12 Best Europe destinations in January of 2018

If you are planning a Europe trip in January then you are obviously expecting cooler temperatures. Fortunately, most of the best and most famous tourist cities such as Paris, Rome, and London don't get much rain (or snow) in winter, so as long as you are dressed properly you can still see just about everything.

Below is our list of the 12 best European destinations to consider for a visit in January, including one actual beach. The days in Europe are pretty short this time of year, but at least hotel prices will be at or near their annual lows. This is also the only time of year when you can visit cities like Venice or Barcelona without being surrounded by thousands of other tourists at all times.

If this is your first trip to Europe you may also be interested in our recommendations for best first-time Europe itineraries of your own.

Below you'll find

  1. Europe's best January beach destination
  2. Europe's 10 best January city destinations

Europe's only decent January beach destination

Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

  • January avg high: 69°F/21°C
  • January avg low: 59°F/15°C
  • January avg precip: 1.3″/3.3cm

The above temperatures are clearly lower than any of us would like for sunbathing, but that doesn't stop an army of northern Europeans from doing just that in January whenever the sun is out, which is most of the time. You could fly to the Caribbean for warmer temperatures, although that's not a good option for most of us.

Tenerife is the largest of Spain's Canary Islands and it's the best choice for English speakers as well. The area in the southwest of the island around Los Cristianos is where you'll find most of the hotels and short term rentals, and fortunately it also usually has the nicest weather on the island. Things here are cheap for Europe and even for Spain.

  • Good 3-star hotels in January from €54 for two people
  • Good 4-star hotels in January from €77 for two people
  • Hostel dorm beds in January from €18 per person

>>>Tenerife prices and travel tips

11 Best non-beach destinations in Europe in January

Rome, Italy

  • January avg high: 55°F/13°C
  • January avg low: 39°F/4°C
  • January avg precip: 3.1″/7.8cm

No one planning a Europe trip in January will be expecting warm weather, so it's just a matter of finding the places that aren't too cold and are very lively in winter as well. Rome is a perfect example of that, so it's one of the best winter choices.

During most of the year Rome is so packed with tourists that it can be chaotic and frustrating, and at least you'll get far less of that in January. The hotel prices will also be lower, which is helpful since accommodation in this city is more expensive than you might expect. You might even consider Sicily, which will be even a bit warmer.

  • Good 3-star hotels in January from €45 for two people
  • Good 4-star hotels in January from €51 for two people
  • Hostel dorm beds in January from €28 per person

>>>Rome prices and travel tips

Florence, Italy

  • January avg high: 50°F/10°C
  • January avg low: 35°F/2°C
  • January avg precip: 2.9″/7.3cm

Any first trip to Italy will include Rome, but usually also Florence and Venice, which is why they are called Italy's Big 3. Florence is only 1 hour 20 minutes from Rome on the high-speed train, so you could even do it as a day trip if you wanted. But it's much better to stay here because hotels are cheaper and there is so much to see.

Florence is the heart of Tuscany and one of the world's most important cities for art, so there is no shortage of excellent food and interesting sights to see. You can also visit Pisa in an hour each way as a day trip.

  • Good 3-star hotels in January from €44 for two people
  • Good 4-star hotels in January from €67 for two people
  • Hostel dorm beds in January from €28 per person

>>>Florence prices and travel tips

Venice, Italy

  • January avg high: 42°F/6°C
  • January avg low: 30°F/-1°C
  • January avg precip: 2.3″/5.8cm

Venice is only 1 hour 53 minutes from Florence by train, and it's definitely worth the time even in winter. January is one of the few months when Venice isn't completely overloaded with day trippers on bus tours, so you can actually wander around the city and enjoy it more than you would in summer.

You can see Venice in only a day or two, especially in the less crowded winter, but you should be careful of the Acqua alta (high water). During winter the lagoon can rise so much that the town squares can flood a bit and you have to walk over them on wooden planks. That only happens during high tide, so even on the bad days you can still enjoy at least half the day.

