Are you planning an epic European adventure? One of the most important factors to consider when booking your holiday is: when is the best time to visit Europe? If you’re like us and you’re not a big fan of crowds, don’t feel like breaking the bank and prefer not to stand in 5 hour queues, this article is for you.
The Best Time To Visit Europe
After living in Kent, England for the last two years, we’ve taken every opportunity possible to take advantage of England’s proximity to Europe. We’ve now travelled to over 22 European countries. At this point, we can confidently say we know exactly what time of year is the best time to visit Europe! If there’s one thing we can recommend to others planning their next trip, it’s that off-season is totally under rated.
When picturing being on holiday during the fall, winter or spring months, people often imagine they’ll spend their entire trip indoors escaping downpours or miserably sightseeing under an umbrella. This is definitely not the case and even though you might deal with a bit of rain or have to wear a few extra layers, your trip won’t be ruined. Find our 6 reasons why off-season is the best time to visit Europe below!
When Is “Off-Season”?
Before we dive into all the benefits of travelling at this time of year, when exactly is “off-season” or “low season”? In Europe you can expect to start seeing the benefits of off-season travel from mid September through to mid June.
One could argue that the spring or fall months are technically called “shoulder season”. However, the only real difference is the weather. For the sake of this article we will refer to these months as “off-season” as in the opposite of peak season.
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1. Accommodation Is Much Cheaper
Yup, you heard that right. During the off-season, accommodation is typically as much as half price compared to the busy summer months of July – August. You could potentially save yourself hundreds by not travelling during those months. We have found this to be true in pretty much every place we’ve stayed.
Hotels and private apartments lower their prices in order to attract more guests when the weather might not be as perfect. You will often find rooms that are totally out of your budget, become completely affordable all because of the month you choose to travel! So this is the time you should take advantage of that nice hotel with an epic view and pool because, why not?!
2. Better Deals On Flights
Similar to cheaper accommodation, airlines will often lower their prices during off-peak times when flights are less full to try to encourage more people to book. Flights around Europe are pretty affordable for the most part but imagine finding flight fares that are cheaper than taking the train one hour out of London? (OK, we know the train prices are crazy in England, but still!)
There have been many times where our flights were cheaper than our train journeys! It doesn’t take long to browse through Skyscanner to find out how much money you will be saving by booking low season flights.
3. Less Crowds
Fancy waiting in line for 3 hours to see the Colosseum? No? We don’t either. This is one of the biggest reasons why off-season is so awesome. From waiting in long queues, to battling crowds of people at popular attractions, and not being able to walk into any restaurant you choose; These are all things that you will be able to avoid during off-season.
Also, When there’s less crowds, you have more time to get to know the locals. Without masses of people, the locals are free to engage in conversations and tell you their story. You will get to know them on a more personal level. They might even recommend their friend who owns a nice restaurant that isn’t on TripAdvisor or a local tour guide who costs much less than booking through big tour organisations.
You will be sure to get a more authentic European experience when there are fewer people to compete with. You can’t go wrong with that!
4. Fewer People in Your Photos
Going hand in hand with fewer crowds, you will have a much better chance at getting that classic Colosseum shot without a hoard of tourists walking through your picture. If you’ve been following us on Instagram for a while, you will know we are pretty obsessed with getting photos without people in the background.
This can still be a challenge in off-season, particularly in those popular hot spots, like the Eiffel Tower for example! In these cases it’s important to arrive early (8 am at the latest). Getting fewer people in your travel photos is just another reason why off-season is the best time to visit Europe!
5. More Flexibility
Instead of planning out your trip weeks or months in advance, you are open to more possibilities and last-minute deals during this time of year. You won’t have to book restaurant tables, day activities, bus/train journeys or accommodation well in advance when it’s not busy.
We recently spent a week in the South of Spain and visited the popular attraction, The Alhambra. During peak season, you can expect to book your tickets a few months in advance to see The Alhambra on your day of choice. We booked it a week in advance, and we probably didn’t even need to.
We much prefer being able to decide what to do on the day rather than planning everything out months in advance! This way your trip will be carefree, less stressful and more relaxing.
Just think about all the money you will be saving just by travelling at a different time of year. Now take all of that money and put it towards your next off-season holiday, and boom! You now get to have two epic holidays pretty much for the price of one. Alternatively, you could even extend your holiday for a little longer than originally planned.
Now if that isn’t a win, I don’t know what is! People often ask us how we travel so often, well there it is. Our secret is out!
It’s Not All Sunshine and Rainbows
Among all the benefits of off-season travel, there are of course a few things you should take into consideration when planning your trip.
You should come prepared for any kind of weather. Depending on where you choose to go in Europe and what month you go, the weather can potentially be miserable. Along with that, the days will also be shorter (in the winter months). It goes without saying that you should pack an umbrella, raincoat and waterproof shoes just in case.
Some sights actually close down during winter months and most others will change their hours of operation to match the hours of daylight. In large, bustling cities, business is usually as normal. It’s the smaller towns that tend to close some of their sights and restaurants, giving off those ghost town vibes.
Travel is still completely possible in the quieter towns, just make sure you look up what you are planning to visit ahead of time to avoid disappointment.
Tip: we like to check Holiday Weather when planning any trip so we know what to expect.
Off Season = Best Time To Visit Europe!
Something else to consider when planning a trip during the off-season is where should you go during what month. For example, we would advise saving Paris, Rome or London for the fall or spring months. That way you can still expect reasonable weather with minimal crowds. We visited Italy in March and it was a bit chilly, but we lucked out with mostly sunny days!
Between the months of November-March, the northern European countries will still be pretty cold and wet. Try to visit places like the south of Spain, Malta or Greece during that time, as the weather will be nice (around 15-25 degrees). During our recent trip to the southern Spain (in February), we were wearing short sleeves and sipping sangria while soaking up the sun on outdoor patios. We didn’t have a single day of rain on that trip.
We love off-season travel, but that doesn’t mean we don’t travel during high season. We tend to save the off the beaten path destinations for the summer months. Last summer, we did a trip through the Baltics and it did not disappoint. The places less travelled are naturally less expensive and less crowded even during the peak season.
From saving money to battling less crowds and getting better photos; if we haven’t convinced you that off-season is the best time to visit Europe, then I don’t know what will! So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get booking!
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