Hi from Rick: Off-Season Delights

Dear Traveler,

Of course, Europe uses Celsius to measure its heat. While I don't really know Celsius, I do have a little trick I find quite handy: 28 degrees Celsius = 82 degrees Fahrenheit — and that's when I start getting too hot.

I'm in Portugal now enjoying a wonderful couple of weeks in late June. As my Portuguese guide friends are bracing for a sweltering and busy summer (July and August), it's been in the 70s every day for me this month…my kind of travel weather. I'll be flying north to Germany in a couple of days in my quest to keep my temperatures below 28 °C.

As Europe gets hotter and more crowded, I get more and more keen on off-season travel. Every time I travel in the off-season, I find myself enjoying a cool and comfy tranquility (and not missing the heat and crowds that so often come with peak season). But even more than that, I enjoy catching Europe by surprise — at its candid best…just embracing life on its terms. When I travel away from the tourist season, Europe seems even more welcoming than normal.

Sure, traveling off-season means you spend less time in sweaty weather, less time in lines, and less time working to pay for your flight. But, for me, the smart-season-reason to travel off-season is the chance to experience a more European Europe. In the off-season, I savor those quieter moments…moments like these:

In a nearly tourist-free Paris, I linger over my café au lait (with a cute little bird on the wicker chair next to me) and watch as locals parade by. I enjoy a theater and music scene designed for locals rather than tourists. I take my time at a château in the Loire Valley, with a big log on the fire and guards relaxed and happy to chat. I sit alone on a pebbly Riviera beach and step into the wonder of St. Peter's Basilica with none of the jostle. If you've yet to try it, bundle up and get convivial with Europe in the off-season. I bet you'll understand why, for so many, that's a favorite time to travel.

While most of our Rick Steves tours will always be in the peak time (late spring, early fall), we're leading more tours in the off-season than ever — itineraries that make the most sense in the months of November through March — and offering them at great prices. And that's what we're highlighting in this month's Tour News.

You can browse a slideshow of wonderful opportunities to travel in winter and early spring, join me on a tour through Paris' world-class museums, read raves about traveling in the winter from recent tour members, and meet one of our fantastic Spain tour guides. And if you like the idea of experiencing the quieter side of Europe, let me remind you that our early booking discount ($100 per seat on any 2025 tour) ends soon — on June 30. So, you have a couple of weeks to skim your options, and decide which you prefer: summer, shoulder, or off-season.

What's my favorite time to be in Europe? Summer, spring, fall, winter? The answer is always: yes.

Happy travels,

Rick (loving Portugal and ready for Germany)

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