8 reasons to travel Europe in winter
While sunshine and gelato may come to mind when we imagine traveling in Europe, the colder months offer their own set of benefits to travelers. From smaller crowds to the beauty of a warm café on a chilly winter’s evening, off-season tourism offers something for everyone.
1. Fewer tourists
If peak travel season means an influx of adventurers, then jetting-setting in the off-season means just the opposite. The number of tourists is generally lower in winter. See the wonders of the world without waiting in line for hours on end. Wander the pictur-esque cobblestone streets of your dreams with more elbow room.
2. Cheaper rates
Due to fewer travelers and lower demand, hotel and flight prices are usually cheaper in winter. Avoid traveling during the holiday season to save money for souvenirs, dinners out or nicer accommodations. Lower nightly rates in hotels and hostels may allow for an extra night or two at your destination.
3. Festivals and markets
Even when Christmas market season is over, there are still many things to do. Other winter festivities include New Year’s Eve in Berlin, Germany and the Kiruna Snow Festival in Sweden, held in late January. The Venice Carnival and Dublin International Film Festival are both held in February.
4. Winter sports
Ski season in the Alps typically lasts from late November to the end of April. Winter ski trips are perfectly timed to make the most of powdered slopes.
5. The Northern Lights
The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, is a natural lightshow visible near the northern magnetic pole. From late November to March, travelers can see the beauty of the Aurora Borealis in countries all over the globe. Norway, Iceland, Finland and Scotland are among the best locations to witness this winter wonder.
6. Warm indoor activities
There is no need to feel guilty about a day spent indoors when the weather is bitterly cold. Visit toasty museums or huddle up with a loved one over a cup of hot chocolate. Nothing makes a crackling fire more appealing than a snowy backdrop beyond the window.
7. Food and drinks
Many countries around Europe have culinary specialties that can only be enjoyed during the colder months. In Switzerland and some parts of France, visitors can sample raclette and fondue, two warmed cheese dishes. In Germany, many families prepare venison when temperatures drop, and roasted chestnuts are a warm, wintery food vendor staple. Additionally, many countries offer variants of mulled wine, including Glühwein in Germany and mulled ciders in England. All of these seasonal treats help warm you up from the inside.
8. Mild weather
Although this particular benefit of winter travel depends on your desired destination, temperate winter climates can be appealing when heading close to the equator. Tropical destinations are made more bearable by milder winter weather. While swimming at the beach may be off the table in winter, long walks around coastal cities can be virtually sweat-free.
Don’t let the chill of winter keep you cooped up indoors. Pack your heaviest sweaters and a pair of snow boots. The world is waiting.