Visiting Europe during the winter doesn’t sound so enticing at first thought. The weather is cold, the winter days are shorter, and some attractions are even closed during the winter. On top of that, it’s highly recommendable to get travel insurance in case of weather-related airport/trains delays. However, there are still some major advantages while traveling around Europe in the winter. It’s not the end of the world if the weather is cold. Like the smart traveler mantra says: ‘There’s no such thing as a bad weather, only unsuitable clothing’. Here are some reasons to go consider backpacking Europe in winter!
Europe looks fabulous in its winter clothes Visit Europe in the winter
Snowflakes falling in front of the illuminated Eiffel Tower; snowflakes falling in front of the eternal Colosseum. Icicles hanging from the eaves in some of the authentic German villages. The crunching sounds of tires under the snowy roads in Scandinavia. Europe can oftentimes look like a fairytale in its winter outfit. Some cities simply look better in the winter. Even though some sights might be closed during winter, the off-season is the in-season for cultural events. Opera houses have more events, theaters work at full steam, and even the Mediterranean isn’t so damn hot during winter.
The festivals and the time around Christmas
Walking down the streets around Europe and looking at the Christmas decorations, while having a glass of warm spiced wine and a gingerbread can really make you feel like the star of a Christmas movie. The atmosphere is really warm around Europe, despite the cold winds and the white snowflakes that are starting to invade most European cities. There are also a lot of traditional carnivals before the start of Lent and the atmosphere is really vibrant around these days and certainly, something worth seeing.
There are fewer tourists
You will be able to spot the difference pretty soon, as you won’t be stuck in a line for two hours waiting to see the Louvre or to get to the Eiffel Tower. Traveling during the winter will allow you to avoid the waves of tourists which are present during the summer days. And I always say that these big waves of tourists change the appearance of a city. During the winter you will be able to see the European cities in a more natural appearance, and you will witness the normal, everyday life, which is quite different compared to the tourist season.
Related: how to spend three days in Amsterdam?
Everything is cheaper
The fewer tourists result in cheaper prices. And this is applicable to flight fares and accommodation facilities too. To put it simply, the lack of demand lowers the level of the prices. However, the metropolitan cities have visitors throughout the year, so the difference might not be that big in these cities. But you will surely be able to get big discounts in the smaller cities that are trying to attract more tourists in the winter period.
You can experience the northern lights
In winter, the days are shorter, and consequently, the nights are longer. The longer, darker nights mean more opportunities to see the breathtaking Aurora Borealis, commonly known as Northern Lights. The best place to witness this natural phenomenon is Northern Scandinavia, and sometimes even Scotland. Conditions such as cold, crisp nights with clear skies are the prime conditions for witnessing the stunning Aurora Borealis.
You can stay in ice hotels
The Northern Lights aren’t everything Scandinavia has to offer. Every winter, especially in Northern Scandinavia, some tourist accommodations are built entirely from ice. If you visit during the winter you will have the unique opportunity to stay in a hotel, where everything is made of ice, including beds, closets and even shot glasses.
You have more flexibility
As there aren’t too many tourists, you will not have to stress over your accommodation. During the summer months, accommodation facilities have their rooms booked months in advance. In winter, that’s not the case, and this gives you more flexibility while planning your trip. You can afford yourself to be spontaneous and make unplanned stops while traveling or even prolong your trip for a few days. On top of that, there will be much more last minute deals and all the famous restaurants will be less crowded.
The winter cuisine is amazing!
The cold weather conditions in the winters have spawned a number of traditional cold-weather dishes which are different in different parts of Europe.
In France and Switzerland, there are the fondue and raclette, both being delicious snacks with bread and different kinds of warmed cheese. Germans and even Slavic countries have roasted chestnuts as a staple food during the winters. Southern Mediterranean people don’t even think about eating their delicious winter heavy cream sauces during the summer.
Every country has their own delicacies that you’ll be able to find only during the winter. Mulled wine is a typical winter drink in many countries, and Slavic countries have mulled sweet rakija (local hard liquor).
That sounds great but what about the cold weather?
Winter in Europe comes in a few different shapes. Some places can get quite chilly. But, the South of Europe, especially Italy, Spain, and Greece are balmy during the winters. But, if I were you I wouldn’t look for balmy places at all and would organize my Europe travel itinerary during the winter.
You should just pack as many winter clothes as you can and go for an adventure, one that will allow you to see Europe in a very different light. You will be guaranteed more time to see all the tourist places, with fewer tourists around, eat delicious, heart-warming food and enjoy the laid-back local vibe. Use this opportunity to explore the cold foggy channels of Venice, hit the slopes of Switzerland, go ice skating at the Eiffel Tower, go for skiing at Chamonix or enjoy the Northern Lights in Scandinavia.