Where are the best places to see cherry blossoms?

Where are the best places to see cherry blossoms?

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Spring is the best time of year to see beautiful cherry blossoms, and in 2023, people will travel far and wide to places such as Japan, Germany, the US, and France to see the trees and attend cherry blossom festivals

In the springtime, cherry blossoms pop their baby pink petals to tell the hemisphere that the sun is finally back again, resulting in a kind-of cotton candy blizzard just a few days later, and every person caught up in it suddenly becomes a serious photographer. These are the best cities in the world for joining in on exactly this over the next couple of months.

Where can you see cherry blossoms in Asia?

Kyoto, Japan

Cherry blossoms bloom over Philosopher's Path in Kyoto — Getty ImagesThere is nowhere in the world like Kyoto when the sakura pops — Getty Images

Cherry blossom-viewing, or hanami (literally “flower watch”), is a huge springtime custom in Japan, where the beauty of the sakura is celebrated and the cycle of life is contemplated, and nowhere in the world can compete with Kyoto’s sakura. As winter turns to spring, the blossoms bloom and the former capital is inundated under a sea of pink. The monkey-filled hills surrounding the city erupt, the parks and gardens of the 1,600 temples and shrines fill with people partaking in hanami, and the Philosopher’s Path turns into a blizzard of petals. It is a magical experience in a breathtaking city.

The Japanese take hanami so seriously that their meteorological office provides predictions on when the sakura will pop. In theory, one can catch the blooming throughout the country, from south to north, by taking the train with a special tourist railcard that is exceptionally good value.

Tokyo, Japan

Cherry blossoms along river in Tokyo — ShutterstockTokyo comes to life on a whole new level in the cherry blossom season — Shutterstock

Of course, Japan holds two spots on this list, and the second has to be Tokyo. Simultaneously ultra-modern and traditional, it’s home to vast parks, rivers and temples where hanami opportunities are plentiful. Yoyogi Park, with its stunning temple and views of the city, is full of hipster types escaping the madness of Harajuku to play music and dance under the cherry blossom. There are over 10,000 trees in Shinjuku Gyoen, many of which bloom late in the season; and Ueno Park — probably the most crowded — sees the fall begin a few days ahead of the rest. Meguro River has become one of the most iconic spots in the city for Instagrammers and the huge gardens of the Imperial Palace are simply incredible.

Changwon, South Korea

Even the railroads become attractions during cherry blossom season in Jinhae – Guitar photographer / Shutterstock cherry blossom festival sakura hanamiEven the railroads become an attraction during cherry blossom season in Changwon — Shutterstock

Gunhangje is the Korean name for cherry blossom-viewing, and the best festivities take place in Jinhae, a district of Changwon. In 2023, the cherry blossom festival here will be on between March 25 and April 3, and some one million visitors are expected to descend on the city for what is one of the country’s largest celebrations. The rivers, temples, and even the railroads are lined with blossoms, and it’s an absolute spectacle.

Where are the best places in North America to see cherry blossoms?

Buffalo, US

Cherry blossom tree branches against classical architecture in Buffalo — ShutterstockBuffalo offers a mix of cherry trees and beautiful classical architecture — Shutterstock

Buffalo’s Delaware Park holds a Japanese garden full of cherry blossom trees. Every year, against a backdrop of classical architecture and lanterns, the volunteers who maintain the garden hold a festival to celebrate the coming of spring. It’s one of the best in North America, and there’s the whole of New York State’s second city’s beautiful neoclassical, beaux arts and art deco architecture to explore, too.

Macon, US

Macon's cherry blossom trees in bloom — Getty ImagesMacon claims to hold the best cherry blossom festival in the world — Getty Images

The town of Macon used to be a sleepy place in the deep south of the US until a local businessman discovered the beauty of the Yoshino cherry tree. On a business trip to Washington DC in 1952, William Fickling Sr. found the city to be full of trees similar to the one he had in his Georgia garden — the only cherry blossom in town. He taught himself how to care for and propagate the trees, and soon enough, Macon was full of them. Now, the Macon International Cherry Blossom Festival claims to be the best in the world — although we’re not sure what a Kyotoite would think of that.

Vancouver, Canada

Cherry blossom tree branches with snow-capped mountains in background — ShutterstockCherry blossom + epic skyline = Vancouver — Shutterstock

Vancouver, one of the most chilled-out cities in the world at the base of some really impressive peaks, is surely a fantastic place to take a walk through blizzards of pink petals. The city’s Cherry Blossom Festival runs for three weeks and includes a haiku contest, a massive picnic, and guided tours to explain the horticultural, historical and societal stories behind the trees.

Washington DC, US

Washington DC’s cherry blossom trees have become an iconic part of the city since they were planted in 1912. The Tidal Basin in the shadows of the Martin Luther King and Thomas Jefferson Memorials is the place to go, where 1,800 of them stand, with even more in East Potomac Park. A festival is held every year, and it’s an excellent chance to soak up some history at the same time.

Where are the best places in Europe to see cherry blossoms?

Stockholm, Sweden

Cherry blossom trees by river in Stockholm — Getty ImagesThe blooming cherry trees of Kungsträdgården — Getty Images

In 1998, 63 sakura trees were planted in Stockholm’s King’s Garden (Kungsträdgården) and a new Swedish tradition was born. Thousands of visitors come every year to see the blossoms fall, and it’s not the only place in the city basking in cherry blossoms. More than 10,000 trees have been planted along the streets, so if you want to avoid the crowds, there are still plenty of opportunities to get yourself caught in a pink blizzard.

Jerte Valley, Spain

Jerte Valley views of cherry trees in bloom — ShutterstockEscape the crowds to the Jerte Valley for an experience like no other — Shutterstock

The mountains of the Jerte Valley, near Madrid in Spain, are covered in cherry trees that awake every spring. The best way to enjoy them is by hiking or riding a pony from the medieval city of Plasencia (which is full of Jewish, Muslim and Christian history) towards the Garganta de los Infiernos nature reserve. The route is full of tiny traditional villages, as well as the ruins of Roman settlements and ancient monasteries. It’s not strictly one city, and it’s not really a festival, but it’s an experience like no other.

Paris, France

 

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As if it needed anything else to bolster its romantic reputation, Paris is another city that heaves with blossom in the spring. A trip to the Eiffel Tower and the gardens of the Champs de Mars will guarantee a beautiful view. Many trees are also on the square that surrounds the Notre Dame cathedral, and Square Gabriel-Pierné is an excellent, more serene spot. Parc de Sceaux in the south of the city holds the most trees, and there’s a hanami festival in April.

Hamburg, Germany

Fireworks along the Alster river — ShutterstockSakura season in Hamburg is celebrated with fireworks — Shutterstock

Hamburg is a beautiful industrial city of canals, bridges, and sin, but also of cherry blossoms. Its festival has the tongue twister of a name — Kirschblütenfest, and is one of the oldest in Europe, starting in 1968. Japan gifted the city some trees and they were planted along the banks of the Alster. Every year, there’s a huge firework display to celebrate hanami, best watched from a boat on the river.

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Ben Finch

Ben Finch is a freelance journalist who loves to explore the world.

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