When you’re planning a trip to Europe, the first thoughts you might have could involve white linen on the Amalfi Coast, beaches in Croatia, or freshly harvested light summer vegetables cooked and paired perfectly with crisp wines. Less popular, but no less intriguing are visions that include crackling fires, changing leaves, festivals and Christmas markets, and slow-cooked comfort food with robust, soul-warming drinks.
Cooler, wetter weather forces travellers to Europe to make extra accomodations for luggage and comfort, but the experiences (and prices) of travel in the “off-season” can be more than enough to make up for the extra effort.
When the weather begins to cool in Europe, cuisine shifts from bright and crisp summer fare, to hearty, warm and slow-cooked comfort. Autumn shuffles out veritable hoards of tourists and high-season prices, and brings with it the harvest of apples, truffles, and chestnuts paired at fine restaurants with fresh game of the season. Autumn is an ideal time to visit France and sample wild chanterelle dishes, or brave the truffle enthusiasts that descend upon the Piemonte region of Italy, in order to sample the delicate and valuable white truffle at any one of the area’s 33 Michelin-star restaurants.
Autumn in Europe sees temperatures in southern regions, from Southern Portugal to Crete, drop to 40-60°F (4-14°C), while in the north it is not uncommon to see snow and freezing temperatures in places like Scandinavia and Germany by November. It is important to factor in average temperatures in the region while planning your trip as this will affect your luggage. Boots, scarves, sweaters and jackets will bulk up your packing list, so packing correctly for the weather will make or break your end of the year trip.
Once the summer crowds give way to shoulder seasons, cheaper prices and cooler weather, local culture begins to take center stage and travelers have an opportunity to experience what some say, is the arts and culture season. Jazz festivals around Spain feature, while food, wine and Opera dominate Italy. France solemnly observes Armistice Day on 11 November, a somber national holiday honoring the sacrifices of WWI and other wars. Germany’s indoor markets and Christmas markets pop up in November and December to the delight of locals and visitors alike.
Fall colors can be seen in abundance in every temperate country, and the Aurora Borealis is best visible in the darker months in countries like Iceland, Finland, Norway and Denmark, with winter having better visibility thanks to the clearer skies.
Generally, it is cheaper to travel from October to December than during the peak season, so visitors to Europe during this time can typically expect to save money and have a bit more room to stretch their legs without the glut of summer tourists. While cooler weather travel can be a challenge, rail, private transfer and driver/guides can make it a breeze.
With thoughtful planning, visitors can enjoy a rich holiday full of memories that will last a lifetime. If your dream vacation involves a cooler, less crowded, and cheaper Europe full of rich and hearty culture and cuisine, contact Il Viaggio and have your custom itinerary put together by our knowledgeable and caring staff.