The Significance of Easter and Why it "Moves"

Ever wondered why Easter is not celebrated on the same day every year? And why are there two different dates for Easter around the world? Or are you planning your next European getaway? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you’ve already traveled to the perfect spot!

This year, Easter, the “moveable” Christian Holiday which commemorates Jesus’ resurrection, will be observed by denominations of Western Christianity on March 31. Eastern Orthodox Churches, they will hold their Easter celebration, or their “Pascha,” on May 5, 2024.

While both branches of Christianity celebrate Easter on the first Sunday after the “Paschal” full moon, the exact date Easter Sunday falls on depends on which solar calendar is used. The Eastern Orthodox Church uses the Julian Calendar, while Western Christian Churches use the Gregorian Calendar.

The entire 50-Day Easter period is also referred to as “Eastertide” or “Paschaltide.” 40 days before Easter, Christians begin Lent, a period of reflection and preparation leading up to Easter. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes on Holy Saturday. The final seven sacred days of Lent are also known as “Holy Week” – which is now fully upon us.

A timeline of Holy Week for Western Christianity and the Roman Catholic Church

The 10 Best Cities in Europe to Visit During Easter 2024

Now that you’re caught up with this year’s Easter timeline and its religious significance, let’s dive into the excitement that goes beyond denominations.

Yes, Easter is a Christian holiday, but it is not only for Christians and Roman Catholics. Add Easter to the springtime, and Europe itself springs further into life – for both locals and travelers. Churches across many European cities, and cities around the world, hold special services, processions, and rituals to honor and celebrate Easter. Famous streets then become filled with ornate floats, traditional music, exuberant dancers, and so many other fun activities.

Easter transcends religious boundaries, infusing European cities with bubbling energy and an air of celebration.

In the spirit of Easter, our team has ranked 10 of the best cities in Europe to visit this special time of year. One of our many ways of celebrating Easter travel with you. And to keep our procession objective, we’ve made sure to include some of our experts’ favorite cities that lie outside of our tour catalogue. But you will be the true judge of our list!

Our European travel experts utilized the following criteria when curating 10 of Europe’s top destinations this time of year:

10 - Prague, Czech Republic

Prague, with its blend of fairytale charm and rich history, provides a picturesque backdrop for Easter celebrations, and comes in at number 10 on our list. Here, you can enjoy the stunning architecture of sites like the Prague Castle, and we highly recommend taking a stroll across the iconic Charles Bridge.

Popular and traditional Czech food during Easter includes delicacies like Mazanec “Easter Bread” and Škubánky (a sweet and fried, potato-based pastry somewhat like the Italian zeppole). If you’ve never tried either a zeppole or Škubánky, might as well book your tickets to the Czech Republic, or Italy, right away – you’re missing out.

Easter decoration on the old town square, Prague, Czech Republic

Easter decoration on the old town square, Prague, Czech Republic

9 - Amsterdam, Netherlands

Being in Amsterdam during Easter promises a delightful blend of tradition and modernity, making it a stellar choice and earning it the 9th spot on our list. As spring blooms across the city, Amsterdam’s iconic canals adorned with colorful tulips in full bloom. You will also get much more sunlight and warmer weather in the Netherlands this time of year.

Easter in Amsterdam offers a plethora of activities, from exploring world-class museums like the Van Gogh Museum to joining in the vibrant festivities at the Easter markets in Dam Square. For sun-seekers, the best time to soak up some rays would be around late April when the weather starts to warm up. And as for the notorious red-light district, well, perhaps it's the one place where you can hunt for eggs of a different kind – just be sure to keep an eye out for any "special offers" from the local bunnies! Amsterdam truly offers a unique Easter experience.


Spring sunrise in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, overlooking one of its famous canals

Spring sunrise in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, overlooking one of its famous canals

8 - Milan, Italy

Milan, holding the esteemed 8th position on our list of top European cities for Easter exploration, offers a fusion of timeless elegance and contemporary flair. As the city emerges from the winter chill, Milan blooms with vitality, presenting an array of activities to enchant visitors during this festive season.

For those seeking outdoor adventures, the beginning of spring offers ideal weather for exploring Milan's lush parks and gardens, such as Parco Sempione or Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli. And while Milan may not boast a red-light district, its vibrant nightlife scene ensures there's no shortage of excitement after the sun sets.

Then there’s the secrets of Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, the Last Supper, resonating with the spirit of Easter. This iconic painting is a must-see when in Milan, and for an even deeper experience, consider joining our guided tour to delve into its historical context and artistic significance. Milan beckons travelers to celebrate Easter in style, promising an unforgettable time in the heart of Italy's fashion capital.

