The UK is in lockdown now, most likely until March – which also happens to be the perfect month for a holiday. It’s the beginning of shoulder season: when temperatures are warming up, the seas are no longer out of reach, tourist attractions are crowd-free and prices are generally lower. If you’re wondering where to go on holiday in March, keep reading. From cool city breaks to spring staycations and exotic getaways, we’ve got it covered.
Note: UK is (again) on lockdown and non-essential travel is not permitted. But at the same time, vaccines are being distributed and travel restrictions can change fast. When it’s time to get back out there again, always check local government guidelines before booking travel.
Spring staycations for a holiday in March close to home
The UK may not be as hot in March as some of these other places on the list, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have a great time (government restrictions and lockdowns permitting).
Bournemouth, Dorset, UK
Average temperature: 10°C
March on the beach? In the UK? Perhaps not for swimming (unless you’re really brave and/or wear a wetsuit). But anyone could go for a picnic with a view in one of Bournemouth’s Blue Flag beaches. England’s most popular seaside resort (and often warmer than the rest of the UK) has a 10-mile stretch of beaches on offer between Hengistbury Head and Poole Harbour. Whether you choose Alum Chine, Durley Chine, Fisherman’s Walk or Southbourne, you’ll be rewarded with wide swathes of golden sand, beach huts and ice cream stalls. And of course, views to the iconic Bournemouth pier.
Then, the Victorian gardens (Upper, Central, and Lower) that run through the centre of the town should not be missed. The Lower Gardens in particular, only a five-minute walk from the beach and pier, are a great place to relax among the cedars and pines or try your hand at golf. If you yearn for more high octane activities instead, the PierZip at RockReef, the world’s first pier-to-shore zip wire, will get your adrenaline pumping.
Due to the pandemic, many of the indoors activities are currently closed. But once they reopen, a stop at the Shelley Theatre, built in 1870 next to what was then the private home of the Shelleys, should be on your list. As should be The Russell-Cotes art Gallery and museum, whose art nouveau interiors play host to an eclectic collection of Japanese ceramics and Pre-Raphaelite paintings. Got kids in tow? The Bournemouth Oceanarium will keep them happy, through underwater tunnels of sharks and loggerhead turtles.
Where to stay in Bournemouth:
There are many great hotel options in Bournemouth. Classy options are the Grovefield Manor and Hotel Miramar near the beach, or enjoy the urban amenities of Washington House hotel, within walking distance of the sand.
St. Ives, Cornwall
Average temperature: 10°C
Quintessentially British and heartwarmingly charming, Cornwall is always an obvious choice when it comes to UK staycations. St. Ives in particular, blessed with a beautiful coastline and one of UK’s sunniest climates, can make your holidays in March unforgettable.
With five sandy beaches with a short walking distances from the town, at St. Ives you’ll never be too far away from the water. Head to the Blue Flag-awarded St Ives Bay for some of Europe’s clearest waters, to the popular Porthmeor beach for strong, Atlantic ocean waves or to the more sheltered Porthminster beach, adorned with elegant Victorian villas.
Once you’re ready to be on land for a bit, take to the cobbled streets sprawling from the harbour past the fishermen’s cottages, to explore the town of St. Ives. Have a traditional cream tea at Olive’s Cafe (jam first, clotted cream second) and a sourdough pizza at the West Beach Bakery on the west end of Porthmeor Beach. Visit Tate St. Ives, the Southerly outpost of the Tate museum group, for contemporary artworks by local artists. Don’t miss the distinctive, geometric abstract sculptures in bronze by Barbara Hepworth at the Museum and Sculpture Garden in her name.
Note: Some of these attractions are currently closed due to the pandemic, so always check beforehand.
Where to stay in St. Ives:
Exciting city breaks for a holiday in March
From ancient ruins to neon-lit casinos, these must-see cities can be the perfect backdrop for your March holiday.
Average temperature: 16°C
With the wildflowers starting to bloom and the Aegean sparkling back to life, March is a wonderful time to visit the cradle of democracy. Athens is all about grand historic traditions with a chaotic edge – best seen in the hip Exarcheia neighbourhood, known for its anarchist bookshops and edgy bars.
March is the perfect time to take a crash course in the city’s ancient culture, as the big sights are far less crowded (particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic). Kick off your trip at the Acropolis, home to the Parthenon temple. Dreamed up in the fifth century by the statesman Pericles, the building is a symbol of Western civilisation. After channelling your inner Narcissus with a few selfies, stroll downhill to the Acropolis Museum. This houses lots of statues and artefacts found in the Acropolis, but the Elgin Marbles are just a reproduction – the real thing is in London’s very own British Museum.
For the best views in the city, climb the Areopagus hill (where Saint Paul is said to have preached to the masses) or the Lycabettus Hill, where you can also take the funicular from the posh Kolonaki neighbourhood.
