Best Places to Go in Europe by Month
Europe is Bunny’s favourite continent. She hates the cold winters but the glorious European summers more than make up for it. And there’s always Italy - one of Bunny’s favourite countries in the world…
So, should you visit Europe only in summertime? Not at all, Bunny says. Any time is a good time to travel to Europe; you just need to know where to go and when. In this blog post, Bunny shares her own travel recommendations for Europe, with suggestions for each month of the year.
Travel is often ruined by hordes of fellow travellers, so Bunny’s recommendations are heavily influenced by her aversion to crowds. It’s OK when you travel, but other people (and bunnies) should really stay at home, Bunny thinks.
January - Canals or Geysers
January is generally a cold and gloomy time to visit Europe, but Bunny has some ideas that can work out nicely if the weather cooperates a little bit.
Venice has been all but ruined by large tourist groups. The city has fallen victim to its own popularity and has, for example, had to ban cruise ships from entering the historic centre to try and preserve some of its original charm. That said, there is still plenty of that spell left and Venice totally deserves a visit as one of the highlights of Europe.
Bunny has visited a handful of times and preferred her off-season visits. She thinks January is the perfect time to explore Venice. New Year’s crowds are gone and the Carnival is still a month away. The weather will be cold (most likely under 10 C) but you still have a good chance for glorious, sunny days. Eating out on the heated terraces can be lovely. And if you wake up early, you can have the squares and canals of Venice all to yourself.
Alternatively, go to Iceland in January. You won’t have much sunlight this time of the year, but it will certainly be atmospheric. Most importantly, you can experience all the magical sights without the presence of annoying tour groups who flock to the country during most of the year. And as an added bonus, prices for flights and hotels will be much lower.
If you base yourself in Reykjavik, you can make day trips around the island and spend the dark hours (morning and afternoon) en route to your daily destination. When Bunny visited Iceland in January, she managed to visit Snaefellness Peninsula and even the absolutely gorgeous Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon as day trips from the capital. Granted, they were both long days but totally worth it.
In addition, the popular sights in and around Reykjavik, such as the Blue Lagoon and the Golden Circle, are quiet and easy to visit even during the shorter daylight hours.
February - Winter in a Former Imperial City
February is a solid winter month in Europe, with winter sports in full swing and skiing towns bursting with visitors. This is a good time for a city break, Bunny says.
Prague or Budapest
Bunny would recommend Prague, or perhaps better still, Budapest, for a winter visit. You will have a good chance of enjoying atmospheric snow in the city with temperatures likely to be below freezing, but it can still be quite romantic.
Cold weather is a perfect excuse for making frequent stops in wine cellars and cute cafes selling spiked hot chocolate, Bunny says. All the sights and attractions are open, and you can enjoy them without the throngs of summertime tourists. Low season prices make these two cities even more attractive.
In Budapest, you’ll also have a plethora of lovely thermal spas to keep you warm if the outside temperatures get too cold. Check out Bunny's Winter Weekend in Budapest blog post for more inspiration.
March - Skiing or Spring Flowers
March brings more variety to weather conditions in Europe. You can travel north to enjoy full winter conditions, perhaps even the Northern Lights, or head south for a beach holiday.
If you are looking for excellent cross-country skiing conditions in March, go to Finnish Lapland. Just make sure your visit doesn’t coincide with Easter holidays (one of the worst times to travel!) and you will be golden.
There will be long, sunny days and plentiful snow for all kinds of winter adventures. Lapland is vast and scarcely populated so there is no danger of crowds either. And if you are lucky, March is still an opportune time to catch the fleeting Northern Lights - although it is getting a bit too bright already towards the end of month.
Check out Bunny’s Arctic Express for tips on how to do Lapland in three nights, including where to stay and what not to miss.
If you are a cross-country skiing enthusiast, check out Kilpisjärvi, in Finland’s northern “arm”, where skiing is often possible until June!
If skiing is not your thing (Bunny totally understands) and you are seeking a break from wintery weather, head to Cyprus instead. It will be blissfully quiet, hopefully with plenty of sunshine and, possibly even beach weather! Bunny herself swam in the sea in Cyprus in March and thoroughly enjoyed the experience…
March is also perfect hiking time in Cyprus, particularly on the coastal routes. The weather will not be too hot and nature will be bursting with beautiful spring flowers.
