18 May,2017 By Jagabond
Timing is everything. People often ask the question, when should you go somewhere? Travel books tell you the ideal time for every European city is between May and September. The truth is, not everyone gets to travel those months. People visit Europe during off-peak times for many reasons…e.g. job, school, family situation, etc.
I’ve listed below my recommendations for European trips by month. Many of these trips I’ve done, other cities listed I went to in the wrong month and learned the hard way. I based my selections on the following criteria: number of tourists (lower is better), weather (warmer is better), and any festivals occurring that month.
Bummed out by the European winter? Then Sevilla is for you this time of year. Boasting temperatures approaching 20 degrees Celsius in January, jacket-less jaunts are not out of the question during the day. Proudly sport a short-sleeve top and walk from the famous cathedral to the Plaza de Espana, admiring your surroundings along the way.
You could visit in the summer with the rest of the tourist hordes, but why bother? February presents an amazing time to see such a beautiful city, as this is carnival time. To maximize your experience, plan ahead and buy tickets for one of the many evening galas, or just overload on people watching during the day. By avoiding Venice in the summer, you will save yourself from massive sweating (humidity plus crowds) and multiple mosquito bites.
Munich is an incredible city to visit, and one of the best European locations for first time solo travelers. If you are averse to crowds, the tourist-laden time of Oktoberfest will spike your social anxiety. Why not see all the spoils of a great city while still enjoying amazing beer? March is home to the strong beer festival, so you can get a good buzz with a smaller crowd.
If you go to Croatia in the summer, everyone else has had the same idea. Crowds flock to the cities and beaches, and you risk losing the experience of culture and relaxation. In April you can still marvel at the waterfalls at Plitvice Lakes National Park, and walk the walls of Dubrovnik in near solitude. You may be the only car on the main highway as you zoom unabated up the coast.
May is the first of two bookend months surrounding peak tourist season. These months allow you to experience great weather, and all the attractions being open, while avoiding massive crowds. Santorini is THE best setting for a European romance, and worthy of all the hype. Take your significant other for a sunset in Oia, and you will likely enjoy an amazing night of intimacy.
Iceland has poor nightlife but beautiful landscapes, so why not go when you can maximize the day? In June there are 22 hours of daylight and two hours of dim light. You can photograph an amazing waterfall without a flash at three in the morning! For the best adventure, rent a camper and drive all 900 miles of the ring road. A camper with beds and kitchen facilities saves you huge money on lodging and food, and Iceland has campsites everywhere to take a break and recharge your electronics.
Welcome to the busiest European travel month. Seas of people traverse across the continent, so focus on a less visited city. One of the biggest mysteries is why Lisbon isn’t more popular. I spent five days there, but this easily could’ve been two weeks. Enjoy the laid back culture and soak in some Fado music to hear the emotional soundtrack of this beautiful city.
You never visit Scotland for the weather, so August is as good a month as any. This is also when Edinburgh has the Fringe Festival, a celebration of music, arts and culture. Fellow travel blogger Roving Jo has some great trip reports from her Scotland holiday, which included some stunning photos of the countryside.
September is the second bookend month, and a great time to visit Southern France to avoid the European mobs who flock here in summer. Do an overnight trip to Avignon and check out the Pont du Gard, spend some days and nights relaxing on the French beaches, and visit the underrated small town of Cassis where you can take a boat tour of the beautiful calanques.
Barcelona is truly the city for everyone. It’s hard not to appreciate the majesty of the Gaudi architecture, but be sure to purchase your Sagrada Familia tickets online in advance to avoid the long wait. The tapas, drinks and nightlife are unparalleled, and during October it’s not uncommon to have daily temperatures exceeding 20 degrees Celsius. To avoid ruining your trip, be mindful of the pickpockets on La Rambla.
One day this hidden gem will be fully discovered. Don’t mistake this for just a beach resort, as the history of the country is compelling. Did you know about Malta’s significant involvement in World War II? Did you know that the oldest man-made structures, older than Stonehenge, reside on Gozo Island? The only downer is the gone-forever Azure Window, a unique rock formation that collapsed during a storm earlier this year.
Nothing instills Christmas spirit like visiting Vienna in December. Maybe it’s the Mozart playing gently as you walk through one of the many Christmas markets, smelling the hot wine and cinnamon. The public transportation here is outstanding, and can easily and quickly whisk you away to one of the many museums and palaces within the city limits. For a magical evening, take in a show at the Opera House, and imagine yourself in a European fairy tale.