Europe is an incredible and fascinating continent. There is such a wide range of different cultures, lifestyles and of course, climates. Europe is a fairly large continent of course but the sheer amount of countries within, and how incredibly different they are from one another means that some destinations are better at different times of the year.
In this article, we’re looking mainly at the climate, but also which countries are not so strictly ‘seasonal’. In many European destinations you will find that 6 months of the year (normally May to October) are the ‘tourist’ months. During this time, the bars, restaurants and nightlife will be fully functioning and there will always be plenty to do. Off-season, a lot of these places shut down for the winter.
Of course, European destinations aren’t just for those outside of Europe, and many of the traditional holiday destinations in Southern Europe rely on tourists from Germany, the UK and Scandinavian countries where the weather is significantly colder than many of the destinations listed below.
Geographically, the Canary Islands are closer to Africa than the rest of Europe. Technically they are Spanish Islands and judging by the culture of the islands, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in mainland Spain. Their location far south of the rest of Spain means that the weather stays hot pretty much all through the year.
With Four Canary Islands, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Tenerife and Lanzarote, you may think that some Island-hopping is in order, but this isn’t the case. Each of the islands has plenty to offer tourists, with many of them having fascinating geographical traits such as hot springs and in some areas black volcanic sand due to their location so close to Africa. With relatively low airline prices from most of Europe this is the perfect spot for a bit of winter sunshine.
Cyprus is a country with a rich and fascinating history. The cultured among us can enjoy museums and historic attractions dating back centuries. If you want a standard ‘beach’ holiday, Cyprus is a great option for this too. Not only does it stay warm through the winter with temperatures often hitting 20 degrees Celsius even in the cooler months, Cyprus has notoriously warm sea due, which tends to stay a comfortable temperature having been heated by the summer sun.
Amazing things to do in Cyprus include following the incredible tales of Aphrodite, enjoying the country’s amazing coastline with a boat tour or visit ancient ruins. Cyprus isn’t the biggest island out there but it certainly has loads to do. Of course, if you do just want to laze on the beaches and enjoy the amazing mezze-style food then this is always an option too!
Greece is another country with a truly fascinating history and culture. The Greek Islands are scattered around quite a lot, but southern islands such as Crete are increasingly popular through the winter months due to their relatively warm temperatures. Greece isn’t going to be roasting hot all through the winter, but if you have come from a country in the North of Europe or a colder part of America it can feel quite temperate. There is always something to see and do in pretty much any of the major Greek Islands. Crete, for instance is supposedly the birthplace of Zeus and is the perfect place to learn about Greek mythology and gods.
Another big tick in the box for the Greek islands is the people. Anyone who has ever been to Greece will likely tell you what an incredible nature its citizens have. Greek people often love being hosts and will go out of their way to help you and make you feel at ease. Greece also has some of the most underrated cuisine in the world, while you are there be sure to check out the Souvlaki and an authentic Moussaka.
Malta is a relatively small island, and if you aren’t from Europe you could be forgiven for never having heard of it. However, the chances that you have seen Malta in a travel magazine without knowing it are relatively high as it has some truly beautiful sights and stunning clear water.
Malta is an archipelago and it is near to Africa, which is why the weather is so warm all year round. Malta has over 300 days of sunshine every year which makes it the European destination which sees the most sun!
Malta’s culture is a real melting pot of other countries and empires which have ruled in the past including the French, Romans and the British, meaning that everything from cuisine to the side of the road they drive on (the left) is a jumble of other cultures. The country is also famous for its Neoclassical and Baroque styles of architecture, and the capital city of Valetta is full of amazing accommodation and beautifully constructed streets to explore.
Notable Mentions: Spain and Portugal
Spain and Portugal are quite far South in European terms, and their proximity to the equator means that the weather can be a little hit and miss at times in the winter in spite of their scorching summers. If you are heading to Spain and Portugal, your best bets for sun are the Portugese Algarve and the Costa Del Sol (translating to the sunshine coast) in Spain. Like many of the other countries, the heat isn’t the only appeal, and if you were to stay somewhere like Barcelona or Porto the amazing cuisine, lifestyle and architecture is another huge attraction even if the weather isn’t perfect.
Much of Europe follows the rule of being cool in the winter and warm in the summer, countries like the UK and Germany and the rest of central Europe have some immense days in the summer where the weather can hit the 30 degrees Celsius mark, but in the winter the temperatures can be minus. For those who love the sun, it is still possible to find a gem of a destination and head nearer to Africa and the South of Europe for those winter rays of sunshine.