Home Europe The Best Time to Visit Europe

The Best Time to Visit Europe

written by Webjet Australia August 25, 2017

Encompassing such a wide and unique area of the world, it can be hard to know what the best time to visit Europe is. Featuring widely varied geography, weather patterns and popular seasons to visit, each country differs so much, meaning that you simply can’t apply one set of travel advice to the entire continent.

Although dozens of different countries are located within Europe, we’ve decided to focus on some of the most popular destinations, from France and Italy through to Croatia and Russia. Check out when you should be visiting, when you should avoid travelling and some of the top events taking place in each country!

France

Best Time to Go

Allowing you to enjoy all that France has to offer without long queues or exorbitant flight and accommodation expenses, the country’s shoulder season is one of the best times to visit. Spanning from April to June and September to November, these travel periods often see lower temperatures compared to high summer (July and August), but make for a more enjoyable travel experience with fewer tourists and better rates across flights, hotels and more.

Major Events

  • Cannes Film Festival – May
  • Tour de France – July
  • Bastille Day – July

When to Avoid Visiting

Although high summer (July and August) provides France with its warmest weather, it also coincides with the country’s largest annual influx of tourists, especially in major centres such as Paris. As visitors flood into the country, locals often retreat to rural regions or neighbouring countries to enjoy their own fun in the sun, leaving some accommodation, restaurants and shops without staff at this busy time.

The Louvre, Paris, France

The Louvre, Paris, France. Image Credit: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra / CC by 2.0.

Italy

Best Time to Go

Much like France, it’s often best to travel to Italy outside of the peak summer season, which spans from July to August. Touring Italy in the shoulder season (from April to late June and from September to October) typically delivers more comfortable temperatures than summer’s peak, as well as better access to popular attractions in major cities such as Rome, Milan and Venice.

Major Events

  • Carnival of Venice – January or February (date determined by Easter celebrations)
  • Milan Fashion Week – February or March
  • Rome Film Festival – October

When to Avoid Visiting

The tourist high season (July and August) attracts large crowds to Italy’s cities and holiday hotspots, resulting in increased demand for accommodation and higher rates across flights and hotel rooms. Unless you are willing to shell out more for your holiday and don’t mind queuing for some of the country’s best known attractions, this time of year is best avoided. The low season, which begins in November and concludes in March, does see fewer tourists heading to Italy and lower costs compared to the high season, but attractions and hotels are often closed in areas along the coast and in mountain regions at this time.

Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy. Image Credit: Bert Kaufmann / CC by SA 2.0.

Germany

Best Time to Go

Forget braving the crowds in summer, it’s easy to see the best of Germany from early to mid-autumn (September and October). At this time of year, the summer crowds have headed back home, attractions are far less packed and accommodation and airfare rates have dropped once again. The weather is generally pretty good at this time of year, but be prepared for some rainy spells.

Major Events

  • Berlin International Film Festival – February
  • Oktoberfest – September to October
  • Christmas Markets – December

When to Avoid Visiting

Summer (June, July and August) is typically Germany’s busiest tourist season and, while the weather is warm, it can also be rather unpredictable. It’s this time of year that often sees the most rainfall, which could certainly interrupt even the best made plans. Heading to Munich during Oktoberfest (September to early October) should also be avoided, unless you plan to take part in the festivities. Tourists flock to the city at this time and the cost of accommodation skyrockets.

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany.

United Kingdom

Best Time to Go

As with most European destinations, the best time to visit the United Kingdom falls outside of the summer peak, with the shoulder seasons of April to May and September to October offering the best opportunity to catch theatre, opera, ballet and other cultural events that don’t always take place during high summer. During this time, attractions are quieter, British Summer Time (the same concept as Australia’s daylight saving time) extends daylight well into the evening, and temperatures are fair.

Major Events

  • St Patrick’s Day – March
  • Chelsea Flower Show – May
  • Glastonbury – June
  • Edinburgh Festival and Edinburgh Festival Fringe – August
  • Hogmanay – January

When to Avoid Visiting

The United Kingdom’s hottest and busiest months, July and August, are best avoided for a better travel experience. At this time, major cities are filled with tourists, rates are high and temperatures may be uncomfortable. Similarly, winter should also be avoided as the days are short and cold, and many attractions are closed during this time.

