When planning a trip to Europe (or anywhere for that matter), research your destination. Weather conditions and crowds can influence your overall trip, and if you are unprepared for what you will encounter, your pleasure could be diminished. By knowing the best time to travel to various places in Europe, you will spend more time sightseeing and less time in line or held captive by inclement weather.
European travel is busiest from late June through the end of August and from December through January, typically coinciding with school holidays. During peak seasons, expect to pay top dollar for flights and hotels. Also prepare for crowded tour buses and long lines at points of interest. To avoid the crowds, visit Europe in the spring. The days are still long and sunny, but you won't have to hassle with the summer crush. Spring and autumn are also the best times to find great deals on flights to and accommodations in Europe.
France, Spain, Greece, Italy, Austria
If you are heading to France, the best time to visit Paris is spring. The cherry trees are in full bloom and the warm days make for comfortable travel. However, if the beaches of south France are more your scene, wait for the summer months. For snow bunnies, January and February offer great conditions in the French Alps and Pyrenees. If your travels will take you to Spain or Greece, the best months are May through June and September through October. Avoid Spain and Greece during the summer months when the heat and crowds can become overwhelming. Italy’s major cities are best visited in spring when the temperatures are mild. But Italy becomes a skier’s haven in the winter, with ski season stretching from December to March. Austria has the same ski season as Italy, making it a popular winter destination as well. Unlike Italy, winter is also a great time to visit Austrian cities because the draw of the ski slopes makes them much less crowded.
Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Finland
The best time to visit Germany is from May to September. Spring and autumn months offer pleasant temperatures; summers can be hot and dry. Traveling late spring through early autumn also keeps you away from the big crowds at Oktoberfest. If you are a flower connoisseur, plan to visit the Netherlands in spring. At this time the days are longer, the weather is enjoyable and the tulips are in full bloom. Late June through September is the best time to travel to Sweden or Norway. The summer months offer longer, sunny days and because of their location, temperatures are moderate throughout the year. August is the slowest travel season here, but beware: late summer can be quite humid.
If you plan to visit Finland, the weather cooperates from May through September. However, if you enjoy snow activities, Finland offers a much earlier ski season in October and November. After that, the weather may get too cold for many travelers.