When it comes to choosing a travel destination that has it all, you can’t do much better than Europe. Besides boasting some of the world’s most famous landmarks that you’ve seen in history books – like the Sistine Chapel in Italy’s Vatican City, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Parthenon in Athens, St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow and so many more – there are countless activities available from Northern Europe to Eastern and Western Europe and to the Mediterranean. No wonder Europe is so popular!
But, because there’s so much to do and conditions are so diverse, deciding exactly when the best time to visit Europe is can be challenging. Of course, you want to consider the weather, but there are also tourist seasons to keep in mind, along with travel costs, events and activities that meet your interests and needs.
In this guide, we’ll go into detail about weather conditions, travel seasons and events broken down by month. We’ll share our view on the best time to visit Europe, keeping in mind that the right choice for you will depend mainly on what you want to see and what you want to do. So, get your sights and activities wishlist in order, and let’s get to it!
Depending on what you’ve included on your travel wishlist, any time of year could be the best time to visit Europe! For the warmest weather and the longest days, the summer season is the peak period.
But crowds and prices are also at their peak, so you’ll want to determine if that affects your plans. Also, depending on where in Europe you want to go, the summer months in Southern Europe may be too hot and humid for your taste while conditions will be prime in Northern Europe.
This is our INSIDER GUIDE for the best times to visit Europe!
Generally speaking – in terms of weather, tourist crowds and travel costs – the best time of year to visit Europe are the shoulder seasons: early Fall or late Spring. The weather is usually warm enough with fewer tourists, making conditions ideal for sightseeing and visiting popular sites.
What months are the best time to visit Europe?
This will depend primarily on where in Europe you want to go and what you want to do while you’re there! If plentiful beach time in Southern Europe is your priority, mid-late September is the best month to visit Europe, as the weather is still warm but fewer tourists will allow for more beach to yourself at lower prices. Whereas for skiing throughout Europe, the best month is January after the holiday rush.
For sightseeing and visiting popular landmarks, your best bet is to go when the weather is favorable – not too hot or too cold – and when you won’t be bumping into fellow visitors at every turn. For Northern and Western Europe, the best months to visit are May to early June and September. In Eastern Europe, mid-April, May and September are the best months. Southern Europe is best visited in April, May and mid-September through October.
Read below for information about Europe weather in January (Photo credit – TravelAway)
Europe Weather in January
January is the coldest month in Europe, with some parts being colder than others. In Northern Europe, temperatures average at a maximum high of 33℉ (1℃) with lows dipping way below freezing to 19℉ (-7℃). Western and Eastern Europe are warmer with an average around 37℉ (3℃) and 33℉ (1℃) respectively. In Southern Europe – or the Mediterranean – you can find average high temperatures of 55℉ (13℃).
Europe Events in January
Kiruna Snow Festival, Sweden (mid-late January)
As far as impressive artistic masterpieces made entirely of snow, there’s no display in the world like what you’ll see in Sweden at this festival! It happens annually over five days and provides snow-centered fun for visitors of all ages from painting exhibits to snow-built children’s playgrounds. The highlight, however, is the Kiruna International Snow Sculpture Competition where artists from around the globe exhibit their talent. And don’t worry, there’s plenty of hot food and drinks available to keep you warm!
Up Helly Aa, Scotland (last Tuesday of January)
Every year in Lerwick, what known as the biggest fire festival in Europe takes place in Scotland. The committee plans for most of the year for this important traditional celebration of Viking heritage that involves torch-filled parades, costumed participants and the burning of a massive Viking ship. And in true Viking style, the parties go on well through the night!
Read below for information about Europe weather in February (Photo credit – epiceurope.com)
Europe Weather in February
February’s weather conditions in Europe are much like January’s. Northern Europe remains the coldest with below-freezing temperatures and an average max of 35℉ (2℃). Western Europe is rainy with an average max of 40℉ (5℃) and Eastern Europe is drier with an average high of 39℉ (4℃). Temperatures are warmest in Southern Europe with average high temperatures of 57℉ (14℃).