Tower Bridge, London, England

Tower Bridge, London, England.

Spain

Best Time to Go

Accompanied by mild weather and fewer tourists, the best time to visit Spain falls within the shoulder season, which spans from March to May and September to October. The weather during these months makes it easy to get active, while most local attractions, businesses and events are in full operation throughout the season. Without the demand from holidaying visitors from nearby countries, hotel rooms and flights are generally cheaper at this time too.

Major Events

  • Fiesta de San Fermines (Running of the Bulls) – July
  • La Tomatina – August
  • San Sebastián International Film Festival – September

When to Avoid Visiting

From November to February, weather becomes less favourable across Spain, with increased rainfall and lower temperatures both commonplace. Accommodation in beach side areas is likely to be closed during this time, while the country’s ski resorts experience their peak season. Unless you are planning to hit the slopes, it may be best to see Spain at a different time of year. Similarly, mid-summer (June to August) is also best avoided unless you cannot change your travel plans. Temperatures are high during this time, large crowds are abundant and many locals head on their own holidays at this time, reducing both shopping and dining options.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain.

Greece

Best Time to Go

While the height of summer might appear to be the perfect time to visit Greece, spring to early summer (mid-April to mid-June) or autumn (September to mid-October) can actually be a better option. Avoiding high summer, you can expect to enjoy lower prices, good weather and smaller tourist crowds, making for a cheaper and more enjoyable trip to Greece and its islands.

Major Events

  • Athens Epidaurus Festival – June, July and August
  • Thessaloniki International Film Festival – November

When to Avoid Visiting

Beyond the shoulder and high seasons, there are generally fewer flights to Greece and some hotels and tourist operators may not be available during this time. Unless you take the time to carefully plan out all the details of your holiday and thoroughly research what will be available to you at this time, it may be better to reschedule your Greek holiday for another time. It’s also best to avoid travelling to Greece during high summer, as prices are heavily inflated and temperatures soar. This time of year is very popular with tourists, meaning that crowds and queues are sure to be in abundance.

Santorini, Greece

Santorini, Greece. Image Credit: Edward Dalmulder / CC by 2.0.

Russia

Best Time to Go

With temperatures in some areas rivalling the Mediterranean and a lack of air conditioning in some hotels and public transport, the height of summer (July and August) might not be the most the most comfortable time to head to Russia. Instead, the shoulder seasons from May to June and September to October offer cooler weather and better conditions for discovering this vast and diverse country. September and October are close to the Russian winter, so if you are considering travelling at this time, it’s wise to pack a few extra layers.

Major Events

  • Victory Day – May
  • Stars of the White Nights Festival – May to July
  • Circle of Light Festival – September

When to Avoid Visiting

Blanketed with snow and gripped by freezing temperatures, Russia’s short winter days are best avoided unless you arrive well prepared. From November to February, the country sees much fewer hours of daylight and, unless you’re looking to go skiing or celebrate a Russian Christmas, it isn’t the most appealing destination at this time.

Red Square, Moscow, Russia

Red Square, Moscow, Russia.

Iceland

Best Time to Go

With more attractions and tours operating across the country, late May to early September is the best time to visit Iceland. As with most countries in the region, high summer (July and August) will see more tourists flock to Iceland’s shores, but the time either side of this busy period is also pleasant. If you don’t mind travelling during the European winter, it might also be worth considering visiting Iceland in February or March, where you can enjoy lower prices and more daylight hours than earlier winter months. However, be aware that some tours, attractions and transport routes may not operate at this time.

Major Events

  • Reykjavik Blues Festival – April
  • Reykjavik Arts Festival – May to June
  • Independence Day – June

When to Avoid Visiting

As a general rule of thumb, the period from late September to April isn’t the best time to visit Iceland as temperatures are very cold, daylight is limited to just 4 to 6 hours a day, and storms occur frequently. However, this time does coincide with the time at which the Northern Lights are at their most active. Their peak spans from September to October and March to April, and is an experience that should be ticked off every bucket list. If you are travelling on a budget, it is also best to avoid the height of the tourist season (from mid-June to August), which sees expenses increase.

