When Is The Best Time To Visit Europe?

The best time to visit Europe depends on what you want from a trip to the continent. Most travelers will opt for a summer trip due to school holidays and warm weather. However, we recommend visiting in the fall or spring for western, central, and southern Europe. The Nordic countries are best visited in the summer or winter!

No matter when you visit, Europe is a fantastic region to explore, with as many diverse cultures as there are cuisines and landscapes to try and soak up. Like the countries and cultures, Europe’s climates are incredibly diverse, from the Nordics to the Alps and the Mediterranean.

We’ve lived and traveled in Europe every month of the year and have seen almost everything the content offers, at least at a surface level. To see all of Europe would take a lifetime of exploring. This guide aims to highlight various regions by the time of year and share a few festivals worth visiting.


When is the Best Time to Visit Europe?


January

Natasha Stands Near Top Of Lift Station In Fieberbrunn, Austria

Though Europe can be pretty varied later in the year, January is cold for most of it. 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. Northern Finland and Russia regularly see temperatures of -20°C. Another thing to note is the short days. In the Arctic Circle, the sun will never rise! However, it’s a great time to see the Northern Lights in places like Northern Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Iceland.

If you’re after a ski trip in the Alps, it’s the best time of year for a ski trip. We like January as it avoids the crowds and higher prices of February but offers a similar level of snow quality. March can also be a good time to ski, but it’s slightly more prone to mild weather.

If you want any glimpse of sun or warmth at this time of year, head somewhere like the Portuguese islands of the Azores. However, you’ll be hard-pressed to find that “swimming in the ocean” type of weather anywhere in Europe without a wetsuit.


February

Winter in Norway Featured Cameron Seagle

February is still very much winter in Europe; truthfully, it’s not the best time for a visit unless that’s what you’re after. Popular destinations include Norway, Finland, and the Alps, all winter playgrounds. Still, in the clutches of winter, Western Europe’s average February temperatures are 5°C. 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 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 Oslo, Norway. Romania’s average temperature is 4°C. If you’re looking for warmth, head somewhere further south: Positano is 14°C, Albania 13°C, and Barcelona 15°C. The Canary Islands, part of Spain, see highs of 20°C!


March

Sunset On The City Of Perugia

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 and avoid the crowds.


April

Plivitce Falls In Spring

This is Easter time for much of Europe (meaning religious festivals). Blossoms are in full bloom, and farms and rural areas are full of activity. By April, it is spring in much of Europe. 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 an 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.


May

Edinburgh Sunset On City Street

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 called Iceland for a reason. Places like the UK, Denmark, and Finland (southern portions anyway) are all mid-teens. Towards the end of May, things may look pretty summery.


June

Natasha Sits On The Bow Of A Boat Off The Coast Of Corfu

June means summer for pretty much all of Europe. It’s one of our favorite months, as travelers can find nice weather everywhere from Athens to Paris and Copenhagen. Prices are nearing summer peak, but it’s not as hot or busy as July and August. Plus, with the longest days of the year, it’s the perfect time to maximize your days and squeeze every last hour out of the day.

The average highs throughout the continent are around 20°C. If you’re looking for heat, head to the Mediterranean, where you’ll find hot weather in Greece, Spain, and Southern Italy. That’s not to say you won’t see cool temperatures, as many parts of Northern and Western Europe will still lows in the single digits. Travelers should still plan for a few days of scattered showers in the North Atlantic at destinations such as Scotland, Ireland, and Iceland.


July

Cameron And Natasha Stand Outside Farmhouse In Tuscany

July is warmer than June and 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 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 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 others have experienced record-breaking temperatures of 37+°C. It seems to be a trend, so preparing for that might pay.


August

Cameron Lies On A Rock Above Lac Blanc Near Mont Blanc In Chamonix

August is summer, 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 Scandinavia, 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.


September

Natasha Twirls In Dress On Hydra Greece

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, and it’s a tremendous time to visit many of the continent’s most popular cities.

Russia and Northern Europe get even cooler, only hitting about the mid-teens. Early September is one of the best times to visit Europe to beat tourist crowds on beaches; it’s also cheaper since it’s no longer summer holidays. 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, the Amalfi Coast, Ibiza, Malta, and Sardinia enter their prime in September. While many Europeans head back to work, this is our favorite time to travel around Europe.


October

Natasha Walks Down A Fall Road In Brittany France

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. Highs in Lisbon and the South of France are still in the low twenties. If you want to extend your summer, head to the Mediterranean, where the water is still warm, but beaches are getting quieter. Beautiful fall foliage can be found in France, Germany, England, and Romania.


November

Natasha Walks Down Beach In Portgual In November
The Algarve in November

November is cold, with short days. 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 trees are bare now, and that fall foliage is gone. Most destinations are wet with rain and pretty cloudy at 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).


December

Natasha Walks Down Street In Helsinki

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. Due to the snowfall, many of Europe’s ski resorts begin their season in December. 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

Edinburghs Hogmanay The River Swim Man Dressed As"The Wall" pushes man dressed as Donald Tump in to the river
Celebrating Hogmanay on January 1st

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 one in Italy, rivaling 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

Saint Patricks Day In Dublin
St Patricks Day in Ireland

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

Natasha And Teresa At La Tomatina In Spain
My black eye from La Tomatina in Spain

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

Cameron and Natasha At The Galway Oyster Festival
Enjoying the Galway Oyster Fest in September

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 in many European cities like Vienna, Verona, Luxembourg, Helsinki, and Munich.


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!


My Thoughts

Saint Tropez in early June

I think the best time to travel to Europe is not in the high season. I wouldn’t say I 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 such as the main cities and Southern Europe.

A Paris or Rome are cities to be skipped in the summer as most local’s even take off for their summer holidays and to escape the heat. 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?

Cameron and Natasha in Brittany
Normandy in November

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 destination in Europe, this is the cheapest time to travel.


When is the Best Time to Visit Europe for Beaches?

Natasha At The Blue Lagoon On Favignana
Favignana (off the coast of Sicily) in late May

May and October are the best time to visit Europe for a beach holiday. 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 chased the sunshine during this time. We saw beaches in Cyprus still being crazy busy on October 31st!


When is the Best Time to Visit Europe for Skiing and Snowboarding?

Dolomitin-Superski-Trentino-Ski-Alpe-Luisa
Snowboarding Holiday in Italy

The best time for skiing and snowboarding in Europe is 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?

Cameron, Natasha, and Kelsey On Summit Of Mountain In Zakopane
Hiking in Zakopane, Poland

Anytime is a good time to backpack Europe. If you’re backpacking through Europe, I’m going to assume you’re on a bit of a budget, meaning the cheapest time to travel is between September and May. You can still score good deals on hostels and shared accommodation in the summer season – 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

About Natasha Alden

Natasha is the co-founder of The World Pursuit. She is an expert in travel, budgeting, and finding unique experiences. She loves to be outside, hiking in the mountains, playing in the snow on her snowboard, and biking. She has been traveling for over 10 years, across 7 continents, experiencing unique cultures, new food, and meeting fantastic people. She strives to make travel planning and traveling easier for all. Her advice about international travel, outdoor sports, and African safari has been featured on Lonely Planet, Business Insider, and Reader’s Digest.

Learn more about Natasha Alden on The World Pursuit About Us Page.

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