Why we love Europe in winter (and you probably will too)!

November 25, 2022
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That’s Barcelona… in January… with palm trees!

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?

It is!

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.
’s Eve.

Have a rooftop in Barcelona to yourself for some Instagram-worthy pics!

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.

A tasty beverage stand in Vienna.

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!

One of the Christmas markets in Rome had a carnival feel and games for kids.
We’ve visited markets in Bratislava, Budapest, Prague, Vienna, Rome, and Barcelona. and each one has a unique flavor. Come hungry as most have a variety of meals and desserts to sample; be sure to leave a little extra room in your luggage to bring home a few gifts.
Chimney Cakes can be found at many Christmas markets, including the one in Budapest.
Here’s a taste of what to expect at the Budapest Christmas market.
The Christmas market in Prague is marvelous!

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.

It’s always a good time for gelato… even in December!

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!

Valencia, Spain, is beautiful even on cloudy days!

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.

This gorgeous spot at the Tower of London would be way more crowded in the summer!

Some of our favorite spots in cooler months (and warmer ones too)

The British Museum
London, England

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.

Park Guell
Barcelona, Spain

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
Avignon, France

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.

The Palais des Papes is big… really big!

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:

You’ll want to keep warm but not have a coat so bulky it requires its own piece of luggage. My favorite is a lightweight, down filled, “puffy coat” that packs into a small bag and attaches to my backpack. The best part is that when it’s in the included bag, it makes a really nice pillow for planes and train rides and saves me from having to carry one of those giant donut pillows. Make sure it has zippered pockets to help keep your stuff from sliding out. Bonus points if it’s also waterproof.
Puffy coats are our favorite!
Most of your electronics, including your phone, will work across Europe. However, you’ll need to bring along an adapter since the wall plug will be different than the ones we use here. Here’s a handy guide for which ones you’ll need depending on the country you’re visiting. I like to use an adapter that’s small with interchangeable plugs, which is helpful if you have multiple countries on your itinerary.
You’ll likely be doing more walking than you would in a typical day at home. Forgo the fashionable kicks and opt for comfy shoes that have been worn and broken in well ahead of your trip. If you’re able, bring an extra pair of shoes in case you encounter rain; you’ll avoid having to slip your feet into soaked soles for your next day of adventures.
Most people in major tourist cities speak English. There may be some instances where you see an interesting sign or a menu item, and an English translation isn’t available. Make sure you download the free Google Translate app. It’s pretty powerful and can even translate words that appear in pictures in real-time. It provides instant translations across nearly every language, including an offline option to avoid using data.
Speaking of phone data, you’ll probably want to use some while you’re on your trip. Be sure to get with your wireless company either online or on the phone before your trip to add on an international phone plan while you’re away. For a daily or monthly additional fee, you’ll have the ability to send and receive photos, texts, and calls just like you would if you were at home.
Not a painting! That’s real life in Provence in southern France.

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!

Got a favorite European destination I should check out? I’d love to hear all about it. You can reach me at @JayKruzOfficial on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

I’ll see you on a museum bench in Barcelona this winter!
-Jay

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