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Ready to spend a week in Europe? You don’t want to miss these 10 trips in the off-season

Jun 23, 2023 by Adam Amundson

Imagine the perfect travel week. If it includes a mix of cultural experiences, stunning sites, and authentic flavors, then you’ve got plenty of options in Europe. Even better? Going in the off-season, when you won’t have to contend with crowds and the summer heat. We’ve compiled a list of 10 tours that deliver unique experiences, delicious meals, and big travel highlights all in one week.

Not sure you’ll be able to pick a favorite? No worries: Read on to discover why these trips cover all travel styles, and shine just as bright in the off-season as they do during the peak travel months of summer. Sounds like you might need to put in a request for a few days off coming up—don’t worry, we’ll make sure it’s worth every effort.

1. A Week in Eastern Europe: Prague, Kraków & Budapest

If you’re looking for an adventure that checks off several of the best places to go in Europe in a week, we’d like to introduce you to Eastern Europe. Cities once closed to visitors are now preferred European vacation spots for locals and international tourists alike. Packed with culinary, architectural, and cultural history, our A Week in Eastern Europe: Prague, Kraków & Budapest tour is full of memory-making moments.

Prague:

  • Feel the bustle of the Old Town Square as you pop from coffee shops to local boutiques.
  • Check the time—and the position of the sun, earth, moon, and zodiac constellations—at the famous 15th-century Astronomical Clock.

Kraków:

  • Visit the old Jewish ghetto of Poland’s former royal capital.

Budapest:

  • Look out over the Danube and the city from Fisherman’s Bastion.
  • Spend an evening relaxing in the well-known thermal spas which are regularly ranked among the best places to go in Europe.

Biggest reason to visit in the off-season: You may have heard of Oktoberfest? Well in Prague, spring is the season of imbibing local beer. The annual festival is held in April and is the biggest celebration of beer outside of Germany. If you’re looking toward the fall or winter, holiday markets are huge in Eastern Europe, with Kraków and Budapest being two of the best places to go in Europe to experience the iconic markets.

From the City of a Hundred Spires, over the High Tatras mountains, and ending in the city that straddles Eastern and Western Europe, explore some of the best places to travel in Europe in a week when you travel on A Week in Eastern Europe: Prague, Kraków & Budapest tour.

Explore Eastern Europe

2. A Week in Greece: Athens, Mykonos & Santorini

Spend a week in Europe exploring both sides of this historic nation as you travel from the mainland to the islands of Greece. The shores of Santorini, peppered with bright blue roofs capping whitewashed homes, are regularly cited among the best places to travel in Europe, and this tour will take you there. In the bustling home of the world’s first democracy, travelers will tour ancient sites and see why Athens is among the best places to go in Europe for history seekers. You can’t go to Greece and not visit the islands though, so after a short ferry ride you’ll explore the iconic coast of Mykonos. There are so many highlights on this tour.

Athens:

  • Tour the ancient Acropolis and see the Parthenon.

Mykonos:

  • See the iconic windmills of Mykonos Town.

Santorini:

  • Dip your toes in the Aegean Sea and sip on wines made from grapes grown in the nearby volcanic soil during your week in Europe.
  • Take in the views from the top of Mount Profitis Ilias before settling down at a local taverna to feel the ocean breeze on your skin as the sun sinks below the horizon.

Biggest reason to visit in the off-season: Known as one of the best places to go in Europe to experience authentic cuisine, Greece comes alive in shoulder season, with traditional winter dishes and holiday sweets. Stuffed cabbage rolls and bean soup are among the tastiest off-season dishes. It’s easy to see why Greece is one of the best places to go in Europe.

Grab a gyro and take in the off-season scenery from the Acropolis as you explore a few of the best places to go in Europe on our A Week in Greece: Athens, Mykonos & Santorini tour.

Discover Greece

3. A Week in Italy: Naples, Sorrento & Rome

See history and culture unfold before your eyes over a week in Europe on a tour of Southern Italian gems. Begin in the birthplace of pizza, before stepping back in time as you tour ancient ruins covered in volcanic ash for centuries, and end in the Eternal City.

