EUROPE

When to Go to Europe (A Guide to High, Low & Shoulder Seasons)

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Knowing when to go to Europe can make or break your trip. Each season has its benefits and pitfalls, but it is no secret that avoiding the summer crowds willย result in lower prices and wait times to enter attractions. But low season in Europe also results in the closure of many establishments and some small towns close down altogether! So if you’re wandering when to go to Europe, here’s our complete guide!

World of Wanderlust in Moscow

Peak Season

Mid-June through August

Summer in Europe is still a great season to travel in, but you’ll need to be prepared for crowds or know how to avoid them.

If you’re travelling to popular cities on the typical European itinerary (think Paris; Rome; Venice; Barcelona; Amsterdam) then you’ll have no choice but to brave the crowds. The best way to avoid crowds is to arrive 30 minutes before opening time for your preferred attraction and be first in line to visit that morning. Of course you’ll only be able to do this for one attraction per day, so choose wisely!

Otherwise pick off the beaten path cities to visit like Istanbul or Budapest where crowds will be lighter (but still busy – believe me!)

In terms of temperatures, you can expect really hot summer days throughout Europe during summer. Be sure to pack a pair of comfy shoes to make it through the day, but also don’t forget a hat, sunglasses and sunblock.

To avoid crowds in popular day visit cities (like Bruges in Belgium or Cesky Krumlov in Czech Republic), stay a night to see the city at dusk or before the crowds arrive at dawn.

Keep in mind that some places are indeed best visited in peak season! For example in small European towns like Hallstatt in Austria, the city all but closes up for the colder months. Thus travelling in the warmer months can sometimes be a necessity if you have particular places in mind.

Read more: Escape the crowds: 10 cities in Europe to escape the crowds in summer

Copenhagen_Winter

Low Season

November through March

Lets talk about low season – perhaps my all time favourite time to travel in Europe! Sure, I like the cold, so it is certainly not for everyone… but please, let me plead my case!

Low season in Europe almost always means low rates (December, January, February), save for the exceptions of Christmas and New Years. Hotels are often heavily discounted and can be found for as much as half the usual rates! Cities like Budapest in Hungary are incredibly cheap in low season as the supply for accommodation is high but the visitation levels are low. Heading further east to Romania will only result in saving more dollars!

This is indeed winter season in Europe, but it can often be the prettiest time to explore a city – with snow covered streets and a charming blue haze throughout the day as the sun struggles to break through. Be prepared for closures of some cities altogether, or disruptions to services due to the weather. Also be aware that winter in Europe results in much shorter days, with some cities in the North barely seeing the sun at all.

Read more: Where to go in Europe in winter

Europe in Spring

Shoulder Seasons

April through mid-June and September through October

My second favourite time to travel throughout Europe is in the shoulder seasons of Spring (March-May) and Autumn (September-November).

Be aware that shoulder season doesn’t necessarily fall directly into these seasons, as countries like Italy and France can often see higher visitation levels in these seasons and thus result in hardly any change in price from summer rates.

However if you get off the beaten path and head to small towns outside of capital cities, there is not only money to be saved but much to be enjoyed in these seasons. Locals are noticeably much happier outside of the busy summer rush and visitors are fewer than in the warmer months.

This begs the question… spring or autumn? Personally I prefer spring as you can enjoy Europe BEFORE the crowds come in by the masses and spoil the attitudes of locals who are eagerly working up towards their holidays. Plus a little spring time blossom makes for extremely pretty pictures!

Read more: Where to go in Europe in Spring

 

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  • management.aredheadinargentina@gmail.com'
    Pat
    February 12, 2016 at 8:50 am

    Love this article. Definitely using the tips for when I head to Europe in June! Thanks Brooke!

  • SarahB94@web.de'
    Sarah
    February 10, 2016 at 7:20 am

    I actually quite enjoy traveling in spring! Will head to Dublin in 2 weeks and then in April to Barcelona. Really looking forward. But I do have to say I really want to visit Italy in summer. I don’t know why but I feel like it’s the best time although it will be crowdy.

