I keep reading how harsh the weather is in December. Most travellers have even advised us to pick a different season to go whent he weather is more forgiving. I would love to hear from travellers that have been in Italy/France in late December. How is the weather really? I grew up in NYC so I am not a stranger to cold winters. Any details on what to expect would be GREATLY appreciated.
THANKS IN ADVANCE
Cold, rainy, possibly windy. Short, greyer days. You will need a winter coat, scarf, gloves, hat. Thermals would be a good idea too. If you spend a lot of time sightseeing outdoors, bring tights to wear under your trousers and a long coat. You can expect temperatures close to 6-7 °C at that time of year, lower than that in the mountains, highs of 10-15 °C depending on where you are (it will probably be warmer near the sea, i.e. in Nice you could have 15 °C during the day, but that's a bit optimistic for Paris).
The worst thing about that time of year is how early it gets dark (around 5 PM) which means you can pack a lot less in a day compared to summer, when it's light until 9 or 10 PM. Also if it's rainy/windy, it will feel a lot colder. It sometimes rains torrentially.
[ Edit: Edited on 11-Oct-2010, at 10:16 by Sallyxx ]
You stand some chance of the weather being a bit warmer in the South of Italy, Palermo for example is average max 18 in December. You still run the risk of it being grey and drisly, and possibly windy.
Thanks for replying. I am starting to get a little nervous about the weather. Not so much the temperature but the rain/wind. It will be our first time in Europe and I'm afraid we wont get to see much if we're stuck inside. Are there any other parts of Europe that might be less rainy?
I have two weeks of vacation every December, so it is the only time that I can travel for 2 consecutive weeks.
Well, it is the middle of winter, so some rain is to be expected, wherever you go. It won't be raining constantly for 2 weeks, but it's just not possible to predict how much rain you will get and where. Even if you go as far south as Greece or Cyprus, it's likely that you'll encounter a fair bit of (possibly torrential) rain, although having said that, the temperatures in the south will most likely be higher than in central Europe and the sun that much brighter.
I often travel around France, Belgium and Germany in December, as I love Christmas markets. More often than not it's been dry but bitterly cold. It's nice when it's dry, but quite depressing when it rains because the cold penetrates your bones, even with thermals on - but then you could be lucky and have very little rain.
If December is the only time you can travel and you really want to see Europe, I say go anyway and keep your fingers crossed. Just make sure you take the right clothes with you, lots of warm layers, and a thick, long winter coat (the ones that stop at the waist are useless when it's cold and windy), plus hats, gloves, scarves and warm boots. Cold, crisp winter days are quite enjoyable, and if it rains you can spend more time in museums or cafes. Just avoid the smaller summer resorts and concentrate more on the larger cities, where there's more to do year round.
You might want to check Weatheronline.co.uk, which I find really helpful, because they also have a tool to see a certain period of time in the past and what temperatures and days with some rain you might expect.
If I check Paris for example for a 3-week period from the 1st of December it gives a range of temperatures from 15 to -7 (extremes) and with 10 days with some rain (could be only one shower) out of the 21 days.
Palermo shows 9 days with some rain and temperatures up to 27 in extreme cases.
Days with constant rain are quite rare though, even in the Netherlands and Belgium Go and have fun! You will find much less tourists around, except around Christmas/Newyears.
I'm from NY too and I've been to Spain, France, and Italy in winter. None were as cold as NY! If you get reallly lucky, it could be quite mild. I did hit some drizzle, but it didn't interfere with walking and sightseeing. It's a different vacation...less touristy for sure and less expensive! I got great deals on hotels at this time of year. Have fun choosing!
Thanks for replying everyone. Hopefully, there will be little rain and maybe even a heat wave!! Wishful thinking, I know. I'll be sure to pack plenty of thermals and rain gear. I'm excited to go at a time where there won't be a lot of tourist. I'm definitely looking for a more authentic experience.
A heatwave may be too much to hope for, but you stand a good chance of having little rain. As for an authentic experience, I'm afraid if the bulk of your time is spent sightseeing, you won't gain much by travelling in winter time. Still, the places you're looking to visit are large cities, and there will be areas that are little frequented by tourists - if you look out for them, you will discover the local atmosphere. Enjoy!
Thanks Sallyxx, always very helpful