Most people spend all year looking forward to their summer escapades. The sun, the beach, sitting outside sipping on an iced coffee while people watching wherever life will take them. What they all seem to forget, time and time again is the sweat, the overcrowded spaces, the overpriced high season tariffs, and the list go on and on. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing inherently bad about travelling during the peak season, but if you wait for a little, you may get the best of both worlds: the last remains of the summer weather with the lower prices of the slow season. And, as an added bonus, fewer crowds. Who’d not love to travel during the offseason?
With that in mind, I’ve joined forces with some travel bloggers from near and far to share with you which places we find to be the best offseason European destinations and why. Keep on reading to get inspired for your next offseason trip to Europe!
For Sari & Maya, from Chasing Lenscapes, Rome is one of the best cities to visit in Europe during the offseason.
So what makes Rome such a perfect destination for Fall? Let’s start with the obvious, much better weather and less crowded! July and August in Rome are so hot and humid and packed with so many tourists you’ll be sweating all the time and elbowing your way through the city’s top attractions.
During November, the month of our visit, we had mostly sunny days but cooler temperatures which made our visit much more pleasant. Moreover, the top tourist attractions were less crowded than during the summer vacation and we scored reservations for our favourite restaurants in Rome without any problem at all!
Another bonus is that hotel reservations are usually cheaper during Fall, so why not lower your costs? Do you like shopping? Well, you’ll get the opportunity to get a whole new Fall/Winter wardrobe, not to mention it is the beginning of the boot season! When in Rome…a girl needs to buy some boots (We went back home with about 3 pairs each).
You will also have a chance to check out RomaEuropa Festival, a festival for the performing arts, during September – November.
Lastly, people are nicer when it is not so hot and humid all the time and the city is less crowded with tourists. You’ll get a chance to chat with the sellers at Campo de’ Fiori or the waitress at the coffee shop simply because they’ll have more time for a friendly chat and they might even give you some insider tips.
Budapest is Sarah and Andy’s (Hotels & Hand Luggage) perfect offseason European destination:
The city is easy to explore with the Danube River meandering through the two sides, Buda and Pest, that unified in 1873. The convenient trams are a great way to get around, but strolling on foot through this fascinating city in the mainly dry and sunny, but cooler days of autumn is the best way to discover all the city has to offer.
On the hilly Buda side of the city, you will find a huge palace with views down over the river and onward to the incredible Gothic-style parliament building. Fisherman’s Bastion perches on the edge of the old town, with more dramatic views over to Pest. On the Pest side sits the stunning St Stephen’s Basilica and winding lanes of the Jewish Quarter where you may stumble upon Szimpla Kert, a famous ruin bar that will be perfect to enjoy in the cooler temperatures after summer. Don’t forget to take a dip in the outdoor hot-spring baths located around the city, they are perfect for the autumn weather and will be less crowded during these months.
You can also find out more about their travels by following them on Facebook.
Spain is always nice to visit, but the offseason in the southern European country is glorious. Lower temperatures but still warm, lower prices and higher availability in general. Any time outside the big holidays and summer is a great time, that is if you want to get a better feel for what the true Spanish experience is. That means, no Christmas and no Easter… visiting during those times are all great experiences, but oh so crowded.
If you visit during May/Septemeber/October, you won’t be missing on much of the fun at all, in fact, you may even be able to meet some of the locals who will gladly show you their favourite spots. Definitely a much more relaxed trip, and don’t forget your sunscreen!
The Azores, Portugal
Laura and Chris, from Trails Unblazed, pick is a wonderful choice to visit during the low season for nature and outdoors lovers. Discover a bit more about the Azores.
While the Azores have long been a popular vacation destination for European tourists, the Portuguese archipelago is just starting to gain popularity among travelers from North America. While summer is generally viewed as the best time to visit the islands, the offseason still offers comfortable temperatures, lower travel costs, and a more relaxed setting. The Azores have a very temperate climate despite being located so far north in the Atlantic Ocean. Summer high temperatures are in the 70’s (Fahrenheit/ around 21ºC) while highs in the winter are around 60 (Fahrenheit/ around 15ºC). It really never gets too hot or too cold, so no matter what time of year you visit, you’ll be able to get out and enjoy the beauty of the islands’ many incredible hiking trails, hot springs, and bucolic villages. Plus, if you’re traveling from the US or Northern Europe, the moderate temperatures will feel like a welcome escape from the harsh winter weather back home. While some activities, such as big game fishing and swimming with dolphins, are unavailable in the offseason, there really isn’t much you can’t do in the Azores in the offseason. Not to mention, flights and hotels are significantly less expensive, making this a more affordable getaway.
Berlin is one of those cities that no matter when you visit, you’ll find something to do. Always on point and active. However, during the summer months, you won’t only find it overcrowded by the passing-by tourists, but also all the people that come to the city to learn German for the summer. This means that to their usual melting pot of cultures and people, and the (sometimes) high temperatures of the warmer months, you may find it extremely overwhelming. Oh, and of course, prices skyrocket!
To get the most of Berlin, the time right before and after summer is the best. The weather is still rather stable and warm, the prices go down, You probably will find a place to eat without a problem and you may not even find a line at the Museums’ Island! Either way, you should still book in advance, that way you can arrive and start enjoying your time in the German city straight away.
Shweta Singhal’s choice of offseason European destination takes us to the Adriatic!
There is no getting away from the fact that Dubrovnik is one of the most beautiful old towns I have visited on my two-week trip to Croatia. And this is true even if you are not a Game of Thrones fan salivating over King’s Landing like me 🙂 Walking the old town walls of Dubrovnik, taking in the stunning views of the Adriatic Sea, riding the cable car up the Srd hill, listening to jazz enjoying a perfect espresso martini, kayaking around the lokrum island till my arms felt like no more, waking up early to capture the old town sans the tourists, so many memories from this town.
The fame of course brings in crowds, especially in the peak months of July and August when mercury soars and the lanes of this stunning town get over-filled from people from cruises and elsewhere.
So the best time to visit Dubrovnik is spring or after-summer, i.e. Sept / Oct. September would be perfect if you are a water baby since the Adriatic Sea is still warm to swim in. Also, the Dalmatian coast is way more expensive than mainland Croatia. So you would find cheaper accommodation options for post summer months.
There are plenty of wonderful places to discover during the low season, but these six cities and countries are particularly interesting for the specially good conditions during the offseason. As everyone agreed, all of them are considerably cheaper, less full and the weather is more agreeable than during the high season.
If you are looking to travel towards winter but still want to not freeze your butt off, you can let yourself be inspired by our guide on the best European cities to visit in November.