    Kind regards,
    Sarah from a passport can get you everywhere

  • freyroberta@gmail.com'
    Roberta
    February 10, 2016 at 3:09 am

    I personally love to travel in spring. The temperatures are good and it’s sunny ๐Ÿ™‚ Zagreb tho, I believe is best to visit inDecember because of the Christmas market, but every other city in Croatia, especially ones on the sea side, during summer/spring! ๐Ÿ™‚ Have a great week ๐Ÿ™‚

  • gfleuri@bigpond.net.au'
    Helen L
    February 9, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    Thank you, Great to have your thoughts on best times to travel.
    I love Bavaria in Spring …. then on to Italy or Switzerland ….

  • traveller.bookmarks@gmail.com'
    Gonรงalo Santos
    February 9, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    But there are also those places that are NEVER croweded, those precious gems that are getting harder and harder to find. I’ve just written a post about one of them, Marvรฃo, an walled small portuguese town perched on a vertiginous rock. If you are interested, please check

  • lisakernerslp@gmail.com'
    Lisa at LTTL
    February 9, 2016 at 8:36 am

    We loved the shoulder season for any country that was not a warmer climate, otherwise we went touring on the off seasons.

    Visiting from Throw my Lens

    Lisa at Life Thru the Lens

  • brooke.neal@gmail.com'
    BROOKE NEAL
    February 9, 2016 at 7:16 am

    Great information on your blog!

  • autourdekenza@gmail.com'
    Kenza
    February 9, 2016 at 6:54 am

    I love this kind of article when you suggest some destinations according to the weather and to the seasons ! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thank you !

    Kenza from

  • sanchita_mahajan@rediffmail.com'
    Sancha
    February 9, 2016 at 4:24 am

    You have been an inspiration for so many souls out there. Love your spirit and all the best for everything in future

  • bethapps@hotmail.co.uk'
    Beth
    February 9, 2016 at 3:27 am

    Such a good post to read, it’s nice to get a bit of information about the difference in seasons as my boyfriend and I have decided that we want to do a nice hot holiday in the summer and then every year until we can afford to travel together we want to do a city break in europe just before christmas, so I suppose it’s always wrapping up for those holidays! but nice low prices which is fine by us as long as we see the city!

  • coatandcoffee@gmail.com'
    Emily
    February 9, 2016 at 2:44 am

    Love that you wrote this! I am always a huge fan of traveling in the off seasons, and I don’t mind the colder weather either. I like to do a lot of my traveling in September and April. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • breese823@yahoo.com'
    tanya breese
    February 9, 2016 at 12:32 am

    wonderful!

  • susannelisa@icloud.com'
    Susanne
    February 8, 2016 at 10:20 pm

    I always travel in the summer since that’s when I have my holidays, and I can only agree about that “hot days” comment. We always go to Italy and that’s hot hot hot! I love it though!

  • lisa@lisaldn.com'
    LisaLDN
    February 8, 2016 at 8:58 pm

    This is a great guide, and I completely agree that visiting in the less busy months is a great idea! I just wrote a post on visiting the fjords of Norway in the Winter, and what to do there! Visiting in the Summer is great, but you’ll be fighting other tourists for the best photo ops – in the Winter you’ll have the fjords to yourself! It’s worth it, in spite of the lack of sunlight ๐Ÿ™‚

  • thisoffscriptlife@gmail.com'
    Jennifer @ This Off Script Life
    February 8, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    I’ve been living in Europe for a few years now, and my favorite time of year to travel around the continent is during the shoulder months (April-May and September-October). It’s neither too crowded nor too cold, which is perfect for me. August is the worst time of year to visit cities in Europe as many local restaurants and shops are closed.

  • Dressedwithsoul@web.de'
    Rena
    February 8, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    You know even better than I the best seasons in Europe although I’m European ๐Ÿ™‚
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena