When most Americans travel to Europe, they do so in the late spring or summer, doubtlessly a gorgeous time to see the continent. While there’s nothing wrong with taking a holiday during peak months, there are distinct advantages to going in the winter. In case you’ve never contemplated a winter vacation to a popular destination like France, Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Italy, or even Croatia, some excellent reasons to go in the winter include the following:
Reason #1: Fewer Crowds
As mentioned above, most people who take a European vacation do so in the spring and the summer in order to experience the continent in warmer weather, and because that’s when most people are have time off from work or school, making this the peak season for tourism. And peak season means there are thousands of other people who had the same idea.
When you travel in the winter, though, you don’t have to deal with the same crowds all looking for similar experiences, according to Smarter Travel. While you might not be spending time on the beach (at least for sunbathing), almost all of the landmarks you’d like to see, all the museums you’d like to visit, and all the delectable cuisine you’d like to relish will still be there, and you’ll have as much elbow room as you could ask for while taking in those sights.
Reason #2: Winter Events
While there are myriad festivals and markets during the summer months, those events don’t stop just because the temperature drops and the sun sets earlier. If anything, you get more of these events all across the continent around Christmas time, according to Matador Network.
Traveling to Europe during the winter allows you to see all the things that only happen during the colder months, and it gives you a chance to participate in unique events that you may never have known were happening. From Krampus parades to tree-lighting ceremonies, there is a whole other side to Europe that you’ll only get to see if you plan your vacation for winter.
Reason #3: Many Activities Are Easier
If you’ve ever tried to take a trip to Europe (or anywhere, really) during the peak season, then you’re already aware of the thousands of frustrations just lining up to cast a dark cloud over your trip. The airports are crowded, planes are full, getting a cab is nearly impossible, public transportation is packed, lines are going to be longer, and you’ll be spending more time waiting than you will actually experiencing.
When you travel during the winter, so many of those stresses are minimal. You’ll have more options for transportation, restaurants will have more availability, and while BellaTerra Travel will build and book a custom trip for you, if you choose to schedule downtime at your destination, there will be more options for spontaneous experiences that may not have been booked up months in advance.
Reason #4: Better Weather (Depending on Your Taste)
Have you ever truly experienced a summer in Spain? Or Greece? While the ocean breeze is cooling if you’re close enough to experience it, those temperatures can get quite warm. To the point where you’ll feel pretty uncomfortable doing anything that you have to be outside for, if you’re not accustomed to that sort of heat.
However, if you’re traveling to the southern parts of Europe during the winter, you won’t need to pack ear muffs and balaclavas. While the temperatures might get down into the 50s or the 40s, you’ll still be able to enjoy almost everything that’s happening outdoors. The further north you go, the less of an advantage this becomes, but it is worth considering if you’re eyeing a trip to a place like Sevilla, rather than heading north to somewhere like Belfast.
Reason #5: You Get To Taste The Winter Side of Things
We all know that certain foods become more common when the seasons change back home. As fall gives way to winter hot drinks, root vegetables, and hearty stews become ubiquitous. After all, who orders cocoa in the middle of the summer?
The same thing happens throughout Europe. As Gatrotravelogue says, all across Europe meals become heavier and heartier with the onset of winter. You’ll also get to experience seasonal specials that won’t be available any other time of the year. This can make a winter trip a fascinatingly unique experience for those who’ve only come to Europe during the warmer months.
Reason #6: It’s Easier To Meet The Locals
One of the major benefits of traveling is that you get to meet different people from different places. However, if you travel to any major tourist destination in Europe during the spring and summer months, you may be more likely to meet other tourists than you are the people who actually live in that part of the world. Whether it’s getting a bite to eat at a restaurant, strolling through the local square, or even going down to the market, peak hours mean that other tourists are everywhere.
But during the off-season? That is when the locals come back to their favorite watering holes, and when the press of your fellow travelers is lightest. During the winter, with so few other people taking a holiday, you get a chance to mingle with those who actually live in the place you’re visiting. Whether you want to ask advice about places you should visit, find out what dishes you need to try before you go back home, or just find out what people are like when there isn’t a tidal wave of tourists all over, the winter is one of the best times to do all of that.