Europe Events in February
Venice Carnival, Italy (date varies)
This is a bucket list event for many, and understandably so. For almost 2 weeks before Ash Wednesday until Mardi Gras Tuesday, Venice’s already-magical canals and piazzas transform into a surreal world of elaborately masked crowds. The central point of the carnival is St. Mark’s Square where the “flight of the angel” kicks off the festivities. From then on, the city is alive with music, dance, masquerades, processions, balls and parties galore. The experience is truly one-of-a-kind!
Cologne Carnival, Germany (dates varies)
For Mardi Gras Germany-style, you can’t get much wilder than the Cologne Carnival! There are many whacky traditions that are part of this popular event all of which involve massive amounts of partying. The climax of it all is known to happen on Rose Monday, an eclectic parade involving floats, giant effigies and thousands of people in costume. Watch out for the mega amounts of chocolate bars and other sweets that get flung into the crowd!
Read below for information about Europe weather in March (Photo credit – Universal Traveller)
Europe Weather in March
March brings warmer temperatures and longer days throughout Europe. Frozen areas begin thawing in Northern Europe as temperatures creep up to a max of 43℉ (6℃). Western Europe may get as warm as 50℉ (10℃) with variable weather with similar conditions in Eastern Europe. Southern Europe begins experiencing spring-like weather with an average high of 63℉ (17℃).
Europe Events in March
Fallas de Valencia, Spain (March 15-19)
Spain loves their parties and this cultural festival is no different! The party goes on for 5 days and includes music, parades, fireworks and the crowing of the Fallas Queen – all to commemorate the coming of spring. Over 800 fallas, huge wooden structures that are covered with papier-mâché, are built and displayed as works of art throughout Valencia. The grand finale comes when the fallas are all set ablaze – turning the entire city into one massive bonfire!
St. Patrick’s Day, Ireland (March 17)
So, yes, you can find St. Patrick’s Day celebrations all around the world – literally. But nothing compares to celebrating Ireland’s patron saint day at the source of its origins! The most recognized event is the St. Paddy’s Day parade in Dublin that draws a quarter of a million people into the streets. But authentic, leprechaun and shamrock-filled St. Patrick’s Day festivities are found all throughout Ireland, so take your pick for a taste of the real thing!
Read below for information about Europe weather in April (Photo credit – thrillist.com)
Europe Weather in April
Spring takes over Europe as temperatures keep climbing and daylight hours keep extending. In Northern Europe, temperatures may reach as high as 48℉ (9℃) by the end of the month. Showers are still possible in Western and Eastern Europe but temperatures get as warm as 54℉ (12℃) to 59℉ (15℃). Southern Europe warms up to a pleasant 68℉ (20℃).
Europe Events in April
Easter and Holy Week, Rome (usually early April)
Easter – and the Holy Week that leads up to it – is a crowded holiday time in Rome. The Vatican City gets packed as masses of people gather for the Pope’s Palm Sunday mass and for the Easter Sunday mass in St. Peter’s Square. Attending the Good Friday service in the Colosseum is quite unforgettable too!
Snowbombing Festival, Austria (mid-April)
If the term “Ibiza in the snow” tickles your fancy, then the Snowbombing Festival is definitely for you! This 5-day event attracts partygoers, artists and the best DJs from all corners of the world to the slopes of the majestic Austrian mountains. With 6 main venues, 4 mountain stages, snow parties and igloo raves, you can bet this is a party to remember!
Read below for information about Europe weather in May (Photo credit – huffpost.com)
Europe Weather in May
May is an ideal shoulder month and is considered by many to be the best time to visit Europe! Spring is in full bloom in Northern Europe with highs reaching up to 60℉ (16℃). Western Europe warms up to a max of 63℉ (17℃) with chilly nights, while Eastern Europe goes up to max temps of 70℉ (21℃) with a likelihood of rain. Temperatures remain the warmest in Southern Europe with average high temperatures of 77℉ (25℃).
