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Being a born and bred Brit, I’ve certainly had my fair share of chilly (often grey and wet) European winters. Every year I dread this season – the days are short, often the air is damp and I have a constant longing for my flip-flops and strappy summer dresses. I also know it’s at least 6-months before I realistically get to wear said flip-flops and strappy dresses again. Despite having lived here for over 30 years, it’s something I can never just ‘get used to’. This is why I’m the perfect person to talk about your packing list for Europe in winter.
However, despite the weather being a bit on the chilly side, winter in Europe can be stunning if you manage to dodge the rain. There’s nothing quite like a crisp clear blue sky, with the sunshine glistening on the frost.
Also, visiting Europe in winter during the off-peak season can save a fortune. With the exception of the Christmas Holidays (December), you can bag you some absolute bargains with regards to flight and accommodation prices and enjoy European Cities in winter without the crowds you see in summer.
So, as a European, who hates the cold, I’ve written the ultimate packing list for Europe in winter to keep you snuggly and warm this season.
What’s the temperature in Europe in Winter?
This depends on what part of Europe you visit in winter. Naturally the further north into Europe you go, the colder it is. For example, if you are visiting Scandinavia in winter you can typically expect temperatures between 4⸰C (39 F) to -15⸰C (5 F).
However, if you visit somewhere in Central Europe, for example, Madrid in winter , then temperatures can fall anywhere between 10⸰C (50F) to 3⸰C (37 F).
The coldest month is usually January.
The further into southern Europe you get the less likely you will find freezing temperatures, whereas the further north you go into Europe, you most likely will encounter frost and snow.
These are all generalisations, so be sure to check out the forecast for where you plan to visit and tweak your Europe winter packing list accordingly.
Hand Luggage only Winter Packing List for Europe
Europe is very well connected, compared with other places in the World (hello Australia, I’m talking to you), you can easily be in a different country within a couple of hours.
On the whole, flight prices are at the cheapest during the winter months in Europe – except for the holiday season. The cheapest air-fares come from hand-baggage only. So I’ve based this packing list for Europe in winter for carry-on luggage.
Hand luggage is the best way to travel throughout Europe, especially if you are planning on using planes and trains.
This article was written as a packing list for Europe in the winter with hand-luggage only ideally for a short trip. If you are planning an extended trip to Europe in winter or across multiple seasons, using hand=luggage only, this list will still work for you by sticking to the ‘layers’ rule I talk about later on. Also, laundrettes and washing service are avaiable everywhere 😉 !
Top #3 Tips for Packing Light for Europe in Winter
Think like an Onion – we’re talking layers! – Wandering in and out of cafes, museums, galleries, shopping malls and so on you’ll be constantly going from hot to cold. Nothing feels worse than being a total sweat bucket after stepping foot inside a toasty warm museum in your thickest jumper and then not being able to shed a layer. It’s much easier to adjust to the temperature difference of going from hot to cold by wearing layers of clothing.
Pack clothes that complement each other 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, mustard or teal colours, with each other. They all go really well with denim and greys too!
Accessorise to the max – an easy way to dress up a limited wardrobe is to accessorise it. Try adding a blast of colour or pattern with the use of a vibrant scarf or a pretty shoal. Alternatively, a simple day outfit can be dressed up evenings out with the addition of some statement earrings or necklace. Accessorising helps to keep your European winter packing list to a minimum.
For a stylish luggage set, check out this set of 2 super cute Aerolite cases in Rose Gold and Charcoal . Not only are they lightweight but they are super strong too (ABS). These cases are perfect for use on Cabin-Baggage only flights throughout Europe.
15 Ideas on What To Pack For Winter In Europe – The Essentials
Wondering what to pack for Europe in winter? Granted – you’re going to need to pack your regular stuff (underwear and toiletries) but here’s a run-down of the other essential extra things you’ll need for your chilly European adventure.
All these items, as well as all your regular packing essentials, are in included the FREE downloadable checklist for you print out and use or to Pin for later (scroll down to the next section to find it).
