Are you thinking of travelling to Europe, but low temperatures scare you a bit? Are you worried it’ll be dull and uneventful? No worries! Europe is fascinating no matter the season, the only thing that changes is the way in which it’s interesting. Winter has its own charm, impossible to grasp in any other time of the year. Here’s a list of 9 reasons why you should travel in Europe during the low season.
There aren’t many tourists
Few places in Europe get crowded during the winter and even if they do, not nearly as much as in the high season. That means you can go to famous museums and actually see the paintings, not just briefly glance over tourists’ shoulders. You can get to the Eiffel Tower without waiting in a queue for the whole day and peacefully walk around the halls of the Natural History Museum in London. Booking an accommodation is easier, because most hotels and hostels always have some free rooms. Since there’s no need to reserve a bed weeks in advance, you can be more spontaneous.
Everything is cheaper
Europe can get insanely expensive, especially at its most touristy parts. During the summer prices rise, even in relatively cheap countries, such as Croatia, Montenegro or Portugal. A cup of coffee or a cocktail can cost twice as much as in the low season. The same applies to accommodations and various attractions. Hostels, for example, tend to have different prices for high and low season. A night in a dorm usually gets about 10-30% cheaper (it can be more though), but there’s one more thing – during the winter finding a bed in the cheapest hostels is easier, because most of the time nothing is fully booked. You have a wider range of alternatives, so you can pick the less expensive options.
Cities look magical
You may not be able to sunbath or enjoy some of natural attractions, but the charm of European cities will make it up for you. Red roofs covered with snow, sparkling cobbled streets, snowflakes floating amongst Gothic buildings – it’s truly enchanting. You can sit in one of Budapest’s lovely cafÃ©s, drink hot tea and watch snow through the window. You can go ice-skating in the historic center of Prague. You can drink traditional mulled wine in Munich. The weather in most of Europe is cold, but it doesn’t mean the atmosphere is cold as well – in contrary, there’s a special warmth and coziness to European winter.
Christmas markets and celebrations
If you go to Europe in December, you’ll have a chance to see most fantastic decorations, colorful Christmas trees and shiny shop displays. There are wonderful nativity scenes in Cracow, famous markets all around Germany and awe-inspiring light displays in Paris. You can not only admire the aesthetic side of celebrations, but also participate and learn about traditions. Each European country has its own unique customs. Try to get invited for an atmospheric family dinner in Poland or a crazy Spanish festivity. Listen to a British choir singing Christmas songs in a church, drink hot toddy (liquor mixed with water, herbs, spices and honey) in Scotland or have a taste of Portuguese traditional delicacies prepared especially for this occasion (like arroz doce – a sweet pudding, or peru recheado com nozes – turkey stuffed with walnuts). Whichever of these you do, it’s doing to be an unforgettable experience.
Parties and festivities
First there’s the New Years’ Eve, celebrated in most European countries. The ways of spending it are numerous. You can choose between a romantic dinner in a mountain cabin somewhere in Norway or a crazy party in London. Then, in February and early March, there’s the Carnival. Venice has the most famous one, but great events are being held in other places as well, such as the Greek city of Patras, Tenerife or Cadiz in Spain. Get a creative costume and be ready for wild partying, because European carnival is the time when streets become dance floors, alcohol flows like rivers and shyness is being forgotten.
The South is still warm
The magic of snowflakes doesn’t get to you? The wondrous atmosphere of snow-covered towns doesn’t convince you? Well, you can still go to the South. Not all of Europe becomes cold during the winter. You may visit the southern part of Portugal and Spain, Canary Islands, Madeira, Cyprus or Malta. Not all of them are very hot, but at least moderately warm – enough to eat ice-cream on the beach and stroll about in a t-shirt.
The North has aurora
For those who don’t fear very low temperatures, the North of Europe has a special reward- the amazing phenomenon of aurora borealis. To see it, you should visit Norway, Finland, Sweden or Iceland (it might be visible in other countries as well, but spotting it is the easiest in these mentioned above). Various agencies offer northern light tours and cruises. Hotels are prepared as well, some of them even have cottages with glass windows, so that guests can view aurora from their beds (for instance the Hotel Kakslauttanen or the Arctic Glass Igloos in Finland). Many lodgings offer aurora wake up calls – the staff can wake you up in the middle of the night in case the lights appear on the sky. As you can see, it’s a major attraction in the northern Europe. Not without a reason, aurora is definitely a breathtaking site.
Indoor attractions are as interesting as in the summer, but not so crowded
Many tourists visit Europe to discover its captivating museums, enjoy vibrant nightlife, visit theatres, operas and art galleries. All of these things can be done in the winter. Moreover, popular places are not as crowded as during the summer. It’s way more fun to stroll about a fascinating gallery when it’s not full of chatty tourists.
You can have fun skiing, sledging or snowboarding
For winter sport enthusiasts, Europe is a wonderland. There’s so much to choose from, you can eventually have trouble deciding which sport to pick and where to go. For many sporty travelers, French Alps are a favorite destination, which makes them one of the most popular ones. The views are spectacular and resorts numerous. You can also visit lesser-known regions, such as the mountains of Bosnia and Herzegovina – they’re beautiful as well, but cheaper and less crowded. If you want to do something original, try dog sledging in Norway.
Are you convinced yet? Let us know what you think! And share this article with your friends, to let them know Europe during the winter is just as great as in the summer.