Summer isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. Humidity, sunburn, and sweat can be an uncomfortable combination when travelling so here are some typically hot places to visit in cooler temperatures in the United Kingdom and Europe.
Average autumn temperature: 18 – 24° Celsius
Average winter temperature: 5 – 18° Celsius
With temperatures like this in the off season, you can just picture a cooler climate to discover Porto in – much more so than in Lisbon. Autumn is a lovely season in Porto with fiery colours on tree-lined streets and parks. This is also prime grape harvest season in the nearby Douro Valley so you can add grape stomping or wine making to your to-do list! Fewer crowds also mean it’s perfect for exploring iconic sights like the Livraria Lello bookstore (founded in 1906), the iconic blue-and-white-tiled São Bento station and the Monsteiro da Serra do Pilar (a 16th century monastery found on the outskirts of the city).
While December is the wettest month of the year, it doesn’t dampen any locals’ spirits with several Christmas markets decked out in their finest. While there is no mulled wine (like markets in Central Europe), there are plenty of other local specialties. Make sure you try a francesinha, Porto’s tasty take on a croque monsieur.
Average autumn temperature: 12 – 23° Celsius
Average winter temperature: 5 – 13° Celsius
Being a landlocked city, Rome is incredibly hot and humid in summer. The Eternal City is the second most visited city in Europe (after Paris), so travelling in autumn and winter means you have a better chance of seeing Rome without competing with hordes of tourists and sweating up a storm. You can really take your time to soak up the history and culture. It’s still warm enough to sit outside at a café or restaurant during the day, with heaters and blankets brought outside at night.
Average autumn temperature: 7 – 19° Celsius
Average winter temperature: 5 – 9° Celsius
There is so much to see and do in London, and the off season brings even more festivals and events. The London Design Festival is held in September, celebrating the city as the design capital of the world; the arty Frieze Fair is in October; and most museums have late nights available.
The festive season brings extra sparkle to London, especially once Hyde Park opens its Winter Wonderland; and the January sales are not to be missed for those who are after some retail therapy.
Average autumn temperature: 6 – 17° Celsius
Average winter temperature: -15 – 0° Celsius
Although the temperatures are freezing in the heart of winter, it’s nothing some good layering can’t fix. From the Christmas lights along Andrassy Avenue, ice skating in City Park to trying hurka (a seasonal type of blood sausage) and exceptional craft and food festivals in February, Budapest really heats up in the cooler months. Plus, warming up at one of Budapest’s famous thermal baths is the perfect antidote to a chilly day.
Average autumn temperature: 10 – 15° Celsius
Average winter temperature: -5 – 0° Celsius
Vienna really kicks off its off season with its Wine Hiking Day in October. This celebrates the new harvest over 24 kilometres of vineyards! From there, it’s time to set up over 150 stalls in the Rathausplatz for one of Vienna’s magical Christmas markets – renowned across Europe – which turn into New Year’s Markets in January. Try your hand at curling or ice skating on the double level rink outside the City Hall, too.
In the New Year, there are several exciting events. With a tradition that dates back to over 200 years ago, the Opera Ball at the Vienna State Opera House is a regal affair in February. March involves several art-focused events like the Marx Halle (featuring modern art) and Photo Wien (contemporary photography). Plus, Vienna is world-famous for its café culture and there’s nothing better than cosying up in a café with a slice of Sachertorte and hot coffee to warm up.
Côte d’Azur, France
Average autumn temperature: 17 – 21° Celsius
Average winter temperature: 4 – 13° Celsius
The Côte d’Azur is quite mild in autumn and winter. It can be just warm enough to swim in autumn, and if you layer up, eating outside is still a common occurrence. Don’t miss the Carnaval de Nice in February, a vibrant pre-Lent celebration complete with parades, masquerades and street parties along the waterfront.
Average autumn temperature: 20 – 29° Celsius
Average winter temperature: 15 – 17° Celsius
Crete is much more bearable to discover with cooler temperatures. The Aegean Sea is still very warm so it’s common to see locals swimming or surfing year-round. With some stunning hikes on offer, these are more pleasant without the oppressive heat of summer. Head to Psiloritis Natural Park to find caves, sinkholes and rock shelters.
Crete’s locals are renowned for their hospitality. With less people around, the off season gives both them and you a chance to meet and talk. Lemon, orange and pomegranate trees are in full swing so make the most of local food markets for the best produce during this season, alongside wine, honey and olive oil.
Average autumn temperature: 3 – 9° Celsius
Average winter temperature: -2 – 10° Celsius
Istanbul can be a city of two halves in the off season with both grey, rainy days and crisp, sunny days. Luckily, most of Istanbul’s sights are indoors so the weather doesn’t matter too much. It’s perfect for taking in the Hagia Sophia, Blue and Ortakoy Mosques, Grand and Spice Bazaars and museums. Having started the thermal baths scene in Budapest, you should head to a hammam (Turkish bath) for a massage, scrub and steam.
Istanbul’s food scene comes alive in its cooler months. You’ll find roasted chestnuts sold on street corners, sip a creamy salep (made from ground salep orchid root, milk and cinnamon), and have your fill of delectable grilled meats at an ocakbaşi, a traditional restaurant. While a Turkish breakfast is served all year round, we find that it is particularly warming and nourishing in winter.
There are many places in the United Kingdom and Europe to visit in cooler temperatures. So long as you come prepared, there’s nothing to say that your time at one of these cities won’t be enjoyable! The Globus family of brands offer many off season holidays for you to choose from: an Escapes by Globus tour, a festive time Avalon Waterways river cruise, and tours with Cosmos that have autumn and winter departures.