We had to cancel a late September trip at the last minute. How early/late spring is the weather pleasant enough to enjoy France, Germany, Austria, Hungary?
There's no wrong time to visit, only wrong activities to expect for the time of year. But unfortunately, the past three springs have differed enough from each other that it's hard to make a solid prediction. For example, in the spring of 2012, the Biergartens opened by mid March and it was Tshirt and shorts weather by the end of the month. In contrast, although the temperatures fluctuated, I still found myself wearing a heavy jacket and gloves as late as early June this year. And then the flooding of the Danube, Rhine and Elbe basins added an additional wild card to the situation. To be safe, perhaps front-load your trip plan with urban destinations, and then maybe put the more weather-dependent activities later. If you're considering the Alps, don't plan on visiting any earlier than late May.
I can speak to Hungary. March has among the clearest and bluest skies and the temps can be cool to cold especially on the river embankment. March 15 is a celebration similar to independence day and the festivals are great. My favorite times of the year in Budapest are second half of March, April, May and first half of June, September, October and mid December through the end of the year.
I spent a week in Budapest one chilly October and was impressed that the pavement restaurants not only had gas heaters lined up, but even left blankets at the tables to keep your knees cozy. Budapest loves boulevard society!
We usually go to Europe a day or two before the Winter airfares increase, and that's on March 27th for 2014. We've never run up on any Winter weather we couldn't handle, which includes the Austrian Alps and Italian Dolomites. The first two weeks of April is usually when the snow starts to melt, the fields are green and temperatures moderate. I usually wait until January to buy airfares, but 2014 appears to be another expensive year for flying.
Example: The flights to Budapest are running $950-990 the last week of March, and they go up to $1,227 most days of April. Last week, I bought tickets on a 1 day United Airlines sale into Budapest 3/25 and home from Prague for $728. My thanks again to ClarkHoward.com for spotting airfare sales and saving travelers big $ on flights.
I really like May. If blooming flowers are important, you might go a little earlier. I find May is often one of the driest months of the year and sometimes warm too.
I have found that mid-April to the end of May are good times for Europe. I've been there the first of April a couple of times; it was ok even tho still a little wintery.
Paula, Its a crap shoot. I was in Paris March 2012 and if you look at their weather 1 year later, it was different. whatever and whenever you choose good luck. happy trails.