Europe Events in May
Cannes International Film Festival, France (mid-May)
Whether you’re a film buff or not, you more than likely know – or at least have heard of – the Cannes Film Festival. As the world’s most celebrated and prestigious film festival, it’s pretty hard not to! Over 45,000 people attend the festival and anyone who’s anyone in the film industry has attended one at some point in their career. It’s definitely a popular time in France!
Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling, England (late May)
If you’re in the England area in May, you may want to make a special stop in Gloucester for the oddest, most unique event you’ve likely ever seen. As the name implies, the event consists of adults stumbling their way down an almost completely vertical hill to catch a huge round of rolling Gloucester cheese! If this sounds dangerous, the regular injuries and broken bones that ensue, are proof that it is! But it’s a whole lot of fun.
Read below for information about Europe weather in June (Photo credit – travelpassionate.com)
Europe Weather in June
June in Europe means warmer weather and an increasing influx of tourists. Daylight lasts a long 19 hours in Northern Europe with average highs at 68℉ (20℃). Average temperatures in Western Europe reach as high as 66℉ (19℃) while Eastern Europe can get up to 75℉ (24℃) – both see a mix of long, sunny days and scattered showers. Summer weather reaches Southern Europe with an average high of 86℉ (30℃).
Europe Events in June
Download Festival, England (mid-June)
For fans of rock and metal music, England’s largest festival in this genre is one not to miss! It’s a weekend full of metal and rock performances and tickets for the full weekend include camping, so it’s an outdoor adventure and music experience all rolled into one.
INmusic Festival, Croatia (mid-June)
This music festival – that’s gaining more and more popularity every year as one of Europe’s staple festivals – is the largest outdoor event in all of Croatia. The event focuses on modern rock and is held by the beautiful Lake Jarun – and with it’s camping vibe is said to be a modern-day Woodstock!
Rock Werchter, Belgium (mid-late June)
Another huge festival held in Belgium and is one of the 5 largest rock music festivals in Europe, along with the famous Glastonbury Festival in Somerset, England (which also takes place in June). It’s 4 days of some of music’s biggest headlining artists as well as up-and-coming young talent.
Read below for information about Europe weather in July (Photo credit – earthtrekkers.com)
Europe Weather in July
July is one of the two warmest months in Europe and is a peak time for tourists and prices! Northern Europe reaches its highest temperatures of around 72℉ (22℃). Western Europe sees an average maximum of 72℉ (22℃) but high humidity makes it seem hotter. Eastern Europe reaches full summer mode with temps around 80℉ (27℃) and little rain. Southern Europe is hot and dry with temperatures over 90℉ (32℃).
Europe Events in July
Roskilde Festival, Denmark (early July)
Also considered one of Europe’s big 5 music festivals, this popular summer event features chart-topping musical talent from around the world. Legendary greats like Bob Marley, Metallica and U2 are included on their list of past acts. It’s a week of non-stop music and fun!
Tour de France, France (most of July)
Undoubtedly France’s most important sporting events – and one of the top in the entire world – this 3-week cycling race is said to draw over 12 million roadside spectators. If you’re in France in July, you’ll want to catch a glimpse of this grand event and watch the world’s most elite cyclists in action!
Bull Run, Spain (July 6-14)
Perhaps you’ve heard of the famous running of the bulls in Pamplona? If you’re one of the crazy ones to do it, you can bet to get your adrenaline pumping by running through the streets with 6 angry bulls without getting gorged! If you don’t get the nerve the first day, don’t worry – the bulls get released every morning for 7 days.
Read below for information about Europe weather in August (Photo credit – metro.co.uk)
Europe Weather in August
August is the hottest month of the year in most of Europe. Northern Europe stays high at 68℉ (20℃) with chances of rain. Eastern and Western Europe remain at their hottest and most humid with temperatures that linger at a high in the mid-70s to 80s℉ (24-27℃). Southern Europe also reaches its highest temperatures at an average of 93℉ (34℃).
