The frost and snow make every European City look beautiful, but make sure you are fully equipped to enjoy it. For anyone visiting the continent this season, here is the Ultimate Packing list for Europe in Winter.
I’m a born and bred Brit, however, I can never get used to the chilly UK Winters. Europe isn’t exactly known for its heat during the winter months – it’s quite the opposite and is frequently bloody freezing!
If my home-town of Bristol is anything to go by then in a single day the weather can range from grey, cloudy, windy and rainy to a short outbreak of sun if you’re lucky, followed by, if you’re really unlucky, sleet and hail. But as the age old saying goes ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing’.
So wrap up warm and get packing for a fabulous winter trip to northern Europe in winter.
I’ve based this packing list for Europe in Winter on a one-week hand luggage only trip. (if you are staying for longer/ shorter, adjust it to suit)
Europe, in particular Northern and Western Europe, are expensive destinations.
If you avoid the festive season, you’ll find everything from accomodation to flight prices being dirt cheap. You’ll often find better offers in restaurants – lunch times and weekday early evenings are prime time to look out for amazing discounts in off peak seasons.
It’s insane not to take advantage of a short getaway on a cheap hand luggage only flight.
What’s not to love? Fewer crowds, cheaper prices and photos of frost or snow covered iconic buildings will be the evny of every Instagrammer.
Scroll down to read my tried and tested ultimate packing list for Europe in Winter. I’ve even made a handy downloadable checklist for you to make sure you don’t forget anything.
Think like an Onion!
The important this is to layer up – nipping in and out of galleries and museums, going from being out in the elements to the warm indoors will mean you want to shed some clothing
Compliment your Colours
When you’re making your mind up on what to pack, here’s a top tip: go for colours that will complement each other.
– I love twinning burgundy reds with mustard and teal colours, they both go really well with denim and greys too. If you are limited with only black items in your winter wardrobe, then go for a blast of colour in a scarf or your gloves.
From Rags to Riches
Choose items that can easily be dressed up or down – a pair of skinny jeans by day will look casual with a jumper and ankle boots, but at spruce them up with a cute pair of heels and a cute top or blouse.
So, what are my essentials?
A denim skirt or corduroy skirt- this can be dressed up with a pretty shirt and shoe boots for a night out or dressed down with a snuggly hoodie for daytime wear.
Hoodie or Winter Jumper – I love hoodies, I don’t know how many I own but they are one of my favourite items of clothing, as much as I love dressing up, I’m equally partial to slumming it out in leisure wear. Equally a chunky winter jumper for any particularly cold climates.
Pretty shirt – or something similar that can be worn on a night out with a vest top under it (remember those layers I mentioned earlier) Try and pack a shirt that doesn’t crease so you don’t have worry about ironing it.
A pair of jeans or leggings – I tend to favour leggings over jeans. If you go for leggings, it’s worth investing in good sports quality ones – not the fashion ones that go see-through when you bend over! I generally find leggings warmer than jeans, and if they get wet they don’t chafe as well as taking less time to try.
Vest tops/ Long Sleeved t-shirts – at least one top per day. Despite being from the UK, I get cold REALLY easily, so I double up (there go those layers again) and take a vest AND long-sleeved top for each day.
A smart lightweight jumper – if you go out in the evenings
Socks and underwear – I’m pretty sure I don’t need to explain this one.
Tights – I prefer to opt for super thick tights- my feet get too cold in anything thinner than 80 denier – also if you tend to wear a lot of black clothing, then a pair of colourful tights can really jazz up an outfit.
Sports bra and regular bra – I find sports bras SO SO SO much more comfortable to travel in, no move clips digging into my back.
Pjs (if you wear them – a satin camisole is lightweight and packs down small)
A bikini – if you are planning on using any spas (like in Iceland or Budapest)
One heavy duty waterproof winter coat – preferably with a hood so you don’t have to pack a hat. – for the outermost layer try to pack something that is windproof and waterproof – a tailored woollen jacket might look great but wandering round in a sodden jacket is just going to be cold and miserable.
A scarf big and wide enough to double up as a shoal on a night out – Pashmina style shoals are great for this.
Gloves – depending on the destination, I’ve taken my lightweight running gloves before and although not wonderfully insulated, it’s surprising how much warmer my hands feel by just keeping the chilly air off them.
Shoes & Accessories
3 pairs of shoes – IF you can manage with just 2, then even better! – a pair of warm comfortable boots for potentially suitable for icy/wet/muddy ground – wear these on the plane as they will probably be the bulkiest item you bring. trainers for general walking about if it’s dry, and a pair of shoe boots that can be dressed up for a night out and also look guest with casual day clothes
Sunglasses – I know its winter, but some days are still super sunny, even in winter. If there is ice or snow, the glare from the sun is blinding.
Little Handbag – well you’re going to need somewhere to put your phone, money, lip balm and tissues in.
Bits n' Pieces
Miniature toiletries and simple make-up – Only pack the essentials and remember for hand-luggage that any liquids need to be in containers of 100ml or less and all these liquids (including creams, pastes, gels, mousse) MUST fit into one of those clear zip-lock bags that they give you at the airport.
Ziplock or plastic carrier bags which are absolute saviours for keeping things separate IF clothes do get wet or muddy
Camera – I travel with a compact camera which takes pretty awesome shots. Yes, I know it’s not going to have a fraction of the options that a DSLR has but I’m travelling light.
Power Adapter – check which one you need, they are different depending where you go in Europe.
Cash – lots of Europe use the Euro, but lots don’t! Check before you leave and to get the best deals, order the money in advance.
Passport and important travel documents Travel Insurance, EHIC Card etc.)– no brainer!
A small canvas bag – normally I would travel with a rucksack for day trips but travelling so light with one hand luggage item this is something I compromise on. A canvas bag squashes up so small plus I can get a ton of stuff into it too. You can also get oilcloth ones (like Cath Kidston stuff) which are waterproof too!
Ready? Lets Go!
I guarantee you will fit all this in hand luggage for any winter trip to Europe – take advantage of those cheap off-peak fares and go book your flight now, what are you waiting for?
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Are there are any must-have travel items you can’t live without on a hand-luggage weekend break to Europe in the winter. I’d love to know? Please comment below.