Naples:

  • Tour the city with your guide and visit the National Archaeological Museum.

Sorrento Peninsula:

  • Step back in time as you explore Pompeii, where you’ll see how Roman citizens lived 2,000 years ago. Explore the excavated ruins of theaters, temples, and baths covered in volcanic ash from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
  • Drive along the stunning Amalfi Coast and soak in the seaside views as you look out over Positano.
  • Add the Farmhouse Dinner & Wine Tasting excursion to indulge in a four-course meal with a wine tasting led by a sommelier. The experience will show you why celebrities and locals alike consider this area of Italy one of the best places to go in Europe for a vacation.

Rome:

  • Enter the Colosseum, see the Circus Maximus, and have a little free time to hop from piazza to piazza.

**Biggest reason to visit in the off-season:** The weather is the number one reason to visit the Southern Italian coast in shoulder season. Summer temperatures can reach triple digits, and many of the small villages are sans air conditioning, making off-season the perfect time to enjoy the views without the heat. Additionally, Naples goes all out for the holiday season, with local artisans creating terra cotta statues for nativity scenes around the city, providing a unique look into tradition and craftsmanship.

Toast to la dolce vita with an Aperol spritz as you look out over the Amalfi Coast and Capri on our A Week in Italy: Naples, Sorrento & Rome tour.

Roam the streets of Italy

4. A Week in Sicily: Palermo, Syracuse & Taormina

Spend a week in Europe exploring Sicily, with stops in iconic resort towns and historic seaside cities, to see why the Mediterranean islands are some of the best places to travel in Europe for a week. Dine on the fresh cuisine Sicily is famous for and sip on wine produced from grapes grown in the island's volcanic soil.

Palermo:

  • Discover Baroque architecture and see the stunning mosaics inside the royal chapel of the Norman Palace.

Syracuse:

  • Explore the most intact ancient Greek theater still in existence.
  • Cross the bridge from big island to little island as you visit the Temple of Apollo in Ortygia during your week in Europe.

Taormina:

  • Stroll the cobblestone streets with Mount Etna in the distance and see why this filming location is making so many lists of best places to travel in Europe this year (or check out our blog here to see a roundup of The White Lotus filming locations on Taormina).

Biggest reason to visit in the off-season: Autumn is harvesting time on the island, and for Sicilians, harvest means celebrations. Food festivals honor olives, pistachios, and grapes throughout the fall, making this one of the best places to travel in Europe for foodies during the off-season. If you’re going to spend a week in Europe, why not do it on an island in the Mediterranean? Our A Week in Sicily: Palermo, Syracuse & Taormina tour is the right choice.

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5. A Week in Ireland: Dublin to Belfast

If you’re looking to spend your week in Europe surrounded by dramatic cliffs, grand cathedrals, and historic cobbled streets, Ireland is the destination for you. Among the best places to go in Europe, Ireland offers unforgettable views and unique travel moments that will stay with you forever.

Dublin:

  • Walk along iconic Grafton Street and grab a pint in the Temple Bar district as you explore historic Dublin.
  • Step inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Ireland’s largest church.

Belfast:

  • Get to know the cultural heart of Northern Ireland, from a Bronze Age settlement to an international port city, on a tour of Belfast.
  • Leave the city behind on your week in Europe and explore Giant’s Causeway on an excursion.

County Limerick:

  • Visit the famous Cliffs of Moher to experience the rugged natural beauty of Ireland.
  • No trip to this island nation would be complete without time spent at a castle, and you’ll have plenty of chances over one week in Europe. Visiting Kilkenny Castle and Rock of Cashel in County Limerick you’ll see why Ireland is among the best places to go in Europe.

Biggest reason to visit in the off-season: Summer is the busy season in Ireland, but this island nation has moderate temperatures year-round, and in the off-season it’s one of the best places to go in Europe. Winter months bring the chance to see the Northern Lights from the coast outside of Belfast, while fall is the undisputed king of seafood and cider festivals in Ireland.

