EuropeWhat To Pack For Winter In Europe
Budapest Travel Guide

What To Pack For Winter In Europe

Europe in winter: What to Pack

Europe is a fascinating travel destination. History, architecture, traditions, gastronomy – each country offers it all to those who are eager to discover its beauty. A mix of the new and the old create a rainbow of sensations along the way. Europe is full of tourists in summer, when the countries around the Mediterranean, in particular, are in great demand, for obvious reasons.

What to wean in Europe in winter

But Europe is also great to visit in winter when tourist numbers are down (except at Christmas and in the ski resorts), and travel experiences are quieter and more relaxed. The climate in central and Southern Europe does not impede a successful holiday, especially if you are careful enough about the clothes you pack for your winter travels and if you take a clever ‘tactic’ about the clothes you put on when you leave your hotel.

Average weather conditions in Central/Southern Europe in winter

The weather in central/Southern Europe is not a scarecrow. Especially with the climate change of recent years, marked by global warming, the harsh winters of yesteryear have all but disappeared. Of course, extreme weather events have emerged, so you may – depending on the country – get a few days of extreme frost or, conversely, unexpected spring-summer temperatures right in the middle of January.

In central European countries, where the Alps are located, the climate is generally cold in winter. Temperatures often drop below freezing, and if you want to include in your trip a visit to the famous Christmas markets in Austria, Germany, France, or northern Italy, you should bear in mind that temperatures will be low and snow is likely.

But suppose you head south to Portugal, southern Spain, southern Italy, southern France, Croatia, or Greece. In that case, you’ll be greeted by a milder winter, a pleasant Mediterranean climate with sunshine and favorable temperatures, perfect for any trip where you don’t have to dress like an Eskimo.

Things to pack for a winter trip in Europe

If you’re planning a longer trip to Europe in winter, visiting several countries in different parts of the old continent, the first and best suggestion is to wear layers. Exactly: like an onion! And that’s because layers always give you more choice, as long as you have on a base layer, a middle (or intermediate) layer, and an outer layer, and you can easily drop the last one or two if temperatures rise too high.

packing for Europe in winter

This is, in fact, the three-layer rule, each layer having its role. The first layer gives you the comfort you need, keeps you warm, and keeps your skin dry. The second layer also keeps your body in a relaxed state, and the third layer protects you from wind and moisture.

So here are some suggestions of clothes to pack for Europe in winter, from each layer category:

Base layer. The base layer gives you the feeling of warmth and comfort while keeping your skin dry, so it’s very important that it’s made of 100% natural fibers and that you feel very comfortable in it. So, the base layer should absorb moisture and transfer it to the outside, keeping your skin dry. For city outfits, choose a cotton blouse or undershirt. If you decide to do more intense activities, you should avoid cotton, as sweat will soak in, and your skin will stay wet all the time, which is particularly dangerous for your health.

For the base layer, which includes underwear, pack:

– A thin but warm undershirt (possibly made of merino wool) with long sleeves, which can be a turtleneck

– A merino wool T-shirt

– A tank top

– A pair of tights

– Warm stockings

The principle of using wool garments for the base layer comes from the Northerners. They believe that these garments have a high capacity to absorb moisture without leaving a cold feeling on the skin and are far superior to cotton or synthetic fibers.

Middle layer. Responsible for maintaining a comfortable temperature for your body is the intermediate layer, which acts as an insulator. This layer includes sweaters, cardigans, down jackets, and even jackets. Wool, cashmere, or cotton sweaters have the advantage of keeping you warm, but they also have the disadvantage that if they get wet, they are very hard to dry. An excellent choice is a down jacket. The major advantage of this garment is that if it is worn as a mid-layer, it compresses and becomes less warm but more comfortable.

Depending on where you’re going and where you’re going to end up, pack for the mid-layer:

– A flannel shirt

– A fleece/wool pullover

– A down jacket

– A pair of jeans

– Cardigans

Outer layer. This layer is not necessarily meant to keep body heat in but rather to act as a shield against the bad weather. And remember that in Europe, winters can be very rainy sometimes. This layer protects you from snow, rain, or wind. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t also have a role in keeping you warm inside, so don’t choose clothes with perforations or cotton inserts. Opt for waterproof materials, leather, or fleece. For the outer layer, you can choose a coat, trench coat, parka, long quilted jacket, or overcoat. But in principle, and, again, depending on your future destination, choose one of these two options:

– Softshell jacket

– Hardshell jacket

Accessories and footwear to pack for winter travel in Europe

For a winter trip to Europe, you’ll also need to pack some appropriate accessories. And this category includes:

– Scarves (possibly wool ones), thicker scarves. These offer sufficient protection if worn properly. Plus, they can be versatile, depending on the situation.

– Woolly hats. In some parts of Europe, the wind is blowing hard, and wearing a hat becomes almost mandatory if you don’t want to wake up with a headache or catch a cold.

– Gloves. If you end up in a snowy area or if you’re heading to a ski resort in the first place, you’ll need gloves.

As for footwear, for a winter trip to Europe, always choose boots over shoes (and exclude sandals). Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also pack a pair of light, sporty footwear for days without precipitation and for areas of southern Europe where you won’t usually have problems with snow.


So, when you’re wondering what to pack for Europe in winter, you should consider layering, which, as well as being versatile and useful, will help you combine in pleasing way clothes you already have in your wardrobe. Also, wearing clothes in layers can help you achieve some exciting and warm outfits at the same time.

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I believe that you can travel the world without quitting your job. I believe that you can experience all the magic, the foodies and the cultures of the world while having a normal life. And, perhaps, two dogs. This is exactly what I’ve been doing for 15 years. This is exactly what my blog is about. Love, Lilia

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