My husband and I would like to plan a 10 day trip to Europe for his 30th birthday the first week of November. We are a little concerned about the weather at that time and would like hear experiences from those of you who have traveled to Europe during that time. I don't mind it being chilly, but I want to be able to explore without freezing! Obviously Europe is a big continent and I understand that climate is quite different from North to South. We spent 3 weeks in Italy and France (primarily Paris) in May and loved it. Other places on our "list to see someday" include Ireland, Hungary, Southern Germany, Switzerland, Austria, more of France, Spain, and Greece. However, we are pretty open to anything and would appreciate your suggestions! Thanks!
Stacy... I have made numerous trips to Europe (UK, Germany, Austria, Paris, Italy)
in the winter months... Nov - Feb and while it is definitely chilly it will more than likely not be colder than GR. Typically it has been about 40 and above except in the mountains, but that is expected. Had some days as high as 50+. What you gain is usually lower rates, no long lines or hordes of tourists and the ability to travel a little differently. I have also been there in the heat of summer...sweating and fighting the crowds, and while there can be some beautiful weather in late spring or fall I do prefer the winter travel. However, I am not always able to make that work, so I just enjoy being in Europe at whatever time of year I can go. I also have my packing down for my winter travel, so that is a plus. For me, its easier than packing for the summer.
Except in the far north, or high elevations (2,000m or above), temperatures in most of Europe on average remain well above freezing in November. If you live in Michigan, you'll likely find it rather mild. The key point to keep in mind, however, is that much of NW Europe is overcast from late October until late spring. Meaning, those Technicolor postcard views you see in the pictures are not usually taken in November, because much of the countryside is gray, damp and foggy. The Alps are usually in their shoulder season between the summer hiking and winter sports periods. That's why the best use of your money and vacation time at that time of year would be to concentrate on cities.
@Tom... forgot to mention the dreary and gray days because we get used to them here in Michigan...plus the fact that I am a photographer and truly enjoy those moody, foggy days when the lighting is beautiful. Also need to be aware how short the days are, but it lets you enjoy the lights of the city earlier!
Tom: One of the most glorious days of my life was on top of a ski resort above Innsbruck, Austria in February eating lunch at a ski lodge. The skies were bright blue and the 2 mile wide valley 5000' below us was dark green. On the other side of the valley was another steep mountain just as high as the one I was on. And we were drinking great local beer listening to German Oom-pah polka music. A clear winter mountain day on the ski slopes just doesn't get any better. Stacy: My European trips are usually taken the end of March and in April; that's before flights get expensive.
Fall trips are best if taken the end of September and in October. The Fall harvest is in full swing then in vineyards, which is very interesting.
When $$$ forced me to travel in the winter I made the best of it and enjoyed every moment of it. I still go back to Europe in the winter every year but i save those places most enjoyed in warmer weather for the times when the weather is warmer and i spend the winter in those places where i can embrace the cold. So i begin by asking myself what makes the place not bearable but special in the winter. In Central and Eastern Europe its the blanket of snow and the the concert halls and theaters at full steam and the Christmas markets. Just for fun: Grand Rapids is at about the 43 parallel while Paris is at about the 48h parallel. In otherwords Paris is about 400 miles further north than Grand Rapids. The average temperature in Paris in November is about 43 (a couple degrees warmer than G. Rapids) and the sun sets at 5:15 pm more or less.
We went to London, Paris, and Rome last November (Thanksgiving timeframe). It was better than I thought. Even London was not that bad. Our strategy was to dress in layers. In the morning we bundled up and as the day went on, we peeled off a layer and stored in our backpack. We kept gloves, scarves, ear muffs, etc. in our back pack too for the evening when it did chill down a bit, especially in London. It gets dark earlier so it cools down too so we would put layers back on in the evening. Just don't bring a huge big puffy ski coat so you can easily store it in your back pack. Paris was a little warmer but still a little chilly. Rome was very manageable and we did not have to bundle up much at all. Be sure to bring an umbrella as it will most likely drizzle on you once or twice, but not a downpoar or anything. You can also google search the average temperatures of where you are going and also as you get closer, weather.com will give a pretty good forecast to help you pack.
We really enjoyed Ireland in December,the only time we were really cold was in Dublin in Kilmainhaim Gaol,never been so bone cold! Actually the weather was great but be aware of short days. We were in Barcelona for my birthday in mid November two years ago and surprised how pleasant weather was, maybe we got lucky.
Thank you for your replies! This is encouraging. Did you encounter issues with any of the major sights being closed/limited hours off-season?
Hello Stacy. In the first week in November, I think the weather is not very cold at southern Spain and southern France. And, in the first week of November, some islands of Greece at the Agean Sea can have very pleasant weather with blue sky and sunshine : at the islands Naxos and Santorini and Crete. At the south side of Crete I guess people are swimming in the Sea in the first week of November. The ferry boats to the Greek islands may not be running some days in November. Olympic airline has flights from Athens airport to the islands that I mentioned. At Salzburg in Austria, the air is not likely to be very cold in the first week of November, but there could be rain.
I was in London for a week in 2012 the week before Thanksgiving, and Paris Thanksgiving week. We saw what felt like just about everything! Slightly shorter hours were not a problem. Also, while it was chilly, it was certainly not freezing. At the worst, temperatures were in the 40's. We lucked out and got a full week in London with only one day where it truly rained on us...and a few days that were completely sunny and nearly 60 degrees! Paris was a bit rainier. November is a great time to visit Europe...off season rates are a better deal. The only drawback is that there aren't many hours of sunlight if you're headed North...it was fully dark by 5pm in Paris. But the city is just as beautiful at night as it is during the day. :)