  • Good 3-star hotels in January from €44 for two people
  • Good 4-star hotels in January from €63 for two people
  • Hostel dorm beds in January from €21 per person

>>>Venice prices and travel tips

Paris, France

  • January avg high: 45°F/7°C
  • January avg low: 38°F/3°C
  • January avg precip: 2.2″/5.5cm

Speaking of large cities that are still lively during winter, Paris is charming in any weather and it's well suited to winter because the Metro allows you to get almost anywhere underground. Hotel prices in January are usually quite low as well, at least for the places more geared towards tourists than business travelers.

Most of the top attractions here are indoors, so you can spend time in museums, galleries, and shops if it's not sunny out, and do your outdoor sightseeing when it's nicer. If you want to do most of the famous attractions you should check out our review of the Paris Pass.

  • Good 3-star hotels in January from €68 for two people
  • Good 4-star hotels in January from €94 for two people
  • Hostel dorm beds in January from €27 per person

>>>Paris prices and travel tips

London, England

  • January avg high: 45°F/7°C
  • January avg low: 36°F/2°C
  • January avg precip: 2.1″/5.3cm

Even though London is quite far north, it really doesn't get as cold as you might fear, and it very rarely snows. In other words, London is fairly easy to visit even in the colder months, and hotel prices will be much lower as well. As with other large European cities, the tourist numbers are tiny in January so you can visit places like the British Museum and Westminster Abbey with few distractions.

It's worth noting that London is so far north that it gets dark by 4pm in January, but the city is still very alive and the pubs are full of locals even in the winter months. You might even want to look at our London Pass review if you want to see the top attractions in a short time.

  • Good 3-star hotels in January from €72 for two people
  • Good 4-star hotels in January from €118 for two people
  • Hostel dorm beds in January from €20 per person

>>>London prices and travel tips

Barcelona, Spain

  • January avg high: 56°F/13°C
  • January avg low: 40°F/4°C
  • January avg precip: 1.6″/4.0cm

Barcelona is now on the list of European cities that are so packed with tourists in summer that there is a big backlash among locals. If you visit in January you will be one of a very small number of tourists, so you can enjoy the Sagrada Familia and other sights without having to stand in endless queues.

You'll obviously need some outerwear, but Barcelona is on the coast and it never gets very cold. The dining scene and nightlife here are legendary, and nights here are lively all year round. If you are doing the main sights you should have a look at the Barcelona Pass.

  • Good 3-star hotels in January from €43 for two people
  • Good 4-star hotels in January from €52 for two people
  • Hostel dorm beds in January from €20 per person

>>>Barcelona prices and travel tips

Madrid, Spain

  • January avg high: 49°F/9°C
  • January avg low: 37°F/3°C
  • January avg precip: 1.5″/3.8cm

Being in the center of Spain, Madrid gets colder in winter than Barcelona, but it rarely snows and it's definitely worth a visit. You can get between these cities on a high-speed train in as little as 2 hours 45 minutes, and you'll notice how different they are shortly after you emerge from the train station.

Obviously January is the slow season for tourists in Madrid as well, and there are plenty of great things to see here including the Prado Museum and the Royal Palace. Hotels in Madrid are great bargains in winter as well.

  • Good 3-star hotels in January from €40 for two people
  • Good 4-star hotels in January from €87 for two people
  • Hostel dorm beds in January from €17 per person

>>>Madrid prices and travel tips

Lisbon, Portugal

  • January avg high: 58°F/14°C
  • January avg low: 47°F/8°C
  • January avg precip: 3.8″/9.5cm

If you can't make it down to the Canary Islands and you are looking for the nicest winter weather in Europe, you've found it in Lisbon. This under-rated city is now starting to catch on with tourists, but it's still wonderfully cheap and not yet overrun.

You might get a bit of rain in Lisbon in Januar if you are unlucky, though it's easy to avoid since the city is quite densely packed and a shelter is never far away. You can get here on an overnight train from Madrid, though flying is probably a better and obviously much faster option for most people.

  • Good 3-star hotels in January from €37 for two people
  • Good 4-star hotels in January from €54 for two people
  • Hostel dorm beds in January from €18 per person

>>>Lisbon prices and travel tips

Amsterdam, Netherlands

  • January avg high: 41°F/5°C
  • January avg low: 34°F/1°C
  • January avg precip: 3.1″/7.8cm

The weather in Amsterdam is really only good for a few weeks each year, so the difference between January and most of the rest of the year is small. In other words, this is one of Europe's better cities to visit in the colder weather, and it is even more beautiful if you get a light dusting of snow.