Stuck for things to do? Our pick of the best 15 things to do in Athens should help to fill your itinerary. And if you feel the islands calling you, Hydra and Spetses are just a two-hour ferry trip away.
Where to stay in Athens
Stay in the shadow of the Acropolis at the brand new The Modernist Athens on the southern slopes of Lycabettus Hill, a short stroll from the main attractions and metro station. Want to throw in a cheeky beach holiday in March? Oasis Hotel Apartments is right on the coast, south of Athens in Glyfada, about a 20 minute drive or short tram ride from the city centre.
Average temperature: 29°C
Backed by the dramatic Al Hajar mountain range and gently lapped by the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Oman, Muscat is one of Arabia’s most beautiful destinations and perfect for a holiday in March. Unlike Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the capital of Oman is mostly low-rise whitewashed buildings with intricately carved stonework. The occasional gold minaret pierces the skyline, with regular calls to prayer enhancing the evocative atmosphere.
Take a wander through the Mutrah Souq, where weathered traders in flowing white robes sell frankincense, khanjar daggers, kumma caps and silver and gold jewellery. Stop for a cup of qahwa – the local coffee cardamom-flavoured coffee favoured by Sufi mystics. As you sip, contemplate a visit to the date-palm oases in the mountains or plan a night under the stars in the nearby Wahiba Sands desert (pictured in the photo above).
Where to stay in Muscat
The Middle East does luxury like nowhere else, and the Chedi Muscat is an excellent example. This opulent complex has water features, a calming zen design, its own private beach and some sunken spa baths. Prices are lower if you stay outside the city, with cheap and cheerful accommodation options like the Pioneer Hotel Apartments. Just over 3 miles from Muscat centre, they have beautiful surroundings. Ask for a third-floor mountain view apartment and you’ll see what we mean.
If you really want to get away from it all, there are some unique desert hotels too. For example at Dunes by Al Nahda, you can treat yourself to some sand dune immersion – one of the world’s weirdest spa treatments.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Average temperature: 34°C
Phnom Penh is a beguiling mix of stately colonial buildings – a reminder of the country’s time as French Indochina – and sombre memorials to the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror. It’s tough going, but make time for a trip to the Killing Fields memorial and the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum. It’s important to bear witness to the country’s dark past, and understand the resilience of the country’s hospitable and gentle people.
One of the best things to see in Cambodia is the Angkor Archaeological Park, a complex of ancient temples belonging to the Khmer Empire – who dominated the area from the 9th to the 15th Century. No-one knows why these temples were abandoned, but strolling through the overgrown remains is guaranteed to make you feel like Lara Croft. If you don’t have time for the six hour bus ride or domestic flight to Siem Reap, you can explore the wonders of this ancient empire at Phnom Penh’s National Museum.
Your Cambodia holiday in March wouldn’t be complete without a tipple in the Foreign Correspondents’ Club. Once a hub for aid workers and journalists during the country’s 13-year civil war, today it’s a laid back restaurant where you can watch the sun go down over the Tonlé Sap River.
Where to stay in Phnom Penh
You get plenty of bang for your buck in Cambodia. The US dollar is the unofficial currency, and is often more readily accepted than the Cambodian Riel. Because of this, you can treat yourself to a stay in luxury accommodation like the LeBlanc Boutique Hotel. It has an indoor swimming pool where you can cool off after a long day of exploring, and the bar does a mean espresso martini. For a more local experience, look for hotels near the buzzing Russian Market. The Frangipani Living Arts Hotel is a great choice, and has one of the best rooftop views in the city.
Las Vegas, USA
Average temperature: 21°C
With its bright lights and kitschy atmosphere, Las Vegas is one of the world’s most iconic destinations. In March you’ll see the city and its surrounding desert landscape at its best, as the temperature is warm and perfect for strolling along the strip. While Sin City is best known for its glitzy casinos, there’s plenty to keep non-gamblers entertained too. You can go to Cirque du Soleil, catch a 90s supergroup live in concert or get an adrenaline fix on the world’s highest thrill rides.
During March you can expect boisterous parties around St Patrick’s Day (17 March), as every red-blooded American dons a “Kiss me, I’m Irish” T-shirt and quaffs their way through green lager. You’ll also have the chance to get involved in March Madness, when people flock to Vegas to bet on the NCAA College Basketball tournaments. Most bars put on free food and drink during the event, so even if you’re not having a punt it’s worth heading along to watch. Bear in mind that this coming March, coronavirus restrictions will most likely be in place.
Where to stay in Las Vegas
Hotels in Las Vegas are an attraction in their own right, with casinos and signature shows drawing non-guests in their droves. If you don’t want to sleep where you play, a good place to get away from it all is the Waldorf Astoria. This non-smoking hotel has no casino – but does have luxurious amenities such as a massive spa, huge bathtubs and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the strip. It also has a swimming pool on the eighth floor deck, and an on-site French restaurant. How’s that for sophisticated?
