Wondering when the best time to visit Europe is and don’t know where to start? If you’re planning a trip to explore Europe, all we can say is – great idea! Europe is a fantastic continent, with as many diverse cultures as there are cuisines and landscapes to try out and soak up. The weather in Europe can also be – well – diverse. Summer in one part of Europe might not match up to what you were imagining.
Also, when it’s Fall in, say…Norway, it’s still complete summer weather down in Greece. We’re going to break down the best time to visit Europe and cover all the regions of Europe you may want to explore. From Scandinavia, the Balkans, to the Mediterranean, here’s Europe’s general gist of weather.
So, to help you figure it out, we’ve studied that weather for you and developed this insider’s guide on the best time to visit Europe. Of course, the festivals are not to be missed, so we’ve added a seasonal schedule as a bonus, too!
When is the Best Time to Visit Europe?
Weather in Europe in January
Though Europe can be pretty varied later in the year, January for most of Europe is cold. Mediterranean destinations, like Naples, Marseille, and Lisbon, may see temperatures that hit the mid-teens, with lows of 8°C. Western Europe hovers around 3°C, frequently dropping below freezing.
The further north you go, the colder it gets. Russia can get to -20°C. Another thing to note is the short days. In the Arctic Circle, the sun will never rise, people! However, that means a great time to see the Northern Lights in places like Northern Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Iceland.
It is, however, an excellent time for skiing across Europe. In January, we head to the Italian Dolomites, Swiss Alps, and the Austrian Alps for a fantastic time! There are also a variety of winter festivals that keep everyone happy in the cold.
If you want any glimpse of sun or warmth at this time of year, head somewhere like the Portuguese islands of the Azores. Though you’ll be hard-pressed to find that “swimming in the ocean” type of weather anywhere in Europe without a wetsuit.
Weather in Europe in February
Still firmly in the clutches of winter in Europe, temperatures in Western Europe in February are 5°C on average. It can snow almost anywhere this time of year – even in Rome. It’s not the best time to visit Europe for the weather, but crowds are low. We’d recommend heading inside to one of Europe’s many cultural sights, like museums and galleries.
The signs of spring start to show towards the end of the month, with flowers like snowdrops and daffodils and crisper, sunnier days. It’s still super cold. Kyiv, Ukraine, is -1°C, and so is Oslo, Norway.
Romania’s average temperature is 4°C. If you’re looking for warmth, head somewhere further south: Positano is 14°C, Albania is 13°C, and Barcelona 15°C. The Canary Islands, part of Spain, see highs of 20°C!
Weather in Europe in March
The snow starts to melt in March. There can be freak snow in the Alps, but usually, it’s not a thing. Officially, late March means spring; the days are sunnier, and the landscape is starting to wake up from the winter. Places like Germany and the UK hit averages of around 10-11°C.
The South of France, southern Italy, Greece, and other countries in the Med average in the mid-teens. Eastern Europe, Russia, and Scandinavia are still freezing, with temperatures often below zero and short days. It’s a great time to visit Europe if you want to avoid the crowds.
Weather in Europe in April
This is Easter time for much of Europe (meaning religious festivals). Blossoms are in full bloom. Farms and rural areas are full of activity. It is spring in much of Europe by April. That’s shown in the temperatures, too. Even colder countries like Finland, Russia, and the Baltic countries see averages of 10°C.
The UK and much of Western Europe hit averages of 15°C. April is a time of changeable weather, so pack a rain jacket, waterproof boots, and umbrella to prepare for showers. You can get beautifully sunny days, though. For warm temperatures, the Balkans, Greece, southern Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal are in the late teens and hit the twenties on some days.
Weather in Europe in May
It’s a beautiful month across Europe. Even the usually frozen northern European countries and Russia are beginning to thaw. Moscow is positively warm, with highs of 18°C. It’s refreshing, pleasant weather across the board, with nothing too hot yet, and tourism is still low, making it the best time to visit Europe.
Rome, The Balkans, and Barcelona see averages of 24°C at this time of year. It’s still very cold in Reykjavik (9°C), but it’s not called Iceland for nothing, is it? Places like the UK, Denmark, and Finland (southern portions anyway) are all mid-teens. Towards the end of May, things may look pretty summery.