Bird's-Eye View of the Cathedral Duomo di Milano

Bird's-Eye View of the Cathedral Duomo di Milano

7 - Vienna, Austria

Number 7 brings us to Vienna, Austria, where classical elegance meets Easter extravagance in a harmonious blend of tradition and opulence. The city comes alive with a symphony of Easter festivities during this time of year, offering a perfect blend of cultural richness and celebratory spirit. Two of the city’s top venues are the Schönbrunn Palace and the historic Hofburg Palace. They will both leave you utterly speechless.

And of course, no visit to Vienna would be complete without savoring a cup of Wiener Melange at one of its elegant coffeehouses, where you can bask in the timeless charm of Viennese café culture. Vienna's Easter charm is sure to sweep you off your feet.

View of Vienna from Saint Stephane's cathedral, Austria

View of Vienna, Austria from Saint Stephane's Cathedral

6 - London, United Kingdom

Number 6 on our list takes us to London, where tradition, religion, and modernity, converge in a vibrant Easter celebration. London offers travelers and locals one of the most diverse settings in the world for Easter festivities, courtesy of its perfect blend of old-world charm and contemporary flair.

Among the must-visit attractions is the iconic Westminster Abbey, where a series of solemn and beautiful ceremonies are held throughout Holy Week. On Palm Sunday, the Abbey hosts a Sung Eucharist with the Blessing of Palms, featuring enchanting choral performances. Throughout the week, visitors can also attend Morning and Evening Prayer services, immersing themselves in the spiritual ambiance of this historic site.

And lastly, few places can offer family-friendly fun during Easter like the English Capital does. London’s bustling streets become adorned with colorful Easter decorations where you can enjoy a host of family-friendly activities, from delightful Easter egg hunts in picturesque parks to awe-inspiring performances at renowned theaters. London's Easter allure promises an unforgettable journey through history, culture, and magical delights for the whole family to enjoy.

The Greater London Area in spring

The Greater London Area in spring

5 - Lisbon, Portugal

Entering the top 5 on our list – Lisbon! Nestled along the scenic shores of the Tagus River, Lisbon offers a delightful blend of historical charm and vibrant culture, making it a delightful destination for Easter festivities. In this coastal beauty, Easter is celebrated with fervor and joy, reflecting Portugal's rich religious heritage and lively traditions.

If you’re traveling to Lisbon during Easter, don't miss the Festa da Páscoa (Easter Festival), where you can witness traditional religious processions, savor authentic Portuguese cuisine, and enjoy lively music and dance performances. Throughout the week, Lisbon's churches come alive with some of the most colorful and energetic Easter services and ceremonies you’ll ever see.

In addition to religious observances, Lisbon also boasts a vibrant atmosphere with Easter markets and cultural activities. Visitors can explore markets held in iconic squares like Praça do Comércio and Praça da Figueira, where they can shop for traditional handicrafts.

Aerial view of Tower of Belem at sunset, Lisbon, Portugal on the Tagus River

Aerial view of the Tower of Belem at sunset, Lisbon, Portugal on the Tagus River

4 - Paris, France

Known as the "City of Light," and the “City of Love,” Paris offers a magical and intimate settings for Easter celebrations. With blooming cherry blossoms appearing all over Paris, Easter truly feels like a time of renewal and new life in the French capital.

Throughout Holy Week, Paris holds a number of Easter ceremonies at its most renowned venues like the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Centuries-old traditions come to life in a solemn and majestic ceremony at Notre-Dame for the grandeur of Easter Mass.

Easter in Paris quite literally looks like a time of renewal, with blooming cherry blossoms adorning the city's parks and gardens. Families can delight in Easter egg hunts along the Seine River and near the Eiffel Tower, adding an element of fun for children amidst the cultural experience. Afterward, adults can indulge in our champagne cruise on the Seine, savoring exquisite views of Paris's landmarks while toasting to the beauty of the city and the joy of the Easter season. With its timeless elegance and enchanting ambiance, Paris promises an Easter getaway perfect for every family member.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris on a sunny spring day behind cherry blossoms

The Eiffel Tower in Paris on a sunny spring day behind cherry blossoms

3 - Barcelona, Spain

In the heart of Catalonia, Barcelona emerges as our number 3 pick among the top 10 cities to experience Easter in Europe during 2024. Steeped in a unique blend of Catalan culture and modernist architecture, Barcelona beckons with genuine excitement this time of year.

