There are many reasons to travel to Europe during winter: better hotel prices, fewer tourists and the possibility of experiencing some unique events such as Christmas. However, visiting Europe in winter has a negative part that we all know: the cold weather. This winter packing list for Europe will help you be prepared for the European winter temperatures so you can completely enjoy your trip.
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Despite the cold weather, winter is a great time to travel to Europe. Before my first time in Europe in winter I received all sort of comments like “you are going to freeze and you are not going to enjoy the trip” or “your clothes will not fit in your suitcase”, etc.
If you’re also receiving this kind of comments, don’t pay attention to them. Is it cold? Yes, winter in Europe is cold but it is completely possible to travel to Europe in winter and enjoy the trip, you just have to be smart when choosing clothes. And it is not even necessary to bring a large suitcase, everything can fit in a carry on.
Reasons to visit winter in Europe
- Less tourists than in summer. Most people choose summer to visit Europe, so if you travel during winter you will be able to enjoy the streets with much less people.
- Lower prices on flights and accommodation. Low season = low prices. During winter, it is possible to find better prices on flights to Europe and accommodation.
- Snow and dream landscapes in many destinations
- The possibility of living the magic of Christmas. The cities are filled with decorations, Christmas markets and the atmosphere is truly magical.
- The possibility of practicing snow sports such as skiing, snowboarding and ice skating.
- The possibility of seeing the Northern Lights in some countries like Norway or Finland.
- As long as your plan is not going to the beach, European destinations can be perfectly enjoyed in winter.
If it’s your first time in Europe read: Tips for planning your first trip to Europe
Weather in Europe in winter
Obviously Europe is a very large continent and winter temperatures vary greatly according to each region and country. For this reason, the clothes you pack will depend on the destinations you are visiting and the activities you’re planning to do.
It is cold but it doesn’t snow in all regions. For example, some parts of Spain or Portugal aren’t cold at all during the winter. Northern Europe weather is the coldest. I always do and recommend to check the weather of the destinations you will visit a few days before traveling.
Some average temperatures to give you an idea of the weather in Europe in winter:
- Madrid. January: 10°C max / 3°C min, February: 12°C max / 4°C min
- Barcelona. January: 15°C max / 9°C min, February: 15°C max / 8°C min
- London. January: 9°C max / 4°C min, February: 9°C max / 5°C min
- Paris. January: 8°C max / 3°C min, February: 9°C max / 3°C min
- Amsterdam. January: 6°C max / 1°C min, February: 6°C max / 0 °C min
- Rome. January: 12°C max / 3°C min, February: 14° C max / 3°C min
- Berlin. January: 3°C max / -2°C min, February: 4° C max / -1°C min. It usually snows in January.
- Prague. January: 3ºC max / -1°C min, February: 5 ° C max / -1°C min
- Stockholm. January: 1ºC max / -3°C min, February: 1°C max / -3°C min
- Copenhagen. January: 3°C max / -1°C min, February: 3 °C max / -1°C min
- Athens. January: 13°C max / 7°C min, February: 14°C max / 7°C min
Winter packing list for Europe
- Thermal clothing: Thermal tops and leggings are the best clothes to wear as a base layer. I have a pair of thermal clothes from UNIQLO and they are great. You can also find affordable options like this thermal set on Amazon.
- 2-3 long sleeve tops: pack some long sleeve tops that you can wear when it’s not so cold.
- 2-3 sweaters: For the middle layer, you can take 2 or 3 wool sweaters or a thin fleece jacket. Columbia has excellent items like this one, super warm and compact. If you can’t tolerate wool, you can wear just synthetic thick sweaters like this one.
I think long sweaters are an excellent option because they look good with both jean and leggings and you can even wear them as a dress with a pair of tights.
2 pairs of jeans/pants. Pack 2 pairs of pants that are made of thick material. Remember that most days you’ll be probably wearing leggings underneath your pants son don’t bring any that are too tight.
2 jackets. I recommend that you bring a warm jacket that is waterproof and has a hood if possible. You will use it practically every day of your trip so make sure it is of good quality. I bought a jacket in Europe when I traveled during the month of February, it’s very similar to this one.
In addition to your main jacket, you can also pack a lighter jacket or a long coat that you can wear in warmer days. Here are some recommended jacket options for traveling to Europe in winter:
- Socks: Don’t forget to bring thick socks, Smartwool is great.
- Underwear: if you’re traveling to really cold regions, you can pack some merino wool undies.
When it comes to shoes, you’ll want to bring a pair of comfortable waterproof boots. I have two pairs of Timberland boots that go perfectly with the European climate in cities and I love them. If you are going to buy footwear for the trip, make sure you use it before so you avoid possible injuries caused by wearing new shoes and walking a lot.
Another shoe I wore during my trip to Europe in February were classic Dr Martens boots. They are not as warm but they were comfortable for me to wear them at night or in warmer days.
If you plan to visit the Nordic countries or go to places with more nature where you will be constantly walking over snow, you should wear special snow boots like these Sorel.
