5 Tips For Travelling Around Europe in Winter
European winter can be challenging.
And if you're expecting to be caught out in the cold winds as you trek across the continent, then there are some important steps you should take to ensure you're prepared. You might think you can deal with extreme dips in temperature, but it's best not to underestimate the sheer amount of snow and ice that can quickly lead to disaster for the unaware.
Here are our top five tips for travelling around Europe in winter.
Before you even think about getting on that plane, you better do an inventory of your luggage and travel accessories to ensure you've thought of everything. While you might have the philosophy of "I can just buy it over there", there are some items that are simply safest to organise beforehand so you can rest assured you have them.
This includes finding a reliable travel card that offers you the financial flexibility to make any last-minute cold weather gear purchases without facing hefty fees. The 28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard comes with no fees on overseas purchases, no annual fee and no currency conversion fees.
It also provides you with access to free global Wi-Fi should you find yourself holed up somewhere and in need of entertainment.
While we always recommend you get travel insurance before going overseas, this is even more important during winter travel. Not only are you more susceptible to slipping and injuring yourself, but if you're expecting to find yourself engaging in winter sports such as skiing, tobogganing, ice skating, or even dog sledding, then the risks of potential hazards increase.
You're also more at risk of damaging other people's property when driving on slippery roads, cruising around on snowmobiles or shredding powder on the slopes. Better to have insurance and not need it, than to need it and not have it!
2. Keeping warm in the winter
Once you've sorted your 28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard and travel insurance, it's time to focus on warm weather gear. While you'll undoubtedly include all the staples such as a jacket, beanie, gloves, scarf and boots, it's key to invest in a few other winter travel items.
First and foremost, invest in a good pair of thermals - top and bottoms. These will be especially valuable when you're going to bed and you'd rather not sleep in your snow jacket. Next, make sure your boots are designed for snow and you have a waterproof jacket and pants.
This is where the waterproof outer layers will become invaluable! It might seem like a fun idea to have snowball fights and make snow angels for the first 10 minutes, but once you're soaked to the bone and freezing, you'll be having second thoughts.
Snow can also make public transport unpredictable. Give yourself plenty of travel time if catching a bus, train or even a plane to allow for any delays and holdups.
3. Going on a tour in winter
Our number one travel tip for having a winter holiday in Europe? Go on as many tours as you can! Australians rarely get to experience a winter wonderland, and when they do, it pales in comparison to the natural winter beauty of Europe.
For those headed to Norway, Sweden or other regions of northern Europe, make sure you book an aurora borealis tour to witness this stunning natural phenomenon. This is another reason why having a travel card can come in handy should you need to book a last-minute tour.
4. Choice of winter transport
For those who plan to go driving during their winter travel, get yourself some snow chains to avoid losing traction on slippery roads. Most rental car agencies should have these on offer and will bundle this together with a sat nav, car phone charger, and other essentials you'll need for your winter holiday road trip. One of the perks of Europe winter travel is the lack of crowds. During summer, you can be hard-pressed to secure seats on certain Eurorail trains, meaning you have to make reservations in advance. During winter, however, you're less likely to have this issue. You'll also be able to enjoy some beautiful scenic shots of snow-capped mountains, especially if you're travelling through the Swiss Alps regions.
5. Stay indoors
If you're looking for an escape from the snow, consider getting toasty by watching the peculiarly British tradition of pantomimes. Available only in winter, these stage shows are aimed mostly for children and look to relive old fairy tales with a sprinkling of adult jokes thrown in for good measure.
You're really spoilt for choice when it comes to finding winter resorts in Europe. To help make your life easier when choosing between the smorgasbord of options, here are some of the top picks:
- Priesteregg, Salzburgerland, Austria
- Lyngen Lodge, Lyngen Fjords, Norway
- Fjällnäs, Funäsfjällen, Sweden
- ellevue des Alpes, Switzerland
- Hótel Búðir, Snaefellsnes, Snaefellsnes, Iceland
Ultimately, as long as you research your travel options well in advance and ensure you're prepared for the cold, you'll be sure to have an unforgettable winter adventure.