“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

TravelHaven Destination — Great Spots to Visit During ‘Shoulder Season’

Here are some ideas from Diana Edelman’s article on Viator.

 

Imagine… traveling to Europe when the crowds are thin,. Don’t think it exists? It does. Europe’s shoulder seasons — that beautiful time of year when the temperatures begin their climb upwards or slow descent down, the water is that perfect temperature, windows are flung open and the costs for air and lodging are firmly planted in off-season prices, despite the glorious weather — are ideal times to plan international travel.

 

The European ‘Shoulder Season’ runs from March to early June (and September through late October). The weather is pleasant and the costs are slashed. Best of all, the continent is relatively free of families, college kids, and backpackers – the typical summer travel contingent. At those times, visitors can get a true taste of everything European, without breaking the bank, waiting in excruciatingly long lines, boarding over-crowded trains, and the like.

 

While there are plenty of places to enjoy in this off-season, these are definitely to be considered.

 

Porto, Portugal

The colorful town located on the Douro River has opportunities not only to get outside and enjoy spring, but also to explore the history and culture of Portugal’s second largest. There are ample opportunities to visit the port houses across the river in Vila Nova de Gaia, where visitors can sample the port wine from the region without the crowds.

 

Best of all, TravelHaven’s next featured trip is a Viking river cruise on the Douro, April 1, to April 10th, 2014, sailing from Lisbon!

 

Amsterdam

Spring and the beauty of fresh blossoms make March and April great times to visit Amsterdam. Rent a bike and explore the quaint streets, or simply pound the pavement and venture beyond the popular tourist spots to really appreciate the old charm the city has to offer. Be sure to check out the Keukenhof bulb flower park, which hits its peak in April.

 

Dubrovnik, Croatia
For sun worshiping and coastal beauty, Dubrovnik, Croatia is perfect in May, early June and again in mid- and late-September. The cobblestone, car-free streets within the old city make navigation and exploration a delight. And then, there’s also the crystal clear Adriatic.

 

San Sebastian, Spain
In San Sebastian, beach-goers can enjoy the water without the crowds in May and September, but not freeze on first dip. During these months the hot property isn’t in such high demand, making it easier to relax and have that siesta seaside. To save even more, find a hotel inland a few blocks. You can also hike up to scenic views and cool breezes around the bay and  enjoy the city’s famed tapas bars and many Michelin-starred restaurants.

 

Reykjavik, Iceland
When school starts in September, Iceland’s hotel rates are cut nearly in half, the weather hasn’t turned arctic (and it really never does), and there is still the possibility of seeing the Northern Lights. You can make Reykjavík home base for adventures beyond the capital, including the réttir or sheep round-up, driving sheep on horseback from the highlands back to their farms.

 

Istanbul, Turkey
Temperate springs and autumns make Istanbul one of the most ideal places to visit during shoulder season. In late summer, the water is still warm enough at the Black Sea to take the quick trip via ferry up the Bosphorus to the little villages on the sea. For those who prefer staying on dry land, days can be spent wandering the historic landmarks of the city, including the Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar and Spice Market. Plus, the outdoor dining options are abundant, including waterfront dining with a bounty of fresh fish to enjoy.