If you’ve never been to Europe or just want your next visit to be perfect, you need to know the best time to visit Europe.
Arriving at the right time of year will guarantee better weather conditions for exploring sights and cities, cheaper prices and flights, and smaller crowds for a more enjoyable trip.
See the best time to visit Europe for every trip goal in our travel guide below, along with reasons to plan your visit to the diverse, colorful, and welcoming countries of Europe. We’ll also show you the worst time to visit and share some tips to make the most of your trip!
Why You Should Visit Europe
When you go to Europe, you get to experience the different cultures, foods, landscapes, architecture, and languages of its many countries.
With so much variety and diversity packed into a European trip, it’s one of the hottest destinations for international travelers. Here’s a quick look at what you can look forward to when you visit the beaches, mountains, plains, and valleys of Europe!
World-Famous Landmarks and Architecture
From Paris’ Eiffel Tower and London’s Buckingham Palace to the Roman Colosseum and Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia, many of the world’s most famous landmarks and historic architectural wonders are here in Europe.
An entire trip could easily be planned with the main goal of seeing the many landmarks, buildings, and monuments in Europe’s cities.
While photos can give you a hint as to how incredible some of these structures are in person, you’ll find that witnessing them up close is nothing short of mind-blowing. It’s one of the reasons so many people come to visit Europe each year!
Each country has a different blend of architectural styles to appreciate. And it’s amazing to see how different periods in history have styled the buildings and monuments erected during that time.
Diverse Cultures and Cuisine
If traveling to one country is like eating a simple, delicious meal, then touring Europe is like enjoying a multi-course feast with different things to appreciate and enjoy within each course.
Europe’s many countries bring different cultural and historical roots, values, and tastes to the table. Each country you visit will feel like a separate leg of your journey as each one is so different – no worries about a European tour becoming a blur of similar destinations.
Travelers embrace the welcoming vibes and good food in Italy, the air of class and sophistication in the streets and on the tables of France, and the deep historical roots and friendly faces in Greece.
You’ll have the chance to drink and dine on global cuisine that puts the pale imitations at home to shame. Try Belgian waffles, German beer, French champagne and soufflés, Italian wines, pastas, and pizza, Spanish paella and gazpacho, and more!
Along the way, cultural beacons like famous art galleries, museums, concert halls, and theaters will guide you through the countries of Europe while appreciating each one’s historical influences on the arts.
From the Louvre to the Van Gogh Museum, you’ll have a first-row seat to some of the world’s greatest masterpieces on your European tour.
The Beauty and Challenge of Different Languages
When you visit and tour the countries of Europe, you’ll be immersed in beautifully different languages along the way. A trip here is perfect for linguaphiles who love learning new languages!
Before you go, you’ll find yourself practicing simple phrases and questions in French, Spanish, German, Italian, Dutch, Greek, and more.
If you don’t plan on mastering any new languages for your European journey, you’ll still appreciate the many foreign tongues you’ll hear abroad. Hearing these diverse languages spoken by locals and multilingual travelers is a neat experience for any European traveler.
Learning to decipher and communicate with locals in different languages can be a challenge, especially for monolingual travelers. But the challenge is part of what makes a tour across Europe’s countries so much fun!
Gorgeous Landscapes and Terrain
Europe is well known for its monuments and architectural wonders, but its natural beauty isn’t far off.
Here, you’ll have the chance to take in rugged mountain ranges (like the Swiss Alps, Italian Dolomites, and German Black Forest Mountains), tranquil Alpine lakes, sandy beaches, Norwegian fjords, the rolling hills and vineyards of Tuscany, Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher, dramatic coastlines, and countless islands.
Outside of the bustling cities and manmade structures, there’s a natural beauty in Europe that must be seen to be believed.
The diversity of the landscapes you’ll find in Europe will be a focal point of your trip. As you see the different terrain and geographic features across the continent, you’ll better understand why a trip to Europe is a must for any nature lover.
Overall Best Time to Visit Europe
- June-August is the best time to visit Europe
- Best weather conditions for sightseeing and outdoor activities
- Peak season for travel when Europe comes to life
The best time to visit Europe overall is during the summer from June to August. This is the period when you’ll find the best weather for getting out and exploring the cities, lying on beaches, or hiking trails.