Exotic getaways for a holiday in March
Who says March it’s too early in the year for a beach holiday? These idyllic destinations will have you soaking up the sun and topping up your tan.
Andaman Islands, Bay of Bengal
Average temperature: 31°C
If you really want a holiday in March beyond the beaten track, the Andaman Islands are a dream come true. Set in the Bay of Bengal – closer to Myanmar than India – this archipelago of paradise islands is about as remote as they come. Swim with angelfish in crystal clear waters, sink your toes into the clean white sands, or simply ponder the fact that these islands were completely isolated from the world until the British colonised them in the 19th Century. Today more people are visiting – from daring backpackers to celebrities hiding from the paparazzi – so go now while the beaches are still fairly empty.
Where to stay in the Andaman Islands
Most accommodation in the Andaman Islands is on Havelock Island, a four hour boat ride from the airport at Port Blair. Luxury seekers will love a stay at the Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, a complex of 50 villas which sit on stilts above the turquoise waters. Amenities include morning yoga by the Olympic length outdoor pool, guided rainforest walks, and a fine dining restaurant. If you’re on a tighter budget, head for the Symphony Palms Beach Resort – home to the oldest bar on the island.
St. Martin/St. Maarten, Caribbean
Average temperature: 29°C
With French flair in the north, Dutch decadence in the south and Caribbean cool all over, St Maarten is a real triple treat destination for your holiday in March. At just 34 square miles, this French/Dutch island is the smallest in the world to be divided between two nations – a historical quirk dating back to 1648.
March is the perfect time to visit the Caribbean. It’s the month with the lowest rainfall and the weather is hot, with an average temperature of 29°C. Wherever you are on the ‘Friendly Island’, you’ll be assured a warm welcome and no shortage of fun: whether it’s horse riding, windsurfing or drowsing on a catamaran in the clear waters.
Discover the island’s breathtaking scenery on the uphill track to Wilderness Beach on the northernmost point of the island, or if that’s too quiet for you head down to Orient Beach, grab a guavaberry rum and get your groove on to the steel bands.
Where to stay in St Martin/St Maarten
Room prices on the island average £200 – £300, so it’s not exactly a budget destination. Unsurprisingly, resorts in this corner of the Caribbean are as luxurious as they come. Swim in the naturalised pools right next to the ocean at the Oyster Bay Beach Resort, just south of the French border. At the Marquis Boutique Hotel you can tuck into breakfast on your own private patio, overlooking Anse Marcel beach and the vibrant blue sea beyond. It’s only two miles from L’Espérance Airport, so a nice spot if you’re catching the red-eye home.
Con Dao, Vietnam
Average temperature: 32°C
Dramatic cliffs, rolling hills and well-preserved coral reefs make this little spot off Vietnam’s southeast coast a dream destination. Despite being one of the most alluring island getaways in Southeast Asia – and that’s really saying something – Con Dao has managed to stay under the tourist radar.
History buffs will be intrigued by the island’s dark past – it was a penal colony from 1862 until the Vietnam war ended in 1975. Over the past few years most visitors were government-sponsored groups of former Vietcong soldiers returning to pay their respects to colleagues buried on the island. But now, people are coming from further afield, attracted to Con Dao’s unspoilt natural environment.
Hire a motorbike and head to Bai Nhat beach, which has some of the islands clearest waters, and stay late enough to catch the sun setting behind ‘Love Peak’ mountain. Trek through the thick forests, which are home to macaque monkeys and other local species. Around 80% of the island’s land area is part of Con Dao National Park, so there’s plenty of jungle to explore.
Where to stay in Con Dao
The island’s first luxury hotel, Six Senses Con Dao, opened in 2010 and is still one of the most prestigious places to stay on the island. Guests get their own villas with private infinity pools, outdoor showers and breathtaking ocean views. If your budget doesn’t quite stretch that far – rooms go for around £350 per night – there are plenty of guesthouses and locally run hotels charging as little as £17 per night.
Holiday in March FAQ
As of January 2021, the UK is in lockdown and travel is not permitted. But the situation is changing fast. To make sure you stay on top of developments, always consult official government websites for current guidelines and restrictions. And once it’s time to travel again, check out Skyscanner’s global interactive map to see where’s open.
In Northern Ireland, 17 March (St. Patrick’s Day) is a bank holiday. For England and Scotland, the next bank holiday is 2 April (Good Friday).
Greece has been in the UK’s corridors list until recently (apart from the islands of Rhodes, Kos, Corfu, Zakynthos and Crete). Once the latest UK lockdown is lifted there is a good chance you will be bale to travel to Greece again. Currently, anyone entering Greece will have to undergo a rapid COVID-19 test upon arrival.
Discover where you can go
Making plans to get back out there? Find out whose borders are open with our interactive global map. You can also sign up to receive email updates when your top destinations reopen.