Some people have flexible enough jobs and lifestyles to choose from when they take their vacations, but many others have fewer options. Fortunately, Europe welcomes visitors 365 days a year – and each season offers a different atmosphere and experience.
In travel-industry jargon, the year is divided into three seasons: peak season (roughly mid-June to August), shoulder season (April to mid-June and September to October), and off-season (November to March). Each has its pros and cons. No matter where you go if your aim is to “meet people”, you will find that Europe is full of them at any time of year.
If you are thinking of traveling to Europe, then what is the delay, book cheap flights to Europe quickly and enjoy here to the fullest.
Summer is a great time to visit – except for the crowds and high temperatures. Sunny weather, long days and bountiful nightlife turn Europe into a powerful magnet. As of 2020, I hadn’t missed a peak season in 30 years.
Make your travel arrangements keeping in mind crowd control. Get too busy places as early or late as possible during busy seasons. For example, consider a six-week European trip starting on June 1, half with rail passes to see famous sites in Italy and Austria, and a half visiting relatives in Scotland.
It would be wise to section off the rail pass first, enjoying fewer crowds, then spend time with family during the last part of your vacation, when Florence and Salzburg are full of tourists. Salzburg on 10 June and Salzburg on 10 July are two different experiences.
Spend the night Popular day-trip destinations near large cities and resorts such as Toledo (near Madrid), San Marino (near huge Italian beach resorts), and San Gimignano (near Florence) take in a more peaceful and enjoyable atmosphere at night When heritage-trippers of the day retreat to the predictable plumbing of their big-city or beach-resort hotels.
Smaller towns generally lack large hotels for tour groups and are often inaccessible to larger buses. Hence, in a worst-case scenario, they experience an afternoon rush. Similarly, popular cruise-ship destinations, such as Venice and Dubrovnik, are hellishly packed during the day – but more bearable at night, when the cruise crowds depart.
Prepare for the Scorching Heat
Europeans swear it gets hotter every year. Even restaurants in cooler climates (such as Munich or Amsterdam) now tend to have enough al fresco seating to take advantage of the longer outdoor-dining season. Expect high temperatures – even scorching heat – in July and August across Europe, especially in the south.
Few places are best experienced during peak season. Travel in peak season in Scandinavia, the UK, and Ireland, where you want the best weather and longest days, where terrible crowds are rare to other destinations, and where places are sleepy or even closed in shoulder season. Scandinavia has an extremely short tourist season – basically from mid-June to late August; I will defer it outside this window.
The “shoulder season” – typically from April to mid-June, and September through October – combines the benefits of both peaks- and off-season travel. In shoulder season, you’ll enjoy nicer weather, longer ample daylight hours, fewer crowds, and a local tourism industry that’s still ready to please and entertain.
Shoulder season varies according to the destination. Because fall and spring bring cooler temperatures to Mediterranean Europe, shoulder season in Italy, southern France, Spain, Croatia, and Greece can actually come with peak-season crowds and prices.
spring or fall? If you’re debating the merits of traveling before or after summer, consider your destination. The weather and crowds are almost the same in spring or fall. Mediterranean Europe is usually green in the spring but dries up in the fall. For hikers, the Alps are preferable in early fall, as many good hiking trails are still covered with snow during late spring.
Every summer, Europe gets a stampede of spectators. Before jumping into the peak-season pig pile, consider a visit during the off-season—typically November through March.
Expect to Pay Less (Most of the Time)
Off-season airfares are often hundreds of dollars cheaper. With fewer crowds in Europe, you may find that you can sleep less: many fine hotels lower their prices, and budget hotels will have plenty of vacancies. And while some small or rural dwellings may be closed, those that are still open are usually empty and, therefore, more comfortable. The contrast is about the big city business centers (particularly Berlin, Brussels, and the Scandinavian capitals), which are busiest with corporate travelers and most expensive off-season.
Enjoy Having Europe to Yourself
Off-season adventurers wander uninterruptedly at Leonardo da Vinci’s home, contemplating the Forum of Rome alone, bringing sand to the lonely Adriatic beaches, and chatting with laid-back guards by firing logs at French chateaus. In Venice in wintertime, you can be alone on top of St. Mark’s bell tower, watching the clouds of your breath roll over the skyline of the Alps with cut glass on the church’s Byzantine domes. Below, on St. Mark’s Square, pigeons fizzle and wonder, “Where are the tourists?”
Off-season adventurers enjoy step-write-up service in shops and tourist offices, experiencing a more European Europe. Although many popular tourist-oriented parks, shows, and tours will be closed, the off-season for high culture is in-season: in Vienna, for example, the Boys Choir, the Opera, and the Lipizzaner stallions are in all their crowd-pleasing splendor.