Backpacking Europe in the Winter

By: John Grimes

Europe is undoubtedly a top destination for many travelers that like to back around regions. You do not need to mark Europe off your list just because it is winter.

Backpacking Europe in the Winter

Europe is a truly amazing place. The smallest “continent" on the planet, it manages to pack in a ton of history and so many different cultures it is simply amazing. Jump on a train in Paris and you can be in an entirely different culture in a few hours. For backpackers that like to get out and see different places, this makes Europe a golden destination.

Traditionally, most people head off to Europe during the summer months to take advantage of the beaches of Spain, France and Greece . That does not mean that winter is off limits. There are plenty of opportunities to have a great time during the winter and there are less people to deal with. This, of course, means prices are significantly cheaper for those on a budget.

Although there is plenty to see, here are a few highlights.

An immediate event that comes to mind is the winter carnival in Venice , Italy . The affair is like something out of the movie Amadeus. The people of Venice gather in the various town squares dressed to the hilt in operatic dress complete with masks. Think of the lead character in V for Vendetta and you have the idea. In truth, the event has become very tourist-oriented, so you might want to consider other opportunities.

Since it is winter, skiing should probably be on your menu. France and the Nordic countries all have much to offer. Still, you really can't pass up Switzerland . There are plenty of places to go, but the town of Interlaken is a highlight. The name of the town refers to its location on a double lake system that is surrounded by majestic mountain peaks. The skiing is simply tremendous and the people are very friendly. This is one of those things you have to do once in your life.

Perhaps the best thing about Europe in the winter is the lack of tourist. The local people are in less of a sell, sell, sell mode. The pace of life is much more relaxing. The best thing to do in my opinion is just hang out in little shops and talk with people. Since it is off season, they are more than happy to chat away the day and night. If you get the tourist urge to visit something, you can get into museums and other cultural sights without having to wait in lines.

Is it going to be cold? In a word – yes. You should pack accordingly. That being said, you have never really experienced Europe until you have seen it blanketed in snow. This is particularly true for the northern countries. If you need a quick warm up, you can head to the south of Spain and Portugal where things tend to stay pretty warm.

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