Amsterdam hotel prices are very high in summer, but in January you'll get wonderful deals. You can reach Amsterdam by train from Paris in a bit over 3 hours, or from London on the Eurostar in about 5 hours. This is the only time of year that you can get into the Anne Frank House and Van Gogh Museum without a long wait as well.

  • Good 3-star hotels in January from €51 for two people
  • Good 4-star hotels in January from €81 for two people
  • Hostel dorm beds in January from €30 per person

>>>Amsterdam prices and travel tips

Athens, Greece

  • January avg high: 55°F/13°C
  • January avg low: 41°F/5°C
  • January avg precip: 2.27″/5.5cm

With its relatively southern location, Athens has reasonably warm days in January, and not much rainfall. This of course is one of the world's most historic cities and it's worth 3 days or so if you can get a cheap flight from somewhere else in Europe.

Unlike some others on this list, Athens' main sights are mostly outdoor ones, so you'll want to keep track of the weather. Still, since rain is rare and snow is far more rare, you'll almost certainly have enough time up the Acropolis and through the Agora market hill on the way down. The Greek islands are mostly shut down this time of year, so it's probably not worth a flight or a rough ferry ride.

  • Good 3-star hotels in January from €43 for two people
  • Good 4-star hotels in January from €55 for two people
  • Hostel dorm beds in January from €10 per person

Istanbul, Turkey

  • January avg high: 48°F/9°C
  • January avg low: 37°F/3°C
  • January avg precip: 3.4″/8.5cm

If you are flying into Athens you might want to also book a cheap flight one more step east to Istanbul. Not only is Istanbul another of the world's great cities with amazing history, but it's quite a bit cheaper than most of the rest of the cities on this list as well.

It will be chilly in Istanbul in January, but with so few other tourists you'll be able to see how things operate for the locals who will still be hard at work. The main sights are mostly clustered together in the Sultanahmet Square area, so even if it is cold you can still see a lot in a short time. The famous Grand Bazaar is a huge indoor marketplace, so the weather won't be an issue there either.

  • Good 3-star hotels in January from €16 for two people
  • Good 4-star hotels in January from €21 for two people
  • Hostel dorm beds in January from €9 per person

>>>Istanbul prices and travel tips

24 Responses to “12 Best Europe destinations in January of 2018”

Chirag says:

Hi Roger, LOVE this site, it’s been very helpful researching trip planning. Can you help us out with a January 2018 destination? We have about 9-10 days and we don’t need beach weather, but instead are looking to explore cities and see new culture, and do some hiking. We’d like to AirBNB if we can. We have a decent budget, but would like an excellent value without breaking the bank. We are leaving from NYC. Where do you recommend is best to go?





    Thank you. Even if you don’t need beach weather I assume you’d like something warmer than NYC is likely to be in January. The first thing that comes to mind for you is Argentina, which obviously has summer in January. Buenos Aires is a wonderful city and it’s quite cheap these days as well. It’s very European and very interesting, and especially for those who like meat, the food is excellent. You could spend maybe 4 or 5 days in Buenos Aires and then head to the Mendoza wine country or Bariloche mountain area or even the amazing Iguazu Falls.

    If that doesn’t sound great you might think about Lisbon and Portugal in general, or even Morocco. Both have mild winters and are great value. Let me know if none of these sound interesting and I can try again. -Roger

ADITYA says:




    Three stops in 10 days is very feasible. In fact, you could even stop in Florence for a day or two on your way from Rome to Venice. The best itinerary for those cities is this:

    Rome 3 nights then train to Florence
    Florence 1 or 2 nights then train to Venice
    Venice 1 or 2 nights then flight to Paris
    Paris 3 nights

    Obviously it’ll be chilly in January, and Venice might even be partly flooded for a few hours each day, but those are all good cities for a winter visit to Europe. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

ADITYA says:




    If you can go in March, April, or May you will probably get better weather and you’ll get more daylight as well. February is the slow season in Europe and the weather will be on the cold side. On the other hand, European cities including the ones you are planning for are not known for major storms or long periods of rain (or snow). As a result, the weather rarely causes problems, and in February you get the lowest hotel rates of the year and some of the smallest crowds. Those things make it a bit nicer. Still, I’d go in April if you can. -Roger

