Is Europe nice in the winter?

Jul 13th, 2001, 08:11 AM
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Is Europe nice in the winter?

My girlfriend and I are going to Europe from Dec. to Jan. She is worried that Europe in the winter would not be as enjoyable as it would be during the summer. Is Europe totally different during the winter? Will we not be able to experience everything that Europe has to offer during the summer if we go during the winter? Please give us some advice on what we should do.
Jul 13th, 2001, 08:14 AM
Al Godon
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Let me take that question and turn it around. Is the United States nice in the winter? Except for extensive deserts, Europe is as climatically diverse. So what would you tell me about the US of A??
Jul 13th, 2001, 08:23 AM
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Europe in winter?

Depends on what you want to do.

Beaches? There are some fairly nice ones to the south.

Walks in the mountains? Not without snowshoes or skis.

Sitting at sidewalk cafes? Not in very many places.

Museums and cathedrals? No difference in summer and winter.

Europe is not quite as climatically diverse as the US. In general though, much of it is not too dissimilar from the US Middle Atlantic states.

The most popular city destinations, London, Paris and Rome are relatively cool. Some days downright cold. Sometimes, especially Rome, not so bad at all. Rarely snow, but cold, wet rain doesn't make a stroll in the park very enjoyable. But it puts no damper at all on visiting museums, enjoying fine food inside restaurants, etc.

Jul 13th, 2001, 09:26 AM
Bob Brown
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Hmm. If you take Europe, excepting Iceland, from a northern extreme of 71 degrees north latitude to a southern extreme of 36 north latitude, you span 35 degrees.
The United States, counting only the contiguous 48 states, spans 10 degrees less!! The range is from 49 degrees north latitude to 24.8 (Key West).
Given the polar conditions of northern Finland and Norway, I think the climatic extremes would be about the same.
Here are some comparisons for February.
(temperatures in F and precip = precipitation)
City Avg Avg Avg number
high low days precip
Rome 55 41 9
Barcelona 57 45 5
Berlin 37 27 15
Paris 45 33 14
Stockholm 30 23 14
Boston 37 21 10
Chicago 34 19 10
LA 66 46 6
Minneapolis 32 9 10

So figuring Berlin is about like Boston, with slightly shorter hours of daylight, I am not bucking for a transfer to either city during January and February!! And thinking of Minneapolis in February gives me the chills in July!
But these figures do not include wind chill factors, which are going to be brutal in Minneapolis during February!

Any of them beat Edmonton at 21 and 1.
No wonder my Canadian friend has a head bolt heater in his car. I think oil would congeal!!

What it boils down to is that Rome would be tolerable, Barcelona ok, and Stockholm would be chilly. And I could put up with Paris long enough to visit some of the great museums, but I would not want to climb the steps of the Eiffel tower on a windy and/or rainy day!!

And Mürren, Switzerland, on a sunny day is beautiful any time!!
Just as long as I don't have to stand out in the street waiting to ride up the hill on that slanted train car pulled up by a steel rope wrapped around a big wheel.

Jul 13th, 2001, 09:32 AM
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Ed summed it up pretty well. Every season has positives. The negatives of Winter are obvious. The weather puts a damper on activities and the daylight hours are shortened. I took my then 11 year old daughter to Amsterdam for a week last early December and we did really enjoy the fact that there were far fewer of our fellow tourists. For instance, there was only a ten minute wait to get into the Anne Frank house. If you are in Europe during December you might enjoy the Christmas feel. We were in Amsterdam during Sinterklaasvond, a gift giving day (December 5) and our hotel presented a Dutch doll to my daughter during Sinterklaasvond eve. Hot chocolate other local comfort foods will taste good in the Winter and there may be different foods on offer than in other seasons. Take a look at what festivals are being held in the areas you are interested in. If you write directly to the local tourist offices, asking for festivals they will provide you with the information. I believe there is a world-wide festival website, also which you could find with a search engine. Of course, another great advantage is the low airfare! Just be sure not to fly out after the first week of December or you will pay more for Christmas season travel. I've only travelled to Europe in Winter the one time, maybe someone else can give you some more ideas.
Jul 13th, 2001, 11:17 AM
Ben Haines
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A complication to the useful and careful note by Bob Brown is the Gulf Stream Drift, which you kindly send us to warm up the British Isles, the Low Countries, and Brittany. With global warming, a result is that these days we seldom have above five days' snow each winter in London.

Like Amsterdam, London in early December has a pleasant buzz of anticipation. This shows in two ways. There's much lively shopping. And there's good music not only in concert halls of an evening, but also in seventeenth century churches at lunchtime, and even the odd cathedral, often including minced pies and hot mulled wine.

From 24 December the city goes dead, and people sit at home and watch television. Life returns on 3 January.

Please write if I can help further. Welcome to Europe

Ben Haines, London
[email protected]
Jul 13th, 2001, 11:38 AM
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The first time I went to Europe was in early February. I froze to death but didn't care one iota -- I WAS IN EUROPE! Just dress appropriately enough to keep warm and don't let the temperatures hinder you from doing what you would do if it was warmer.
Jul 13th, 2001, 11:57 AM
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Hey, Seth....