The days are longest during the summer season, providing ample time for travelers to experience all this continent has to offer. It’s also the peak travel and tourism season for European countries, so expect company – a lot of it.
June to August is truly the best time to plan a European vacation because the warmer temperatures make it possible to do just about any activity on your list.
Walk or bike the cities, sightseeing to check famous monuments and landmarks off your list, visit the beach, take a hike, eat and drink your way across a country, or get out on the water. Everything is available to you during the summers in Europe!
Two things to know about visiting during the best overall time to go:
- It gets very hot in summer, especially in southern Europe. July and August are the hottest months, but may be less busy than June with locals taking their own vacations.
- Crowds of tourists will be thick everywhere you go since summer is the peak season. Be prepared for traffic jams, longer waits at restaurants, and try to book your hotels and travel tickets well in advance.
Cheapest Time to Visit Europe
- Mid-October-March is generally the cheapest time to go
- Avoid visiting during December, when rates spike
- Expect cool/snowy weather and shorter days
The best time to visit Europe on a budget is generally from mid-October to March, which covers the late fall through the winter months.
With the exception of December (when tourists arrive in droves for the holidays and rates increase), this period will net you the lowest prices on flights and hotels across Europe.
Fewer travelers come to Europe during the late fall and winter because the weather is generally poor and not suitable for a lot of outdoor activities.
You can expect cool to cold weather in European countries during this time, with some regions experiencing mild temperatures and others becoming frigidly cold and snowy. There may be increased rainfall and the sun sets at this latitude by 5:00 p.m. in the winter.
But if you can put the miserable weather aside, Europe in the late fall and winter can be great for a cheap visit. You’ll want to spend more time checking out museums, galleries, restaurants, and other indoor attractions during a visit at this time of year.
Least Busy Time to Visit Europe
- April-May, September-November is the least busy time to go
- Take advantage of smaller shoulder season crowds + lower prices
- Nice weather conditions and longer days for activities and sightseeing
The best time to visit Europe without the huge crowds of the peak summer season is from April to May and September to November.
These periods are Europe’s shoulder seasons, just before and after the peak summer season. You’ll benefit with smaller crowds, lower prices, and milder weather conditions than the summer months.
When you visit in the spring (April-May), you’ll see Europe’s Mediterranean countryside in full bloom – green and lush. Temperatures won’t yet be at their peak, making sightseeing and outdoor exploration much more comfortable.
But you could still run into peak-season pricing in some parts of Europe, including Greece, southern France, Italy, and Spain.
If you visit in the fall (September-November), things will be drier and less expensive in Mediterranean Europe. Cold and snowy destinations (like the Alps), however, will finally be passable and free from snow for hiking.
The daylight hours aren’t as long as in the summer, but you’ll still have plenty of sunshine and daylight to pack your days full of activities during the early fall. Days get shorter, temperatures drop, and snow begins to fall at higher elevations once November approaches.
You’ll find fewer crowds at this time and lower prices on flights and hotels, but they’ll pick back up in December as the holidays approach. Try to plan your visit between September and November to avoid the bigger crowds and higher prices of December.
Worst Time to Visit Europe
- December-March may be the worst time to visit Europe
- Shorter days, colder temps, and increased crowds in Dec.
- Fewer crowds + lower prices in January-March
You’ve seen the best time to visit Europe – generally from June to August – as well as the cheapest (mid-October-March) and the least busy (April-May, September-November).
But what about the worst time to visit? December to March may be the worst time to go for a variety of reasons. From December to March, you can expect cold to frigid temperatures across Europe, depending on where you go.
Most of the continent is at a similar latitude to Canada, so conditions loosely mimic weather conditions there. At higher elevations, there will be snow and ice, resulting in closure for some trails and mountain passes.
Sightseeing is tough in cold conditions, and you’ll need to bundle up to get outside for any significant length of time.
As you’d expect, coastal fun and beach time is out the window during the winter, making many activities impossible until the spring brings warm weather back to the continent.
The days are shortest during the winter, which throws another wrench into sightseeing plans that are part of any European tour. Expect the sun to set by 5:00 p.m. on the shortest days, so you’ll need to pack all your stops into a shorter daylight period if you visit in winter.