Weather in Europe in June
June means summer for pretty much all of Europe. The weather is fine, and is the best time to visit Europe. We have to say. Flowers bloom in June; go hiking like the Carpathian Mountains in Romania for some amazing greenery. Days are longer, meaning the sun doesn’t set until well into the evening for much of Europe.
Throughout the continent, the average highs are around 20°C. If you’re looking for some real heat, head to the Spanish capital of Madrid or Naples (27°C); even parts of Russia are hitting temperatures of 28°C.
Lows can still be quite chilly, though; in the UK and many Northern and Western Europe, it can drop as low as 9°C at night – basically half the temperature it was in the day! You can still plan on a few days of scattered showers in places like Ireland and Scotland.
Weather in Europe in July
July is warmer than June. It’s very warm throughout much of Europe. The weather is beautiful; the days are sunny, making chilling out on the beach a reality. Istanbul, Bucharest, and Belgrade are seeing highs of 29°C. Temperatures elsewhere can reach into the thirties – as in Athens, Madrid, and much of the Balkans.
The Baltic States (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia), the Netherlands, and parts of Russia – even Germany and the UK – are still in their early twenties. In recent years, heat waves have hit Europe at this time of year.
With climate change you can start to expect somewhere in Europe to be unbearable hot right now (and many places in Europe don’t have AC or handle heat as well as say…Southeast Asia. England, France and many other countries have experienced scorching, record-breaking temperatures of 37+°C. It seems to be a trend, so preparing for that might pay.
Weather in Europe in August
It’s most definitely summer in August, and it’s the hottest month for most European countries. This is when Europe takes its summer holiday and heads to the beach, whether in Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, or the Algarve.
France shuts down in August, with many companies closing their doors for a month. Visiting Paris in August can be weird. In Spain and Italy, people take siestas (afternoon naps of no longer than 20 minutes) to escape the heat. And it IS hot. Temperatures throughout most of Europe range between the twenties and thirties. If a heat wave rolls through, it’s normal for temperatures to reach 40 degrees in major cities like Paris and Rome.
Besides the wonderful weather in the Alps and Scandanavia, August can be one of the worst times to visit Europe. It means crowds and high prices in all of the popular European hotspots. To exacerbate this problem, much of the culture disappears as locals head elsewhere for their summer vacation. This is most notable in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Florence, and Milan.
Weather in Europe in September
Even though September is technically the start of fall, many countries see some late summer heat. The UK often calls this an “Indian Summer.” The Balkans and other Mediterranean countries are in the mid-20s. Things start to cool down elsewhere; Liechtenstein, Vienna, London, and Munich all see highs of around 20°C.
Russia and Northern Europe get even cooler, only hitting about the mid-teens. To beat tourist crowds on beaches, early September is one of the best times to visit Europe; it’s also cheaper since it’s not the summer holidays anymore. Towards the end of the month, many countries begin to get much cooler.
September is the best time to visit much of the Mediterranean. Destinations like Greece, the French Riveria, Amalfi Coast, Ibiza, Malta, and Sardinia come into their prime in September. While many Europeans head back to work, this is our favorite time to travel around Europe.
Weather in Europe in October
October means fall, and fall means lower temperatures and shorter days. The weather is unpredictable, with many damp, wet days intermingled with crisp sunny skies. The latter complemented the color of the fall foliage.
Finland and Russia, on average, don’t get past 10°C this time of year. For instance, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Hungary are still warm-ish, with highs of about 15°C. There are still highs in Lisbon and the South of France in the early twenties. If you are looking to extend your summer, head to the Med where the water is still warm but beaches are getting quieter.
You can find beautiful fall foliage in places like France, Germany, England, and Romania. The Irish city of Galway also throws an epic Halloween party.
Weather in Europe in November
November is cold. Days are short. Europe is getting a lot chillier. Finland, the Czech Republic, Iceland, and much of Russia are among the coldest places. Expect cold, almost wintery weather, with highs of only about 5°C.
Many of the trees are bare now, gone is that fall foliage, and many destinations are wet with rain and pretty cloudy this time of year. It’s not the best time to head out on a European vacation.