ADITYA says:

Hey Roger
thanks for such a wonderful and great reply.you have explained everything very well so one more query which other place can u suggest me



    If you have 10 days and want to visit Rome, Florence, Venice, and possibly Paris, that is perfect for a quick trip and I definitely wouldn’t try to add another city. If you want to drop one of the cities on your list and add another, let me know which one you might drop and I can try to make a suggestion. -Roger

ADITYA says:

what about Spain tour during 15-28 feb 2018



    Spain will be warming up by the end of February, but it will still be too cold for the beach. Spain is a good place to visit in the winter months though because it never gets too cold so most things stay open all year round. -Roger

ADITYA says:

roger one last question hope u will not mind to reply…so finally give me one best suggestion between spain tour or seychelles…please one last…actually feb 15-28 is my best available time to go for a trip with my wife so i want it to be good. waiting for reply



    I have yet to make it to Seychelles, but I’ve heard good things about it and it’s in the Tropics so it’s warm every day of the year. February seems to be one of the rainy months there, so that might be problematic if you want to spend time in the sun. Usually in the Tropics the rain comes hard for short periods of time though. And it looks like the end of February isn’t as bad as the beginning, so it could still be good and you’d probably get affordable hotel rates. For sure it’ll be much warmer than anywhere in Spain in February. -Roger

Yuri says:

Hi Roger,
I am thinking about going to Barcelona for 5 days from Jan 17 to Jan 22. Do you think 5 days would be enough? Do you think it will be too cold or the daytime will be too short for the tour? Thank you!



    Five days is probably more than enough to enjoy the highlights of Barcelona, but it’s a big city and I’m also sure you won’t get bored in five days. And I don’t think it will be too cold or the days too short to enjoy either. You should have over 10 hours from sunrise to sunset, which is plenty of time to see the outdoor sights, especially in 5 days. Barcelona is also famous for its nightlife and for having excellent restaurants as well, so there will be plenty to do once the sun goes down. The locals tend to eat dinner at 10pm or even later, so if you go into a restaurant at 8pm or 9pm it will be just you and perhaps a few other tourists. I’d say that Copenhagen and Stockholm are two cities where a visit in January might not be worth it, but Barcelona should be very lively and fun. -Roger

Gabriela says:

Hi!! Flying in/our of Paris but want to visit different countries. Went last winter and did England, Amsterdam and Bruges. Was thinking maybe Portugal or Madrid? Where else would also fit in that itinerary



    If you go to Portugal you should spend 3 nights in Lisbon and you could also go to Porto, or down to the southern coastal region known as the Algarve around Faro. That area has some of Europe’s nicest January weather, but it’ll still be pretty cold and quiet. As for Spain, you could spend weeks in that country and not get bored. The shortest visit I would recommend would be 3 nights in Barcelona and 3 nights in Madrid. As I so often say, the cities are both very large and very different from each other. You could visit Toledo or do it as a day trip from Madrid. Seville, Granada, and Valencia are probably the three other best tourist destinations, but there is also Malaga and the Costa del Sol area (which will also be quiet in January).

    Most of those destinations are connected by high-speed trains and they are fairly cheap if you buy at least a few weeks in advance. The exception is Madrid to Lisbon is still only connected by a slow overnight train. Flying might be better for that and it’s often cheaper as well. There is also good bus service all over Spain and Portugal. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Versace says:

Hi Roger, I am thinking of going to Milan-Venice-Florence-Rome for 7 days from Jan 27 to Feb 2. Will it be too rush? Do I need to cut 1 city? Do you think the weather will be too cold in Italy? May I have a perfect recommendation from you? I am leaving from Moscow.



    Italy will be a bit chilly in late January, but it rarely snows and doesn’t even rain much, so I think it’s a good place to go in the winter. I would also imagine that it’s much nicer than Moscow that time of year.

    My recommendation for the fastest worthwhile trip to Italy is Rome for 3 days, Florence for 3 days, and Venice for about 24 hours. In other words, I would skip Milan on your first trip. Compared to the other three cities, Milan doesn’t have much to offer and it’s a large and crowded city.