Vacation days are precious, so why not spend one sleeping in an 18th-century castle on the Emerald Isle? Book our A Week in Ireland: Dublin to Belfast tour and we’ll see you there.

Visit Irish castles on tour

6. A Week in Portugal: Porto, Évora & Lisbon

One of our favorite places to go in Europe for a week is Portugal. The easy flight from the U.S. is only the beginning of an incredible itinerary.

Porto:

  • Get to know the architectural gems of Portugal’s second-largest city with your guide, including the famed Stock Exchange Palace and the historic Douro Riverfront.
  • Sip a port wine after dinner in this foodie capital as you watch the sun set to get the full Porto experience.

Évora:

  • Journey to one of Europe’s oldest continually inhabited cities and take in the region’s intricate tilework.
  • Stop at a cork factory and learn about one of Portugal’s iconic exports.

Lisbon:

  • Ride the famed tram in the capital city and stop at a local bakery to taste pastéis de nata, a popular custard tart.

Experience the warmth of the people, the culture, and the food in one of the best places to go in Europe for a week on this new tour.

Biggest reason to visit in the off-season: Experience the flair and energy of Carnival in February as the country celebrates with elaborate parades and colorful costumes. The parades continue through the early spring as the predominantly Catholic country celebrates holy weeks and festivals. Early spring blooms bring a fresh pop of color and life to every visit to these cities, which regularly rank among the best places to travel in Europe.

Come to Portugal for the elegant old towns, beautiful countryside, and dramatic coastlines. Stay for the mouthwatering food and wine on our A Week in Portugal: Porto, Évora & Lisbon tour.

Check out this trip to Portugal

7. A Week in Croatia: Zagreb, Split & Dubrovnik

If your idea of an adventure is thundering waterfalls and fortified cities straight out of a Hollywood movie, count Croatia among the best places to go in Europe for a week.

Zagreb:

  • Begin your journey in the capital city, with a visit to the towering twin spires of the Zagreb Cathedral.

Plitvice:

  • Hear the roar of the world’s largest waterfall network as you tour Plitvice Lakes National Park, walking along the boardwalks that crisscross above 16 levels of turquoise waters.

Zadar:

  • Explore Roman ruins and hear the Sea Organ, an experimental architectural instrument, play the sound of the waves.

Dubrovnik:

  • Walk along the massive city walls and soak in the views of Old Town as you reflect on your journey down the Adriatic Coast during a week in Europe tour.

Biggest reason to visit in the off-season: Summer sun heats the Adriatic during the packed busy season, but the water remains warm enough for a relaxing dip through September. Croatia also has an abundance of preserved lands where foliage is the star during the fall months. One final reason why the off-season in Croatia is unforgettable? It’s wine season, with a national winemaking festival called Martinje happening in November each year.

Travel from cascading waterfalls that will take your breath away to fortified sea walls that will leave you in awe, all during your A Week in Croatia: Zagreb, Split & Dubrovnik tour.

Get that Old Europe feeling in Croatia

8. A Week in Spain: Barcelona, Madrid & Seville

Want to visit three diverse, vibrant, thriving cities in una semana? Spain should be on your list of Europe vacation spots.

Barcelona:

  • Begin one week in Europe by marveling at the incredible architecture of Gaudí's work-in-progress, La Sagrada Família.

Madrid:

  • Take a train through wine country to the capital city, where you’ll experience the grand boulevards and royal residences of a thriving metropolis.
  • Walk through the halls of the Prado and see the works of famous Spanish Renaissance artists Goya, Velásquez, and El Greco.
  • Grab some tapas at a local restaurant and sip on a glass of rioja as you soak in the sights and sounds of the city.

Seville:

  • End your Spanish adventure in one of the best places to go in Europe for history and architecture. Here, Gothic architecture meets Moorish influence with the steady strum of a guitar and the tap of flamenco dancing reverberating above the city streets.

