How to Travel Europe in the Off-Season

Unless you’re going to a ski resort or a Christmas market, traveling Europe during the off-season can be an authentic and inexpensive way to explore the continent. However, for a successful trip you have to plan and pack right. Here’s how to design an unforgettable off-season adventure: 

Tower Bridge on a snowy day [London, England]

Bring the right clothes. In addition to a few crystal clear days, you are bound to experience wet, windy, chilly or snowy days on your trip. Get a good idea of the weather you’ll experience and then pack accordingly. A warm coat, waterproof boots, a fashionable hat and some mittens can mean the difference between a fun trip and a terrible trip. 

Choose your destinations wisely. Not all off-season destinations are created equal. A hike across Ireland would be miserable in January, but a trip to Dublin, London or Prague would be a lot of fun. Choose a place with a mix of cultural activities and landmarks that you are interested in. 

Panoramic view from Prague Castle [Prague, Czech Republic]

Plan a mix of activities. The right mix of indoor and outdoor activities will help you get to know your destination without getting too cold or uncomfortable. Visit museums, loiter in tea shops or go shopping on the bad weather days. When it’s nicer out, take that walking tour, or visit an outdoor monument. Luckily many concert, theater and ballet seasons run through the winter, so you can join locals for an evening out. 

Shopping in December [Prague, Czech Republic]

Matyas Rehak | Shutterstock
Shop around for a bargain. Persistent travelers can find deals on hotels and on airfare when they travel off-peak. Start planning your vacation early so you have time to research the best deals. 

Confirm opening and closing times. Since they see fewer tourists in the winter, many attractions reduce their hours. Plan around a shorter day and double-check your attractions to make sure you get to see everything you planned. 

Cold weather travel not your thing? Try 15 Shockingly Hot Places to Escape Winter


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Carmen Fifield

The delight of finding an unknown park, a captivating history museum or a fantastic desert means exploration is never far from Carmen Fifield’s mind. Carmen’s favorite travel memories include biking to historic sites on the island of Guernsey, huffing and puffing up the stairs to the Great Wall of China and eating the most delicious crab cake ever in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Carmen’s Favorite Travel Tip: Say goodbye to airplane food and tuck some fruit and your favorite sandwich into your carry-on.

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