Do you know when the cheapest time to travel on budget in Europe is? Winter is a great time to explore Europe on a shoestring budget. Now, finally that Covid-19 Pandemic seems to be over, we all have the right to travel again. Here is our manifest and your permission to travel again.
Sure, during summer the gardens are open, the parks are green, and the beaches are crowded.
But during a European winter you have the unique chance to see a more „local“ Europe as less tourists are on their way. The prices are down and the hostels are cheaper than ever before. Even many of the 5 Star Hostels!
Update for Winter 2023: Identifying Cheap Flights and Bus connections
Please check travel restrictions for each country due to the Coiv-19 situation. We try to keep this article up to date, but things change to rapidly, it is almost impossible to do so. Please check with your embassy as well before booking any trip.
Check the famous Skyscanner. With Kiwi.com you can draw a circle around Interlaken. It will show you the cheapest air fare in the area. From there you have to take the train or rent a car directly. You can also come easily to Interlaken by car.
If you are here for the sports activities, you may not need a car. Many of the tour providers offer pick-up service. Many tourists take the Flixbus around Europe. It is a network of buses across Europe. Make sure you read our flixbus review. We share the pros, cons and prices.
Accommodation in Interlaken:
There is plenty of hotels and apartments to choose from.
In Interlaken, we highlight Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof (here is our review). It is the only 5 Star Hostel in town.
We got you a 5% discount at the Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof. This discount comes in pretty handy, right?
How to apply the discount?
Check our full review of Backpackers Villa here. There you find the promo code and the page to apply it. Enjoy.
2. Prague (romantic + nightlife)
Prague in summer, or Prague in winter?
Well, here is the thing: both
The city of Prague is obviously different depending on the time of year.
We had the chance to enjoy both seasonal times and in winter it was freezing cold, very romantic and less crowded. We visited the Prague Castle and only saw 8 more tourists around. It looked even more stunning.
Last but not least: We have a fantastic winter activity in Prague for you! Czech out the Escape Room Nuclear Bunker in Prague. A storytelling real-life game to solve puzzles and riddles.
Big plus: It is indoor, so it will be warm!
How to get here:
Prague has its own airport. Many airlines offer this destination. It is also well connected by train. Hence, it is easy to get here! I would not come with a car to Prague, it’s not easy to park downtown and you don’t need a car here.
Have a look on the cheapest rates by comparing airlines at Omio.com, Skyscanner and Kiwi. Kiwi.com is especially amazing. You can select a date-range. Let’s say the full month of February. It will show you all best options.
Obviously, there is also many buses and train going to Prague. Check Omio.com to find prices.
Where to stay:
The prices for hostels and hotels in Prague are also lower than usual during the winter period.
As there are less tourists we recommend to stay at a place offering cool social events such as the The Roadhouse Prague.
After a long day exploring the cold air of Prague, you will come back to the hostel for nightly dinners, catching up at a local bar, and more exciting social events.
Also, there are many activities and tours around the city, like history walking tours, food tours and museums.
Also, there are free things you can do in Berlin.
Did you know that visiting the City Hall is free of charge? It only requires you to register in the Bundestag website.
How to get to Berlin
Find flights to Berlin with Omio.com, Skyscanner and Kiwi. (Bear in mind, Berlin has several airports.) As mentioned before, you can get here from Prague and Hamburg easily via train and flixbus.
Where to stay
There are some amazing hostels in Berlin. Cheap, fun, clean, social! Read our handwritten guide to the best hostels in Berlin – for all types of traveller.
We took this photo in a park in Berlin back in 2011.
Make sure you pack your winter clothing when traveling to Berlin during winter!
6. Venice (Romantic City Break)
It’s really unbelievable. I never thought I’d fall in love with such a touristy city. But Venice, well, Venice is different.Of course it is crowded all year long, don’t get me wrong.
“I never thought I’d fall in love with such a touristy city.”
At the same time, Venice is gorgeous all year long.
Things to do in Venice
I would recommend to stay at least 2 nights here and if you can better 3. This way you have really the time to get lost, taste Venice, take photos and “get bored”. Get bored, meaning to just wander around, get lost, intent to find the way, get lost again and so on.
I do not recommend coming to Amsterdam with a car. Parking can be difficult and is in fact very expensive. If you are planning to come with a car, I recommend parking outside the center, and take a bus or tram to the center. Your wallet will be thankful.
Besides, there is no need for a car in Amsterdam. The locals do not use cars, they walk, take the metro and cycle. And yes, they take the bike for everything. Watch out, the Bikes in Amsterdam are dangerous.
8. Andorra (for winter sport and hiking)
This one is quite obvious? Okay, for Europeans maybe.
Andorra is one of the smallest countries in Europe, and the location is unique.
Hiding on top of the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain, this makes it THE top location in winter to go snowboarding and skiing.
Are you surprised to read Zagreb here? As Zagreb is located in the inner part of Croatia it is the perfect city break during winter.
