Summer gets the limelight, but the truth is, Europe shines all year round. Sure, Italy is more iconic under the sun, but in some places, crowds, prices and the perils of over tourism can make the warmer months more difficult to travel than off-peak adventures. Not to mention the photo ops – have you tried snapping an iconic pic in front of the Trevi Fountain in high summer? It’s tough. So, with this in mind, here are all the European hotspots that are actually cooler in winter.
A wondrous city, Rome. Stuffed with enough history to fill a thousand textbooks, delicious food, vibrant artistic and cultural scenes and a dizzying energy that makes it a bona fide global icon. The problem is, everyone has obviously caught onto all this – and in the blistering summer months, that dizzying energy can become overwhelming as heaving crowds rush from historical wonder to historical wonder. In winter, though? You can actually get up close to the Colosseum and the Trevi fountain without being crushed by tourists and being drenched with sweat. Plus, in winter, the restaurants serve up the same moreish Italian food, but at cheaper, off-peak prices. That’s what we’d call a win, win (win).
Winter definitely isn’t the peak time to visit the glorious watery passageways of Venice, which is why it’s the best time of year to visit. In winter, the shimmering canals are actually serene, while the historical landmarks like Saint Mark’s Basilica are much easier to visit. If you want to experience this magical city like a local, this is the best time of year to visit.
To fully enjoy the Northern Lights – Iceland’s ethereal Aurora Borealis – you’ll want almost pitch darkness. Only the black of night will do as a canvas for this life-changing light show, as you watch the green and rose cascades twirling from the heavens. Visit in winter, and you can be sure of long, dark nights that give you a better chance of seeing something truly unique. Plus, it’s much nicer to warm up in those steaming natural springs of the Blue Lagoon when it’s frosty as f*** outside.
Winter sports can really make this unjustifiably unpopular season shine. Shredding powder by day, soaring down spectacular white slopes, nestling in cosy chalets with some mulled wine by night – you can’t get experiences like this in the summer months. Take a trip to Contiki’sour iconic gasthof in Austria and you’ll see what we mean. Some of the best ski and snowboard spots in the world, staggering alpine views and the cosiness of a chalet nestled in the alps make this country so much cooler in the winter.