All of Cyprus’ cultural sights will be open and uncrowded (check out the lovely painted churches in the Troodos mountains!) and quiet villages just beg to be explored.
Where to Stay
April - Gorgeous Coast or Tulips
By April, things are starting to warm up all around Europe. This is the time to catch blooming tulip fields or even search for summer-like conditions on the coast, if you are willing to wait towards the end of April.
Dutch tulip fields are legendary. So are the annual crowds of fervent grandmothers and Instagram influencers trampling through the fields in search of the best tulip photo. The crowds are almost impossible to avoid as the tulip season is so short, just a couple of weeks falling between the time from mid-March until the end of April.
The most famous tulip fields are located in the “Bulb Region“ in south of the Netherlands. But this is also where the crowds gather, so the key is to go north, Bunny says. Bunny spent a wonderfully quiet and colourful tulip weekend in the tiny community of Sint Maarteensbrug in the northern region last spring.
Check out Bunny’s blog post on How to Visit Tulip Fields in Netherlands Without Crowds for further details.
April in Italy’s Amalfi Coast can be a bit hit or miss weather-wise, but, if you’re the gambling type and hit the jackpot, you can enjoy a beach holiday at the end of April. At least Bunny once did.
The Amalfi Coast is an incredibly beautiful stretch of Italian coast line, with gorgeous villages and elegant hotels galore. It is also a very sought-after holiday destination known for its extravagant hotel prices.
April is the time to go, Bunny says. Many beautiful hotels offer deep discounts and the weather, even if not necessarily beachy, is perfect for hiking and other outdoor pursuits. You can walk the gorgeous Path of the Gods and enjoy romantic al fresco dinners.
Where to Stay
Casa Angelina in Praiano is an amazing, stylish all white structure draped in gorgeous coastal scenery. The rooms are modern, the service is impeccable and the views unbelievable. Bunny would go back in a heartbeat.
May - Head South
In May, things are further improving in Europe weather-wise. Bunny suggests two very different options for a springtime visit.
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Bunny has a new-found appreciation for the Balkans since her excellent trip to North Macedonia last year. Bosnia and Herzegovina was one of her early favourites. It’s exotic and beautiful, very affordable and full of interesting sites.
Sarajevo, the country’s East meets West capital, boasts a unique cultural mix, heaps of (often grim) history and delicious food. The real star of the country, however, is the historic city of Mostar. It’s a two-hour picturesque drive from the capital and May is the perfect time to go with pleasant weather and fewer visitors.
You should stay a night in Mostar to really appreciate the atmosphere and the cobblestone streets, Ottoman era architecture and, of course, the famous Stari Most, spanning the beautiful Neretva River.
Spring in Provence is wonderful. You won’t have a chance to experience the lovely lavender fields (which will begin to bloom the following month) but you will also largely miss out on the annoying crowds. You can enjoy the peaceful countryside by hiking, biking and exploring delightful little villages. And you don’t have to worry about heat waves.
Bunny prefers the sleepy hillside villages of Provence but Avignon deserves a visit for sure. Note that its medieval streets and fascinating history as the city of the popes are a big draw, so it is best to avoid the May bank holidays, if possible.
Bunny's Bucket List
Although technically not in Provence (but close enough), The Happy Hamlet is high on Bunny’s bucket list for her next spring-time visit to France. The place just seems to radiate Zen and joy that is served with a smile, delicious local food and plenty of wine.
June - English Charm or Italian Lakes
Bunny thinks European summers are glorious. About 3 billion people seem to agree with her so Europe is an extremely popular tourist destination in summertime. As a result, you will have to pick your destinations with care.
June is for Cotswolds, Bunny says. It’s before the peak season of July and August and you’ll have a chance for warm weather (bearing in mind this is England where it always rains). Cotswolds also happens to be a perfect destination for a romantic weekend. There are rolling green hills, pretty stone villages and excellent hotels and guest houses to choose from.
June is the ideal time for nature walks or hiking from one village to another, enjoying quintessential English countryside at its best. If there ever was an ideal time to visit England, it would be June in Cotswolds, Bunny says.
Bunny absolutely adores the Italian Lakes. She has been to most of them at different times of the year and (naturally) prefers summer visits.
June is a good time to go. It is not the absolute height of the tourist season yet, but the weather will be beautiful. The famous gardens will be blooming and it will be warm, but not too hot, for boating adventures.