During Holy Week, Barcelona's historic districts come alive with processions, music, and traditional dances. Visitors can witness the iconic "La Sardana" folk dance performed in squares and parks, symbolizing unity and community spirit. One of the most anticipated events is the "Processó del Sant Enterrament," a solemn procession on Good Friday depicting the burial of Christ, complete with elaborate floats and religious imagery.

No visit to Barcelona during Easter would be complete without exploring the architectural wonders of Antoni Gaudí. The breathtaking Sagrada Família stands as a testament to Gaudí's genius and remains one of the city's most iconic landmarks. Visitors can attend special Easter services at this awe-inspiring basilica, immersing themselves in its intricate facades and soaring spires.

As evening falls, Barcelona's culinary scene beckons with tantalizing flavors and vibrant ambiance. Indulge in traditional Catalan dishes at local taverns and tapas bars, savoring the rich flavors of "bacallà" (salt cod) and "crema catalana" (Catalan custard). End the evening with a leisurely stroll along the bustling streets of La Rambla, where street performers entertain crowds with their mesmerizing talents.

Park Güell, one of Antoni Gaudí's many precious gifts to Barcelona

Park Güell, one of Antoni Gaudí's many precious gifts to Barcelona

2 - Sevilla, Spain

Surpassing Barcelona at number 2 on our list is a city not too far away – Sevilla. While it may come as a surprise to some, Sevilla steals the spotlight as the ultimate destination for Easter celebrations in Spain. Renowned for its extravagant “Semana Santa” processions, Sevilla immerses visitors in a spectacle of religious fervor, cultural heritage, and vibrant traditions.

During Holy Week, Sevilla's streets transform into a captivating stage for the city's iconic processions, featuring elaborate floats adorned with religious icons and accompanied by solemn marches and haunting music. One of the most anticipated events is the "Madrugá," an early morning procession on Good Friday that draws thousands of spectators to witness the awe-inspiring display of devotion and pageantry.

You can attend traditional flamenco performances, where the passionate rhythms and emotive dances evoke the spirit of Andalusia. Art aficionados can explore the city's museums and galleries, showcasing centuries of Spanish art and culture. Sevilla's Easter allure extends beyond its cultural and culinary offerings to encompass the warm hospitality and infectious energy of its people. From the grand processions to the intimate moments of reflection, Sevilla offers an Easter experience that is both unforgettable and deeply meaningful.

Sevilla, Spain holds the number two spot on our list for its unmatched Holy Week fervor.

Sevilla, Spain holds the number two spot on our list for its unmatched Holy Week fervor.

1 - Rome, Italy & Vatican City

Surprised by our winner? Probably not. Claiming the top spot on our list of the top 10 cities to experience Easter in Europe during 2024 is Rome/Vatican City. As Easter masses are already underway, the special power and significance of the Vatican are palpable, particularly during this sacred time of year. Adding to the significance, Easter 2024 also marks the 11th anniversary of Pope Francis' election, further enhancing the spiritual atmosphere of the city.

But Rome offers much more than just religious observances. It's a city where history, culture, and culinary delights converge to create an unforgettable experience.

It's worth noting that crowds can pick up in Rome during Easter, but fear not! If you travel with us, our Skip-the-Line experiences and curated itineraries ensure a seamless and enjoyable visit, allowing you to make the most of your time in this magnificent city.

As for specific events taking place during Easter 2024, Rome offers an array of experiences to suit every taste. From the solemnity of Easter Mass at St. Peter's Basilica to the joyous celebrations in the city's historic squares, there's something for everyone. Don't miss the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession at the Colosseum, where the ancient amphitheater provides a dramatic backdrop for this centuries-old tradition. Additionally, explore the Vatican Museums and marvel at the Sistine Chapel, or take a leisurely stroll through the charming streets of Trastevere, where Easter festivities spill out into the cobblestone alleys.

In Rome, Easter is not just a holiday – it's a celebration that resonates with the echoes of history, the flavors of tradition, and the warmth of community.

The Eternal City Stands Alone as the Top City in Europe to Visit During Easter According to our Experts

Final Thoughts from City Wonders

Enjoyed our list? Can't believe our rankings? Let us know on social media! And for those already traveling, we're eager to hear about your Easter adventures.

We hope you found our list of the best cities in Europe to visit during Easter 2024 insightful and inspiring! Whether you're fascinated by the cultural and religious significance of Easter, intrigued by the diverse experiences it brings, or simply love the springtime vibes, there's something for everyone to discover and enjoy.

From all of us at City Wonders, we extend our warmest wishes for a joyous and happy Easter celebration, wherever you may be in the world.