1. A good quality wind and weatherproof coat or jacket
This is a no-brainer investment and probably one of the most important things on the list. There are loads on the market, but I absolutely LOVE my Peter Storm winter coat. It looks smart, is fully waterproof and windproof and is super warm too. Make sure YOU absolutely LOVE your coat too– because it’s probably going to appear in the majority of your photos!
2. Two pairs of shoes
A pair of warm & comfortable shoes are a must for all the walking you’re likely to be doing during the day time. Make sure they are suitable for icy, wet, muddy and snowy ground. These winter boots by Mukluks tick all the boxes, not only are they super snuggly with a faux-fur lining, they are fully waterproof and have a super grippy sole. Your second pair of shoes should be suitable for nights out which can be dressed up easily. My go-to are always shoe boots, they work well with dresses, skirts and trousers, are super comfortable and warmer than strappy heels.
Wear your bulkiest pair of shoes on the plane to save valuable space in your carry-on luggage then fill your other pair of shoes with socks or other small items of clothing to save even more space.
Check out 73 other amazing packing hacks here.
3. Touch-screen compatible gloves
Are you like me and use your phone for navigating, taking photos, checking out local info, calling an Uber – everything actually?! Then you’ll know just how much of a faff it is to keep removing your gloves, to get your hand out in the chilly air just so you can use your smartphone. Touch Screen compatible gloves save you from all this hassle. The touchscreen on your phone works because of your body’s naturally produced electricity interacting with the screen. Regular gloves form a barrier between your finger and the screen, which is why you can’t use a phone with regular gloves. Touch-screen compatible gloves allow you to use your phone because of a little conductive piece of wire in the fingers of the gloves. which means you can have toasty warm hands and full use of your phone.
4. Insulated water bottle
These cute flask style bottles by Chilly’s have revolutionised how I carry my water. I used to use a plastic sports bottle, however, this insulated bottle is a game-changer. Usually I’m happy to drink my water at cool to room temperature, however, after being outside in the cold for a long time, the thought of drinking ice-cold water just makes me shudder. I love these flask water bottles – they are doubled layered, so are great for keeping hot water, hot! What’s more, they are perfect for summer use too, as they keep cold drinks ice cold. Which make them a year-round solution for the perfect temperature drink.
5. Thermal underwear
Whether it’s socks, tights, t-shirts, leggings a good quality base layer like this is essential for the chilly winter days, specially if it’s icy or snowy and you’re planning on being outside for prolonged periods. If you’ve never tried a thermal base layer before, you’ll be surprised with what a massive difference it makes. These have been a lifesaver to get me through the European winter months.
So the sun doesn’t have much heat in it at this time of year however, it’s still blinding, especially on clear frosty mornings if there is ice or snow. The glare from the sun can be really bright reflecting off the icy surfaces. Invest in a good quality pair of anti-glare or polarized glasses like these to protect your eyes. You’ll be thankful for a pair of sunnies on the super bright frosty days.
7. A multipurpose snuggly scarf
I LOVE scarfs, so much, that I actually wear a lightweight one most of the year. In the winter months I upgrade my scarf to something super snuggly and chunky like this. If you are particularly savvy about wanting to double up a scarf to use as a shoal to put over the top of your jacket on a night out, think about investing in a pashmina. This amazing scarf-come-pashmina by Desigual is stunning! Like with the Desigual scarf, try and go for something with a shot of colour or pattern to brigten up your outfit – something bright and colourful also looks great in photos against the grey skies and snow.
8. A non-crease shirt
Go for the brushed or flannel cloth style, they are thicker and warmer than regular cotton shirts. – this type of shirt never goes out of style and can easily be worn with a cute skirt, leggings, trousers, tucked-in or hanging out. It’s so versitile. Remember in the previous section I talked about accessorising to get the most out of a limited wardrobe you’ll be able to fit inside carry-on onl, well, shirts can be easily smartened up with a statement necklace, A-line skirt and shoe-boots for an evening look.
