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.

>>>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.

>>>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.

>>>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.

>>>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.

>>>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.

>>>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.

>>>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.

>>>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.

>>>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.

>>>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.


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.

>>>Istanbul prices and travel tips



2 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?

Best,

Chirag

 

    Chirag,

    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

     

Leave a Comment

    Name (required)
    Mail (will not be published) (required)