This blog post was updated on October 3, 2018.
After spending the past two months traveling around Europe during its high season, I learned a thing or two about traveling this continent when the rest of the world is too. Most experts will dissuade from traveling to Europe in the high season. It’s too crowded. It’s too expensive. And in many places, it’s too hot. Having traveled throughout many parts of Europe these last few months, namely Italy, Spain and Germany, I have learned European high season travel has its advantages and disadvantages.
Book in advance, really: Aside from planning two weeks in Italy, I really didn’t book too far in advance with my travels in Europe in the high season. Once I had a few nights planned, I would rest on my procrastination. However, you simply can’t wing Europe in the high season. By the time I reached Germany, accommodations were booked up or sky-high. If you want to save a great deal of cash and time desperately trying to find a place to sleep the next night, you need to book in advance.
Rent an apartment: Originally I had planned to just rent an apartment in each country that I visited and make day and weekend trips from there. Time got away from me with moving across the country just before a major three-month jaunt to Europe in the high season. Instead, I ended up mostly booking bed and breakfast and hotels. Had I rented an apartment as planned, I could have made my euros stretch a lot further. Also, with all of the crowds in Europe during this time of year, you can dodge the jam packed hotels by renting an apartment and also save a great deal of energy by not having to pick up and move on every few days.
Save up: I knew that Europe during the high season would live up to its name. Prices were going to be high. However, I didn’t quite bargain on it being this much of a wallet drainer. If you want to visit Europe in the high season, you should almost save double what you think you will need. Attractions, hotels and even sometimes food costs are going to be higher than you imagine.
Seek out less popular countries to visit: Europe in the high season can be tolerable for your budget and sanity if you merely go to the right places. For example, I’m currently trying to find places to stay in Germany, along with everyone else. Germany and Italy are some of the top destinations to visit in Europe in the summer. Travelers should try to head to lesser known spots such as Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia or even the Czech Republic. A quick search of hotels in nearby Czech Republic showed hotels that cost half as much as Germany.
Get up early: While I am not an early riser, if you are traveling Europe in the high season, you might need to become one. To avoid the crowds, some of the best attractions can be seen in the earlier hours of the morning. If you can’t bear the thought of getting up early, I also found you could beat the crowds by visiting main sites and attractions just before closing time.
If you’re winging it, scour for last minute summer deals: With just a few weeks to my time in Germany, we discovered a great rental car deal for a month. A major rental car company was having a European summer sale. We were able to rent a car in Germany for what many pay to rent a car for just a week. In Spain, we found the parador accommodations were also running a last minute June special where we could stay for €30 per person a night in old monasteries, castles and palaces. While it can pay to book in advance, if you are winging it, you need to scour for last minute summer deals. They are out there if you take the time to find them.
Embrace it: It’s going to be crowded. It’s going to be expensive. Europe during its busiest tourist season isn’t going to be as relaxing as it might be in the low season. However, you have to merely embrace it. The crowds aren’t going away and the prices aren’t going to drop until September.
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