Most people head to Europe in the summer. But if you take a look at the lines to get into any attraction, especially Vatican City, on Google Earth, you’ll see why that’s a very bad idea.
It’s best to visit Europe in the winter. Here’s why.
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1. Fewer Crowds
Much of the old continent can feel like a tourist trap in the summer. By visiting in the winter, especially around November, January, and February, you will likely see few tourists around, so lines will be much shorter.
2. Lower Prices
Unless you travel during the holidays (like around Christmas and New Year’s), prices for flights, accommodation, and attractions are a lot cheaper during the winter.
3. Avoid the Heat
If you suffer from hot temperatures, Europe can be a killer in the summer, unless you head to Scandinavia. London and Berlin have been recording record temperatures over the last few years. If you can’t stand the heat, head over in the winter.
4. Get a Genuine Local Experience
Because there are few tourists around,, you will be able to enjoy your destination as if you were a local. The cobbled streets and shops will be less busy, especially during the week.
5. It’s Romantic
Europe makes for the perfect romantic getaway in the winter with its snow-capped mountains and light festivals.
6. The Locals Have More Time for You
Locals will likely be able to see you’re from abroad from far away. That’s not a bad thing. With fewer tourists to cater for in the winter, they will likely spoil you and give you their best recommendations.
7. See the Carnival of Venice
This festival takes place in Venice every year in February. It’s famous worldwide for its elaborate costumes and masks made of porcelain or leather. Expect to walk among crowds on the day.
8. Enjoy Winter Outdoor Activities
Winter is the skiing season in parts of Europe. Try your hand at downhill skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, ice skating, and more. Check out the Dolomites in northern Italy for less-crowded ski hills.
9. See the Northern Lights
Winter is the best time to see the aurora borealis. If you travel to Sweden, Iceland, Finland, or Norway, you’ll have a chance to see this exceptional phenomenon.
10. Taste Winter Foods
Enjoy the delicious stews, soups, and baked dishes that make up much of the local cuisine. These are hard to enjoy in the heat, so you probably won’t have a chance to taste them outside of winter.
11. Visit the Christmas Markets
Stroll around a traditional Christmas market in Germany and Austria and experience unique local celebrations. The Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg is one of the most famous in the world.
12. Take Stunning Pictures
In much of Europe, the sun is low in the winter, creating fantastic lighting conditions all day. If you’re into photography, you can take stunning shots outside of the golden hour.
13. Enjoy a Cozy Atmosphere
Some places get extra special in the winter. Think of Vienna, where you can enjoy free outdoor opera renditions, listen to classical concerts on the streets, and have hot chocolate with a slice of Sachertorte.
14. Visit Santa’s home village
The capital city of Rovaniemi, in Finland, is known all over Europe as a winter wonderland. It’s the official hometown of Santa Claus, so you can go visit and hand him your wish list in person. The city is covered in snow from mid-December to the end of March.
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