A European Winter, Contiki Style

18 May 2017
Read Time: 3.5 mins

So you think you’ve done Europe? The Continent takes on an entirely new look and feel when the temperature drops.

Despite what the singlet-wearing hoards of a Euro summer may suggest, the shorter days and long chilly nights of winter also offer an abundance of epic adventures on The Continent. Contiki shines a light on the pleasures of a European winter, where unexpected, wonderful and deliciously cosy experiences are around every corner. Baby, it’s cold outside, and there’s no place better to be than Europe. Here’s why.

girl walking in front of the colosseum Having ancient icons all to yourself is one of the perks of travelling in winter (image: Contiki)

Less Means More

Ever stood in a giant queue for the Colosseum beneath the sweltering summer sun? How about being elbowed to the back of the pack while trying to catch a glimpse of the Mona Lisa in July? It’s equal parts terrifying and amusing, like braving shopping centre sales on Boxing Day. In summer, tourists flock to European landmarks, but in winter, large crowds are scarce so you’ll spend less time waiting and more time doing. Get your run of historic icons and galleries full of priceless relics, sans busloads of other camera-wielding tourists all up in your personal space.

It’s As Simple As Supply And Demand…

As basic economics suggests, fewer crowds equals lower prices. Not only are tours more affordable (thanks, Contiki), generally so are the airfares to get you there. That means more cash money to spend on the fun stuff, like food, drinks, experiences and shopping.

In fact, why not get ahead of the fashion pack pre-tour by visiting London in January during the best sales season of the year? You know you’re looking for any excuse to go wild in Topshop and Urban Outfitters, as travel should be all about looking your best, not showing off the latest in unflattering waterproof coats and cargo pants.

two girls throw coins into the trevi fountain Throwing a coin over your shoulder into the Trevi Fountain ensures you'll return to Rome one day (image: Contiki)

The Festivities

Rosy cheeks, misty mornings, steamy saunas, icicles on whimsical storefronts, the crunch of frost underfoot and evenings illuminated by twinkling lights are some of the most novel pleasures of a European winter. Add in some snow, and it’s like stepping into a Christmas card.

Europe is an entirely different world over the festive season, where you can enjoy everything from snowball fights and Christmas markets (mulled wine and gingerbread, anyone?) to ice-skating on the Eiffel Tower and epic New Year’s Eve celebrations. Then there’s the pow pow; the fresh slopes of the Austrian and Swiss Alps both call to anyone with a penchant for off-piste adventure and après ski fun. As Dean Martin crooned: ‘let it snow, let it snow, let it snow’.

Comfort Food

Everyone knows calories don’t count on holidays, and when there’s no need to strip down to your swimmers on a Greek Islands sailing, go forth and gorge, foodies! Nothing says winter like comfort food, and European cuisine will warm the cockles of your heart… right down to your fingertips and toes. Think smoky bratwurst with a side of beers in Germany, hearty coq au vin in France, streetside frites and mayo in the Netherlands, and of course, fondue and raclette dinners in Switzerland – bonus points for donning an ugly Christmas sweater.

travellers at parc guell lookout in barcelona From new friends to having all the little things taken care of, Contiki is the ultimate travel buddy (image: Contiki)

Best Of All, You Don’t Have To Go At It Alone

There’s nothing that can suck the fun out of a new destination like a shady taxi driver at the airport, or getting lost en route to your hotel while dragging heavy suitcases along cobblestones. Add in below zero temperatures and potential sleet, and even the most laidback vagabond’s patience will be tested. Go with Contiki and all your transport and accommodation (cosy hotels, at that) are sorted for the whole trip. Getting from A to B has never been easier!

Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest Contiki deals.

Anna Howard

Give me street food over Michelin stars, cellar doors over wine bars and small towns and wide open spaces over big cities any day. Travel for me means ticking off the 'to eat and drink' list one regional flavour and wine bottle at a time.