Traveling in the “Off-Season”

For much of my life, I’ve packed my travels into the summer months. Like many, this is necessary because of vacations, work, and school schedules. There are many positive aspects regarding travel during this time known as the “high season.” Longer days, swimming and beach opportunities, fresh summer foods, maximum opening hours for tourist destinations, fewer things to pack, less chance of rain, fewer travel delays, and extensive tourist resources are just a few. However, given the choice, I’d choose to travel during the spring, fall and winter.

My number one reason for travel between October and May is COOLER temperatures. Here is my annotated list of reasons to travel to Europe in the winter, spring, and fall.

  • Cooler Temperatures – click here for a chart of European cities average temps and rainfall. 
  • Fewer Tourists Crowds – Imaging experience the Louvre without the crowds, get intimate with Mona Lisa, enjoy Castle Neuschwanstein without the ques, and experience Venice’s Piazza San Marco sans people and pigeons. 
  • Lower Airfares – Great bargains abound on all the airlines. In the past week, I have received discount airfare offers from at least six airlines offering deals to Europe during the “off-season.”
  • Seasonal Varieties in Food – Some foods just don’t go down well when it is hot outside. In Italy, I enjoy papardelle pasta with wild boar. It is ok in the summer, but in the cooler months (especially during hunting season), the meat is fresh and the hearty sauce sets well on one’s stomach. The same can be said for the rich and heavy fare served in Austria, Germany, and the Czech Republic.
  • Unhurried restaurant and hotel staff – Off-season, you are more likely to enjoy a visit with local folks, restaurant staff, and hotel owners. With more time and fewer tourist, these folks actually have the time and desire to invite you into their lives.
  • Shorter days and longer nights – click here for a detailed “hours of daylight” table. Enjoy dinner at 7:00 instead of 9:00 p.m. followed by an illuminated stroll in the cool of the evening.
  • Orchestras and Opera – The great symphonic orchestras, operas, and ballets are in full concert season. In the summer, the musicians are on holiday and out of town.
  • Snow – As a boy from the south, snow is a welcomed change for me.
  • Christmas Markets pop up all over the place from December to the New Year! Enjoy local crafts, fine music, skilled artisans, good food and drink, and a festive atmosphere.

 Here are some additional links for off-season travel:

  • Christmas Markets
    • Europe
    • Germany (another site)
  •  Octoberfest
  • Grape Harvesting Season is usually in September and a bit earlier north of the Alps
  • St. Patty’s Day Parade