Peak season Europe, also known as high season or summer travel season, is the most popular time to travel to Europe.
The accepted high season travel months are June, July, and August, roughly between the U.S. holidays of Memorial Day and Labor Day, with random weeks backing into May or flowing into September, depending on who you ask!
This is Europe’s money-making season.
Witness the crowds, the higher prices, the large number of tour groups - all more abundant in peak travel season.
Europe is spit-shined and dressed to the nines with an eye toward the tourist Dollar, Yen, and name your own currency here.
Hotels, and attractions are fully staffed, with some of the outdoor scaffolding removed.
Museums and historical sights are full. Restaurants are fuller.
There’s excitement in the air during peak season Europe, as tourists from around the world jostle to see the wonders of centuries of Continental history, culture, art, and architecture.
They come in droves, with lines for entering even mundane attractions as long as those at Disney World.
Hotels are full, making it difficult [if not impossible] to negotiate any sort of discounted rate.
Airports and airlines are tedious with more luggage, fuller planes, and [much] higher fares.
The summer travel season is the most crowded and most expensive season to travel in Europe.
But before you decide against Europe's high season, consider the benefit of longer daylight hours, giving you more time to see what you came to see.
Summer evenings, when the best weather in Europe is mild and inviting, beguile you to be out with the locals.
Sightseeing is at its best in peak season Europe with attractions open, refur-bished, and welcoming. Many have flexible schedules, with longer hours well into evening to accommodate tourists.
The crowds may be unavoidable. But there are ways to escape them.
With the milder weather, getting away from other travelers in Europe's peak season is as easy as a short walk away from the main tourist areas:
Traveling in peak season Europe requires flexibility and timing.
With the higher number of tourists planning travel in Europe's high season, it’s common for tours, hotels, and car rentals to be booked up. You can’t wait until a few weeks out to start checking for reservations.
Escorted group tours are often booked up to a year in advance, so check with international tour companies that offer group tours to your destination, as soon as you know where you want to go.
Most tour companies often offer discounts or some kind of early booking special for the next year’s tours.
Check their offerings between November and February for 'early bird' specials, which can result in $100-$500 off per person, depending on the price of the tour.
When you find a deal you like, act quickly. Once the 'purchase by' dates have passed, few deals will be offered and full price will reign.
If your choice is independent travel, planning for peak season in Europe can be an exercise in competitiveness.
Start checking for airfares around six months before you plan to travel, but don’t expect to find reasonable prices until around 90 days ahead of your travel date.
Airlines optimis-tically believe prospective passengers [their intended customers] will pay the inflated prices they offer early.
But if you grit your teeth and don’t give in to your panic, their panic - starting 60-90 days out - will be your reward.
With empty seats to fill, most airlines begin the discounting process on interna-tional airfares around the 90-day mark. By this time they've begun to assess early bookings and start to get serious about filling seats.
When checking for airfares with either a 'brick and mortar' independent travel agent, or scouting your own deals with online agents, always compare airline carriers, rates, and dates to find the very best deal.
Secure hotel accommodations early as well, especially if you want to stay at a specific hotel or in a high-tourist area.
Contact hotels directly for the best price. Booking early - directly with the hotel - is often your best chance to lock in a discounted rate, before they have many reservations on the books.
Holiday peak season periods [Christmas, New Years, etc.] have their own set
Plan your air travel for non-business travel days, usually Tuesday through Thursday. Look for late morning or early afternoon flights, while business travelers are conducting their business.
Never travel just before or just after a major holiday – like the Wednesday before or the Sunday after Thanksgiving - when everyone else is traveling. Pick days further out from the holiday [or on the holiday, itself] when fewer people fly.
Once you choose your airline, read and understand its policy for cancelled or delayed flights.
Carry your airline's contact phone numbers for the reservation system, so in the event of a delay, you can reach them without standing in holiday travel lines at airport ticket counters.
Make sure you bookmark online portals for quick access for any pre-confirmed travel arrangements, especially airlines, in the event you can't get through by phone.
And always, always, have a back-up plan.
Research your destination in advance, and you’ll find that many Europeans take their own vacations in the summer travel season, usually in July or August.
While you may find an occasional business closed, you’ll also find local traffic is lighter, native museum goers and sightseers are gone, and popular restaurants are available.
Europe’s northern countries have mild weather in summer, with a latitude equal to that of the northeastern United States and Canada.
The British Isles are comfortable, having many more days of sunshine and good weather in the summer season than during the rest of the year.
Belgium, The Netherlands, and Scandi-navia may have the best weather in Europe during summer.
In fact, the farther north in Europe the country is, the more important peak sea-son can be as the best season to travel there.
Countries in southern Europe [think near the Mediterranean] will be hot. Really hot.
But there are charming towns and villages everywhere, with beaches to cool your heels.
Costa del Sol...the Greek Isles...the South of France....
The common element in each: water, water, everywhere.
In and around these coastal resort areas, you'll find indigenous sites full of history and local charm - often overlooked in other travel seasons.
Outdoor activities are the rule. Alfresco dining is what to do for the in crowd. And the tourist crowd.
Sun, sand, and unparalleled scenic beauty. Is it any wonder these are the places Europeans go for their summer Europe travel?
During peak season Europe, wherever you travel on the Continent, both natives and tourists are out enjoying themselves. People watching is at its best.
When is the best season to visit Europe? Most travelers, tour companies, and even Europeans say - without hesitation - it’s peak season!
For more information on how to choose the best season to travel to Europe, check out the following pages:
Traveling in Low Season finds a different side of Europe. Toss your weather concerns aside and discover the Continent's true soul.
Traveling in Shoulder Season is the best of all worlds. The crowds are gone, the prices down, and the weather’s fine. Learn how to take advantage of Europe’s finest travel season.
Discounts are hard to come by for peak season travel. As a rule, there are no 'late breaking deals'. Book early for the best prices. Avoid reservation centers, if possible. The further out you book – directly with the company when they show low occupancy – the more likely you are to save money.
Great Tips for European Travel
On Rick Steves' 12 Disc, Blu-ray, Collector's Edition
Thanks for providing all these awesome resources for travel addicts on your website! – Sally D./Canada
I enjoyed looking through your website, especially the article you've written about yourself and your passion for travel. I share that same passion. – Theresa C. /US
This is the first time I’ve visited your site, and it's fantastic. I think it's a great resource as an all-travel-portal nationwide. – Steven F. /US
I’ve been reading your blog [travel-safe-travel-smart.com] and found the article 'Use The Best Travel Guides To Plan Your Trip' very interesting. – Jessica B. /US