There’s something magical about a trip to Europe in the colder seasons. Picture fall foliage in Germany’s Black Forest, a nice warm Irish pub at the end of a day exploring Dublin, or Rome blanketed in snow—things you’d miss out on during a summer visit. From dishes to drinks to holiday festivities, here are seven reasons to experience Europe in the fall and winter.
Savor fall flavors
European cuisine is largely based on seasonal ingredients and fall’s fresh harvest brings earthy, rustic flavors to many fall and winter dishes. In Italy, France and Spain, look for truffles, porcini mushrooms, chestnuts and grapes.
Connect with locals
Since summer is the most popular time for Europeans to travel, cities often wait until fall to host cultural events when residents are settled back in. This makes non-peak seasons an ideal time to meet locals and experience a city in its most authentic light, whether that’s Paris or Porto.
Join the celebration
From the Budapest Wine Festival to the twinkling Christmas markets in Central Europe—like Germany’s Weihnachtsmarkt shown above—there are countless cultural celebrations in the fall and winter that highlight a country’s traditions, customs and flavors.
Get your holiday gifts
During your trip, stock up on special souvenirs to give to friends and family during the holiday season. Little tokens like ceramic bowls from Portugal, wool mittens in Ireland or holiday decorations anywhere are a way to share your adventures with loved ones.
Skate through the city
Sparkling outdoor ice skating rinks pop up in many European cities during the winter months. Favorites include Vienna’s Ice Dream outside of City Hall (show above) or the skating spot set up by London’s famous Somerset House.
Enjoy seasonal savings
Tours during non-peak seasons have lower prices, so you’re able to save money—and maybe even spring for that special five-star dinner in San Sebastian or play in London’s West End.
Where in Europe would you love to travel this fall or winter? Tell us in the comments below!