WHAT TO PACK FOR WINTER IN EUROPE
If you want to find out what to pack for Europe in winter, then this post is for you. While you might have to think about which places to visit in Europe in winter, you will also need to plan what to pack for the cold winter months in Europe.
Europe might not be the biggest continent, but weather conditions strongly vary. It does make a big difference whether you visit Northern countries like Iceland or Norway, Central Europe like Switzerland or France, or Southern Europe with places like Valencia in Spain. If you head to Southern Spain, you will not need all the super warm winter clothes – some warm pullovers and jeans might be the warmest clothes you will need. In Nordic countries, you will definitely need to pack differently.
In this post, you will find one general part of what to pack in Europe for winter. You will find out what to pack for warmer countries like Spain or Malta, but also what to pack if you visit “cold” countries like Switzerland, Estonia, or Iceland in winter.
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Winter Weather in Europe
Before talking about what to bring to Europe in winter, we should talk about the weather in Europe in winter. Your packing list depends on where you visit.
Southern Europe is much milder and warmer than Eastern Europe or Northern Europe. While you could wear a light jacket in Southern Spain in the winter months, you surely have to dress very warmly in countries like Norway or Iceland.
If you come to Europe in winter – come prepared. Be advised that the average temperature can reach as low as -10° degree Celsius in countries like Iceland and Norway and while it gets up to 15° degree Celsius in other countries.
Climate change has led to a much warmer climate in many countries. I remember the years – as a little child – when we had many days with freezing temperatures in Germany. And a lot of snow – but nowadays, snow is no longer the rule for many parts of Europe. But it can be.
What to Bring to Europe in Winter – General Items
So, the first part of the post is a general packing list. Then you will find an additional packing list for winter.
Luggage for Europe
Here is what luggage/bags you might need for your winter Europe trip.
- Suitcase: Though it depends on where exactly and for how long you travel, I recommend taking a good, light, and quality suitcase with you where all your clothes and most of your toiletries fit in.
- Carry-On: If you visit for longer and aren’t a minimalist, then you might need extra carry-on luggage.
- Laundry bags: They are great if you travel for longer and don’t want your dirty and clean clothes to mix up. I prefer them over plastic bags.
- Packing Cubes: They are the new must-items when it comes to traveling, they are convenient, and they also come in cool colors. I recommend using packing cubes because it makes packing and organizing easier.
- I choose a cross-body handbag with a zipper (to be safe) and several extra pockets for my handbag. My tip: The size of the handbag is important: do you carry a camera with you? A water bottle? Keep that in mind when you decide on one handbag.
- Passport Holder: since I have become more minimalistic, I prefer not to use a passport holder, but if you need a passport (and an ID is not enough), you might want to have one.
- I recommend a beach bag or a cotton bag for a day at the hotel pool or some shopping. Plastic bags – fortunately – do cost money in many parts of Europe…and plastic sucks anyway, so with a cotton bag you use for years, you do the environment a favor. And it looks much better than carrying your shopping in a plastic or paper bag.
Toiletries to Pack for Europe in Winter
Lately, I have reduced the care products. Less is better if you ask me. However, in winter, our skin is also subject to stress. You will find a detailed list – even if I do not use all products below throughout the year, you might use more products.
If I travel for 10 days or shorter, I take travel-sized toiletries, which I refill with my natural and organic beauty products from home. To pack light, shampoo, conditioner, hair masks, cleaning water, and cleansing milk are all in small bottles.
Of course, you could buy toiletries in Europe as well, but if you do not want to waste your time in drug stores or supermarkets, use this checklist for Europe.
- (TSA Approved Clear) Travel Toiletry Bag (if you fly)
- Sunscreen (even in winter – depending on where you travel to. If you go for a ski trip, then take it, but you most likely will not need it for most other winter trips).
- Travel bottles to refill – I refill them with my own organic products that I normally use (I do not use shampoo & conditioner provided by hotels)
- Electric Hair Removal Epilator (only if you stay longer than a week or if you remove your body hair with it) – otherwise, a razor or whatever you prefer.
- Face cream – (which I also use as a hand cream, so I do not have to take another cream).
- Refillable Travel Size Perfume Bottle
- Toothbrush and toothpaste and mouthwash plus Dental floss
- Magnifying make-up mirror
- Nail polish and nail polish remover + glass nail file
- My favorite hairbrush (especially for longer hair) – or if you have less space, take a comb
- Hair ties
- A small cosmetic bag with the following items: Mascara / Rouge / Eyebrow powder (Taming & Shaping Kit For Brows) / Tweezer / Eyeliner and Eye Shadow / Make-up brushes/ Cotton swabs
Here are a few more items that I personally do hardly use but which might be important to you, so I added them here: hair spray, hand cream, foundation, powder, lipstick, sanitizer
Tech Stuff to Pack for Europe
- I have my laptop with me whenever I fly – however, I do work online while traveling, and I also watch Netflix on it.
- My phone is, without a doubt, one of my most useful and important (travel) items.
- My camera is a must – because Europe has so many great spots that need to be photographed.
- I have to admit that I still don’t have a kindle, so a “real” book is often an essential
- Power Charger – how long does your phone battery last? Not long? Neither does mine, so this is an essential
- Do you need an adapter? It depends on where you travel to Europe, so please check if you need one for your destination.
