12 Best Europe destinations in January of 2024

Europe isn’t known for great weather in January, but most of the popular cities are warmer and nicer than you might expect. You’ll see on the list below that most of them are well above freezing most of the month and they also tend to get very little rain or snow. The 12 places on the list below all have weather that is plenty nice enough for an enjoyable visit.

Perhaps the best reason to visit Europe in January is that it’s the slowest month of the year for tourism so crowds will be almost non-existent even at popular places like the Coliseum in Rome or the Eiffel Tower. Hotels also tend to be quite cheap in January so you’ll be able to treat yourself to something much nicer than you would if you visited in summer, and you’ll still be saving money.

Note: This article was last updated in September, 2023.

Important European holidays in 2024

  • January 1 – New Year’s Day (public holiday in most of the world)
  • January 6 – Epiphany (minor holiday in many Christian countries)

Below you’ll find

  1. Europe’s best January beach destination
  2. Europe’s 11 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. It’s worth pointing out that Tenerife is only one of the Canary Islands and the other share essentially the same weather and prices. Some online travel agencies group them all together, while others list each island separately so it might also be worth checking for Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, and La Palma, which might offer even better deals.

  • Good 3-star hotels in January from €40 for two people
  • Good 4-star hotels in January from €84 for two people
  • Hostel dorm beds in January from €15 per person

>>>Check hotel deals for Tenerife
>>>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.

Even December can be quite busy in Rome so a visit in January could be very peaceful, especially compared to any other month aside from February.

  • Good 3-star hotels in January from €53 for two people
  • Good 4-star hotels in January from €71 for two people
  • Hostel dorm beds in January from €22 per person

>>>Check hotel deals for Rome
>>>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 usually 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. The Cinque Terre is also fairly close and can be a day trip from Florence, but in January those towns will be very quiet and not worth your time.

  • Good 3-star hotels in January from €55 for two people
  • Good 4-star hotels in January from €85 for two people
  • Hostel dorm beds in January from €21 per person

>>>Check hotel deals for Florence
>>>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. And especially in January when hotels are cheaper, I recommend staying on the main island of Venice rather than across the lagoon on the mainland. You’ll save time and see a lot more. Finding a hotel close to St Marks Square or the Rialto Bridge (or between the two) is ideal if you can afford it.

  • Good 3-star hotels in January from €61 for two people
  • Good 4-star hotels in January from €76 for two people
  • Hostel dorm beds in January from €31 per person

>>>Check hotel deals for Venice
>>>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 of 2024 are higher than in previous years so you might be better off staying a bit away from the center to save some money. The Metro in Paris has stops everywhere so you’ll rarely be more than a 5-minute walk from a station even if you stay a bit out of the center.

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 €83 for two people
  • Good 4-star hotels in January from €94 for two people
  • Hostel dorm beds in January from €34 per person

>>>Check hotel deals for Paris
>>>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 £67 for two people
  • Good 4-star hotels in January from £88 for two people
  • Hostel dorm beds in January from £24 per person

>>>Check hotel deals for London
>>>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. The hotels in January are also bargains so it’s a great time to visit compared to summer when prices are double and crowds are out of control.

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 €46 for two people
  • Good 4-star hotels in January from €60 for two people
  • Hostel dorm beds in January from €19 per person

>>>Check hotel deals for Barcelona
>>>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 in the other one.

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 so you’ll be able to treat yourself to something nicer than you’d get if you visited in July when prices are literally double or more.

  • Good 3-star hotels in January from €51 for two people
  • Good 4-star hotels in January from €71 for two people
  • Hostel dorm beds in January from €16 per person

>>>Check hotel deals for Madrid
>>>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 January 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 €49 for two people
  • Good 4-star hotels in January from €69 for two people
  • Hostel dorm beds in January from €18 per person

>>>Check hotel deals for Lisbon
>>>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. That said, you now have to make reservations in advance and you might as well do that early anyway.

  • Good 3-star hotels in January from €73 for two people
  • Good 4-star hotels in January from €91 for two people
  • Hostel dorm beds in January from €34 per person

>>>Check hotel deals for Amsterdam
>>>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 €27 for two people
  • Good 4-star hotels in January from €41 for two people
  • Hostel dorm beds in January from €11 per person

>>>Check hotel deals for Istanbul
>>>Athens prices and travel tips

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.

Turkey continues to be an outlier in Europe as it has a currency that continues to lose value quickly and high inflation as of late 2023, but that doesn’t actually make the place more expensive for visitors because every other currency buys so many Turkish liras. In other words, Turkey has always been quite affordable and once again it’s one of the cheaper places in Europe or the world for that matter.

