With rising temperatures and the beauty of Spring just around the corner, Easter in Europe is a wonderful time to visit the continent. Easter week is a very important time in Europe. Cities and towns are filled with parades, processions, and events to mark the holiest time in the Christian calendar. Join us as we take a look at some of the best and biggest celebrations to look out for on your Easter vacations in Europe.
When is Easter in Europe?
Easter is the most important celebration in the Christian calendar. Easter Sunday is the culmination of a week-long event marking the story of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. Pinning down the exact date of Easter is a bit tricky, as the day itself is dictated by the full moon cycle. Easter Sunday always falls on the Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox. Because the full moon occurs on different dates each month, so does Easter. According to astronomical calendars, the earliest that Easter can be is March 22nd, while the latest is April 15th.
What’s the weather like for Easter vacations in Europe?
The weather can be a bit fickle in Europe around Easter, particularly if the event takes place in March. Although March is considered the first month of Spring in Europe, temperatures don’t generally warm up until well into April. This means that Easter can be a chilly affair in the central and northern parts of the continent. Southern regions, such as Andalusia in Spain, the Algarve in Portugal, and the Balearic and Canary Islands enjoy mild to hot temperatures all year round. Therefore, they are the best Easter break destinations in Europe for sun-seekers.
The other weather element to be aware of in Europe at Easter time is the rain. Most places, including Italy, Greece, the UK, and France, will experience several days of rain during March and April. If you’re planning a Europe vacation at Easter, make sure that you pack a good rain jacket and plenty of layers, so that you can adjust to the changing conditions with ease.
Are places in Europe closed at Easter?
Many museums and sites are closed, particularly on Easter Sunday. Most restaurants, especially those aimed at tourists, remain open all weekend. Shops normally close on Sunday in Europe.
Crowds at Easter in Europe
Festivals and events will be crowded with locals, as well as tourists on vacation for the Easter school break. If you want to enjoy a quieter Europe vacation at Easter, try getting off of the beaten path and exploring smaller towns and cities, rather than sticking to the big hitters. Tourist favorites such as Paris, Rome, and Barcelona will be jam-packed at Easter, but many of the smaller towns in these regions, such as Siena and other hill towns in Tuscany, or the white villages of Andalusia, will be less busy, while still giving you an authentic European Easter experience.
Where to go for Easter vacations in Europe
Easter vacations in Andalusia, Southern Spain
Average temperature at Easter: 61F
Top destinations in Andalusia for Easter week in Spain: Seville, Malaga, Marbella, Cadiz
Easter week, called Santa Semana in Spain, is a week-long spectacle. Starting on the Sunday before Easter, brotherhoods known as Cofradias carry huge floats, or tronos, through the city streets. They are made of precious metals such as silver and are incredibly heavy. It is a great honor to carry one, although it takes 25-30 men to shuffle it a few feet down the road before it is passed on to another group. Capirotes follow, in tall pointy black hats and robes, with bands playing mournful songs. It is a dark and mournful occasion and might be too intense for young children. The week culminates in a much more joyous procession to mark the resurrection. Carnival floats are covered in flowers and sweets and upbeat tunes are played by the bands.
Easter in Italy
Average temperature at Easter: 59.5F
Top destinations for Easter in Italy: Florence, Rome
Easter vacations in Florence
Easter in Florence is a lively affair, culminating in The Scoppio del Carro (The Explosion of the Cart) on Easter Sunday. Since 1622, a cart laden with a huge wooden tower that is filled with firecrackers makes a slow procession through the streets, ending its journey at Florence Cathedral. A priest lights a rocket in the shape of a dove, which flies through the cathedral on a line into the cart, where the firecrackers are detonated and the tower explodes in a shower of sparks. The little ‘dove’ must then return to the central knave. If it doesn’t make it back, it is seen as a prediction of a bad year.
Easter in Rome
Easter in Rome is as important as Christmas. Rome is a passionately Roman Catholic city, and the Easter vigil in Rome is one of the biggest held in Europe. Throughout Easter week, churches are open and full, while many museums and historic sites are closed. Easter Sunday in Rome, locally called Domenica di Pasqua, is the most important day of the week, and actually begins late on Saturday night. The Easter vigil is held on Saturday night in St Peter’s Basilica and is presided over by the Pope. The service begins in total darkness before the Pope lights the Easter candle, from which thousands of smaller candles are lit. This culminates in the whole basilica being flooded with candlelight, in one what is one of Europe’s most moving and enigmatic Easter services.
Easter celebrations in Greece
Average temperature at Easter: 56.5F
Top destinations for an Easter break in Greece: Crete, Corfu
Corfu, Greece at Easter
Easter in Corfu Town is a time of both mourning and celebration, as well as some pretty unique traditions. Throughout the week leading up to Easter Sunday, marching bands play mourning songs in processions through the streets. The mood gradually gets darker until the final procession on Saturday after Good Friday, when, at 11 am people throw clay pots filled with water from windows and balconies. The marching bands play celebratory music as the pots smash on the cobbled streets, and people clamor to take pieces of broken pots home, to bring good luck in the coming year.
Crete at Easter
The Easter break in Greece is the most important holiday of the year. Cretans celebrate Orthodox Easter, with a late mass on Saturday night, in which the Holy candle is lit. The 40 days lent fast ends at midnight, with fireworks and a bonfire on which an effigy of Judas is burnt. After the celebration, people rush home to mark their doors with candle ash in the shape of a black cross, to symbolize good luck for the next year.
Book your Easter vacation home with Top Villas
Heading to Europe this Easter? Then you’ll want somewhere spectacular to stay. You’ve come to the right place, for at Top Villas there is a grand selection of stunning vacation homes. How about a luxurious Sorrento home with a sea view across the Bay of Napoli? A white-washed Greek villa with a front-row seat to magnificent island sunsets? Or maybe a traditional French chateau home? Whatever your style, we have an amazing home for your holiday. Fond and book beautiful rental properties on our main site.