What are people's thoughts about traveling in Europe between November and March? Are prices cheaper? Is the weather horrible? Are attractions closed? Is this a unique time of year to see Europe? We are planning a trip for mid-November and wish to hear about your experience, good or bad. Thanks.
I've been to London, Paris, Le Mont St. Michel and Salzburg during the off season. If your goal is to experience the culture and see the sights I think it would be preferrable to go during the off season. If you want to do a lot of hiking / outdoor exploring september would probably be better.
We did the sound of music tour in February with lots of snow, but it was still amazing. I've also been to Salzburg in June, and had to fight the crowds.
I think you are lucky if you are able to travel during the off season, and it definately is cheaper!
It all depends on where you plan to visit. My first several trips to Europe were all during the off-season. When people asked me what I thought of the crowds at the various sights, I replied "What crowds?". Although most of the attractions operate at reduced hours, you don't need as much time because your waits will be negligible. And as far as weather, most Europe has mildler winters than you would expect. Not warm, but not nearly as cold as much of the northern US. Personally, I'd rather stay warm by wearing a coat on a cold day than sweat on a hot day.
We were in Europe this last winter - Xmas /New Year and was wonderful. Admittedly the timing was enforced due to work commitments but we would generally prefer to travel outside the summer months - less people, more moderate weather, less competition for accomm etc. We had a few days outside London, 2 weeks in Seville and a few days in Germany. UK weather was OK - not too cold, Seville and southern spain mild (we ate outside most evenings) and Germany freezing but we enjoyed immensely as well. The real downside about winter is the shorter days and for this reason I would ensure your accommodation is perhaps a bit more comfortable/nicer/warmer than you might bother with in summer as you may be spending more time in it. Given the choice we would usually choose April/May or Sept/October and have the longer days. But Europe is a big place and the weather will vary enormously between countries.
If you'll either go to do museums, etc. in the north or stay to the south, like Italy, Croatia, etc. it's fairly nice weather.
We loved the shoulder season in Greece. May, June and Sept are good for there. Also a friend will only go home to Spain in May or June. After that it is too hot. Switzerland was too cold in Sept. for me, although I would love to go during the winter during skii season.
Salzburg was very hot in the summer but the mountains had great weather. I would probably like Salzburg better in the fall.
We will go to Crete next year in June and maybe Holland in May for the flowers.
I'm firmly committed to the off-season. The crowds are much smaller, it's easier to stay warm than stay cool, it's much cheaper. Last November I went to Italy for 2 weeks, my 2nd November trip to Italy. I started in Venice and worked my way south as the weather got cooler. The weather was beautiful and there was no waiting at museums. I had thought about going in October but changed to November when I realized my room in Venice went from $300 per night in October to $100 per night in November. Not all hotels have such drastic changes but generally they're much cheaper. The same goes for traveling in the spring.Great Britain is still chilly in May but less crowded, etc. I would just check out the number of rain days in a month and use that as a guide.
I have been to Florence to see David twice.In Oct. I shared the room with 100 other people.In January there were three of us.An entire different experience.
Our trip was late Nov/Dec/early Jan and we loved it. In some places there were still crowds and I would've hated to be in those places if it was more crowded.
We live in a very tropical hot place and the colder weather was a real novelty for us, and we thought it was cold when I've seen another poster or two say they were in the same places, same time as us and how "pleasant" the weather was. Our most difficult problem was dealing with it being dark at 4.30pm as when we had left home dark was closer to 7.30pm. There were a couple of things I would have added to out itinerary but couldn't because they weren't open at the time of year, but unless they were must-sees it wouldn't impact.