It started a few days ago, maybe a week now. The smell was different as I took those first early morning steps out of my apartment, it was lighter, fresher. Warmer. I took a sip of coffee, lifted my head, and only then started to notice that the city’s buildings weren’t covered in the wintry darkness that encases the world for the better part of the cold months. It was actually light out, at 6:30 in the morning! I drew breath.

Spring was in the air.

I eagerly await each change of seasons, but the transition from winter to spring is especially dear to me. It always feels like someone lifts a big, pressing weight off my shoulders that I hadn’t even been quite aware of before, all wrapped up in winter sweaters, nose buried deep in a book, sitting in my warm bed.

Spring, however, is a time for light jackets, sunglasses, coffees on the open street, and exploring. I’m also convinced that it’s the best season for a trip to or within Europe – and here’s my top five reasons why.

1 – Spring has the best weather for city trips, period.

It’s so easy to get from one amazing city to the next, often in a totally different country, with a completely new culture, when you’re in Europe. There is so much history, art, and culture to explore in the little continent’s cities, each town offering a new perspective and a unique experience.

The only problem: Europe has four very distinct seasons, and three of them are extremely uncomfortable for city tripping (at least if you ask me). Who wants to walk through narrow streets that trap the simmering heat on those blue-sky summer days, when instead you could relax on a beach somewhere, good book and cocktail in hand? Who is willing to face the cold autumn winds and the heavy rainfall when you could just as easily be enjoying a sauna in one of Europe’s many countryside spas? And don’t even get me started on city trips in winter, where it’s too cold to spend too much time on the streets or do anything at all without ten layers of clothes on!

Clearly, spring is the better option. Nice, moderate temperatures, warm enough to sit outside, but not too hot yet, cities coming to life again after cold winters – need I say more?

2 – Tourist masses just don’t happen in spring.

Tourist Masses Crowds Istanbul Turkey

We’ve all been there: Sitting on the Spanish Steps in Rome, marveling at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, hiking in Cinque Terre, or climbing the Eiffel tower – together with what must surely be at least a million other tourists.

One surefire way to avoid them is to simply travel off-season – since most people wait for the warmer summer months to go on holidays, spring is a good bet for enjoying touristy things all by yourself. Or, at least, with fewer people than you would encounter in summer…

3 – Enjoy an early summer in Europe’s South….

Early summer spring trip Europe Portugal Beach

If you’re like me and you love winter, but you also love when it goes away quickly, thank you very much, preferably without the mushy sleet and melting ice that makes everything uncomfortable and dirty for a few weeks, you might want to escape for a few days and have yourself an early summer in Europe’s South. That way, you just let winter transition into spring back home all by itself, and when you come back, all relaxed and tan from your getaway in Greece, Fuerteventura, or Tenerife, the last snow has melted and trees are starting to blossom. You don’t even have to venture as far down South – even Portugal, Spain, or Italy are great spring destinations.

4 – ….or head back up into the mountains for a little more winter!

200 Ways To Make 2017 Your Best Travel Year Yet Snowboard Ski Equipment

Alternatively, you could do the exact opposite and head into the mountains to prolong your winter. Snow lasts a lot longer in high altitudes (duh), and the snow machines do the rest to keep the slopes nice and smooth for skiers. Prices drop towards the end of the season, so if you’re lucky and know where to look, you can snag a whole week of skiing or snowboarding fun in the mountains, accommodation included, for half of what you’d pay in winter. A little tip for your search: the smaller the ski resort, the better your chances to get a good offer!

5 – Spring trips are totally budget-friendly

This one’s a no-brainer: spring is off-season, and off-season means you get to spend the same amount of money, but get a lot more out of it. Rooms, entry tickets, and even restaurant prices are usually quite a bit cheaper than they are in high-season, so scheduling your holiday in spring can save you a lot of cash. Combine that with a cheap flight or train ticket (check out a few tips on how to score the best travel deals here!) and you’re good to go.

I for one know that I’ll take full advantage of this beautiful spring to travel through Europe. How about you, do you have any trips planned? Where are you going? We’re curious to find out…