Why we love Europe in winter (and you probably will too)!
You’ve probably seen posts from beautiful Instagrammers blissfully sipping afternoon beverages on a warm June day in an outdoor cafe somewhere in Spain.
Looks amazing, right?
But…some of our favorite memories of Europe are about six months later when the crowds are smaller, lines are shorter, hotels are half the price, and the flight deals are hot!
Here’s why you should pack a jacket, some cozy gloves, and book your flight from CVG right now.
Flights cost less… sometimes WAY less!
A round-trip flight to Barcelona in June or July averages between $1,037 and $1,137. However, that same flight in November, December, January, February, March, or even late April is about half the price! Round-trip flights to Lisbon, Barcelona, Paris, Rome, and Dublin have been available for $600 or less in that timeframe on the Jay’s Deals page.
So… what’s up with that?
Mostly cooler temperatures, shorter days, and kids are in school. But just like everywhere else, including Cincinnati, there’s plenty of stuff to see, do, and eat! Since winter means a little less daylight, it’s not a bad idea to plan out your activities for each day using an app like TripAdvisor to ensure you see all the sights.
One huge benefit is that you’ll most likely see smaller crowds than in the busy summer tourist season. This makes visiting museums, tours, and attractions a lot more fun because you’ll have more room to enjoy.
Experience the magic of Christmas markets
There are also incredible events in the cooler months. Christmas markets are amazing. These events, often held in town squares, are a perfect way to spend an evening sipping hot cider or spiced wine while you shop and enjoy some music. Markets that had to pause the party during the pandemic are roaring back to life and ready to celebrate!
Check the website of the market you’d like to visit for hours of operation and special events, including free concerts and information on vendors.
Spend a cozy afternoon in a store, museum, or thrift shop
On any trip, you’re bound to encounter a day or two that’s a little rainy or windy. It’s a great time to take in a museum, some of which are free. Keep an eye on the forecast, and book your ticket for the next day as many people may have the same idea, and tickets could go quickly.
Another great rainy-day activity is thrifting. I’ve been able to score some awesome clothing while abroad because there tend to be some unique items that we don’t have in the US. For example, a vintage sportscoat I got from a cool thrift store in Lithuania reminds me of the trip every time I wear it!
There are also big brands and unique shops you’ll encounter on your trip, so I like to pack my suitcase about ¾ full to leave room for cool stuff I want to bring home!
Your US dollar gets you more right now
For the first time in 20 years, the US dollar and the euro are at an even exchange rate. If you traveled to Europe 10 years ago, you were getting about .75 euro for every dollar. This means your money will go a little further on your vacation, and you’ll be able to score a good price on pretty much everything from hotel rooms to attraction tickets.
Some of our favorite spots in cooler months (and warmer ones too)
The British Museum
Boasting “two million years of history,” this museum has a little bit of everything from around the world. It’s easy to spend more than a day browsing this vast collection. The best part? It’s free! It’s best to claim a free ticket on their website to ensure you’ll be able to visit on the day and time you’d prefer.
You’ll hear the name Antoni Gaudi a lot during your visit to Barcelona, and one of his most famous creations is Park Guell. One of the most iconic views of the city can be enjoyed here. You can use a book or website like this to know what you’re seeing, or do what we do and book a “free” walking tour with a guide. You pay whatever you think the tour was worth as a tip at the end. Well worth it!
Palais des Papes
Just a short train ride from Lyon, France (check Air Canada for good flights), the town of Avignon in southern France is charming and full of history and amazing views. This palace is one of the biggest gothic buildings in Europe and is absolutely jaw dropping. We’ve visited in late
November, and the fall colors are amazing with very few crowds. Avignon is also a great starting point for guided tours of Provence.
What to pack
You’ll need a few more layers for this trip. But it doesn’t mean you need to bring three suitcases along for the journey! A few essentials we like to take along:
For the best flights at the lowest price, keep an eye on my Deals page. I’m always searching for low fares to my favorite European cities!
Don’t forget, Delta’s non-stop flight to Paris from CVG leaves on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. It’s a great value, especially when you book in advance, and you can connect to many destinations across Europe through CDG. My favorite part: you can relax and fall asleep on board after leaving Cincinnati and wake up in Paris in the morning!
I’ll see you on a museum bench in Barcelona this winter!