That being said, warmer weather can be found in Southern Spain, Nice, Croatia, and Lisbon, which all see averages in the mid-teens. For November sun, head to the Canary Islands or the Algarve, which sees temperatures of 23°C, or Malta (about 21°C).
Weather in Europe in December
This is the real beginning of winter for practically all of Europe. It’s cold, it’s dark, and Christmas is on its way. The continent can see highs of 14 and 15°C, but only in places like Spain and Greece. Most of Europe is cold: temperatures don’t get much higher than 5°C. Baltic and Scandinavian countries, as well as Russia, have temperatures of about zero.
Many regions, such as the Alps and Scandinavia, begin to receive regular snowfalls. Europe in December is a delight as it’s festive around Christmas. It is the season for Christmas markets and cozy cabin nights.
Many of Europe’s ski resorts begin their season in December, thanks to the snowfall. It’s time to visit Europe’s abundant ski resorts that dot the mountain slopes. We suggest heading to the French Alps or Austria if you love fresh powder and a full scale ski holiday.
Epic Festivals in Europe
Winter Festivals in Europe
With all that snow and dark nights, the European winter festivals can be fun. It all kicks off in December, with places like London’s Hyde Park hosting Winter Wonderland. There are winter lights in Luxembourg, it’s a good time of year to visit Santa in Helskini and Lapland, Finland, and there are plenty of Christmas markets across all of Germany, as well as Eastern and Western European Countries.
London’s New Year’s Eve fireworks are pretty incredible, while Hogmanay (Scottish New Year celebrations) in Edinburgh can be wild and a lot of fun. January takes a little while to get going, as people are recovering from New Year celebrations, we think!
The Battle of the Oranges in Ivrea, Northern Italy, is a crazy food fight – the largest food fight in Italy, rivalling the famous Tomatina of Spain. A million kilos of oranges are thrown, and a huge bonfire is lit – a more ancient tradition that welcomes springtime.
In mid-February, head to Venice. This is when the city holds its famous masked carnival. Go, get a mask made up, and join the fun.
Spring Festivals in Europe
At the start of March, there’s the Nice Carnival. This is a fun festival with floats and flowers, marking the beginning of Lent. It’s one of the world’s biggest carnivals, alongside Venice and the famous Brazilian Carnival. Go for floats and festivities.
Ah, Saint Patrick’s day (March). This is the day when Irish people wear green and drink Guinness, celebrating Saint Patrick. Head to Dublin or any major city in the UK for some crazy drinking and merriment.
From late March to May, it’s the Amsterdam Tulip and Flower Festival. The country is famous for its tulips; you’ll see many of them at this event.
In April (usually), it’s Easter. For the full spectacle, join the thousands of people who cram into St Peter’s Square, Vatican City, to participate in Mass led by the Pope. Pretty cool.
Stars of the White Knight Festival in Saint Petersburg is held in May; this is a huge cultural event with music, films, celebrations, and fireworks. Also, in May is the very prestigious Chelsea Flower Show in London, when people get creative with their gardens.
Summer Festivals in Europe
It’s festival season across Europe – music festivals, that is. Glastonbury Festival takes place in June (check the schedule, though; sometimes it misses a year). It’s also the Summer Solstice in June, so check your solar calendar, then head to Stonehenge with the Wiccans.
Barcelona, Spain, hosts the huge Primavera – an international music festival to end all music festivals. It’s also the start of nightclub season in Ibiza; there are many events to get into here.
Sziget Festival in Budapest, Hungary, is one of Europe’s biggest music festivals. If you like festivals, fun, and music, you shouldn’t miss this one!
In July, if you’re brave enough, head to the streets of Pamplona, Spain, with other brave (or drunk) people for the insane Running of the Bulls. It’s a massive tradition that’s gone on for decades, if not centuries. Spain is also where you’ll find La Tomatina, an enormous food fight involving 25 tons of tomatoes. It takes place on the last Wednesday of August in Bunol, near Valencia.
Notting Hill Carnival is a celebration of Caribbean heritage and culture in London, taking place over the last weekend in August. It’s huge; it’s loud, and it’s awesome.
