Updated: Apr 9, 2019
Europe in the winter?? Okay, hear me out... I was a bit hesitant too. ESPECIALLY with a toddler that has lived in California his whole life and has only been in the cold maybe twice. But we saw some deals on flights on Cyber Monday and we just couldn't pass them up. (If you've read any of my other posts, you'll realize this is a trend.) So I did some research and I got really excited. I knew it was going to be magical, and boy, was I right. Here are my top 7 reasons why you need to visit Europe in the winter!
7. Flights are Cheaper
When you travel in the winter, a lot of things are cheaper, one of them being flights. If you use the " Cheapest month" search option on Skyscanner.com, it will show you the cheapest time to travel to your chosen destination. Usually, it will pull up winter months since it's in the offseason and a lot of people don't travel. With all that money you saved you can stay longer, get extra fondue, buy more souvenirs... you get the point.
6. Airbnb prices are more negotiable.
Did you know that you can often negotiate your price with an airbnb host? You can send them a message and ask them if they will give you a cheaper rate. During the busy months, they will usually shut you down in a quick hurry because they will book out at full price. But the winter months, however, are a different story. Because they aren't as busy, their rooms stay empty. So they are willing to come down a little in price... something is better than nothing. So try messaging a few hosts and see what kind of deal you can score!
5. It's less crowded
During the summer months, the amount of people in top tourist destinations can be overwhelming and frustrating. I've had many friends tell me that they didn't enjoy Venice because they felt like they were waiting in Disneyland lines all day. Which is a shame, because Venice is one of my very favorite places! I've been to Venice in May and December. Both times the crowds were minimal because it wasn't the busy season. If it's slow enough, you might be able to even haggle yourself a cheaper rate with a gondolier!
As kids, we lived near an amusement park. We had season passes, so we'd go all the time. But our favorite time to go was when it was raining. Why? No lines. Other people don't like to brave poor weather. But we'd have so much fun riding the rides over and over without even having to get off because there was no one waiting to get on. The same can be said for traveling in the winter. You will have to deal with rain, and maybe even snow. So put on a rain jacket and some galoshes and enjoy a crowd-free day in your favorite touristy area. Just don't forget an umbrella.
4. Christmas Markets
There are markets everywhere!! I love that you can see how other countries celebrate Christmas. It really is different wherever you go. Different foods, decor, and traditions. One year, my church had a Christmas pageant and they had members that were from different countries talk about what Christmas traditions they had in their home countries. I LOVED it. I find it so fascinating. These markets have traditional foods and little souvenirs for everyone on your list. Definitely one of the highlights of a December trip. They can definitely be a bit crowded though, so be prepared!
3. Some areas aren't even cold
Not all of Europe is snow-covered during the winter. We spent a good deal of our trip in Barcelona and the weather was wonderful! You really only needed a jacket or a long sleeve shirt. Plants were still alive, and it was the perfect temperature to walk around in. Many areas along the Mediterranean are like this. So if you aren't the "snow type", stick to places like southern Italy, France or Spain. You'll still get the benefits of traveling in offseason, but you'll get the nice temperatures.
Although it isn't cold, it isn't hot either. So don't worry about getting that beach bod ready. You can rock the winter flab in perfect cold-weather, layered fashion.
2. Christmas decorations
Christmas decorations were everywhere!!! If you are a Christmas loving person, like me, you will be in heaven. There were giant Christmas trees in every city center and all the streets were lined with lights. Europe really does seem to go all out when it comes to the decorations. Going out at night was my favorite. The whole city would light up and would have the holiday buzz that comes at that time of year. The Piazza San Marco in Venice was especially done up with lights. They had covered walkways that had dangling strands of lights hanging the whole way. It was absolutely gorgeous!
1. European towns covered in Snow
European towns covered in snow are straight up MAGIC. Like snow globe, Whoville, fairy-tale magic. The alps were beyond gorgeous as huge snowflakes fell outside of our train as we passed by little snow-covered towns. My favorite town during our whole trip was Zermatt, Switzerland. This town in winter.... one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. Because there aren't really cars in Zermatt, they don't plow the streets. So you'd see people cross-country skiing on the sidewalks and mothers pushed their babies in sleighs instead of strollers. Ice skaters played on the outdoor rink and the sound from the bells on the horse-drawn carriages could be heard around the town. Like I said... straight up magic.
So there you have it! 7 reasons why you need to visit Europe in the winter. Who else has traveled to Europe in the winter? What was your favorite part? Comment below!