Europe has everything when it comes to weather. Everything.
It will depend, of course, on what time of year you wish to visit. That’s probably the first decision one must make when looking into a European holiday or backpacking trip. Do I want to go in summer or winter or somewhere in between? Both have their pros and cons.
Summer in Europe is probably my favourite, although winter is a treat too. Backpacking Europe in summer means camping, balmy hostels, sunlight until 10pm with cold beers or a cool glass of wine in quaint European alleyways. It means shorts and shirts and sunglasses, roving the streets and ducking into unassuming convenience stores for bottles of water. Do you like consulting a map in the rarely blazing heat? Riding bicycles in the friendly afternoon sun? Will you enjoy watching Europeans come out their homes in hoards, wearing their shortest shorts and their lightest white linen shirts — always working on their tans? Summer is for you, but be warned, sometimes European summers can be mild at best (hence the hoards of the short shorts I was referring to).
Winter on the other hand, can be equally delightful. Frozen lakes and canals ice skating, hot delicious stews and soups, twinkling Christmas markets, soft drifting snow, chilly rain, dark at 4–5PM. Sound fun?
Of course the weather will vary greatly between countries. North Western Europe will freeze up in winter, but the south of Spain and Portugal jigs to a different tune. In fact, many Northern Europeans escape their own winter by going to the deep south of Europe into Spain, for example, or Greece.
I remember my time backpacking through Europe in the summertime, and when Trudy and I lived in The Netherlands through a summer and a winter.
Backpacking and camping was wonderful, roughing it on the coast of France and Spain, swinging into camp sites with your dinky tent and eating cans of beans and drinking warm beer from a tin. But then you would go for a swim and the water was clear and refreshing; and you felt free like you haven’t for a long time.
I remember being in Rome and it was hot. Like blazing. I was trying to read a map, sweat dripping on my brow. Rome was before me, its thousands of years of history. We hopped on a bus to explore, and it was packed like sardines in a can, everyone sweating, the bus heaving. Stopping at fountains in the piazzas, its water spraying our faces.
Getting gelati, cool and then dripping as it melted; eat it quick! Staring at the Pantheon, rising marble pillars, blessed shade inside. The Vatican Guards looking uncomfortable in their garb, the heat shining down upon them.
What better way to keep track of Europe’s weather with an awesome weather app called WeatherBug! It’s simple features will let you keep an eye on the diverse weather Europe has to offer. Get the weather app for android as well.
The Netherlands was the most fun in winter time. The canals froze over and so did the lake close to where we lived in Rotterdam. It was a huge lake, and it only froze over every 6–7 years. We were lucky! People had one man sailing boats rigged to skis, cruising across the lake. Ice skaters were everywhere; hot pea soup vans popped up to serve the masses. Kids laughing, parents chuckling, tourists gawking.
Amsterdam with its cold wintery nights, lights from the numerous houses on the canals lighting up the streets in a yellow glow. The cool wind was biting, the welcoming bars warm and friendly. Hang your jacket here.