In recent years, the changing patterns of the European shoulder season have attracted a lot of attention in the travel world.
For those unfamiliar with the term, “shoulder season” is the name traditionally given to small sections of the travel calendar (usually late spring and early fall) seen as a sweet spot for travel.
For decades, these small time periods showcased European destinations at their best, while featuring significantly fewer crowds and lower prices.
And since the shoulder season also featured “golden zone” temperatures (not too hot, not too cold) and the full range of tourist facilities open, it was a win-win.
And it was kind of a secret.
Until it wasn’t.
The truth is, the writing has been on the wall for a while. In 2019, European travel guru Rick Steves warned that he was seeing enough evidence to start considering April and October as the true shoulder seasons.
And that was before the pandemic.
Fast forward to 2023 and pent-up post-pandemic travel dreams and throngs of people looking to avoid crowds and summer heat have combined to send the beloved shoulder seasons of May and September up in smoke.
Add to that the travelers who have realized that Europe is a great place to spend the spooky season and look at the leaves, and we can almost cross October off the list too.
As November begins, I am left wondering if October is called the new September, does that mean November is the new October?
In other words, November is now the best shoulder season?
It sure looks like that and it could be a blessing in disguise.
Personally, I have a real soft spot for European travel this time of year because the first time I came to Europe was for a two-week trip that lasted from Halloween to mid-November.
As I discovered on that trip and subsequent adventures of the eleventh month, there are many things I like about November in Europe. And I’m sure others will too.
These are just some of the reasons why November is a good time to go to Europe:
The cities are as quiet and uncrowded as possible and this translates into some of the lowest prices of the year.
Some autumn festivals are still held (notably the Alba International White Truffle Fair in Italy).
The weather in Mediterranean Europe can be downright pleasant, with high temperatures of between 60 and 70 degrees accompanied by plenty of sunshine being commonplace.
Northern destinations will undoubtedly be colder, but that just gives you the opportunity to break out those winter sweaters and jackets, which still seem like a novelty this time of year. Oh, and sit in a cozy cafe with a hot drink and act like a European.
The European football season is in full swing (can’t say the same for July!).
Christmas markets open towards the end of the month (here in the UK, things start earlier), and almost every town turns on the festive lighting a little earlier.
Speaking of lighting, European cities look especially charming at night, as many cities make extra efforts to illuminate their monuments and buildings in an especially romantic way.
Last but not least, everyone on your list is sure to like a Christmas gift from Europe.
While it’s true that some attractions may close at the end of October, if you stick to the big cities you’ll probably have few problems and the fun you’ll find there will more than make up for anything you’ve missed.
November. Who knows?
(Scott Hartbeck is an avid European traveler and has been writing about travel for over 10 years.)
©2023 Northstar Travel Media, LLC. Visit him at travelpulse.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.