Tag Archives: summer

Europe as a budget destination – part IV – when is the best time to go?

What’s the best time to visit Europe? This is probably the biggest nonsense question asked about European travel. Any Google search on the topic will result in a virtually infinite amount of forum threads explaining why its a nonsense question, like this one, for example. Answers by Europeans can be summarized as 1- “Europe is pretty big, so it depends on where you go”, 2- “It really depends on what you want” and 3- “Any time is good”, none of which is really helpful. What if you are a budget traveller then? How can you time your European travel to keep your budget from going over the roof?

  • Go in the summer
    If you’re on a budget, travelling in the summer is pretty essential as the good weather allows you to save quite a bit. Thanks to the good weather, you can save for example by going camping instead of booking a hotel, or by having a picknick in the park rather than having lunch in a restaurant. Sure, you can do that “off-season”, too, but its much less fun in the cold November rain.
    But summer is the high season?! The sad truth is, that in Europe, there is no real “high” and “low” season. Prices of food, hotels, train tickets and attractions are rather season-independent all over the continent, so you’ll probably pay the same in November as in August. Yes, the months of July and August are the busiest time in Europe. Fortunately, European summer is more than just July and August – in Scandinavia, for example, May is the driest month and the Mediterranean is still warm even in October. Europe, as I said, is pretty big, so outside famous tourist-traps like Venice or Paris its just fine in August, as better weather helps spread the tourists over larger areas. Actually, even in the most heavily touristed places its really not that crowded if you just take two steps off the beaten track.
  • Go while you’re young
    Isn’t budget travelling for young people anyway? What’s so special about going to Europe while you’re young? As it turns out, there is a catch here. Asia and South America are relatively cheap anyway. Even if you’re travelling with children, you can still have a great time in Thailand or Bolivia and not go bankrupt. Europe is a whole different story. In Europe it takes a bit more effort to travel on a budget. I’m not saying its impossible to camp with a family and you sure can go couchsurfing in your 50’s, like my parents did. But as a young person you’re slightly more likely to hitchhike instead of renting a car or to crash on someone’s couch for a few days. Plus, significant youth discounts, like 35% off the Eurail pass are available to youngsters living in or visiting Europe.
  • Go when you’re a student
    Don’t say “I’ll go after I graduate”. Don’t wait until you save more money. Go while you’re still a student. Why is it a budget move? Because your university can help finance your semester abroad, because there are special discounts for students on pretty much everything, because you will spend more time away and thus save on settling costs. Because your program may actually include travelling around. Because student parties have cheap booze. And because its great fun.
Young European students camping in the summer. This could be you. Should I say more?

Young European students camping in the summer. One of them could be you.

Next time – my tips on what you can do for fun in Europe if you’re on a budget.

What are your experiences? When do you suggest is the best time to travel Europe if you’re on a budget?

2 Comments

Filed under Europe, Europe on a budget, Tips and tricks, Travel

Europe is hot – the signs of summer

A sunny day, at last

In small European countries it can be hard to tell whether its summer. If you judge by the weather, then some countries, like Greece, have summer from April to October. Others, like Norway, may have one or two weeks of summer and in some years none at all. In the small European country I live in, summer weather has finally arrived this week. It is not here to stay though – by this weekend the hot and sunny spell will be over. Enjoy it while it lasts is the motto. So I took a swim in the sea. I was the only one on the whole beach who was swimming. Its called the North Sea for a reason. When I moved to Europe, my mom asked me whether I was swimming often. I said “mom, the sea is cold. Its Europe you know”. She was not convinced. “But the Gulf Stream” she said, “is a warm current”. It is. 10 degrees in the winter and no less than 18 in the summer. Significant shrinkage guaranteed all year round.

The North Sea beach is not so crowded on a Sunday

To know whether its summer yet, you have to pay attention. As I was cycling home from work last week, I noticed something unusual. The streets were filled with skaters of all sorts. Suddenly I knew – it was the Wednesday Night Skate – a sign of summer.

Wednesday Night Skate – a sure sign of summer

Another sign of summer are the boats that crowd the waterways. Just as European countries, boats come in all shapes and sizes, and different states of luxury. They do have one thing in common – bridges have to be raised to let them pass. If it wasn’t for the summer state of traffic, the jams would have been huge.

A small European boat

A sure sign of summer is the quiet office. Since my office is at a university, it is even more quiet. Its so empty is rather spooky. And I love it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against students, and I enjoy teaching them. But its so much calmer on the campus in the summer.

Summer campus

Where are all the students?

The last and most definitive sign of summer are the BBQ’s. Its not Australia here, you can’t just start grilling all year round. You’ll get moist. When the temperatures finally do get into the comfort zone and the skies clear, the grills are lit and small European parks look like a battle zone. I’m a vegetarian, so if you ask me, they smell like a battle zone, too. No one’s asking me though.

Summer in Europe – smokin’ hot!

Leave a comment

Filed under cycling, Europe, Small European things, Work