season time to visit Europe, for example, so fares and hotel rates will be lower, and a terrific month to head to parts of Asia, when the heat won’t be as punishing as summertime. Here’s our pick of the six best places for a vacation in March, whether you want to join the Traveler team in Texas, or explore Japan’s prettiest city in sakura season.

This gallery was originally published in February 2017. It has been updated with new information.

Madrid and Valencia, Spain

Kyoto, Japan

Austin, Texas

The Nile, Egypt

Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Uyuni, Bolivia

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