SAN FRANCISCO Spring is just around the corner for the northern hemisphere and as the winter weather lifts, northerners might consider getting a jump on the summer holiday crush by taking a trip to the more popular places well before the heavy June-September tourist season.
Online travel adviser Travel Ticker (www.travel-ticker.com) offers its top 10 spring destinations. Reuters has not endorsed this list:
Average temperatures during spring vary depending on the region, but from a purely weather standpoint, this is one of the best times of the year to visit China. Add on the fact that there are fewer crowds and stellar deals to be found during spring, and a visit to the Far East sounds even better. Business and leisure travel picks up in April, so consumers should try to visit in March for the lowest prices and shorter lines.
Travellers wanting a more exotic trip should head south to Ecuador. All of the many regions in this South American country boast savings during this time of the year, and this is truly a part of the world that has something for everyone. Travellers can visit the famous Galapagos Islands, relax on pristine beaches, explore the wonders of the Amazonian rain forest or take in views of the majestic Andes mountain range. Rain may linger in some areas, but that helps keep both tourist levels and prices low. Consumers can beat the peak season rates that start in May by visiting just a month or so early.
3. Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is one of the easiest island paradises to get to from the U.S., so Travellers should take advantage this spring. In one small chunk of land, Travellers can experience an active city life, pristine beaches, rainforests, art, history, and nightlife galore. Since Puerto Rico hasn't yet become top-of-mind for sun seekers, prices continue to remain low and all-inclusive deals are abundant.
Spring is the perfect time to visit Barcelona, when the beautiful weather enhances the experience at historic buildings, cobblestone roads, seaside vistas and vibrant cultural centrepoints. The current economic situation in Spain is helping to drive prices down, so the country is offering some amazing deals to attract more travel business. 2012 is a great year to enjoy traditional Spanish Tapas, visit the fantasy-like structures designed by Gaudí and lounge on beautiful beaches, all at an affordable price.
Anyone who is looking for a coastal European experience should consider Argentina as a great alternative because it has an incredibly rich history and many ties to Spain. From its stunning scenery, vibrant cities, and exciting culture to world-renowned wineries, it's a destination that always pleases. It's also a pretty great value as over the past couple years LAN Airlines has steadily increased flights to the area, resulting in some fantastic air sales. Prices to Argentina tend to soar around the holidays, so Travellers should plan a trip to Argentina in May or June to miss the crowds.
6. Nassau, Bahamas
Nassau is ideal for some springtime fun-in-the-sun. Travellers generally can't go wrong with the many islands that sprinkle this amazing region, but the Bahamas is a sure bet, where turquoise waters and white sand beaches await. With its many all-inclusive resorts competing for tourism appeal, the Bahamas tends be a deal destination year-around.
7. Riviera Maya, Mexico
Even though spring time tends to be a peak season for the Riviera Maya, Travellers should still think of it as a value destination. Known for its luxe all-inclusive resorts, this tropical paradise is a place where it's easy to get your meals, drinks, entertainment and activities all included in one price. This Mexican destination is home to several miles of serene beaches with crystal clear waters. To avoid the spring break crowds, consumers should travel mid-April and into May for great deals without sacrificing the beautiful weather during this season.
Italy's sweet spot is April and May, which makes it a must-consider destination during the spring. Italy's weather is best during these months and since it's just before the summer peak season, Travellers can find great values on airfare and hotels. Additionally, the crowds (which some cities like Venice are infamous for) are much smaller. Easy access means that a true local experience, whether you're sitting at a café with a cappuccino or strolling the tiny streets window shopping, is easily accessible.
With the Olympics around the corner, April and May are ideal to visit England - especially London - right before the crowds and prices spike. With the abundance of new hotel rooms opening in England's top destination, deals should be easy to find right before and after the games. The weather is also best during spring, which is particularly good if you're looking to visit England's world-famous countryside. Although rainfall happens all year long in this area of the world, it tends to drop during this season, giving tourists a fantastic opportunity to view England in all its glory.
France is another country that has something for every kind of traveller, blending rich history with delicious food and breathtaking scenery. Following the same trends as Italy and England, deals tend to be pretty good during spring because it's just before the peak season. When visiting the capital city of Paris during this time of year, Travellers will not only be mesmerized by walks along the Seine River, or by taking in views of the city from the top of the Eiffel Tower, but they will also get to enjoy the city with plenty of sun and perfect temperatures. But Travellers shouldn't stop there, the picturesque Loire Valley or the ritzy South of France are just a quick train ride away and are truly stunning during the months of April and May.
(Editing by Paul Casciato)