High travel season in the northern hemisphere coincides with the warmer months for a number of reasons. The weather is generally better (or, at least more reliable), kids are out of school, and it's easier to take off of work. But, the airlines, hotels, and tour operates know this and charge a premium - it's simple supply and demand. But, if you are looking for a cheaper way to see Europe, your best bet is to go in the winter. And here are 5 reasons why you should!
Note: All pictures in this post were taken between the months of December and March!
1) No Crowds
We don't generally like crowds. Too many people in my way bug me and so that's why we love traveling in the winter. One weekend, we took a trip to the Harz Mountains in north central Germany and it was empty! We basically got a private tour of the mine we visited. Thankfully, we don't have kids in school to worry about yet, but we will still probably continue to travel in the winter even when they are.
2) It's so much cheaper
Flights, hotels, tours, everything is cheaper in the winter months. The whole supply and demand thing really comes into play here. With fewer people traveling, companies don't charge as much in an effort to attract more people to visit. We just scored flights to Portugal for February for under $500 and hotels are typically 20% or so less in the winter months too. Of course, this assumes you aren't traveling to a location for winter activities such as skiing, when winter is their busy season.
3) The weather is nicer for touring
I know this one may seem counter intuitive, but hear me out. I'm not made for the heat, which is ironic since I now live in Texas, so the idea of walking around in the heat of summer fighting hordes of tourists is not all that appealing to me, especially when a lot of Europe lacks air conditioning. In winter, you don't have to worry about that! Sure you may need a heavier coat, but my thinking is you can always put more clothes on if you're cold, but you can only take so many clothes off before you become a walking felony waiting to happen.
4) The winter scenery
It's true that beauty can be found year round, but winter and snow has a special kind of beauty to it. It's not too often you get to see scenes like this in real life and not on Pinterest!
5) It let's you escape
Growing up in Michigan it wasn't uncommon for everyone to reach a point where they were just done with winter. Some reach this point in November, others in March, but everyone gets there. Taking a vacation, even to another cold-weather climate, in the middle of it all helps to stave off how long it takes to get to that point, or at least breaks it up a bit. And if you happen to live somewhere warm, but actually like the cold, then it gives you a chance to experience winter, even if only for a week or so.
But, there is one small downside. Since there are fewer people traveling during this time, some of the more popular tourist sites will have reduced hours. Don't let that deter you from traveling to Europe! Instead, think of it as a forced way to experience Europe like a local - go to a restaurant, chat up the person sitting next to you, find out what the locals do this time of year!