  • Good 3-star hotels in January from €32 for two people
  • Good 4-star hotels in January from €46 for two people
  • Hostel dorm beds in January from €10 per person

>>>Check hotel deals for Istanbul
>>>Istanbul prices and travel tips

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All Comments

  1. Harrshit says:

    We are planning go for honey trip in January for 10 -12 days in Europe. Is it possible to cover beaches , mountain, and city to. Many thanks ….

    1. Roger Wade says:


      If you’ve got 10 to 12 days I’d recommend choosing 3 or 4 cities to visit in total. All of Europe’s beaches are quite cold in January, unless you fly to the Canary Islands. I’d probably focus on 2 or 3 cities and then maybe Switzerland if you want to visit the mountains. I’m happy to help if you have other questions. -Roger

  2. Patrizia says:

    I am going to Vienna, Strasbourg, Luzerne, Colmar FR and London in December with my husband. I have done Northern Italy a few times now. I dont know whether to go an extra month before December or after January 8th. The extra month I will be doing myself. Im 65 and have done months long trips on my own before. Im aching for snow..not to ski but to be amongst. Germany maybe? Not interested in a sunny place as we live on the coast in Australia. Im confused..Can you help please. I love walks…nature…photography..I found Pertisau the most beautiful place so far..Many thanks

    1. Roger Wade says:


      Of those two choices I’d recommend doing a month before December. The thing is, January and February are chilly and sometimes rainy months when most people stay inside and hunker down until spring. The days are also quite short (especially the farther north you go). November and December are much more active with shopping and Christmas markets and many celebrations. Even so, there are very few foreign tourists so hotels are cheap and attractions are not crowded.

      As for snow, most of that part of Europe doesn’t get consistent snow at the lower elevations. In winter there might be a snowfall that lasts a few days on the ground, but most of the time it’s clear in those cities. In the mountains above Lucerne there will be snow (ski season starts mid December most years) and on the highest peaks near Interlaken there is snow year round. I’d suggest spending time in and near Salzburg, which is at the base of the Alps so snow should be nearby if not in the city.

      Salzburg is also close to Munich and Bavaria and you’ll find a lot to see and do in that area. Have a scan of my article on where to go in Germany for some ideas, as several are in the south. Having lived in many hot climates myself, I totally understand about NOT needing a sunny place. Still, with short, cloudy days like that it can get a bit old, so I’d think about going south as well. France has fairly mild winters and some places in Spain are even nicer and somewhat sunny. One nice thing about traveling that time of the year is that you can get good deals on hotels even when you book a few days in advance because there are so few other tourists. In other words, you could wing it to some degree and see what you feel like doing when you are over there. I’ve done many trips like this and I’d be happy to help you with advice on it. -Roger

  3. Hasin says:

    Hi Roger,

    Planning to visit any one schengen country this January. 3 days including new year night. what is your recommendation (economical)? or should i skip the new year to save some money?
    I am from Dubai.

    1. Roger Wade says:


      Flying around New Year’s could be expensive because many people are flying home after Christmas, but flights in and out of Dubai are often cheap anyway so it’s worth a look. If you want a great city to visit in the Schengen Zone that isn’t too expensive I’d recommend Prague or Budapest. Both are really wonderful and should be lively on New Year’s Eve. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  4. Dan says:

    Hi Roger,
    I am planning to go travel Europe this January most probably from 4th- 25th, Barcelona, Paris, Berlin, Brussels and perhaps Italy are on my list. Which activities can you recommend please? Your response will be highly appreciated. Thanks

    1. Roger Wade says:


      Those all look like good choices for cities to visit, although I might choose Amsterdam instead of Brussels because it’s far more interesting. My strong recommendation is to spend 3 nights in each city you visit, so it looks like you have time for 7 cities. The shortest worthwhile visit to Italy is 3 nights in Rome, 2 or 3 nights in Florence, and 1 night in Venice.

      I’m happy to help people choose cities to visit and figure out the best way to get between them, but I don’t normally recommend activities in each city. This website has a page for every city you are considering and it lists the top attractions in each one. That should at least help you get started. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  5. Anand says:

    Hi Roger,

    I am planning a Honeymoon trip to Europe in January 2019 – February 2019. It will be a 20 day trip. Can you please suggest a route covering most of the countries.