Is Europe nice in winter? Oh, yeah, Europe is always nice....I would go anytime at the slightest invitation. Lots of reasons to go in the winter....northern German hills look like a black and white negative with the snow and the trees....Ancient English churches with a dusting of many fewer tourists walking about.....the smells of baking everywhere....sure, Europe is different in the winter, but wonderful, nonetheless....Go, go!!! You will not regret it for a moment....and someday you will return in the spring and it will be like the first time wonderful....sigh........
Jul 13th, 2001, 12:05 PM
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We went to Europe twice last winter and absolutely loved it. We had only been previously in the spring and fall and were always surprised about the weather. At least on these last two trips, we knew it would be cold and packed accordingly. It snowed while we were in Amsterdam and was just lovely. Paris was great in the cold, as well. HOWEVER - we live in New Orleans where we basically don't have a winter, so we have decided we love to travel to cold weather places for a refreshing change. I guess we're the opposite of snowbirds. If you live in the cold, you may not want to travel there on vacation unless it does not bother you. We like traveling off season or shoulder season for better rates - regardless of the weather - plus crowds are not as bad. Enjoy!
Jul 13th, 2001, 12:09 PM
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Go! Go! We were in England and Wales in early March and had a wonderful time. We were certainly not expecting to sunbathe, so we packed accordingly and had a truly wonderful time. We encountered every kind of weather from beautiful, sunny and relatively warm days to light rain or partial days of heavier rain to snow in Bath and Wales, but it was really beautiful. You may want to allow a bit of flexibility in your daily schedules to allow for the weather. If it's really raining, go for the museums and other indoor sites and if it's not so wet, take in the outdoor ones. Be sure to dress in layers and do expect some very cold days, but don't let it stop you from experiencing Europe!
Jul 13th, 2001, 12:56 PM
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Have been there in all seasons and I prefer the winter. Was in Paris with a group of six for a week in January. We arrived at the Cluny as it opened and had the museum to ourselves. Not another tourist in the entire place. We were the only group going up Notre Dame tower. At first I thought is was closed because there was no one going up. Got somewhat confused at Versailles as I was looking for the line (queue) on the right and there was no line at the entrance. Got up close and personal with Mona at the Louvre without the usual mob. The Orsay was a delight. Walked right in and even ate lunch with no waiting. There were only 6-8 other people in St. Chappell on the day we visited. I really liked the top of the Arc as we shared it with two other couples. Made dinner reservations each day around noon and always got the time I requested. I'm now hooked on winter travel to Europe. Planning a trip to Belgium in January 2002.
Jul 13th, 2001, 05:57 PM
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I've been of traveling to Europe for twenty-five years and up until last week I had never been to Europe in the summer. After experiencing the crowds, the total inability to cope with the heat and the English, French and Spaniards' short fuses during tourist season, I will now schedule ALL my trips during the off-peak periods. It was nice seeing flowers and trees for a change, but it's more fun to be comfortable.
Jul 13th, 2001, 06:09 PM
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The upside: You will see Europe as Europeans see it. It's more "authentic." Travel is easier because of fewer tourists. Depending on where you are headed and when you plan to be there, you can enjoy Christmas and New Year's ceremonies
The downside: It's cold. Fewer things are open. In the countryside, in particular, a lot of things close from mid-October until Easter. It may be harder to find hotels and restaurants.
Is it as enjoyable? Hard to say. What are your priorities? If seeing the real Europe is one, go. If you'd feel more comfortable with more tourists around and everything open and in full swing, summer is the time to go.
Jul 13th, 2001, 07:05 PM
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Venice in dec and Jan are exceptional , the lightis completely different, no crowds anywhere, the people are more relaxed, I would never travel in the summer, i prefer to suffer the heat at home! London in Feb or March is uncrowded,there is more to see and do, the exhibitions are varied,concerts , whatever are plentiful, the weather not that bad, Just go anytime.I avoid summer at any cost, love Oct, nov, dec, jan Feb and march. There is more to see and do, more time, just bundle up , if you need to,unless you live in a hot climate, we do so we appreciate the cool and cold, it won't be that different from home and you don't hibernate there do you
Jul 13th, 2001, 08:53 PM
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I was in Vienna and Krakow in December 2000 and it was in the 50's! so you can never tell.
Jul 13th, 2001, 09:20 PM
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A few years ago, I was in Germany, Italy, Austria and Switzerland in January. Cold! Snow everywhere except Italy where it was cold rain. No crowds. Museums empty. Gets dark early. You will spend a lot of time inside to get warm. Some sites closed. Yes, I would do it again. It's very different than touristy summer. But did I mention COLD!!! But, then I'm from California. If you're from someplace like Chicago, it may not bother you. And it's great if you want to ski.
Jul 13th, 2001, 10:49 PM
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Southern Spain is the best place to be during winter.
Jul 14th, 2001, 04:55 AM
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Hey Seth:

I agree with Doug I have all my trips in the off-seasons. Highlights of Winter travel:

Skiing! I love skiing the ALPS!
Crowds of Tourists......NOT!
Kuchelovens(sp) Those beautiful tiled Stoves in Austra and Germany. Picture this....You have just come in from a brisk day on the slopes, shopping, touring, etc. Youl walk into a warm and cozy Gastehaus, the stove is "stoked" you get a seat on the padded bench table, next to the oven and order a Gluewein, Beer, Obstler "Your choice" AHH!
Also I have never felt cold in a room in Germany or Austria, great heating systems...HOWEVER I have felt miserably hot in summers with no air and no screens on the windows!!
Oh yes one more...Christmas Markets!!!


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