Europe Events in August
Edinburgh International Festival, Scotland (all month)
Along with Edinburgh Festival Fringe, over a thousand different shows of every kind imaginable take place throughout the month. Whether you’re into opera, stand-up comedy, indie rock music, modern dance, performance art, symphony orchestras or poetry – you’re bound to find something that catches your attention!
Sziget Festival, Hungary (early to mid-August)
Another one of Europe’s biggest and most attended summer festivals, this is a special one that takes place in Hungary every year. The event hosts over 1,000 shows across 60 different stages over 7 days. The festival boasts a peaceful congregation of races and cultures from all over the world with over 100 nationalities represented. The main focus is music – with some of the world’s top headliners – but also features artwork, cultural performances and a circus.
Read below for information about Europe weather in September (Photo credit – winetraveler.com)
Europe Weather in September
An overall cooling effect sweeps across the continent as fall approaches in September – and with fewer crowds – can be the best time to visit Europe. The high in Northern Europe drops to 60℉ (15℃). In Western Europe, the average high rests at 66℉ (19℃) with a mix of cloudy and sunny days. Eastern Europe has warm temperatures that reach up to a pleasant 72℉ (22℃), while Southern Europe also settles to comfortable levels with highs around 84℉ (29℃).
Europe Events in September
Oktoberfest, Germany (end of September)
There’s nowhere else in the world to experience the most traditional Oktoberfest merry-making than in Munich. Drinking enormous steins of beer, singing obnoxiously while standing on tables, eating schnitzels and pretzels doesn’t get more authentic than this! Just be ready to bump elbows with fellow revelers, as over 6 million visitors from around the world attend over the course of this popular 16 to 18-day festival.
Festes de la Mercé, Spain (late September)
This week-long event around September 24th is Barcelona’s largest annual festival to celebrate the Virgin de la Mercé, the city’s patron saint. There’s plenty of fun to be had with over 500 activities that include impressive displays of castellers (human towers), a grand parade of giants (large human-operated wooden figures) and a marvelous fireworks display.
Read below for information about Europe weather in October (Photo credit – expatexplore.com)
Europe Weather in October
Fall settles over Europe with cooler weather and vibrant autumn-colored foliage. The average temperature drops to the mid-40s℉ (7℃) and can be cold and rainy. The weather in Western and Eastern Europe is unpredictable with average highs dipping to 93℉ (55-59℃) with rainy days. Southern Europe also cools down, though it sees plenty of sunny days with highs near 75℉ (24℃).
Europe Events in October
Nuit Blanche, France (early October)
Paris is always magical, but it takes it up a notch further on “White Night” that takes place every year. Paris’ many galleries and museums keep their doors open until the early morning hours to welcome guests to special events to celebrate the world of art and culture. Visitors enjoy unique special installations, live concerts, wine, food and various one-time events all through the night.
Wexford Festival Opera, Ireland (starts mid-October)
You may be surprised to hear that one of the world’s major opera festivals takes place in a beautiful, quaint town nestled in Ireland; the Wexford festival was awarded the 2017 Best Opera Festival in the World at the International Opera Awards. Wexford hosts breathtakingly artistic productions of some of opera’s less regarded masterpieces, bringing them back into the limelight that they deserve. If you’re an opera aficionado – or just love beautifully-executed productions in a gorgeous setting – this festival is for you!
Read below for information about Europe weather in November (Photo credit – lushpin.com)
Europe Weather in November
Winter weather with shorter days arrives throughout most of Europe. Particularly in Northern Europe where temperatures remain at 39℉ (4℃) and below. Both Eastern and Western Europe are primarily grey, cold and often rainy in November with temperatures that max out at 45-48℉ (7-9℃). Southern European November weather can mean a mix of sunny, cloudy and rainy days with temperatures ranging from 50-65℉ (10-19℃).