Biggest reason to visit in the off-season: Spain in the off-season is one of the best places to go in Europe to get an authentic festival experience. During the summer, many of the locals travel to escape the heat and crowds of the tourist season. During the off-season you will get a true feel for life as a Spaniard as the cities comes alive with festivals and celebrations where locals take part and welcome any travelers lucky enough to be visiting into their culture.

Ready for art, culture, architecture, and more tapas than you’ve ever dreamed of? Vamos. Our A Week in Spain: Barcelona, Madrid & Seville tour awaits.

Vamos a España

9. A Week in France: The Riviera, Provence & Paris

Travel from the sun-soaked French Riviera, playground of the rich and famous, to the City of Light, home to iconic cultural landmarks, during your week in Europe traveling through France.

The Riviera:

  • The South of France will charm you with Roman ruins, picturesque Old Town streets, and world-class museums. You’ll immediately understand why this region was an inspiration for Chagall, Matisse, and Monet. Colorful buildings nestle up to the Mediterranean Sea and warm breezes make patio dining and people watching a year-round experience.

Avignon:

  • Explore Avignon and the historic Papal Palace, home to Popes during the 14th century. With stone bridges, lush gardens, and quaint streets, it’s easy to see why this area of Southern France is among the best places to go in Europe for a week.

Paris:

  • Ride the high-speed TGV train to Paris and end your journey with a tour of the iconic architecture, scenery, and history of the City of Light.

  • Grab a croissant and climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe or sit with a glass of Champagne and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Champs-Élysées. Paris is always one of the best places to go in Europe, and ending your trip here will show you why.

Biggest reason to visit in the off-season: Carnival lasts for weeks in Southern France, with colorful costumes and elegant parades throughout the region. Winter temperatures remain moderate, and the region rarely gets snow, making this area perfect for a week in Europe in the off-season. Nice also has a Ferris wheel that only runs in the winter and provides incredible views of the French Riviera.

Spend a week immersed in the sights, sounds, and colors made famous by artists throughout the ages during our A Week in France: The Riviera, Provence & Paris tour.

"O la la" your way through France

10. A Week in Switzerland, Germany & Austria

Travel from the idyllic Swiss Alps to the waltz capital of the world during a week in Europe traversing four countries.

Lucerne:

  • Cross a medieval bridge and walk the cobbled streets of Old Town.

Liechtenstein:

  • Visit the tiny principality that dates to the Holy Roman Empire.

Munich:

  • See the famed Rathaus-Glockenspiel and the fashionable Schwabing district in the capital of Bavaria.

Salzburg:

  • Cross into Austria, where you’ll tour Salzburg's Old Town and pass through the real-life setting of The Sound of Music.

Vienna:

  • Get transported back to the Age of Empires on a tour of Vienna, where you’ll travel down the Ringstrasse past museums and grand palaces.
  • Partake in the city’s famous coffee culture with a stop at a café.
  • Snap a photo of in front of the impressive Vienna Opera House.

Biggest reason to visit in the off-season: From beer festivals in the fall and holiday markets in the winter, there is always something to do throughout a week in Europe. With events that draw visitors from around the world to experience the flavor, culture, and celebrations of this region, the off-season is among the best times to visit these top places to go in Europe.

Dip your toes in an Alpine lake, stroll the cosmopolitan streets of Bavaria’s capital, and dance in the hills like you're in The Sound of Music during our A Week in Switzerland, Germany & Austria tour.

Frolic through Central Europe on tour

A week in Europe is the ideal way to spend a little of that hard-earned vacation time, and the experience is only amplified by the charm of the off-season as you travel through some of the best places to go in Europe on any of these weeklong tours.


Around the world Off-season travel
About the author | Adam Amundson
Adam believes that we learn about ourselves when we experience new cultures—whether that’s a riverside stroll in Portugal, dinner in a Sicilian cave, or popping a bottle of Champagne with his wife on the Garden of the Eiffel Tower. When he’s not writing about all the amazing places to visit across the globe, he’s likely out for a run, grabbing cocktails with friends, or going for walks along the docks with his rescue pup, Fenway.

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