Great Blue Hole

Although March heralds the onset of spring, the sun can still be just as elusive and the weather can be moody during the month. But as long as you’re not perturbed by a surprise rain shower, there are plenty of options for a March getaway, from diving with manatees in Belize to losing yourself in the multi-hued revelry of the Holi festival in India.

Best March holidays for… beaches

Short haul: Santa Maria, Azores

Azores200São Lourenço Bay is known for its beautiful seashell shape
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Blink and you might miss Santa Maria. Like a superstar celebrity this island values its low profile and enchantingly beautiful status. But luckily, unlike celebs, access to Santa Maria isn’t a problem – regular flights connect to Lisbon and other islands of the Azores archipelago. The beaches Praia Formosa, Praia dos Anjos and Praia da Maia offer gorgeous uncrowded expanses in which to relax, while São Lourenço Bay – known for its beautiful seashell shape – has lush vineyards fringing its shores.

If some days get too cool for lounging around in the sand, you have the option of exploring the village of Anjos, where Christopher Columbus disembarked on his return from the Americas. Alternatively, try one of the well-developed hiking circuits on the island; these allow travellers to explore diverse ecosystems that are otherwise inaccessible.

Long haul: Philippines

Phillipines200Find your personal nirvana in the Philippines
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Your search for a perfect beach holiday might just end here, as all beach clichés could arguably have been coined in the Philippines.

If gourmet cuisine, pulsating nightlife and stretches of white sandy beaches are what you’re after, head to Boracay Island. But if undiscovered and bucolic are more your thing, the unspoilt Daplac Cove on Boayan Island or the private Balesin Island are the answer to your prayers. Adventurous divers and snorkellers will absolutely love Puerto Galera (a UNESCO designated Man and Biosphere reserve) and Anilao, which is teeming with colourful fish and corals.

If that’s not reason enough to visit, there’s a host of events in the Philippines throughout March, including the Kaamulan Tribal Festival held in Malaybalay City. This magnificent gathering of seven hill tribes features traditional songs, dances and rituals, with tribe members clad in their traditional vibrant costumes and heirloom jewellery.

Best March holidays for… cities

Short haul: Vilnius, Lithuania

Vilnius200Quirky and bohemian Vilnius is sure to charm you
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Vilnius is quirky, charismatic and captivating all at once. Even though the skyline of high-rises tells of a modern world, the ancient church towers are the stoic witnesses of poignant times gone but not forgotten. It’s no wonder this baroque European town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site; Lithuania’s capital is practically a living museum. Walk around the Old Town, explore Gothic churches and sample some Lithuanian delicacies such as skilandis (smoked chopped meat) or kugel (a noodle-potato pudding) en route.

A highlight this month is the Kaziukas Fair: a folk festival where traditional arts and crafts can be found – the ideal opportunity for travellers to purchase souvenirs and handmade gifts to take back home.

Long haul: Delhi, India

Holi200Partake in Holi's multi-hued revelry
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Delhi is in essence a microcosm of India as a whole and is often the first port of entry for travellers. Keep your pinch of salt handy and you’ll fall in love with a city that manages to shock, intrigue and enamour. The markets don’t get any more colourful, the history doesn’t get any more fascinating, and the food doesn’t get any more mouth-watering. If you’re tired of roughing it, a range of luxury hotels are at your disposal, and if street food gives you ‘Delhi belly’, internationally acclaimed restaurants are there to serve you.

If you’re lucky enough to visit in March, make sure you partake in the Hindu Holi festivities (8 March) – picture water pistols, white clothes, powdered colours and dhols (Indian drums) all thrown in together. Rooted in tradition, religion and culture, this festival takes to the streets so you won’t have any problems getting involved; in fact, you’ll not want to stop.

Best March h
olidays for ... outdoors

Short haul: Iceland

ICELAND200Visit the thundering Gullfoss Falls
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If you haven’t yet had your fill of winter adventure, head to Iceland. With more than 30 active volcanoes and over 10% of its surface covered with glaciers, Iceland’s geographical tapestry is like no other.

For starters, there’s the Gullfoss (Golden Falls) touted as Europe’s most powerful waterfall with its 32m-high (105ft) double cascade. On a sunlit day, the clouds of mist surrounding the falls are filled with rainbows, providing an almost unequalled multi-sensory experience of colour and motion.

The famous Blue Lagoon geothermal pool is the place to head if you’re in search of outdoor pampering amongst myriads of natural wonders. It might be a tad crowded and expensive, but it’s worth every bit of inconvenience.

Other activities on your ‘to do list’ here could include skidoo (snowmobile) riding, glacier expeditions and sledging. Also, the chances of seeing the Northern Lights here are still high at this time of the year despite the depths of winter having departed.

Long haul: Belize

Manatee200Get friendly with an adorable manatee
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All outdoor enthusiasts will never want to leave Belize, with its innumerable national parks, reserves, archaeological ruins and a barrier reef par excellence.

Animal lovers will enjoy the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, considered to be the best Jaguar sanctuary in the world, whilst Half Moon Caye is an island dedicated entirely to birds, in particular red-footed boobies whose chicks hatch this month.

Serious hikers can head to Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave, a journey that involves wading, swimming and climbing through a vast ancient cave system used by the Mayans for religious sacrifices.

The area is also home to world-famous dive sites such as the stunning Great Blue Hole, which resembles a deep-blue pupil at the centre of an eye of turquoise sea. Or, if you want to see a more unusual inhabitant of Belize’s warm waters, Swallow Caye, Southern Lagoon and Corozal Bay provide perfect spots to see the elusive and endangered manatee.

March sees Belize celebrate Baron Bliss Day (9 March), which honours Belize’s greatest benefactor. To mark the occasion, several local boat races are held across the country.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.