Tuesday 24 February 2015
When it comes to weather, Europe is a place of great contrasts. The weather varies depending on the time of year that you travel, or the places you visit. But if you plan your trip well, and you know what to expect, Europe can be enjoyed all year round.
But when is the best time to go? That depends on what you are looking for. For example, if you want lots of sunshine and heat, the summer months of July and August are perfect, but they are also often the busiest which means high prices and lots of crowds.
January to March
This is the off-season for Europe with one exception - the skiing resorts. In the main cities, therefore, you can expect changeable weather. In general it is cold and wet, and it is not unusual to find snow. Also it gets dark early in the evening - before 5pm in some cities during January.
As you get into March the temperatures do start to increase, and the days get longer. But it is still changeable.
That might not sound appealing but do not write off this time of year. Prices are often much lower from January to March than they are at other times of the year, and there are fewer crowds so exploring common attractions is easier, even the popular ones. You do have to check opening times, though, as they can be restricted during the winter months - primarily because of the shorter days.
So long as you pack suitable clothing, Europe can be enjoyed during these months, particularly if you are travelling to the main cities. Suitable clothing means layers, rain gear, gloves, hats etc.
April to June
This is the time of year that Europe's spring turns into summer. The temperatures start to warm up - considerably by the time you get to June - and the main tourist areas start to gear-up for the peak season.
So in terms of weather, this is a great time to travel, whatever the destination. You may not be walking around wearing shorts and a t-shirt, but you will not need wooly hats or gloves either. And, depending on the destination, you could end up on a beach quite comfortably in June.
The downsides are there are bigger crowds, and the prices go up, particularly in Mediterranean destinations.
July and August
For most of Europe, this is peak season. Temperatures are at their hottest, there isn't much rain, and it is bright in many locations from before 6am to well after 9pm.
But as it is peak season it is also very busy. So while you will get lots of beautiful sunshine you will also find lots of crowds, and you will pay more for hotels and flights. Plus if you find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time, it can be horrible. For example, the Tube system in London or the Metro system in Paris can be like an oven on particularly hot days. And if you find yourself on the roads during a bank holiday weekend the traffic can be terrible.
But if you want good weather - in some locations perfect weather - this is the best time to visit.
September to December
In terms of weather, the last part of the year in Europe is changeable. It moves for being pleasantly warm in September to being much colder and wetter as you get into December.
But despite this, many people think autumn is the best time of year to visit Europe. The colors are spectacular as the leaves fall from the trees and, with the exception of December, it is actually quite dry in most locations. It can be cold as you get closer to the end of the year, but it is a fresh and crisp cold that is more refreshing than the biting chills of January and February. And, apart from the great shopping destinations in the run up to Christmas, prices are usually lower at this time of year for hotels and flights.
But overall you can have a good time in Europe whatever time of year you travel providing you know what to expect and you pack well.