Wild spring flowers in Europe: readers’ travel tips | Travel

Winning tip: meadows of Magura, Romania

The colour, diversity of floral species and health of pollinating insect communities remain, for now, in rude health in the southern Carpathians of Romania. The scattered village of Magura lies along a ridge just north of Bran Castle and showcases a simpler agrarian lifestyle not common in Britain since the 1930s. Viper’s bugloss, yellow rattle and Carpathian pinks are just a few of the stars of these special meadows.
HangingaRoo

Every week we ask our readers for recommendations from their travels. A selection of tips will be featured online and in print, and the best entry each week (as chosen by Tom Hall of Lonely Planet) wins a £200 voucher from hotels.com. To enter the latest competition visit the readers’ tips homepage

Puglia’s petals, Italy

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A limestone pasture with orchids on the Gargano Peninsula, Italy. Photograph: Alamy

The rocky meadows a few miles outside Monte Sant’Angelo, on Italy’s Gargano peninsula, demanded a closer look: shimmering purples and mauves stretched into the distance. A friendly fellow walker explained the area was noted for its huge variety of orchids. He pointed out the distinctive shapes, shades and evocative names of a few: naked man, pink butterfly, bird’s-nest, green-winged. A gentle clamber took us past more common, but no less beautiful spring blooms, including grape hyacinths and yellow alyssum. I particularly loved the ubiquitous golden-centred rock roses, looking like little fried eggs on the limestone escarpment. This was a magical interlude en route to the coast.
rja123

Wild flowers on red cliffs, Algarve, Portugal

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Aloe flowers near Lagos. Photograph: Alamy

The red sandstone cliffs near Lagos in the Algarve are a great place to see wild flowers. We visited in May and saw several that were new to us. Head for Ponta de Piedade lighthouse and then walk west along the cliffs. Agave growing wild is a sight to behold, as are the prickly pears’ huge orange-red flowers with yellow centres. And so are the much smaller flowers like Spanish oyster plant, dwarf morning glory, mallow-leaved bindweed, hottentot fig, French lavender, yellow sea aster and mirror orchid. We wouldn’t have known all the plant names, but my partner found a paperback in Lagos called Wild Flowers in the Algarve, by Pat O’Reilly and Sue Parker (First Nature, £6.50).
TheresaStearn

Pindus mountains blooms, Greece

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Sempervivum on Mt Vasilitsa. Photograph: Dina Ghikas

The northern Pindus mountains have a wealth of biodiversity, thanks to their complex geological history and geographic isolation. From April to mid-June, every surface, from rocky moonscapes to verdant river banks, bursts with blooms in every colour. One of the most stunning spots is Annitsa, site of a memorial dedicated to the fighting of 28 October, 1940, which marked Greece’s entry into the second world war. From this vantage point, you can see the two highest mountains in Greece, Mount Olympus and Mount Smolikas, as well as the whole eastern front of the Pindus, rising from an ocean of buttercups, narcissus, hyacinths and more. There are many hotels and mountain lodges, and the city of Grevena, a half-hour drive away, is known as the city of mushrooms, and wildflower season, as it happens, is also a great time for mushrooms.
Dina Ghikas

Fragrant snow on Golica mountain, Slovenia

6048 - Wild spring flowers in Europe: readers’ travel tips | Travel



Wild white narcissi on the slopes of Golica. Photograph: Alamy

They do not come before the swallow does, nor do they take the winds of March with beauty – they bloom too far away from Britain’s mild oceanic climates – but in April and May, sometimes as late as June, the slopes of the Golica – Slovenia’s Bare Mountain – are covered with fragrant “snow” of white daffodils. These delicate scented beauties are known by around 120 folk names in Slovenian, which is rare in a plant that is of little commercial use to farmers. It seems their beauty alone prompted such flights of fancy. Ključavnica (meaning lock) is one of the more interesting folk names. It refers to a local legend: once upon a time, God forbade bees to gather honey on Sundays. As the bees ignored the edict, God “locked” the flowers, so the bees could no longer access their sweet juice.

Before the second world war, daffodils carpeted the mountain all the way to the top, but “progress” has reduced their natural habitat. There is a yearly daffodil festival at Planina under the Golica.
Cynosure

Spring blossom, Sierra Nevada, Spain

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Blooming almond trees and snowy mountains, Sierra Nevada, Andalucía. Photograph: Alamy

Spring in the Sierra Nevada is characterised by a fragrant display of wild flowers and blossom. Trek Sierra Nevada lists an array of walking trails through gorges and hanging bridges, rivers and reservoirs, rosemary and lavender meadows, and fruit groves – pomegranate, apricot, apple, orange. The fragrance is intoxicating and an intrinsic part of the experience. Goats roam the fields and the music of their bells fills the valleys.
Cecilia Lindstrom

Living art gallery, Lake Constance, Germany

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A meadow of blooming tulips on Mainau island, Lake Constance. Photograph: Alamy

We stepped on to Mainau Island, in Lake Constance (the Bodensee), early last May and into a living art gallery. Red, orange and yellow tulips cascaded in wild exuberance down grassy slopes, like vibrant splotches from a Jackson Pollock painting. We picnicked in a shady glade amid an impressionist iridescence of primroses, bluebells and daffodils. In the distance, dappling the fields surrounding the castle, grape hyacinths and crocuses formed a pointillist study in mauve. Easily accessible by rail from Konstanz, or by scenic boat ride from Meersburg or Lindau, this floral isle is a delight.
mainau.de
fionachaillier

Rhodope mountains kaleidoscope, Bulgaria

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The village of Ortzevo, West Rhodope mountains. Photograph: Maya Karkalicheva/Getty Images

When we visited this region in southern Bulgaria last May, the distant peaks were still covered in snow but at lower altitudes spring was well under way and there were wild flowers everywhere. We walked through meadows dotted yellow with dandelions, buttercups or cowslips and others shaded purple by hundreds of dog violets or grape hyacinths. There were orchids, too, and all along the edges of the tracks, beside streams and in clefts in the rocks, were a score or more of other plant varieties.
Ruth_B

Flowers of the Atlantic, São Miguel, Azores

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Beautiful view over green hills, meadows and mountains of São Miguel island. Photograph: Alamy

Even on the short drive from our coastal apartment to the town of Furnas we passed wild roses sprouting from rocks by the roadside, pink jewel-like buds perching on green moss-covered banks, yellow meadow flowers and wild garlic, white lilies in the fields (not toiling at all and seemingly safe from the cows who share their field), and camellias of every hue, their petals blazing against verdant leaves. During our week’s meanderings around São Miguel, we hiked through woodland, over grass- and moss-covered hills dotted with heather, alongside fertile levadas and through thick undergrowth mottled with creepers and ferns. Each scene was dotted with life and colour from azaleas and camellias springing to life at every turn. We stayed at Quinta de Milhafres near Vila Franca de Campo on the south coast of São Miguel.
Lindamarie

Crocuses in Dolina Chochołowska, Poland

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Wild spring crocuses in Dolina Chochołowska. Photograph: Alamy

The crocuses of Dolina Chochołowska are a spritely little bunch. They start blooming as soon as the snows of the Polish winter recede, and sometimes even while there’s still a covering of the white stuff in the low valleys of the Tatras. You’ll be able to catch their heliotrope petals popping up between the log cabins and fir forests of the Zakopane mountains in April and May. For the best glimpses, try to get to the valley early and see them glow as the sun breaks over the serrated tops of rocky Kominiarski Wierch and Mount Bobrowiec.
Bolkonsky