Tourists throng Europe during warmer months. This drives up costs of flights and hotels. If you are on a shoe string budget and hate crowds, the best time to visit Europe is during the winter months. The pros of a low-season jaunt are as follows.
Free Ticket Upgrade
When flights are running at full capacity, airlines charge extra fees for even economy seats that offer a little extra room. For Economy Skycouch, Air New Zealand takes $800 extra over and above the ticket price. During off season, you might get a free upgrade to the Skycouch depending on the capacity utilization in the particular trip.
Traditional Winter Activities
Visiting Europe in winter enables travelers to participate in yuletide celebrations ranging from display of lights to traditional markets. Additionally, you will be able to experience skating on Amsterdam canals, sleep in an igloo in the Swiss Alps, enjoy the scent of burning peat in one of Ireland’s country Bed and Breakfast hotel’s fireplace and participate in winter sports such as snowshoeing, skiing and dog sledding. Moreover, post-Christmas retail sales, a more modern tradition, could satisfy your shopping urge as the Euro exchange rate will be more favorable.
Experience Familiar Destinations in a Different Light
If you keep returning to a specific spot in Europe, visiting the place during winter helps you to experience it in a totally different way. Probably, you will be able to get a different perspective of your most loved destination. For example, if you have visited Amsterdam only during the peak tourist season, you can have a different experience during winter: frozen canals, the snowmen on the haphazard sidewalk and the afternoon sunsets.
Planning a Trip at the Last Moment Is Easy
During the peak holiday season, the in-demand hotels and vacation rentals at popular European destinations, will be booked in advance. During winter, you will be able to get reasonably priced rooms even at highly rated properties, even if you are booking only a few days ahead of your departure. It is also easy to get tickets for big events, festivals and attractions and seats at popular restaurants.
Get to Know the Local People Better
If getting to know the local people is part of your agenda, then it is better to travel during the off season. During summer, the countless European bars and restaurants will be teeming with people from all over the world. In winter, crowds will be smaller and you can spend time with the locals and get a closer look at their lifestyle.
Enjoy Bubble Baths and Thermal Spas
In several European destinations, there are geysers and they give you a divine feeling during the winter time. They include Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, Budapest’s Szechenyi thermal bath and Bath’s Thermae Bath Spa as well as several numbers of steamy wood-fired saunas in Scandinavian countries and the Nordic spas. During winter months, you should seek out hotels that provide amenities such as heated bathroom floors, deep tubs or Jacuzzis.
Best Time for Photography
If you are a photography buff, then winter time is the best option for you. You will be able to take original shots of iconic and widely photographed attractions. This is because the low-slung winter sun creates a different effect on European cityscapes. Moreover, you will have the attractions, exhibits and monuments all for yourself as you will not have to contend with hoards of people taking perfect shots. Finally, there are the Northern Lights (Norway and Iceland) which you will not be able to see during summer.
Classic European Winter Food
Restaurants change their menu according to the seasons. So, you will be able to taste some of the classic European foods only during winter. They include hot mince pie (London), fondue (Switzerland), stews and mulled wine (Poland).
You don’t have to even worry about missing out on sidewalk-cafe experience during winter. A number of cafes set up cozy spaces with pillows and blankets or tables and chairs with outdoor heaters. For one, Amsterdam's Cafe Wheels located near a canal street offers padded benches piled with warm blankets.
Avoid the Frost
If you are not a person who likes winter and snow, you can head to places that experience the Mediterranean type of climate. Some destinations that you can consider visiting, if you want to avoid icy sidewalks and frigid winds are south of France, Greece, and southern Italy and Spain.