    If you can fly into Rome and fly out of Venice it would be ideal, but even if you have to fly in and out of Rome it’s easy to get from Venice to Rome in 3 hours 21 minutes by train. If you can get a much better deal flying in and out of Milan you could still do that, and then just go from the Milan Airport to Venice or Rome straight away. I

    Venice is a small city that is also expensive and always crowded, so one key to visiting is to spend about 24 hours there and do some of your sightseeing or walking around in the early morning and evening. The city is filled with bus groups from about 10:00 to about 17:00 every day, so if you can enjoy your time there in the morning and evening you will have a great time. I also recommend staying on the main island rather than on the mainland. It costs a bit more to stay on the main island, but it’s worth it on a short stay because the place is much less crowded outside of those busy hours. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

palak says:

Hi Roger,

iI am planning to visit europe from 18,jan 2018 to 28th jan 2018.I have planned to travel London paris brussels prague.Please suggest if it will be good to visit these cities or should i go for other countries.I have booked hotels for london and paris so rest of the itenary is uet to be decided.please suggest



    With 10 total days you should go to 3 total cities. London and Paris are both large and packed with great sights so hopefully you have allowed for at least 3 nights in each of them. Four nights would be even nicer in one of them, leaving you 3 more nights for the trip. Prague is a pretty long train trip from Paris so you’d be better off flying. But it’s also pretty cold in January so I think there are better choices.

    In my opinion, Brussels is interesting for a day or so to see the sights around the historic square, but the rest of the city is very expensive and built more for business people and government employees. I would recommend going to Amsterdam instead, as you can reach it in only 3 hours 15 minutes from Paris by train. Amsterdam is also a far more interesting tourist city with more things to see. So you could fly into London and then take the Eurostar train to Paris and then the high-speed train to Amsterdam. The sooner you buy those train tickets the cheaper they will be. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

RAMZI says:

Hi Roger
I am planning to have a 10 days trip starting from 25/01/2018. Please help me to select the cities I can add and love to have at least 3 countries. I would request you to give me a rough itinerary



    I actually wrote the post above to help people plan that much of their trip on their own. It will be chilly wherever you go and the cities on the list are the ones where the weather is mildest and it’s still enjoyable when it’s a bit cold. My advice is to think more in terms of cities than countries, and to plan on spending 3 nights in just about any city you visit. If you haven’t been to Europe yet I would definitely include Paris, as it really does live up to the hype. After all of that I hope you can find some cities that interest you and once you do that it will be pretty easy to string together a basic itinerary. If you have any questions after that I’m happy to help more. -Roger

Pam says:

I will be leaving my volunteer position Jan 25 and have added a week to travel before returning home. I am in Greece and am thinking of going to Istanbul for a few days but don’t know where to spend the last 4-5 days. Suggestions?
Thank you!



    Istanbul is a wonderful, huge, and busy city. I think 3 or maybe 4 days there is ideal, as you suggest. Assuming you want to explore more of Turkey, which I think is a great idea, you have many great choices. The first one I’d recommend is Cappadocia, which is home to those “fairy chimneys” that hopefully you’ll instantly recognize when you Google it. You can get there by bus from Istanbul and I’d recommend staying in the town of Goreme, which is the heart of the tourist scene there. It’s even more amazing in person than in photos, and it’s a fun place to explore and stay for 2 or 3 days. It’s quite cheap as well, although most of Turkey is quite cheap these days since tourism is well off from 2016.

    My other favorite place in Turkey (I lived in Turkey for over a year not long ago) is the Mediterranean coastal city of Antalya, which you can reach by bus or plane from Istanbul or Cappadocia. Antalya has many tourist hotels along beaches north and south of the city center, but this time of year you’d just want to stay in the city center. It’s also cheap and fascinating. Similar to parts of Greece, there are historic ruins just out in the open all over the place. Antalya is a very pleasant and mostly traffic-free town center, and the nearby airport is busy with great fares so you can fly from there cheaply and easily.

    The other main tourism centers are Bodrum, Izmir, and Selçuk, which is the small town next to the Ephesus city ruins (possibly Turkey’s number one sight). Have a look at those and let me know if you have any other questions I can help with. -Roger


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