We know it is spring when the Cherry Blossoms are starting to bloom. The Cherry Blossom is the national flower of Japan and represents a time of renewal and optimism. There are many places to see them in the US including Washington, DC and even in my home state of Pennsylvania. But do something different this year. Head to Europe and see some of the best displays anywhere.
Every year spring gives us scents, colors and warmth that awaken us from the lethargy of the long winter and make us want to spend as much time away from home as possible. But above all, it gives us something else: the opportunity to travel. Spring is, in fact, the best way to extend the weekend and cut boredom with a break. Or rather, a city break. The holiday can be cultural, relaxing or fun, but the lowest common denominator is always the beauty of the new season that arrives. And where is this beauty reflected? In cherry blossom, the symbolic tree of spring.
Though countries in the far-east, like Japan, are widely famous for their cherry blossoms, you don’t necessarily have to travel to these countries to witness it.
When does Cherry Blossom Starts?
Generally, the full flowering period is between the end of March, precisely on the occasion of the arrival of spring, and May, obviously depending on the latitudes. It is also the time when two of the most important world events related to Prunus Avium (the Latin name for the tree) take place. One is hanami in Japan: the word literally means “to admire the flowers”. In spring, in fact, millions of Japanese travel to the main cities of the archipelago to enjoy the flowering of Sakura, the variety of Japanese cherry trees.
The other event is the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, USA, which is celebrated for two weeks starting on the last Saturday in March. The American capital commemorates the gift of Japanese cherry trees made by the mayor of Tokyo back in 1912 to strengthen the bond between the two countries. Of course, not everyone can afford to travel so far in the spring: that’s why we offer you the most beautiful destinations to go to in Europe to admire the cherry blossoms.
Valle del Jerte, a valley in Extremadura in southwestern Spain also turns pink during spring. Millions of cherry trees transform the agriculturally important area into a sweet-smelling sea of blossoms at the end of March. Two hundred different types of cherries are grown here – the blossoms are correspondingly diverse with pleasant spring temperatures. From small white to large pink blossoms, the whole range of cherry blossom beauty is available to you.
The natural spectacle extends over a total of 40 kilometers and only ends shortly before the medieval city gates of Plasencia. In the small old town, there are magnificent Renaissance palaces, two cathedrals and one of the oldest wineries in Spain. The historic wine cellar still operates as a bar today and is conveniently part of an impressively beautiful hotel. In this way, you can combine your cherry blossom journey with historical sightseeing and lots of enjoyment.
In Austria, too, the cherry trees blossom in spring. A cherry grove was planted on the Danube Island in Vienna in 2002 as part of an Austro-Japanese project. These trees are part of the total of 1,000 that Austria received on the occasion of its 1,000th birthday.
Far away from the city, you can experience the cherry blossoms on the southern slopes of the Leithagen Mountains in Burgenland. More than 10,000 trees bloom in April and May, and you’ll see a particularly large number of them on the tour “Cherry Blossom Cycle Trail”.
There’s only one place to go in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, to see the cherry blossoms: it’s Kungsträdgården, located right in the city centre. The small green area is one of the most popular places for the inhabitants of Stockholm, thanks to its many clubs; and tourists, as it is surrounded by numerous attractions. But it has more than 60 Japanese cherry blossom trees that capture everyone’s attention in the spring.
Indeed, every year the Japanese Association in Sweden organizes Körsbärsblommans Dag or Cherry Blossom Day. In short, another festival dedicated to hanami and Japanese culture, where in addition to feasting in the shade of rose petals, you can stroll through stands dedicated to ikebana, bonsai, origami, kimonos, manga and more.
A trip to Rome can be a real multi-day vacation, with all the monuments to see, itineraries to follow and things to do. Among these, in the Roman spring, there is the hanami at the Parco Lago dell’EUR. There is a pedestrian here and a cycle path called the Promenade of Japan, inaugurated in 1959: the then-Japanese minister gave the city 2,500 sakura, and many of them were planted right inside the promenade. During cherry blossom season, city dwellers go to the park to admire the pink blossoms and have a picnic, and many even wear kimonos, in pure oriental style.
One of the most beautiful and at least the best-known cherry tree blossoms in Germany can be found in Bonn. At the beginning of April, tourists and amateur photographers romp about in the middle of the old town, especially on Heerstrasse. They also cause traffic chaos. The cherry blossom is typical of Bonn.
The cherry blossoms in Kiel are also very beautiful. Several cherry trees form an avenue on Knooper Weg, right next to the Muthesius Academy of Art. As soon as they bloom, many Kiel residents are attracted to the small green strips. They relax on the benches under the flowers and, of course, snap a photo or two.
The partner city of Hiroshima also donated 110 pink and white cherry trees to the state capital of Lower Saxony, Hanover. The city celebrates a cherry blossom festival each year, with the next on April 24 at Hiroshima Grove.
Ah, Madeira! The incredibly beautiful island is not called Portugal’s garden for nothing. It goes without saying that the cherry blossoms also show their most beautiful side here. However, on the sun-kissed island, it faces competition from impressive hydrangeas, birds of paradise, noble lilies and numerous other beautiful flower varieties. You can discover all the splendour of the exotic and native plant species in the gardens of the Quinta das Cruzes Museum in Funchal.
The sea of white cherry blossoms in the Jardim da Serra is a special highlight because of its transience. The mountain village on the way to Boca da Corrida is located almost 1000 meters above sea level and can be discovered with a rental car with a spectacular view. Depending on the weather, the cherry blossom season begins at the end of March. The nice thing: In this off-season, the often noble hotels in Madeira are comparatively cheap.
Since 2007, the Danish capital has been organizing the Copenhagen Sakura Festival. Here too, the flowering of the Japanese cherry trees is celebrated, which upholsters the turf by painting it pink. The event takes place at Langelinie Park, with a huge following of thousands of people every year. The festival focuses on hanami as well as other aspects of Japanese culture. In fact, there are food and artisan stands, and performances of all kinds are held. Martial arts such as aikido, karate, judo, ninjutsu, and taido; cultural performances such as the awaodori dance and kimono parade; all accompanied by a picnic and tea ceremony. In short, more than the classic day at the park.
Our Final Word
There are many places to experience cherry blossoms. Both near and far. We suggest take shake off those winter blues and take a trip to Europe. Seeing the blossoms while visiting historic cities and sites is remarkable. It truly will be a time of renewal and optimism for you.