There’s nothing quite like exploring a city with the sun shining on your face, the scent of sun cream in the air and the prospect of picnics in a park. Summer trips are ideal for a lot of people, but there are a few reasons why the risk of winter rain completely outweighs the glorious sunshine, and makes Europe a better place to visit in the colder months.
I am most definitely a summer person. I love the warmth, the sunshine and being able to walk around in sandals. But there really is something special about winter visits, and so these are just 9 of the reasons that convince me to travel to Europe in the winter.
Crisp winter skies
Sure, the weather in winter is a bit more hit and miss than in the summer. But there’s just something about those crisp blue winter skies that makes me so happy. And if you’ve not got the blue skies, those insta filters work wonders on cloudy backdrops!
As the days get shorter and the chill starts to set in, most people want to spend the days inside tucked up by a warm fireplace, a hot chocolate in hand topped with marshmallows. So the holiday companies and airlines need to give some incentive to get people to use their flights, hotels, services etc. And thankfully for us, this usually comes in the way of cheap deals! I always try to travel when the weather is starting to turn, purely so I don’t have to pay the premium prices that summer carries.
Did someone say queue? I may be British, but if there’s one thing I hate more than people who don’t queue properly, it’s the actual queue itself. Who wants to spend half their time on a city break queuing up to see something? Less other tourists means less queues, way less crowding in museums and attractions, and clearer shots for me to snap a photo or two. I’ve heard people complain about queueing for ages to visit the Belfry Tower in Bruges – I only saw a few other people the whole time I was in there.
Good photography light
If you are blessed with sunshine, the light is somehow softer than in summer and gives photos a lovely effect. Plus, you don’t have to stay out so late to catch the photographer’s dream – golden hour!
One holiday a year. Two glorious weeks in the summer to relax and lounge by the pool. As much as I love this, I cannot spend the other 50 weeks of the year waiting for my next holiday. While I wouldn’t recommend a beach holiday to most European places in the winter, it’s so nice to still have a break away from the everyday to look forward to. And thankfully Europe has so many amazing cities that you’re spoilt for choice of where to explore!
Granted, a plane seat in the summer is not all that different to a seat in the winter. There’s just one noticeable difference – the other passengers. Because less people travel in winter, there are less people on the planes, and therefore more available seats. While this might not make much difference to some – you do only need one seat on the plane after all – it makes a difference to me. I recently had a whole row to myself, which meant I could sit next to the window without worrying I’d have to clamber over some poor soul in a bid to get to the loo, and I could spread out a bit. Being able to put stuff on the spare seat is such a god send too, because I hate having to rummage in my bag to find things.
While the local food is usually available all year round, there’s nothing quite like tucking into a hearty goulash near a roaring fireplace in the middle of winter. Some food just begs to be eaten on a cold winters day! And I wouldn’t want to eat the carbalicious grub in the summer, because I wouldn’t have my lovely winter coat to hide behind when I’ve eaten a touch too much. And let’s be honest, half of a trip abroad is trying the food, right?
Scarf, hat, gloves – the essentials! While I do hate being cold, I love being able to wear my hat and scarf and being all cosy. And how much cuter does everyone look when they’ve got their winter accessories on? Who even needs to feel their toes anyway…
The markets were what first pulled me to Europe in the winter, and they are the main reason I seem to return each year. There’s enough festive cheer to get even the biggest grinch into the Christmas spirit. Teamed up with delicious and cheap food, drinks and ice skating, there’s not much more you could want. And there really is something special about standing in the snow, with a warm glühwein in your hands, watching people whizz past on the ice skating rink. Or, you know, slowing shuffling as they hold on to the side.
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