Europe is a favorite travel destination for people around the globe with its wide array of cultures and landscapes. Full of warm beaches, dazzling mountains, and bustling cities this continent has something for everyone. With so many cultures to explore it can be overwhelming to decide when to go. So what is the best time to visit Europe?
The best time to visit Europe is in the summer months between June and August for the warmer weather. Visiting in April or September is ideal for enjoying moderate weather while avoiding the high-season crowds. However, it is cheapest to travel in the winter months between November and March. Festivals happen more often during the warmer months.
The best way to plan for your next European adventure is to discover what kind of trip you want. If you want to explore Roman ruins but hate heat and crowds, plan to visit in the spring or fall. Or if you’re a fan of huge parties on the beach, July in Spain might be for you! Follow along explore the various aspects of European travel and see which will work best for you.
When Not to Visit Europe
Luckily, there is no ‘wrong’ time to visit Europe, as each month and country offers different experiences throughout the year. If you hate fighting through crowds and walking around in the heat, visiting in July or August would not be pleasant for you.
Generally speaking, the peak season for European travel is July through August. This is when the sun is hot and the days are long. Oftentimes cities are packed with tourists, which can make it difficult to enjoy sightseeing.
On the other hand, the off-season of November to December can give you most of the tourist spots to yourself. Depending on which country you visit, the temperatures can get quite chilly. Shops will be open for shorter hours due to the lack of foot traffic.
When not to visit Europe depends on what atmosphere you prefer. Understanding what the physical and social climate will be will help make sure your trip is fit for your preferences.
Cheapest Months to Visit
The most affordable time to fly to Europe is between October and March, as this aligns with the off-season and coolest months of the year. However, around Christmas time in December prices spike to capitalize on holiday travelers.
However, this is a generalization. Prices for Germany increase around the time of Oktoberfest, and Pairs get particularly expensive around the spring and fall fashion weeks. Be mindful of special events when looking for budget-friendly trips to Europe.
Best Time To Visit Europe: Monthly Breakdown
January: Winter Sightseeing
As the coldest month of the year in most of Europe with constant frigid temperatures, many would find this time of year undesirable. Temperatures range from 10 to -7 degrees Celsius across the continent.
Yet there are enchanting places to visit, such as the Amsterdam Lights Festival where artists create fixtures that dazzle the town throughout the winter. There is also the Energy Ski Festival in Verbier, Switzerland where the popular ski town erupts with festivities.
You may want to visit Spain in January, as its proximity to the sea keeps the temperatures moderate. It is also the least tourist month in the country so you can enjoy your vacation without crowds. But before you go to Spain, you’ll probably want to go somewhere you can study Spanish.
February: Winter Festivals
As temperatures are slightly warming to above 0 degrees Celsius, there are more winter festivals and cities to enjoy. In the month of romance, the enchanting Italian landscape of Terni is known for its St. Valentine’s day celebrations as it is the birthplace of the holiday.
The Spanish city of Sigets holds a carnival in the last weeks of February, with parades and daily activities. It is a great way to enjoy the cooler weather and partake in new cultural experiences on a budget, as it is still a cheap month to visit the area.
Germany and Italy also hold festivals this month, meaning there are lots of unique activities to partake in this early in the year. It is still cold in some areas but February is one of the cheapest and most empty times to travel to Europe.
March: No Crowds & Mild Weather
As the beginning of spring, March is the best month to travel if you are looking for mild weather and fewer crowds. Temperatures this time of year hover around 10 to 15 degrees Celsius on average. This month is still relatively cheap to travel as well and offers a variety of activities across the continent.
For those looking to soak up some sun before summer Tenerife, Spain has all the beaches and sunlight for a beautiful vacation. Located in the Canary Islands, this spot is great for those worried about a language barrier as many locals speak English. With incredible restaurants positioned to watch the beautiful sunset, Tenerife sparks the beginning feelings of summer.
April: Spring Celebrations
The beginning of early tourist season begins in April, and unfortunately, prices begin to rise at this point in the year. However, the temperatures become more desirable as the days get longer. As tourists and locals begin to take advantage of the good weather, many towns come alive to celebrate spring.
Such as Budapest, which comes alive as they celebrate spring from the end of March through April. With jazz concerts, dances, and food festivals there is no way to be bored at the Budapest Spring Festival.
In Thale, Germany, you can find the celebration of Walpurgisnacht. It attracts witchcraft enthusiasts from around the world as a Halloween-like festival. There are costume parades and parties across the city and great for those who miss the traditional fall holiday.
May: Perfect Northern Retreat
Perfect weather arrives in May as temperatures average between 21 and 13 degrees Celsius. Europe begins to lighten up as days are now long and warm, with locals preparing for summer with even more festivals.
Dublin, Ireland becomes quite pleasant this time of year with many events to attend. Known as the City of Festivals, Dublin is home to many cooking and music festivals in May. With many green nature walks and great pubs all around, Ireland is an ideal place to visit in spring.
For those looking for a Nordic getaway look no further than Stavanger, Norway. With the best spring trekking tracks in all of Europe and a plethora of flora to be seen at this time, it is a beautiful and peaceful place to explore pristine natural landscapes.
June: Music and Culture
Europe’s high season officially starts in June, meaning the prices increase and the streets become crowded. You will likely find lots of college kids on vacation as snowbirds move to cooler climates. The average temperature stays around 23 degrees Celsius as summer officially begins.
Music and culture thrive across the continent in May, with the Secret Solstice Festival held in Iceland kicking off summer with a multi-genre festival just outside the capital of Reykjavik. Big names such as Rita Ora and the Black Eyed Peas have performed at these 3-day festivals in the past.