Fall Festivals in Europe
The Catalan Festival is a celebration of Catalan tradition in the region. Head to Barcelona for the chance to see castellers – people who make gravity-defying human towers – not pyramids (they’re easy), but towers.
From the end of September through October is when Munich hosts the very famous Oktoberfest. Expect beer, bratwurst, and a lot of singing. Also, the delicious Galway Seafood and Oyster Festival is an amazingly yummy time in September.
If you’re into music, head to Paris and stay from late October to early November to catch cool live acts, talks, and DJ sets at the Pitchfork Festival. Another music festival is Airwaves in Iceland (early November). Towards mid-late November, Christmas Markets start up in many European cities like Vienna, Verona, Luxembourg, Helsinki, and Munich.
Quick Tips for Europe Travel
- Currency: Varies from country to country. The Euro, €, is the most common. Check here for info.
- What to Pack: If you stick to a few elements, you’ll fit in anywhere – jeans, a t-shirt, a watch, boots, and a sweater. At the beachwear, shortcut board shorts, or your favorite bikini – Europeans are, for the most part, not modest unless you are inside religious institutions. See our ultimate European packing list here.
- Stay Connected: It is the law that all active SIM cards have free roaming within the European Union. If you pick up a SIM card in Italy, it will work in Austria and Spain (but not Switzerland – learned that the hard way) now. You’ll face long-distance phone calls, but data works just fine!
- To beat the summer crowds: Head to places that aren’t so well known. Bosnia and Herzegovina are great, and so are Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Latvia. All these European destinations have a lot to offer without the crowds.
- To beat the European heat: Stay out of Central and Southern Europe. Nordic countries will be your best bet for a mild summer.
Where to Travel in Europe
One of the cheapest regions to travel in Europe. The Balkan countries include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, and sometimes Croatia…depending on who you ask.
The region is more recently known for the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s, where many countries were involved. The Balkans are filled with charming towns, stunning coastlines, rich history, monasteries, large forests, and rugged mountains. They’re quirky charismatic, and cheap to travel. We love the Balkans.
Fascinating countries with medieval city centers, castles, sandy beaches, and picturesque lakes. The Baltic states are typically referred to as Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, and they are all quaint and rich in culture. This is the land of fairy tales and a world that feels several decades behind the rest of Europe. They’re affordable and pleasant without the headaches of more Eastern regions.
The British Isles include Great Britain, Ireland, and other small British islands. Britain’s history is long, and London is one of the world’s capitals and carries massive influence.
Ireland remains a lovely countryside with charming locals, culture, sheep, castles, and rolling hills. While the Scottish Highlands may be one of the most beautiful regions in Europe, with a rich culture and strong national identity. We recommend taking a drive on the North Coast 500!
It’s a mixture of Germanic and Slavic culture smack in the middle of Europe. You’ll find historic towns, large forests, castles, amazing beer, countryside, and large mountain ranges. If you want to see great cities and drink plenty of beer, this is where you need to head!
Russia is a vast country that spans east to the Pacific Ocean. Ukraine is diverse, with a lot to offer, from the beach resorts of the Black Sea to the beautiful cities of Odesa, Lviv, and Kyiv. Belarus is unique and the last dictatorship in Europe. While Romania houses Transylvania, that’s a real place, not just a setting in Dracula. Hiking in the Caucasus mountain range near Georgia is fantastic.
Western Europe generally includes countries like Germany, France, Luxembourg, Austria, The Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland. Most of these countries use the Euro, which typically translates to it is significantly more expensive to travel around than the Balkans, the Mediterranean, or the Baltics. There are many great things to see here, especially if you love history!
Greece, Turkey, & Cyprus
Each one will tell you that they share nothing in common, but they share everything in common. The Greeks and Turks have been warring for millennia; think Trojan War, but their two cultures are extremely similar.
They have gorgeous Mediterranean beaches, a wealth of history, a fresh Mediterranean diet, and plenty of sunshine. The hospitality here is taken seriously, and you’ll find that no one treats a guest better than a Turk, Cypriot, or Greek.
