Why go? April 2012 marks 20 years since the beginning of the Bosnian War, and a perfect time to discover a renascent country at its springtime best. Historic capital Sarajevo is a highlight – visit the Turkish Quarter for coffee and baklava, and the War Tunnel that brought supplies into the besieged city. Three hours away by bus, the Ottoman bridge at Mostar – shelled in 1993, restored in 2004 – is an unmissable excursion.
Where to stay: Family-run Bascarsija guesthouse is a real find. Doubles from £43.
Why go? The prospect of roaming one of Europe’s biggest bogs might not set every heart a-flutter, but trust us: Soomaa (‘swamp land’) is something special. As winter snows melt in April, this Estonian wilderness park of rivers and floodplain forests enters a unique fifth season – high water time. Explore by snowshoe, dug-out canoe or on boardwalks, looking out for wading birds, wild boar and howling wolves.
Where to stay: Visit www.panparks.org (the European parks network) for farmstays and activity providers in the area (from £30).
Getting there: easyJet flies to Tallinn from £80 rtn; it’s a 132km drive from there to the park.
Why go? According to legend, Romulus and Remus founded Rome on 21 April, 753 BC. The city’s 2,765th birthday will be celebrated (as it is every year) with parades, banquets and gladiatorial performances in and around the Circus Maximus (see www.natalidiroma.it for details). But whether you’re into toga-clad historical re-enactments or not, nobody can fail to be seduced by the Italian capital in springtime. To top it off, on 21 April the city’s civic museums are free for all.
Where to stay: Quod Libet is a bright and breezy new B&B in the city centre; doubles from €70.
Getting there: Numerous airlines fly from the UK to Rome from around £100 rtn.
Why go? With golden beaches and blue seas, the Karpas Peninsula juts out of Cyprus’s north-east corner as if escaping the tourist hordes further west. And escape it does – this is unspoilt North Cyprus, where wild donkeys wander and local villagers drink tea and play backgammon. Temperatures now are around 25°C, and the landscape is erupting with wild flowers, including tiny orchids.
Where to stay: The Oasis at Ayfilon has six rooms, sea breezes, turtles and snorkelling in a Roman harbour; from £25.
Getting there: Pegasus Airlines flies to Lefkosa-Ercan, with a brief touchdown in Turkey, from £175 rtn.
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