Skip a winter visit in favor of a similarly uncrowded and less-expensive trip in the spring or fall time. You’ll get longer days, better weather, and more favorable conditions for sightseeing and spending time outdoors.
More Things to Consider
What else should you know to make the most of your European tour? Keep these travel tips in mind to have the best experience abroad.
- Plan an itinerary and stick to it. With so many countries, sights to see, and places to go throughout Europe, you need a solid plan and itinerary to make your visit go smoothly without chaos. You’re sure to come across regions that make you want to change your plans to stay a little longer, but it’s wise to create an itinerary and stick to it. You can always return to your favorite places on your next trip – and yes, there will be a next trip!
- Know the requirements for passports and visas. Currently, U.S. citizens don’t need a visa to enter 26 European Schengen countries, but will need a valid passport. That means you can visit Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland for up to 90 days without a visa.
- Study the languages for an easier visit. You don’t need to be fluent in the many languages spoken in Europe to enjoy your stay, but it’ll be a lot easier if you familiarize yourself with key words and phrases in a few different languages. Smartphones make it simple to translate and communicate in other languages, but nothing takes the place of knowing a few phrases by heart. Download a language-learning app or study the main languages of the countries you plan to visit before you go.
- Grab adaptors for electronics. In Europe, electronics and appliances run on 220V (while we run on 110V in North America). Your laptop, cellphone, and camera should be able to accommodate the higher voltage automatically, but you’ll need adaptors to actually plug your devices into European outlets. In most of Europe, sockets accept 2 round pins. Switzerland outlets take 3 round pins. In Ireland and Great Britain, outlets accept 3 rectangular pins. Prepare according to the countries you plan to visit so you won’t be left with dead devices on your trip!
- Prepare to eat dinner later than usual. In most European countries, you’ll find later mealtimes than you’re used to in America. Prepare to eat your evening meal later in the day – usually around 8:00 p.m. – to fully engage and connect with the local culture wherever you visit. In countries like Spain, you might find even later dinner times (dinner at 11:00 p.m. isn’t unheard of), so stay flexible and be ready to snack if you get hungry at your usual meal times.
- Figure out how you’ll be getting around. There are many ways to travel Europe for different budgets and trip goals, but it’s important that you have a travel plan in place early on. A little research will help you decide the best way to get around and move between the countries on your itinerary. Eurail train, FlixBus, budget airlines, rideshare services, ferries and boats, and renting a car are all options to make your way across Europe. Find the one that best fits your budget and needs to make your trip travel seamless!
So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Europe?
The continent of Europe is home to many countries, but the overall best time to visit Europe is between June and August.
This is the peak season for tourism because it has the best weather conditions, little rain, and long daylight hours for sightseeing and spending time outdoors. You’ll find Europe is fully alive and bustling at this time of year, which is perfect for a classic European tour.
The Cheapest Time to Visit
The best time to visit Europe on a budget is from mid-October to March, which is when you’ll find the lowest prices on flights and hotel rooms throughout the continent.
With the exception of December, when crowds arrive around the holidays, prices hit rock bottom during these chilly late fall and winter months.
It’s not ideal for sightseeing as the days are so much shorter, but you’ll still be able to squeeze plenty of sights in during the daylight hours if budget is your main concern.
The Least Busy Time to Visit
The best time to visit Europe without the huge crowds of summertime is during the less-busy shoulder seasons in the spring (April-May) and fall (September-November).
Springtime may be better for mild temperatures and outdoor adventures, but higher elevations may still be cold and snowy at this time of year. Fall is great for moderate temperatures, longer daylight hours, and warmer conditions at higher elevations.
The Worst Time to Visit
Try to avoid visiting during December-March – especially in December – which may be the worst time to go. Cold temperatures, big crowds and higher prices around the holidays, short daylight hours, and limited outdoor activities make this period the least favorable for sightseeing.
Everyone should take a trip to Europe at least once. When you see the amazing diversity, taste the unique flavors, and witness the world-famous landmarks and landscapes with your own eyes, you’re sure to return for another visit.
When you’re planning your trip, keep the best time to visit Europe in mind – it can be the difference between an incredible stay you can’t wait to repeat or a lackluster trip that left you disappointed and a little poorer. Check out these helpful travel guides next to start planning your European itinerary!