Step one, decide to go on a tour of Europe. Step two, try to decide when the best time to go is. Step three, start planning...If you're past step one, you might be asking yourself right now, “Okay, so when actually is the best time for me to take a tour of Europe?” Plenty of considerations should go into determining the best time of year for you to visit, including seasonal weather, local events, and what you’re hoping to see while abroad.
Luckily, Grand European’s Travel Specialists are happy to help you figure out the best time of year to visit the places you want to go and can explain how your experience might be different depending on the travel season.
Best Time to Visit Europe by Season
First of all, let’s consider the seasons. Not just Winter, Fall, Summer, and Spring, but what's known in the travel world as "Peak Season" and the "Off-Seasons."
Travel Seasons in Europe
For most travelers, the choice of which season to travel in falls along a spectrum of “I’ll go when it’s cheapest” to “I absolutely must travel in summer because that’s when it’s best.”
The truth is that there are benefits and downfalls to traveling Europe during each season. It's good to know what to expect when you start to plan, so do your research and talk to your travel specialist to get the most out of your trip.
Peak Season Travel
Summer is a fantastic time to explore Europe. The weather is warm, the sun is shining, and the outdoors are filled with festivals and things to do. It’s also the time of year when most people have vacations and are willing to travel. Such as, families with school-aged children who are pretty locked into traveling during the summer, so consider that when planning. While Peak Season sees the majority of people traveling, that doesn’t have to mean that you'll feel claustrophobic or have a less than custom experience. Our European vacation packages include plenty of culturally enriching encounters and insider experiences that connect you with locals and sites you'll visit.
Tips for Peak Season Travel
Peak Season can be a hassle to plan for independent travelers. While nearly all destinations tend to have their peak tourist season across July and August, this is not true of all European cities. Many independent travelers are surprised when they take a trip to Rome in August and find that temperatures are high and much of the city is shut down for a four-week holiday. So if you’re traveling independently and don’t want to travel to the sea, you’ll likely find a sparsely populated city center during these times and might have a hard time finding open shops or restaurants.
But you don’t need to worry about when you travel with us, because we handle all the details for you. If you’re wondering about the best time to visit your destination of choice, just call us, and our Travel Specialists will be happy to answer your questions and offer the expert advice you can trust. We can even offer you better Peak-Season rates than you would find on your own thanks to pre-negotiated contracts with top hotels and local attractions.
Here are some more ways to maximize your Peak Season travel.
Embrace the Crowds
Traveling during peak season means people. There just are no two ways around it. Approach your vacation with the acceptance that there will be other people, likely many other people, traveling with you. Embrace the positive aspects, such as the likelihood of meeting different types of people and forming new friendships. And, perhaps most importantly, remember that traveling in a group on one of our guided tours gives you special access to Europe’s legendary sites. Not only can you bypass the lines at world-renowned museums and legendary sites, but you’ll also enjoy guided visits with local experts.
Try Something New
On a tour, you’re a traveler, and you’ll go way beyond the guidebooks, like learning to shuck oysters on a seafood farm on the Croatian coast. Or sampling tapas alongside Sevillanos in Spain. Or join nonna in Alberobello, in Italy’s Apulia region, to learn the secrets of perfecting the perfect gnocchi. The more new things you try, the more you'll enjoy your destinations.
Extend Your Stay
Our European vacation packages include the perfect balance of guided sightseeing free time to explore on your own. Still, you might find that you didn’t get to spend as much time as you would have liked in a certain place. Consider adding a few extra nights at the end of your vacation, either to revisit a town you enjoyed during your trip or to explore a city that wasn’t included on your itinerary. If you’d like to spend additional time in a city that’s included in the tour, your GET Travel Specialists will be happy to assist you and can book extra nights for you under our contracted hotel rates.
Remember the Essentials
Finally, wear comfortable walking shoes, and carry all the necessities for a day of sightseeing, such as sunscreen, maybe a hat, and always a reusable water bottle.
Often the choice of budget seekers or return visitors, it’s no secret that Off-Season’s largest perk is lower pricing. When fewer crowds are inclined to visit hotels and restaurants, major attractions tend to drop their prices. In addition to lower prices on your European vacation package, there are other benefits to choosing a tour during the Off-Seasons. How often do you behave like a tourist in your own hometown? Chances are you don’t regularly explore museums and attractions in-depth in the city where you live. Europeans are no different.
Winter Off-Season Travel
Sometimes, the most cultural experiences a country can offer fall outside peak travel season. Take the incredible European Christmas markets that flow across market squares with stalls, festivities, and seasonal treats galore. And you have the best chances of seeing the northern lights on a guided Iceland tour during the darkest winter months. Looking into various Off-Season attractions can open the doors to an incredible vacation.
Top Places in Europe for a Winter Vacation
Spring Off-Season Travel
Seen by many experts as the “sweet spot” for European travel, the Spring Off-Season offers plenty of sunlight, comfortable temperatures, fewer crowds, and a tourism industry eager to please the remaining tourists they see for the season. April through June, most cities are lovely and full of blooms. There are famous Spring Tulip festivals in the Netherlands and Cherry Blossom festivals in Japan.
The Best Places to Travel in Spring
Tips for Off-Season Travel
When the crowds leave, the locals stay. This means that you’ll mingle even more with the locals when you travel in the Off-Season. This allows for a more immersive experience as to what it is like to truly live in the country you’re traveling to.
Embrace the Space
Off-season travel means that many of the places you want to visit will be sparsely populated, and some may even be empty. This allows your experience to be intimate and very personal. Imagine visiting Europe’s renowned cultural sites with few other visitors—an experience made even richer with a local specialist to guide you and answer all your questions.
Days are shorter, and the weather is less predictable during the Off-Seasons. This means you should plan for and be OK with rainy, cold, gray days and crisp, clear, cool ones. Be sure to bring the right essentials to keep you comfortable during your trips, such as comfortable walking shoes and a raincoat. For helpful ideas on what to pack, take a look at our packing list