    1. Roger Wade says:


      If you have 20 days in Europe I would suggest choosing 6 or maybe 7 cities (not countries). In the winter you’ll probably want to stick mostly in the south, so I’d do Spain, France, and Italy for the most part. Make a list of the cities that interest you most and that should be the best way of getting your itinerary started. I’m happy to help more along the way. -Roger

  6. Julie says:

    Hi 🙂
    Hoping you can help me. We have nearly 3 weeks in Europe from November 27 until December 18 when we leave.
    I would like to touch a lot of different countries but still make sure we are there long enough to appreciate and see all they have to offer. We fly in and out of London. Thinking London to Armstradam – 2 nights, then Berlin 2 nights, Prague 2 nights, Venice 2 nights, Assisi 1 night, Rome 4 nights, Florence / Pisa 1 night, lucrence 1 night, Paris 3-4 nights, London 3-4 nights. Still playing around with itinerary but just thoughts. What do you think??? We are a family of 5 – 4 Adults and 1 Child but have travelled 2 x before for up to 7 weeks.
    Any and all help :))

    1. Roger Wade says:


      It’s good to hear that you are a group that is used to long trips. Still, I recommend trying to stay for 3 nights in most cities that you visit, with only a few exceptions such as Venice or Assisi, which are quite compact. The main issue is that from the time you check out of a hotel in one city until you check into a hotel in the next city will usually be 4 to 8 hours by the time you add everything up. In other words, for cities that are two hours apart by train it will still take you 4 or more hours from hotel to hotel. That time of the year there will only be sunlight from 8am or 9am until 4pm or so, especially in the northern cities. So even if you leave early you’ll only have a couple hours of daylight, plus you’ll be tired from all of the traveling. If you stay three nights that means that you have two full sightseeing days in each city, plus a bit of time on the day you arrive. Staying only two nights means you have one full day plus a bit of time, and in that extra day you can see most of the main highlights.

      Amsterdam is packed with great sights, and Berlin is a very large city. I would save some of your other stops for a future trip and stay a bit longer in the main cities. You could do Rome in 3 nights, but I’d take at least 2 nights for Florence and hopefully 3 nights, especially if you want to do a half-day side trip to Pisa. I’ve never heard of lucrence, so maybe save that for a future trip as well. You can get between Florence and Rome in 76 minutes on the high-speed train, but if you do Assisi in between it will take over two hours from Florence to Assisi and more than two hours more from Assisi to Rome because it’s on a slower part of the track. I’m happy to help more if you have other questions. -Roger

  7. ADITYA says:

    hey roger. how are you. i want to go for europe trip in april.what will the best suggestable 2-3 place with good budget not on very higher side. iwill go from delhi,india.
    want your suggestion.

    1. Roger Wade says:


      I’m doing well and I hope you are too. If this is your first visit to Europe I actually recommend starting with these 5 great Europe cities before you look for cheaper ones. It’s true that Paris, London, Amsterdam, Venice, and Rome are more in the higher price category, but you can visit them cheaply and still have an amazing time. You can stay in hostels or 1-star or 2-star hotels that don’t have great locations, and still see all the best sights. And you can usually get a free breakfast at a hotel or hostel, and you can buy a cheap sandwich for lunch, so keeping food costs down isn’t too difficult.

      But back to your actual question, you should have a scan of my article on the best value cities in Europe. If you’d rather go to 2 or 3 cities where even nicer hotels and restaurant meals are quite cheap, my top choices would be Prague, Krakow, Budapest, and even Berlin. I’m happy to help with more information if you need it. -Roger

  8. Pam says:

    Hi Roger,
    Thank you for your suggestions. I am looking to go somewhere outside of Turkey after leaving Istanbul. I’ve actually seen several of the areas you mentioned on a previous trip, just not Istanbul. My thoughts were to go to Prague or Vienna or Budapest or ? Your thoughts?
    Thanks : )

    1. Roger Wade says:


      All three of those options could be good, as they are each great and important cities with a lot to do and see. Regardless of where you go after Istanbul, you’ll have to fly because the recently-restored train service is still far too slow to reach any worthwhile destinations in under a full day. With 4 or 5 days I would choose 2 of those 3, and even then it will be rushing a bit. Since Vienna is between the other two, it makes sense to include it. Budapest is 2 hours 20 minutes by train from Vienna, while Prague is about 4 hours away. Still, I think Prague is the more interesting of the two, although Budapest is a bit cheaper.

      If I were giving advice to a personal friend I would recommend flying int Vienna and spending 2 nights there, and then taking the train to Prague for 3 nights. Vienna is very much of a “cultural capital” in the sense that it has grand palaces and opera and classical music and a lot of history, with very tame nightlife. Prague, on the other hand, has gorgeous architecture and also classical music shows, but it’s also much more creative and it has some of Europe’s best nightlife. If you prefer the opera to unusual bars and funky clothing stores, spend more time in Vienna than Prague. Budapest is kind of a mix of the two, but still I’d recommend Vienna and Prague. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  9. 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!

    1. Roger Wade says:


      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

  10. 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

    1. Roger Wade says:


      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