July – summer is spoiling me with eternal sunshine, my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds are filled with my friends’ beautiful holiday snaps and all my clocks are switched to wanderlust, but there is one thing missing: time. I know at least one other Travelette who is in the same situation and will instantly raise her hand on this – at this point let’s all wish Marie good luck with her thesis! And while my friends climb mountains in the French Alps, roadtrip around Iceland on their honeymoon or enjoy the solitude of a tropical beach in wonderland, I am tied to my computer, writing writing writing. Although the week spent sailing with our team in August is a hopeful light in the sky, it shines hardly bright enough to quench my thirst for adventure. I want to explore every corner of Europe, explore Amsterdam or Belgrade, get lost in translation and find new friends on the road.

Alas, I try to comfort myself with all the disadvantages traveling in summer brings. It is way too hot – have you ever tried to discover an Italian city in July with a clear head? Did you know that bottled water sells for up to €3 on the street? The air conditioning in the subway failed again? Also, where are all these kids coming from – oh, right: school holidays. What, the same hotel room costs twice as much as last spring? What do you mean fully booked?

Actually, this is helping… and it reminds me of why traveling in off- or shoulder season is way better anyways. So, if you, like me, didn’t get the chance to spend your summer roadtripping around Europe – here are some reasons for why winter is the time to go.

contiki europe in winter

1) Winter is more romantic

Like Caroline admitted in her latest post – falling in love on the road is one of the most exciting feelings in the world. Let us for a second forget the fact that it is usually also very short-term and live in the moment. Europe is an amazing place to fall in love. Imagine strolling along the medieval lanes of Brugge arm in arm with that Aussie hottie you met in the hostel, or ice-skating below the Eiffel Tower in Paris. You heard right, every winter an ice-skating rink opens on the significant tower’s first floor. Now if that’s not a reason to visit Paris in winter and find your soul mate…

ice skating eiffel tower

2) In winter Europe shows its authentic self

In summer European cities often blend too easily. Every green stretch from Oslo to Madrid is flooded with half-naked metropolitans who declare the park their beach, squares are crowded with tourists, musicians and coffee connoisseurs, the list of festivals and free events is endless – which city were we in again? Like humans in rough times, cities show their authentic face in the winter – and that is not necessarily a bad thing. If you go to Austria or Germany for example you will find it hard to believe your eyes. Under the thick layers of wool accessories and muddy snow lies an unexpected beauty – in the form of mulled wine and twinkly fairy lights. Austrians and Germans are the first when it comes to atmospheric and authentic Christmas markets. Other cities might try to imitate them, but the traditional markets of Nurnberg, Munich or Vienna are something you should see before you grow old.

contiki europe in winter

3) Winter is cooler…

If all the muddy snow and crisp cold air do not sound too alluring to you maybe Southern Europe is the destination for you. While in summer you have to deal with crowded beaches in Spain, fully booked hotels in Greece or unbearably hot trains in Italy, winter is much more relaxed. You could take the ferry or a cruise ship across the Mediterranean Sea, explore every city between Lisbon and Istanbul and soak up the soothing sunrays of the winter sun.

contiki europe in winter

4) …and parties are hotter

How often have you tried to go out in a foreign city and found nothing but empty clubs because locals are either on the beach, in the parks or on their private decks the entire night? Thanks to the colder temperatures off-season that will not happen if you travel European cities in winter. Copenhagen, Berlin or Vienna – they have more clubs than you could possibly enter in one night. In winter people are more eager to frequent them, save on bills and keep warm by dancing the night away. If you care for a special experience to start the year make sure to spend New Year’s Eve in Scotland. Edinburgh’s Hogmanay festivities are some of the biggest New Year’s celebrations in the world.

contiki europe in winter

5) The beauty of winter

Nothing captures the beauty of nature like the glistening of a snow-covered mountain range. All over Europe from Norway to Switzerland the big white waits to enchant you. Of course the days are shorter than in summer, but at least you don’t have to rise too early or stay up forever to see the sun rise and set. Winter is the perfect time to be mesmerized by nature while you travel Europe by bus or train, hike through forests in snowshoes or race down a hill on your skies or snowboard.

contiki europe in winter

You see, even if Europe was not on your summer schedule it is still worth planning a visit in winter. There are some unexpected perks hidden all over the place no matter what the season. Lower costs and smaller crowds allow more time and money to explore. Tour operator Contiki offers packages with itineraries between 3 and 24 days which give you plenty of structure but also enough flexibility to discover Europe on romantic city trips, cross-country adventures, party weekends and active holidays. Check out their off-season tours here and make sure to add Europe to this winter’s to do list.

If you need recommendations on where to stay check out our Yonderbox Europe under 100 Euro.

photo sources: Travel Europe  / Eiffel tower / Mulled wine / Italy in Winter / Hogmanay fireworks / mountain 

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This post was sponsored by Contiki.

This is a post by Kathi Kamleitner.

Kathi Kamleitner was a regular contributor at Travelettes from 2013 to 2019. Originally from Vienna, Austria, she packed her backpack to travel the world and lived in Denmark, Iceland and Berlin, before settling in Glasgow, Scotland. Kathi is always preparing her next trip – documenting her every step with her camera, pen and phone.

In 2016, Kathi founded Scotland travel blog WatchMeSee.com to share her love for her new home, hiking in the Scottish Highlands, island hopping and vegan food. Follow her adventures on Instagram @watchmesee!