Natural waterfall, Iceland

Natural waterfall, Iceland.

Poland

Best Time to Go

Typically, the best time to holiday in Poland is during the summer months. The weather is warm at this time of year and most attractions are open to the public. Being the peak tourist period, prices may be higher for flights and accommodation, but the weather is normally more settled than early autumn and late spring. If you are thinking about travelling at this time, it’s best to know that some hotels and public transport may not have air conditioning.

Major Events

  • Jewish Culture Festival – June
  • Chopiniana – July
  • International Film Festival – October
  • Warsaw Christmas Market – December

When to Avoid Visiting

From November to March, Poland is often blanketed in snow and days are at their shortest. If you’re not planning to take part in skiing and other winter sports, or are wanting to experience Poland at its coldest, it may be best to reschedule your visit to another time of year where you can more freely, and comfortably, explore all that the country has to offer.

Krakow, Poland

Krakow, Poland.

Sweden

Best Time to Go

The period spanning from May to September is generally thought to be the best time to visit Sweden. While the best weather can be found from June to August (high summer), the months either side of this time also offer plenty of opportunities to get active and soak up the sights of the country’s natural attractions at a lower cost than high summer. If you are planning to visit in September, be sure to pack appropriate clothing as temperatures tend to drop from this point onwards.

Major Events

  • Smaka På Stockholm – May or June
  • Medeltidsveckan – August
  • Malmö Festival – August
  • Stockholms Kulturfestival – August
  • Stockholm International Film Festival – November

When to Avoid Visiting

From November to March, the temperature drops across Sweden and the days get much shorter. Unless you are intending to take part in winter sports or attend a specific event, it is best to avoid visiting Sweden at this time. High summer (July and August) is also best avoided as accommodation and flights are more expensive and many major cultural attractions, such as opera, dance and ballet, shut down for the season.

Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden.

Denmark

Best Time to Go

Much like most destinations across the continent, Denmark’s high season begins in June and concludes in August. Although the country does receive fewer visitors than some of its neighbours at this time, the cost of flights and accommodation do typically increase. If you’d rather not pay inflated rates, the best time to visit Denmark would be from May to mid-June or mid-August to September. At these times, the weather is generally mild, tourist crowds have reduced and the country looks beautiful as it enters either spring or autumn.

Major Events

  • Copenhagen Jazz Festival – February
  • Roskilde Festival – June to July
  • Århus Festival – August
  • Christmas Markets – December

When to Avoid Visiting

From October through to the end of April, temperatures drop and daylight hours are reduced across Denmark. Some seasonal events do take place closer to Christmas, but many attractions are closed during this period. If you are wanting to experience the natural beauty and culture of Denmark, it would be better to visit outside of winter and early spring. However, if you are looking to partake in snow sports and are wanting to enjoy an authentic Danish Christmas, this time of year may suit your travel plans.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark.

Croatia

Best Time to Go

Although July and August is the most popular time for tourists to head to Croatia, May, June and September offer warm weather without the crowds. Prices are lower at these times, and, while the beaches may not be quite as appealing as during high summer (July and August), the water is still warm enough for swimming. Some tourist facilities may not be available at these times and some transport routes limited, but the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of Croatia without overwhelming crowds is certainly worth the sacrifice.

Major Events

  • Split Summer Festival – July to August
  • Dubrovnik Summer Festival – August
  • Zagreb Film Festival – October

When to Avoid Visiting

If you’re thinking of heading to the Adriatic coast during your next Croatia trip, it’s best to avoid doing so during winter. At this time, most beaches are closed and most resorts are left abandoned throughout the chilly season. If you are still interested in visiting at this time of year, be sure to head inland and prepare to deal with some rather chilly temperatures.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia. Image Credit: Bracodbk / CC by SA 3.0.

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