The bars, cafés, and restaurants are still open, the city is less crowded from the tourist point of view, but the student life is still vibrant and the Christmas Markets in Zagreb is super popular and gorgeous to visit.
You can experience a more local Zagreb than you would during summer. These Local Tips for Zagreb will be helpful for you.
Find flights to Zagreb with Omio.com, Skyscanner and Kiwi. It is actually (usually) the cheapest airport to get your Croatia trip started.
For summer, I highly recommend visiting Hvar and Korcula Island. JUST LOVE THEM!
Where to stay?
No doubt, the Swanky Mint Hostel Zagreb is the best hostel in Zagreb, and also during Winter a cosy place to mingle with locals and traveler, having a drink at the in-house bar.
Read: full guide to best hostels in Zagreb with map
We wrote more specific guides on where to stay in Croatia:
We put all hostels on a map with all major sights to visit.
13. Barcelona (warm during the day, Romantic)
Have you been to Barcelona during July or August?
If not: It is super crowded!
The old town is chock with tourists, the prices are high and the sun is scorching hot. Even our favorite super local hidden-gem winery is now packed with tourists.
If you have a chance to stop by during the colder months, do it. It also allows you to check out the 8 Local Tips for Barcelona even quieter!
The prices for Hostels are no comparison to the high season in Barcelona. You can save a lot of money, and it is surprisingly sunny for the time of year. You can even join one of the cool bike tours in Barcelona – but bring a jacket.
To give you an idea:
Summer: A bed in a regular hostel is about 25€
Winter: A bed in a good hostel is about 10€
Sure, during the night you will have to wear your jacket, but the welcome winter sun keeps you warm during the day.
Find flights to Barcelona with Omio.com, Skyscanner and Kiwi. You can consider as well low-budget airport in Gerona, Costa Brava. This is where many Ryanair flights fly to. It is 100km north of Barcelona, but easy to get to Barcelona by bus service.
This photo shows Anna on a cold winter morning in Barcelona.
14. Ghent, Belgium (Hipster Capital)
The new hipster paradise Ghent is a travel destination for the smart traveler. Winter can be tough in Ghent, and it is part of the culture in Belgium. It is the perfect excuse to visit Ghent and Belgium, and to warm up with delicious Belgium beers at the different bars within the city and across the country.
Locals go out to traditional taverns and small live-music events in cafes and restaurants are spontaneously organized. Due to the fact that Rhodes has a big university nightlife is happening every evening summers as winters.
If you cannot stay in Marrakesh for longer than 1-2 days, well, there is always Taghazout and Essaouira. Essaouira is located right next to the beach. It is a tiny town, surrounded by thick walls. It is really beautiful to visit, very safe and great to wander and unwind. Other than Marrakesh which can be stressful.
Last but not least, maybe the warmest place in Europe in Winter: Cyprus!
Geographically located in the Middle East, Cyprus is still part of the European Union. It is not part of Schengen, so different visa rules apply here for non Europeans.
During winter times from December to march, you can expect 20 degrees during the day and 15 degrees at night. Since the island is obviously surrounded by the Mediterranean, you can go for a swim even in winter. The water itself is not so much colder than in summer. It only feels this way since the outside temperature is much colder than in August, as an example.
Cyprus is a quiet island to go for hikes, diving, enjoy restaurants, sunsets and bars. The cities of Limassol and Larnaca are the most active in terms of Nightlife. Aya Napa is the hotspot in the summer months with lots of clubs and parties.
For nature lovers, I recommend the Paphos area with Blue Lagoon, Akamas Area and lots of virgin beaches.
How to get here?
The two main airports are Larnaca in the East and Paphos in the West. They are only 130km apart from each other, so on that aspect I would not worry too much.
I would rather check our airport and what is the best and cheapest way to get either to Larnaca or to Paphos. Then you can adjust your itinerary accordingly.
With Omio.com you can find flights. I also recommend renting a car in Cyprus. It is so much better to get around on your own since public transport is slow and limited.
They are super easy to use and it is easy to compare different companies. They also offer full insurance when booking with them.
My best tip ever for renting a car: ALWAYS get full insurance!
If there is just the tiniest issue and someone hit your door for instance, you avoid big extra costs, known as penalties. If you get full insurance, you don’t have to care a thing about any scratch by third parties.
Personally, I think it is worth it the extra euros when renting.
Route Planning: this one is super helpful! Planning your trip and route throughout Europe is super easy with ViaMichelin.com
Just type in your route from A to B. The websites gives you 3 options how to get there. On top, it gives you the average prices and tolls.
This is especially useful since many countries in Europe charge tolls for their highways, like France, Spain, Italy.
Hostelz.com is a hostel price comparison, super useful to save money.
Please keep in mind that this depends on the day and destination after all. In winter destinations like Andorra the prices can be higher than in summer, and during New Years Eve it goes without saying the prices in every hostel probably around the globe will be higher!
Any questions? Please leave a comment below. We are thrilled to help!