Independent Travel in Europe

Europe....Your Way!
Tips and resources for independent travellers
Tourist Seasons

The best times to visit Europe are in the early spring and fall months, otherwise known as the shoulder seasons.

The major travel seasons are divided into four categories:

1) Peak season/Summer season
     Early June to early August
     Advantages:
           All tourist offices are open
           Restaurants, shops, museums, and attractions are open
     Disadvantages:
          Cost of travel is at its highest (both flights and lodging)
          Expect crowds (long line-ups and wait times at  museums and other tourist attractions
          Weather can be very hot

2) Shoulder seasons
     Late April to early June
     Late September to mid November 
     Advantages:
             Cost of travel is reasonable (flights and lodging)
             Most museums, hotels, and restaurants are open
             Most tourist attractions are open
             Weather is usually mild
      Disavantages:
           May experience sudden temperature/weather changes
           More crowded than during the low season  

3) Low season/Winter season
     Mid November to early April 
     Advantages:
           Cost of travel is at its lowest (except for the Holiday season, the cost of flights and accommodations is significantly lower)
           No crowds 
     Disadvantages:
            Cold temperatures
            Expect shortened hours for shops, tourist offices and local transportation
            Some restaurants and hotels are closed for anywhere from a week to a month during the winter season.
            Some museums are closed
            Churches/monuments/artwork - may be covered up for restoration or cleaning purposes

4) Holiday season (Considered a peak season)
     Early December to mid January 

Additional times to take note of:

1) Easter week
      The cost of accommodations can sometimes be significantly higher during Easter week.

2) Month of August (Sometimes considered another low season)
     Most Europeans go on vacation during the month of August. As a result, establishments go on shortened hours in many European cities. This is especially true from August 15 - 31. An exception to this is Paris, where July is the holiday month.

Copyright 2010 europeindependenttravel.com
Salzburg, Austria
Traveling to Europe in early spring instead of summer can save you a lot of money, but be prepared for variable weather like hail in Florence, bright sunshine and balmy temperatures in Rome, and wind and rain in Siena and Pompeii, which was the case during one of my trips to Italy. Yes, hail was bouncing off the pavement in Florence, but only for a few minutes, and the rest of the day was fine, so don't let the threat of variable weather stop you!
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