Europe Events in November
Salon du Chocolat, Paris (early November)
If you’re a recovering chocolate addict, proceed with caution! Every year Paris’ Porte de Versailles convention center hosts the world’s biggest celebration of all things chocolate and cocoa. The variety of chocolate experiences to be had are many: mouth-watering chocolate exhibitions, a tempting area dedicated solely to pastries, lively demos by top chefs, plus masterclasses and workshops. For a truly unique chocolate-covered experience, be sure to catch the parade of all-chocolate dresses!
Christmas Markets (starting end of November)
One of the best parts about being in Europe as the holiday season approaches is the number of gorgeously-festive Christmas markets that pop up throughout the continent. There is no shortage of markets throughout Germany, Austria, all of northern Europe and more. Get lost in the charm of lit stalls selling holiday decorations, unique gift items and sweet holiday treats. Get extra cozy and warm with a cup of vin chaud (mulled wine)as you take in all the holiday cheer!
Read below for information about Europe weather in December (Photo credit – wyza.com.au)
Europe Weather in December
December is cold and wintery across Europe! You’ll easily find a white Christmas in Northern Europe with temperatures consistently below freezing. Western Europe is cold and rainy with maximum temperatures at 43℉ (6℃). Eastern Europe could dip below freezing for some snow but some days may be sunny and crisp with a high of 55℉ (13℃). December is Southern Europe’s coldest with temperatures ranging from 48℉ (9℃) to 59℉ (15℃).
Europe Events in December
Fete des Lumieres, France (early December)
Lyon sees over 4 million visitors for their spectacular annual 3-night Festival of Lights, which features over 80 radiant light projects. It’s a marvelous combination of light shows, creative street lighting and holiday decorations that illuminate the whole city and never fails to impress!
New Year’s Eve Celebrations (December 31)
One thing’s for sure – you won’t have any problem finding an awesome way to ring in the new year if you’re in Europe on December 31st! You’ll get some of the world’s most impressive fireworks shows in London, Paris, Moscow, Berlin, Rome, Athens and Budapest. Then there’s the famous Edinburgh’s Hogmanay in Scotland – known as one of the best New Year’s celebrations that involves everything from wooly underwear, a fire festival, concerts, fireworks and a whole lot of whiskey and champagne. No matter what your mood or style, you’re in for an unforgettable celebration!
What is the best time to visit Europe weather-wise?
Because Europe covers such a variety of climatic zones, it’s best to know where exactly you want to go and what you want to do when figuring out the best time to visit Europe weather-wise.
For Northern Europe, the best time to visit is during the summer months, as this is when the weather allows for the most outdoor activities and sightseeing. Unless your activity of choice is skiing or snow sports – in which case you definitely want winter!
Western and Eastern Europe also have the best weather in the summer months, but late spring and early fall are also pleasant. For Southern Europe, the best time to visit weather-wise is from May to early June and September to October. This is when you’ll find the most comfortable temperatures in the 70s℉ (20s℃) range and avoid the overly hot and humid weather.
Final thoughts on the best time of year to visit Europe
The good news is that no matter when you decide to book your trip to Europe, you’re sure to have an amazing trip! Whether you go when the weather is warmest and sunniest during the high tourist season, or when it’s cloudier and colder during the low tourist season, the option of indoor and outdoor activities and iconic landmarks to visit is limitless. Take advantage of Europe’s rich event calendar and soak in as much local culture as you can. You won’t be disappointed!
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Gin lover. Coffee addict. Nicola has traveled the world for 7 years and is a staff writer for Hotel Jules. Born in London, Nicola first got the taste of travel studying abroad in Barcelona. Since then she's been hooked - traveling the world non-stop. Passionate about green travel and vegan lifestyle, Nicola spends more of her free time staring at maps wondering where she will head to next!