9. A cute & warm skirt
My preference is an A-line corduroy skirt, like this – super comfy, flattering and snuggly warm. In the winter, I always vow for corduroy over denim. Denim isn’t actually very warm to wear and even worse if it gets wet. A corduroy skirt can be twinned with either tights or a pair of leggings underneath, dressed down in the day time with a hoodie or a snuggly knitted jumper or dressed up in the evenings with a pretty shirt and shoe boots.
10. A snuggly sweater-dress
Not only super cute and super snuggly warm, sweater dresses are a really easy option to look both stylish and keep the cold at bay. Sweater dresses are also versatile, you can twin a sweater dress with leggings or tights. They look great as a casual day item or accessorised up with some statement earrings for nights out.
11. A Hoodie or Chunky Sweater
I don’t know how many I own, but I have a bit of a love affair with hoodies. They are one of my favourite items of clothing and as much as I love getting glammed up, I’m equally partial to slumming it out in leisurewear. I’m equally partial to a chunky-knit winter jumper, like this cozy asymetical one, to layer up with a long-sleeved t-shirt and thermal vest underneath.
12. A pair of trousers or leggings
In winter, I favour leggings and trousers over denim jeans any day. If jeans get wet, they are just grim, even when they are dry, they aren’t exactly warm to wear and they can be bulky to pack on a hand-luggage only vacation. If you wear leggings, it’s 100% worth investing in good sports quality ones and NOT the fashion ones that go see-through when you bend over!
13. A bathing suit or bikini
YES! I’m serious. There are tons of countries in Europe where they have spas, saunas and hot springs. There’s nothing quite like sitting out in the chilly air with the beautiful frosty surroundings but being submerged in toasty warm water. You’d kick yourself if you missed out on this amazing winter activity.
With the chilly winter air in particular if the air is dry it can lead to sore chapped lips. Choose a good quality chapstick or lip balm to help alleviate this problem.
15. A good quality moisturising cream with SPF
Even though it’s the winter, the sun rays can be particularly strong, especially if they are being bounced off the snow and ice. Be sure to pack a lotion with SPF (Sun Protection Factor) to protect your skin from this. I love Body Shop products, not only are they ethical and smell amazing, but also work wonders at keeping my skin moisturised. I highly recommend The Body Shop Vitamin E with SPF 30 Lotion. Usually, my skin is fine throughout the year, however, during the winter my skin goes very dry and needs a bit of a boost. The Vitamin E in this moisturiser really gives my skin that much needed bit of TLC agaisnt the elements – flakey dry skin caused from going from hot-cold-hot-cold air IS NOT a good look! Investing in a good quality moisturising cream with SPF to protect your skin from the weather is so worthwhile. Your skin will thank you for it.
In the next section, I’ve included a FULL packing list for Europe in winter which includes all your regular items. I guarantee you will fit all this in carry-on luggage.
FREE Downloadable Packing List For Europe In Winter
Here’s your FREE Europe in Winter packing list, print it off or better still Pin it to Pinterest to use again and again. To make it easier I have made this list as a downloadable pdf version too (it’s under the image)
Click the button below for your FREE printable packing list for Europe in winter.
Final Thoughts on Packing for Europe in winter
Despite it being super chilly, it is sooooo worthwhile visiting Europe in the winter. Not only take advantage of those cheap off-peak fares and slashed price accommodation options, but also with fewer crowds you’d be crazy to ignore this time of year.
It’s that age-old phrase, ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing’.
Visiting Europe in winter? Then you might also be interested in these articles on European Cities and Travel Hacks
- 71 Awesome Tried & Tested Backpacking Hacks & Travel Tips and Tricks
- Stress Free Travel – Yes Please!
- Benefits of Travelling Solo – and why EVERYONE should try it once in their life.
- The Ultimate Guide For Things To Do In Madrid In Winter (2019 Update)
- 33 Unmissable Ideas On What To Do In Tallinn, Estonia
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Have you visited Europe in winter, were you glad you had packed something in particular? Or is there anything I’ve missed off this Packing list for Europe winter? Let me know what you think in the comment section below.