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Thinking of traveling to Europe, but don’t know what’s the best time to travel? This post will help you figure that out!

As in most other places, the travel seasons are sorted into three major ones, peak, shoulder and off-season with each having its own advantages and disadvantages.

Before you start actively planning and creating an itinerary for your trip, you need to make up your mind about when you are going to travel or how to time your trip.

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As in most other places, the travel seasons are sorted into three major ones, peak, shoulder and off-season with each having its own advantages and disadvantages.

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Europe Trip Planner Budget Guide


Best time to travel to europe 1

The peak season in Europe which starts in June and ends in August is undoubtedly the most popular and crowded time to visit Europe. Summers in Europe is a beautiful experience with pleasant temperatures (20-30 degrees) minus the humidity of tropical countries.

Pretty much every person is out and about doing something. Maybe enjoying a walk in the park, attending a Ben & Jerry festival (yes that exists), diving in a lake, swimming in a pond or simply drinking beer in a Biergarten (beer garden). Sunny weather, long days with daylight until 10PM and an active nightlife. What’s not to love?

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If you decide to travel to Europe in the peak season, here are a few pointers to keep in mind:

  • Popular sights and cities are going to be crowded. If you plan to take a bunch of pictures, prepare to be photo-bombed or wait long hours until the place is empty. With that said, it might make sense to plan for popular attractions either at the beginning or towards the end of the peak season depending on when you travel.
  • Prices in restaurants and hotels will be at least 1.5-2 times higher than what they would be in the off-season. Keep that in mind when calculating a budget for your trip. This is especially true for Italy, southern France and Spain which are extremely popular summer destinations even among European travellers.
  • All your bookings should be done at least 3-6 months in advance. Tickets for pretty much everything can get very expensive during the peak season. The same is true for hotels, Airbnb and guesthouses. If you travel during this season, you cannot rely on booking last minute or you may just have to spend the night at the train station.
  • Prepare for some places to be closed. Since Europeans also have school holidays and often travel during July or August, you may not have access to everything that would be open otherwise, especially in small towns. This includes supermarkets, laundry shops or medical clinics, as a lot of cities partially shut down during July and August.
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shoulder season

This season sums up the months before and after the peak season. April, May, September and October count as the shoulder season. During this season, you can have the best of both worlds. The weather is neither extremely hot nor extremely cold, prices are moderate and so are tourists.

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With that said, if you travel in the shoulder season a few pointers would be:

  • Decide if you want to travel during spring or autumn. Both these seasons can be a very beautiful time in Europe to travel. If you travel during spring, you could include the Netherlands in your trip and see the entire flower industry in action. If you travel during Autumn, you can experience a gradual shift and red landscape which is in itself a delight.
  • The season differs based on where you visit. It may not be shoulder season based on the countries you visit. Mediterranean countries such as Italy, Croatia and Greece see an influx of travellers until late September. The prices you expect to pay here may be at par with peak season prices. This is true since the weather in these countries is still warm enough for tourists to enjoy the late summer and you should factor that in when planning your trip.


off season europe

Not everyone wants to visit Europe during the peak or shoulder season. If you’d like to travel to Europe from November to March, during the colder, darker months you may also have significant benefits. A few interesting things to keep in mind would be:

To sum up, there is no best time to travel to Europe! However the combination below is the easiest way to figure out when to go:

  • Backpacker/Solo Traveler- Limited Budget- Flexible Time—->>>> Off-Season
  • Budget/Family/Group Traveler- Average Budget- Non-flexible Time—–>>>> Peak Season
  • Repeat corporate traveler- Looking to travel in a Zen manner—–>>>> Shoulder Season

Want all my time and money-saving tips? Get my planning guide to Europe

europe trip planner guide cover

My detailed, 90+ page guidebook is made for budget travelers like you! It cuts out the fluff and gets straight to the practical information you need to save time and money while planning a trip around Europe. You’ll find suggested itineraries, budgets, ways to save money, how to apply for visas, which mode of travel to pick, top European highlights, where to stay, what to eat, what to pack and so much more!

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