Bunny won’t lie: it will already be quite busy at the Lakes, but this is Italy, after all - it is so lovely that even Bunny is prepared to brave some crowds. Bunny’s favourite lake is Garda but George Clooney prefers Como. You cannot really go wrong with any of them.
Where to Stay
Lefay Resort & Spa Lago di Garda is a wonderful spa hotel on a spectacular mountainside location at Lake Garda. There are gorgeous swimming pools, soothing spa treatments and various wellness programs to choose from. It is a truly relaxing place.
July - Hiking or More Lakes!
July is lovely just about anywhere in Europe. Bunny prefers to avoid the most popular places at this peak vacation time (kids suddenly spring up everywhere too) and recommends somewhere a bit more obscure.
Bunny spent years living in Vienna, Austria, and naturally loves the country. There is plenty to see and experience in Austria but visiting the mountains is a definite must. There is no better time to do so than July.
Even the highest mountain paths will have cleared of snow by this time and there is a decent chance for good weather. The pretty little mountain villages will be nowhere near as busy as in the skiing season. It is simply glorious to go hiking on clearly-marked paths in the fresh mountain air.
There are also plenty of lakes to jump in should the weather take a surprising turn and it becomes too hot to hike.
There is nothing better in life than summer in Finland, Bunny says. She might be slightly biased (having spent at least some time in Finland every summer of her life), but she is not completely wrong here.
When the rest of Europe is heaving with visitors in July, your best bet for peace and quiet and gorgeous scenery is to head to the Finnish Lakeland. The country boasts something like 200,000 lakes so there are plenty to choose from.
Once there, do as the Finns do and spend time at a quaint summer cottage by the lake and enjoy the almost round-the-clock sunlight, pristine nature, lake-swimming and the world’s best strawberries. But don’t forget to bring mosquito repellant.
Finland’s fleeting summer season usually falls on July so time your visit accordingly.
August - Wilderness or City Life
August is the high season for travel almost everywhere in Europe. The weather is lovely but everyone is on summer holiday at the same time, including with their ill-behaved children, and many places are simply too crowded (and expensive!) to enjoy.
Norway is no exception, August is peak travel time but luckily this sparsely-populated country still offers some excellent options even in August.
Head to the Norwegian fjords, Bunny says! Travel there in the second half of August, avoid the most popular places and opt for a real nature experience to avoid the crowds.
Bunny can thoroughly recommend the unforgettable camping and kayaking holiday she did with Nordic Ventures in the area of Naeroyfjord a couple of years ago. It included sea kayaking in the gorgeous fjords, hiking to catch unbelievable mountain views, filling your drinking water bottle directly from waterfalls, and enjoying dinner around the camp fire at night. It was a total feeling of bliss and there was not a single cruise ship visitor in sight!
If you’re more in a city mood in August, you cannot go wrong with Paris. The locals may have largely deserted the city (flocking to the sea instead) but there is still a lot going on from a tourist perspective.
You will get some of the best deals on hotels in August and the city seems quiet. All the tourist highlights will be open and welcoming visitors, even if some smaller family businesses might be closed for the month.
You will not lose out on anything essentially Parisian by visiting in August but you will most probably save money and enjoy the city in a more relaxed mode. The sun will be shining and the green parks will be ripe and quiet for long, lush summer picnics. Sounds like a good deal to Bunny.
September - Island Life or Wine-Tasting
In stark contrast to August, September is one of the best months to travel in Europe. Although people are slowly starting to catch on to September’s allure, it is only moderately busy, with still gorgeous weather all around.
Bunny’s preferred September European destinations tend to be in the south where you can fool yourself into thinking it is still full-on summer. Tiny Malta is a perfect example.
September is still a glorious summer month in Malta. You will be able to swim in the Mediterranean, sightsee, kayak and wander around the streets of Valletta in warm weather and perfect sunshine. There will be other tourists but it will not be overcrowded by any means.
Bunny loved her September visit to Malta, roaming around the colourful fishing village of Marsaxlokk, taking in the silent city of Mdina, kayaking around Gozo island and stargazing on the hotel’s rooftop at night.
The Istrian peninsula in Croatia is often compared to Tuscany for its ancient towns, rolling hills and expansive vineyards. September is the perfect time to visit this Croatian gem, Bunny says.