Relaxing summer vacation locations can be found across Europe in June too. The Greek islands such as Crete are a wondrous display of turquoise waters and white sand beaches. The weather is sunny and the ocean is perfect for all kinds of swimming activities.
July: Summer Festivals
There is no shortage of summer fun in Europe during the month of July. With temperatures usually staying below 22 degrees Celsius, there is no better time to enjoy European culture. You can find celebrations such as Art en Ciel, Barcelona Beach Festival, and Lollapalooza to enjoy.
An enchanting hot air balloon ride through the Turkish sunset is a memorable experience to be found in the city of Cappadocia. The city hosts a hot air balloon festival and grants tourists to explore the area with a birds-eye view for just 160 euros.
For those looking to escape the heat, you can still ski in Saas-Fee Switzerland in July. The Swiss Alps maintain their snow throughout most of the year and a summer ski trip can be a great way to cool off and enjoy the mountain air.
August: Unique Cultural Festivals
The great summer weather in Europe continues as the temperature stays between 14 and 28 degrees Celsius throughout August. You will still find many tourists this time of year and prices remain high till the end of summer.
One of the more unique things to do in August is to visit Spain for the La Tomatina Festival, where the main event is to throw tomatoes at each other for an entire day. It may be the most sticky experience of your life, but not one you will forget for years to come.
September: Off-Season Begins
The weather in Europe begins to cool and the tourist season begins to die down throughout the month of September. Temperatures average around 20 degrees Celsius and prices begin to get cheaper, but there are no fewer activities than in the busy summer months to enjoy.
Oktober Fest begins at the end of this month, bringing a 16-day drinking festival to Germany. This large celebration includes dancing, parades, games, amusement park rides, and traditional German food. People travel from great distances to enjoy this large cultural festival as the perfect way to enjoy fall.
Related Read: Germany: Travel Budget Calculator
October: Fall Festivities
If you enjoy colored leaves, cheaper travel, and cooler temperatures October is one of the best months to visit Europe. Temperatures, tourism, and leaves all fall during this month which makes it an ideal time to sightsee and enjoy European nature before the cold sets in.
Chocolate lovers will enjoy the Eurochocolate festival in Perugia, Italy towards the end of the month where chocolatiers show off their delectable products. And Oktober Fest is still active at the beginning of the month for those who enjoy German culture and beer.
But if you are still wanting to experience the last bit of warmth for the year, Croatia has warm emerald beaches to swim in. And for much cheaper prices than the summer months, you can enjoy the natural beauty on a budget.
November: Most Affordable Travel Month
Winter begins in Europe and the few tourists who visit in November have the place to themselves. Temperatures hover around 10 to 15 degrees Celsius and warm drinks are found in every shop. Those who don’t mind the chill can find some interesting activities in various places around the continent.
Spain remains vibrant this time of year, but still requires a light jacket and warm coffee to fight the chill. You can explore mild beaches in Malaga, impressive cathedrals in Barcelona, or see a Flamenco performance in Seville. The greatest highlight of this time of year is there are no crowds and cheaper flights as Europe braces for winter.
Related Read: UK: Travel Budget Calculator
December: Winter Wonderland
As the year comes to a close, most of Europe prepares to celebrate unique Christmas celebrations. Temperatures are back to 0 to 10 degrees Celsius, but Christmas markets and winter activities are on every corner.
Andorra is a favorite winter destination among Europeans due to its smooth white landscapes and skiing activities. With the celebration of Christmas, many towns are painted red and decorated to give a complete feel for the season.
What Is The Best Country To Visit in Europe?
Each person you ask will give you a different answer when asked which European country is the best. If you judge by popularity, France is the most visited nation in Europe with over 89 million visitors each year.
If you are looking for a country with it all, quaint towns, historical sightseeing, beautiful nature, and perfect weather, Italy has the best Europe has to offer. With iconic food and world wonders on every corner, Italy is immensely popular for a reason and can make your vacation memorable.
When Are The Rainy Months in Europe?
The majority of precipitation in Europe falls between October and March. This is when the Alps become full of snow and Eastern European countries see temperatures around 0 degrees Celsius. Southern Europe will see temperature highs of around 20 degrees Celsius this time, so even if you see some rain the Mediterranean breeze will keep you from getting too cold.
Whether the precipitation is rain or snow will depend on the country, but you can expect to need some nice jackets if you travel in this time frame. It is also helpful to be prepared and bring extra gear when traveling so you are not caught off guard by surprising weather.
Related Read: Best Time of Year to Visit Rome
Where Are The Cheapest Countries To Visit in Europe?
Europe is a collective of 44 countries, so there are many locations to choose from that are more affordable than the more popular and expensive ones. Albania is incredibly affordable due to its lower level of developed tourism, with hotels costing roughly 60 euros a night. This country also contains some of the most crowd-free pristine beaches in the Mediterranean.
Georgia is another budget-friendly hidden gem of Europe, resting beside the Black Sea and offering incredible beaches and majestic mountains. As a bordering country of Europe and Asia, Georgia has a unique cultural landscape that can be explored through popular hiking routes or homemade wines and cheeses. A hotel for seven days in Georgia’s capital can cost between 120-200 euros!
Another popular yet reasonably priced country is Croatia, with friendly locals and plenty of pristine Mediterranean coastline. As an outdoor lovers’ paradise, Croatia is home to plenty of nature reserves, parks, and waterfalls to explore. Visiting here in the offseason will cost each person about 40 euros per day.
If you are looking to visit Europe on a budget, it is beneficial to explore beyond the famous countries of France, Italy, Greece, or Spain. Europe has many more landscapes to discover and you could see a lot more for a lot less going just s bit off the beaten path.