↣ If you’ll be staying in hostels and sharing bathroom, make sure you pack a pair of flip flops.
- 1/2 scarves. Having a good, thick sarf will seriously save your winter days in Europe. Scarves are also a great accessory for giving some life to your outfit.
- 1 pair of gloves. You will also need to pack a good pair of gloves, I like Columbia ones.
- 1/2 hats. Bring a hat that covers your ears. I looove beanies, I have them in many colors and use them all the time at home. I recommend bringing a knitted beanie with warm fleece lining like this one.
- Sunglasses. Yep, it can get sunny during winter too.
- Foot and hand warmers: If you’re really cold, you can buy foot warmers and hand warmers which will keep your feet and hands warm for a couple of hours.
- Lip balm: I seriously can’t travel anywhere without a lip balm. You will definitely need it everyday in winter in Europe. I love Burt’s Bees.
- Small umbrella. Totally optional. You can bring a lightweight compact umbrella just in case.
- 1 day bag. Bring a day bag where you can put all your daily use stuff like lip balm, camera, wallet, water bottle, etc. I always bring a small Hershel backpack. You can read this article to find one that suits you: best Herschel backpacks for travelers. You could also bring a small crossbody bag.
HYGIENE AND MEDICATION
- Shampoo & conditioner. The easiest way to bring your liquids is to have these silicone travel bottles that you can fill with your own products.
- Toothbrush & toothpaste
- Hand sanitizer
- Feminine hygiene essentials
- Cosmetics and makeup
- Towel. If you’re staying in hostels, I strongly recommend you pack a quick dry towel. Most hostels in Europe provide towels but sometimes they aren’t big enough. Quick dry towels are small and always comes in handy, even if you’re not staying at hostels.
ESSENTIALS THAT WILL MAKE YOUR TRIP TO EUROPE EASIER:
- Portable charger: A portable charger is definitely a must. Apps like Google maps or Uber are useful when exploring a city and they consume a lot of battery.
- Universal adapter: A must item for any trip. Plugs in Europe are different in each country so with a universal adapter you won’t have to worry about not having the right adaptor.
- Water bottle/mug: I always travel with a water bottle and fill it up at the hotel. You can also bring your own mug for warm beverages.
- Extra luggage locks: I always have extra luggage locks in case a) the ones in my suitcase are stolen or broken; b) to keep my things safe at the hostel lockers.
- Money belt: This is an item I always use during international travels, perfect for keeping your money safe. If a belt is not comfortable for you, you can get a bra pocket.
How to pack light for Europe in winter
When choosing the luggage you are going to take, keep in mind that it is best to pack light, especially if you are visiting several countries. What I recommend is to travel only with a carry-on suitcase and a small backpack.
Many airlines have specific size restrictions for carry-on luggage, and a popular option that fits the requirements of most airlines is the 55x40x23 size. A luggage that usually falls within these limits, allows you to avoid extra fees and potential hassle at the airport. 55x40x23 luggage by Eminent is great when it comes to packing light yet efficiently for a winter trip to Europe as it offers ample space while still adhering to the strictest airline regulations. The dimensions of 55x40x23 are carefully chosen to maximize storage capacity without compromising on portability and convenience.
It may seem like little space but traveling to Europe with only a carry on in winter is possible, you just have to choose your clothes wisely.
- Wear all your heaviest clothes on your travel days.
- Roll your clothes. This is the best technique to pack so that your clothes are compact.
- Use packing Cubes. These are great for keeping your suitcase organised and to maximize space.
- Use every space in your suitcase. Fill up your shoes with socks or underwear.
What I pack in my personal item backpack:
As a personal item on the plane I just bring my Herschel backpack that I’ll be using every day during my trip. This is what’s usually in it:
- Small toiletry bag with moisturiser, toothbrush, lip balm and sunscreen.
- Extra pair of socks (in case I get cold on the flight).
- Reusable water bottle
- Cell phone charger
- Scarf, gloves and beanie to wear as soon as I arrive to the destination.
Tips for visiting Europe in winter
- Layering is key. Inside museums, restaurants and shops the heating is on and you will end up wearing only your base layer.
- Winter days are shorter. In some places it is already dark at 4:30 pm. That is why it is super important to get up early to make the most of daylight hours.
- During winter museums, shops and restaurants usually close earlier.
- Pack only the necessary things. Don’t carry extra weight because you will regret it. What you don’t think is really necessary stays at home.
I hope you enjoyed this winter packing list for Europe! Traveling to Europe in winter is an amazing experience and you can completely enjoy it with the right clothes 🙂 Thanks for reading!
Other useful posts about Europe:
- Best places to visit in March in Europe
- Tips for planning your first trip to Europe
- Where to stay in Andorra
- 20 tips for visiting London for the first time
- Best Budget places to stay in London
- How to spend 2 days in Amsterdam
- Where to stay in Paris: best areas and hotels
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