In September, you can still go swimming in the sea, explore the charming villages and sample the delicious local wine and gourmet food outside the peak season. There are also a number of attractions, including one of the world’s largest remaining Roman amphitheatres in Pula, for those who are looking for cultural sights.
October - Autumn Delights
The weather in Europe is turning a bit more unpredictable come October. You can experience beautiful, sunny autumn days or sleeting misery, if you go north enough (don’t, Bunny says).
October is for autumn colours, Bunny says. And nothing is better than experiencing them by a beautiful lake. Go to Lake Geneva, Bunny says. It has a mild climate and beautiful lakeside towns, such as the delightful Montreux.
You can go for long, lakeside strolls and admire luxurious mansions and vineyards bathed in autumn colours. The crisp autumn air and sunshine is a perfect combination for walks or bike rides along the lake. And if you don’t feel like being active, there are always boat rides available - including fondue dinner cruises! Not a bad idea either, Bunny says.
The weather might be a bit capricious though so your best bet would be to visit early in the month. Check out Bunny's blog post on Easy Day Trips from Geneva for further info.
Bunny has spent a lot of time in Istanbul in all seasons and loves the city. October is an excellent time to go. The weather is still pleasant and often sunny, but the crowds of tourists are gone.
You can wander around the city and enjoy drinks at street cafes or try the freshly-squeezed pomegranate juice from a street vendor. If it rains, there is always the Grand Bazaar with its labyrinth of covered markets and tradition of hours-long bargaining (Bunny doesn’t have the patience for this).
If you want to visit the Blue Mosque or Hagia Sophia, the lines are likely to be much shorter than in summertime. It is also easier to get a seat in one of the excellent rooftop restaurants where you can enjoy a sunset dinner with views to the city.
Bunny's Book Tip
Before visiting Istanbul, pick up a copy of Orhan Pamuk’s The Museum of Innocence. It is a hefty tome but it will totally immerse you in Istanbul life in the 1970s and 1980s, threaded with a romantic plot line.
November - Sunny Islands
November is not the best month to visit Europe. The weather can be quite miserable, rainy and cold, wherever you are on the continent. Your best bet for a nice holiday would be to go as far south as possible.
There might be (arguably) a better month to visit Madeira than November but there are not many destinations in Europe that are better than Madeira that time of the year…
November marks the beginning of the winter in Madeira but since this Portuguese island boasts a pleasantly mild Mediterranean climate year-round, winter is not too bad!
You might get rain or sunshine, but temperatures should consistently hover around 20 degrees Celsius - perfect for hiking and wandering around this lush, green island.
Another great option, if you must travel in November, is the Canary Islands. Yes, they have a tacky reputation but they also have some quiet gems. And you will love the weather!
Bunny most recently visited Lanzarote and Tenerife in November and both boasted beach weather at the time (Bunny went swimming - of course!). Since November is not a popular time to visit, there are plenty of hotel bargains on offer.
Where else in Europe could you enjoy sunny, warm beaches in November?
December - Christmas Time
Things in Europe are starting to look up in December again. Sure, the weather is still likely to be atrocious but at least there is magical Christmas to look forward to.
Many cities on the continent stage enchanting Christmas markets every year but Vienna does it best, Bunny says.
Vienna offers a grand, imperial stage for the colourful Christmas markets that take over many squares and streets of the city beginning in mid-November. There are markets for every taste from the glitzy to the traditional, and they all have delicious festive punch, Christmas knickknacks, sausages and giant pretzels to offer.
December is the perfect time to sample the markets as a tourist. Vienna is never more inviting, with smiles all around and the aromatic Christmas scents lingering around the city. Just make sure you visit before Christmas as most of the markets (and pretty much everything else) close down on 24 December.
Check out Bunny's blog post on Vienna Christmas Markets for more details.
Alternatively, you could travel to Rome around Christmas time. The eternal city will be very uncrowded and beautifully lit up. Hotels have generally cheap prices and there is a festive atmosphere everywhere.
Although many places will be closed at Christmas, it is only for a few days and you can time your visit accordingly. And if you’re lucky with weather (Bunny has been), you can combine the Christmas spirit and al fresco dining in Rome. What could be better?
Throughout the year, there is always somewhere to travel in Europe! You will just have to choose your time and place with care, taking into account weather conditions and potential crowds while keeping an eye out for great bargains. Europe truly is the best of all the continents for travelling, Bunny says.