Random Things to Pack for Europe
- Umbrella (in many countries, like Germany, Switzerland, or England is can still rain quite a lot in the winter)
- Medicine (headache pills etc.)
Clothes to Pack for Europe in Winter
The key is dressing in layers for Europe in winter. The temperature can reach freezing levels, and yet the sun can be deceptively strong. Dressing in layers allows you to keep warm without compromising on comfort.
Also, it really depends on where exactly you travel. As I mentioned before, Southern Europe has mild weather in winter where you will not need a super warm jacket and gloves plus a hat.
Depending on where you travel, the wind might make you feel much colder than the temperature actually says. In the worst-case scenario, hypothermia and frostbite will result if you’re wet and not appropriately dressed. Your items should be versatile in function. For example, pack a jacket that is both waterproof and warm. Also, comfortable walking shoes are essential.
Everyday Attire Essentials For Europe In Winter
At the top of your Europe winter packing list should be the following versatile, essential items. Using these items to dress in layers will keep you both stylish and warm.
- Coat – Warm And Waterproof: A warm, waterproof jacket should be one of the very first items that you think to pack. Avoid choosing a bulky jacket that takes up a lot of space. This can make you feel uncomfortable when you have layers underneath. Instead, opt for a lightweight, trench raincoat that will keep you warm, dry, and comfortable.
- Hat: Science tells us that we lose up to 10% of our body heat through our heads, meaning that it’s essential to keep this area warm. A knitted beanie is a perfect solution for keeping the warmth in while you venture out. A hat will keep you toasty warm whether you’re on the slopes, sipping coffee, or exploring the sights.
- Gloves: Have you ever tried to use your phone with frozen fingers? It’s a nearly impossible task. A pair of gloves can do wonders for your mobility, dexterity, and comfort. This makes it one of the most important items on your Switzerland packing list. When selecting your options, it’s worth investing in a pair that can dry quickly and are touch-screen compatible.
- Scarf Or Turtleneck: A warm scarf and/or turtleneck sweater are key items for keeping your neck covered. Not only do these items keep you warm, but they also prevent you from getting ill (and thereby ruining the fun). A turtleneck sweater is perfect as a garment to wear underneath your jacket, while the scarf can be removed easily.
- Leggings: There’s a reason that almost every woman owns a pair of leggings. They are both comfortable and snug. Leggings are an essential item to pack as you can dress them up or down. You can even wear them underneath your denims as an extra layer of warmth.
- Socks: When it comes to packing socks for your Switzerland trip – the thicker the better. Chances are that you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors in the snow, and you’ll want your feet to be warm and cozy. If you plan on hitting the slopes at any stage, then you’ll want your socks to be extra-thick or padded for increased comfort.
- Thermals: A quality set of thermals is your key to enjoying the winter weather in Switzerland. They provide the extra layer of heat that will allow you to spend an extra hour on the slopes, or to pack fewer items on your road trip instead of excess clothing.
- Comfortable Walking Shoes: If you can only pack one pair of shoes, then make sure that they are a trusty pair of waterproof snowshoes. You’ll want your shoes to be as versatile as possible. Snowshoes allow you to enjoy a variety of activities while keeping your feet warm and dry.
Winter Sports Clothes to Pack
One of the best top reasons to visit e.g. Switzerland during the winter months is winter sports opportunities. While most ski resorts will offer rental equipment, there are a few essentials to pack for yourself.
- Ski Jacket: When choosing the perfect ski jacket, you need to consider warmth, level of waterproofing, and freedom of movement. A jacket that is adjustable in fit seals effectively and dries quickly is the perfect apparel for snowboarding, skiing, and other winter outdoor sports.
- Ski Pants: A trusty pair of insulated ski pants are the next essential item for all winter sports fans. Make sure that your choice of pants is breathable, warm, and waterproof. These details will keep you dry, warm, and comfortable on the slopes.
- Winter Protection: There are a few items that will make your winter vacation all the more comfortable. The last thing you want is to be soaked on your first day or get a migraine from snow blindness.
- Umbrella: Regardless of what time of year you visit Switzerland, it’s always a smart move to pack a foldable umbrella. The nifty item doesn’t take up too much space. It can be the difference between a stroll in the city streets and getting caught in a flu-inspired downpour.
- Chapstick: Visiting Switzerland in winter will most likely find you spending hours of fun on the snow-covered slopes. This can quickly dry out your lips and burn your skin. In this instance, you’re going to be grateful that you’ve packed your moisturizing stick of Chapstick.
- Sunglasses: The best days on the slopes are the ones accompanied by clear, sunny skies and good conditions. These circumstances also increase the sun’s glare on the white snow, making it close to unbearable for your eyes. A pair of polarized sunglasses or ski goggles can protect your eyes from the wind and bright light.
CONCLUSION: WHAT TO PACK FOR EUROPE IN WINTER
Europe in winter is a fantastic travel destination. Whether you come for a ski trip in Switzerland, explore the Christmas markets in London or want to have a weekend trip to a warmer place like Valencia – Europe is so diverse and has something for every taste.
Just be aware of what to pack for Europe in winter, and you can enjoy a fantastic time in Europe.
Stay safe and enjoy!