This includes Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus but also is thought of as Southern Italy, the French Riviera, Malta, Spain, Croatia, Monaco, Montenegro, Slovenia, and Portugal.
Almost anywhere that shares a coastline with the Mediterranean Sea is included (even Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon and Morocco! These are the best beach destinations in Europe and have fantastic cultures, history, and most importantly – food.
The spectacular scenery of mountains, lakes, glaciers, geysers, waterfalls, and volcanoes with opportunity for outdoor life, known for the Viking Age around AD 1000. They’re some of the safest countries with happy citizens, incredibly clean water, and crazy high prices.
When is the Best Season to Travel to Europe?
High season (June – early September)
Many places in Europe suffer from extreme heat and crowds during these months. Despite this, the summer is still high season in Europe and what many consider the best time to travel here.
School holidays bring many American families to cities like Florence, Paris, and Amsterdam. Then many Europeans get full months off of work and can be seen vacationing all around the continent. And there is the backpacker crowd on a gap year making their rounds around Europe. In other words, it’s busy – and expensive. Still, this is your best chance for sunny days, though it’s been brutally hot in many places in recent years.
Shoulder Season (September, October, May, June)
Tourism is lower during this time, and temperatures aren’t brutally hot. Meaning better prices and fewer tourists. In my opinion, it’s the best time to travel around Europe.
Low Season (November-April):
Unless you’re on a ski holiday or it’s Christmas/New Year, this is low season throughout most of Europe. It’s cold in many countries, some more than others. Still, it’s quiet, and nothing can beat that feeling of a nice winter day in Europe. Prices are at their lowest (except at ski destinations or for the holidays), and you’ll likely be able to score some good deals!
When is the Best Time to Visit Europe?
In my opinion, the best time to travel to Europe is not in the high season. I don’t like crowds, and I don’t like intense heat. That’s why I always visit Europe during the shoulder and winter seasons. Or I am strategic about where I go in July and August and aim to stay away from the hottest European destinations like Positano.
My favorite times to visit Europe are May, early June, and September. That said, sometimes you can’t help visiting in the summer when the kids get vacation time. In that case, book early as places do sell out.
When is the Best Time to Visit Europe on a Budget?
The cheapest time to visit Europe is November, December (besides the holidays), and January-April. Unless you are in Zermatt, Lech, or any other popular ski destinations in Europe, this is the cheapest time to travel.
When is the Best Time to Visit Europe for Beaches?
The best time to visit Europe for a beach holiday is between May and October. The further south you go, the warmer it will be later in the year.
You’ll find crowds on most European beaches between June and early September. Expect to pay for a chair to sit in – maybe even for access to the beach, depending on where.
From October onwards you’ll find things start to quiet down and the swimming is still good! That said, many Northern Europeans still chase the sunshine during this time. We found beaches in Cyprus to be crazy busy still on October 31st!
When is the Best Time to Visit Europe for Skiing and Snowboarding?
The best time for skiing and snowboarding in Europe is between December and March. However, you’ll still get early and late season conditions in November and April. Check out all the places we’ve snowboarded in Europe for winter holiday ideas.
When is the Best Time to Backpack Europe?
You can still score good deals on hostels and shared accommodation in the summer season – just expect some crowded dorm rooms. It’s also best to book in advance in the summer, even for hostel rooms, the good ones sell out quickly!
Plan For Your Trip
- Protect Your Trip: We don’t travel without travel insurance, nor should you. You never know what can happen while traveling, so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans.
- Find Cheap Flights: Sign up for Going (formerly Scotts Cheap Flights) to get notified when prices get ultra low.
- Book a Rental Car: We use Discover Car to book all our rental cars! You can also read our top tips for renting a car abroad here.
- Travel Adapter: Make sure you find a good adapter to keep your personal electronics charged. Otherwise, you may be paying for a cheap one once you land. Purchase one here.
- Travel Backpack: We like the Nomatic Travel Backpack for our travels. Check the price here.
- Our Favorite Travel Shoes: Our answer to this question is always ALLBIRDS! Check them out on their site!
- Get a Travel Credit Card: We travel worldwide for free because we have leveraged our spending into points. See why you should get a travel credit card and how you can do the same with our favorite travel credit cards.