Most of the tourists visit Europe during the summer and don’t even think of going there in the off-season. For someone who has grown up in a warm climate, the image of streets covered with ice, temperatures dropping below zero and strong winds might be discouraging. It can be discouraging even for those who have experienced winter plentiful times in their lives. Nevertheless, it’s possible for one to have a very good time when making a winter trip to Europe.
There’s some magic to European towns when snow falls from the skies straight on cobbled streets when the wind makes people’s scarves dance when cafés start using fireplaces and serving mulled wine. How to enjoy it all without freezing, getting stuck in the snow or bored of the cold and darkness? Here’s a list of 9 tips to make your European winter trip great and stress-free.
Remember Europe has a very diverse climate
Although Europe appears to be small when you look at the world map, it’s geographically and climatically diverse. The weather in Norway, Poland, Ireland, Spain or Greece is very different. Even more so, it can be different in the southern and northern parts of one country, such as Portugal or France. If you’re going to visit different parts of the continent, be ready to face a variety of weather conditions. It might rain straight on your head in England, snow heavily in Ukraine and be relatively warm in Malta. Nevertheless, most of Europe is rather chilly so that the other tips will apply best to cold weather.
Follow weather forecasts
Not only the weather in Europe is diverse, but it’s also unpredictable. You’re better off checking forecasts on a daily basis. In the Eastern Europe, for example, the temperature can change from 5ºC to -10ºC in a day. Europeans themselves get slightly obsessed with weather forecasts. They’re also obsessed with talking about the weather, by the way, and continually shocked with it. Hard to blame them though, since each day brings something new.
Enjoy lower off-season prices
In many places across Europe, prices get lower when the high-season ends. You can take advantage of it. When looking for hotels, hostels, etc., check if they have special offers for the low season. This way you can avoid overpaying.
Take a good pair of boots
Good shoes are always a big deal for travelers, but even more so during the winter. No matter how awesome your jacket, scarf, and hat are, without proper footwear, you’ll be freezing anyway. A pair of warm and waterproof boots will keep you healthy and comfy. If you care about looking fashionable, winter shoes might seem heavy and unattractive at first sight, but it’s entirely possible to find beautiful and practical boots. You don’t necessarily need edgy snow boots; just buy a pair of good-quality boots.
Since the weather is changeable, dressing in layers is the most reasonable solution. Besides, buildings usually have heating, so once you enter a museum or a café; it’ll be much warmer than outside. If you only wear a hot, woolen sweater and a coat, you’ll feel too hot inside of a cozy restaurant with a fireplace. Make sure to have a t-shirt or a light shirt under the heaviest clothes.
Keep in mind there might be delays
Seasons change in Europe every year, but the transportation system gets regularly, annually surprised with it. Once again, it’s rather hard to blame Europeans, since snow and ice like to appear suddenly during the night and make everything more complicated in the morning. Be ready for trains and buses to arrive a bit later than they were supposed to. If you need to, for example, catch a flight, allow some extra time for reaching the airport.
Watch your steps
Streets can get very slippery when it’s cold outside. It’s not a rare case to hear of people breaking their legs and hands because they fall on slippery sidewalks. You’d be obviously better off avoiding it, so be careful while walking. Good shoes can help with it as well. When you choose a pair, pay attention not only to water resistance and warmth but also to soles – they shouldn’t be entirely flat and smooth.
Hide once in a while
Don’t plan on spending the whole day outside, unless you’re well-prepared and strongly motivated to do so. It might be difficult to wander around a city from the morning till the night, without taking a short break and warming up. When planning your activities for the day, including going for a hot cup of tea, visiting a museum or doing anything else that takes place inside.
Make the most of festival and celebrations
Not all of Europe hibernates for the winter time. There are lots of events happening all across the continent, some of them magical. You’ve got snow, carnivals, music, art, messy festivals and lots of other fantastic events. There’s the famous Carnival in Venice, another one in the Spanish city of Cadiz, a music festival Eurosonic Noordeslag held in the Netherlands or Where’s The Music in Norway, just to name a few. Europeans might get a bit of a tired look during the winter, but they certainly don’t forget what it means to have fun, celebrate, enjoy arts, music, and dancing.
Have you ever been to Europe made a winter trip? Or would you like to go? Let us know! And don’t forget to share this article with your friends – you might inspire them to take on some winter trip adventures!