When to Travel Where in Europe
Best time to Travel? Anytime! It depends on what you want to see and the types of activities that you are interested in experiencing. Europe is a large continent and encompasses a wide range of temperatures through the year.
- Winter (Off-Season): If you are hoping for fewer tourists then winter is your best bet. Take in ice hotels, European winter cuisine, and winter sports while traveling during the months of November through March. Try your hand at snowshoeing, ice fishing, tobogganing, snowboarding, ice skating, or skiing. Be sure to check out destinations such Zell am See, which is in the heart of the Austrian Alps. Only a few minutes from Kitzsteinhorn, Schmittenhhe, and Maiskogel, Zell am See is the consummate winter destination for winter sports enthusiasts of all skill levels.
If you’re more interested in warmer weather during these months head to the southern region of Europe. Areas of Greece, southern Spain, Crete, and Sicily can average 50 to 60 degree F days in winter months.
- Spring (Shoulder Season): Spring can be filled with showers in Europe. However, the peak tourist season is still a few months off so you can enjoy smaller crowds. Most areas in Mediterranean Europe tend to be green and lush while more mountainous areas may still have some snow.If you are willing to get a little bit wet and are prepared for unpredictable weather, you’ll be able to be a guest at places like The Keukenhof in Holland. Only open to the public from mid-March to mid-May, this garden is the second largest flower garden in the world and has over 7 million flower bulbs planted annually. Holland is a wonderful destination for those desiring a European cycling trip.
- Summer (Peak Season): The summer months tend to be the high season for Europe. June through August are the highest months with several million international visitors. Families are likely to travel during the summer months because of school schedules. And the sunny weather and long days are an appealing combination for any traveler. It is important to note that many European countries can have high temperatures in the summer, especially southern European countries, and many restaurants and other buildings do not have air conditioning.
- Fall (Shoulder Season): Fall, like spring, will have smaller crowds. Fall rounds out the end of the peak season so most attractions remain open but with less sightseers. The weather will also be similar to spring. The days will be shorter than summer but still long enough for a full day’s exploration. Expect sunshine mixed with rain showers and cooler temperatures. Spain, Italy, and Croatia are a paradise in fall. The temperatures are warm but not over-bearing, the heavy tourist crowds have gone home, and the Adriatic water is still warm.
A few things to check off before you leave...
1. Know Where You Are Going!
Familiarize yourself with country/region that you are going to visit. Make sure you read about the weather averages and expectations for the time that you are traveling. Will it be snowing? Will you need sunscreen or bug spray? Read up about the type of currency that is used. What type of monetary currency will you need? Will you need to exchange your money at an airport or will you be able to exchange it at a local bank? Will you need a voltage converter, if so, what type will you need to bring with you?
These are but a few ideas of how to start preparing for a trip to Europe. However, there are many other questions that should be addressed before traveling.
2. Passports, Plane Tickets, Paperwork!
Make sure that you have all of your travel paperwork in order. Most foreign countries now have regulations regarding travel and the expiration date of your passport. Make a copy of your passport for when you travel. Should you lose your passport on your travels you’ll have all your information when you go to the US Embassy. It’s also a good idea to have your flight itinerary printed out and on hand during travel. Some people choose to check-in for their flights via the internet 24 hours before. This is a quick and convenient way to skip waiting in some lines, just make sure you have your picture identification ready along with your plane ticket when you hit the security line.
3. Make a Must-See List!
Foreign travel can be overwhelming. With so much to see and do it’s easy to feel rushed. Put together a “must-see” list and an “if-there’s-time” list. This will help you prioritize your activities. After you have seen everything on your “must-see” list and find that you have extra time (and energy!) you can then move on to your “if-there’s time” list. This will ensure that you don’t miss out on anything!
1. Pack an extra set of clothing in your carry-on. If your luggage is lost by the airlines (hopefully, this will not happen!) you will need an extra set of clothes.
2. Transoceanic flights can be arduous and adding jet-lag can be exhausting for kids (and adults). If traveling as a family with young children try and book evening flights or red-eye flights. This way everyone can get a little sleep before hitting the ground. If possible, try and adjust to the new time zone immediately. For example, if you land in the morning try and stay up as long as possible and go to sleep at your regular time.
3. Don’t be afraid of public transportation! Europe is travel friendly and with multiple public transportation options you can go almost anywhere at a reasonable cost.
4. Go local! If you know the local language, or some of it, try and use some of it. Locals appreciate your willingness to try and use their language. They may even teach you some! Also, don’t be scared of local cuisine. Try as much as you can. It’s no fun eating something you can get at home!
5. Relax, have fun, and experience a new destination!