If you’re travelling Europe in winter, let me tell you: those European winters are no joke.
With unpredictable temperatures, constant threat of rain/snow, and the pressure to pack light yet keep up with trendy locals, a girl is left with few options besides drinking one’s weight in mulled wine.
I’ve made my fair share of European winter packing mistakes, and picked up a few crucial pieces of wisdom along the way.
That’s why I decided to write this post, to share my wisdom/fails with you! If you’re trying to figure out what to pack for your winter Europe trip, here’s all the information you need to know.
Save this list of Europe Winter Packing Guide for Later!
You’ll be very glad you did.
Important Things to Consider When Creating Your Winter Packing List for Europe
Here are some basic must-knows to keep in mind…
Layering is key for surviving winter in Europe
Trust me: packing big, chunky sweaters to keep warm is a bad idea. Not only do they take up loads of space, they’re also only useful in very cold weather conditions.
On the other hand, if you rely on layering for warmth, you have a more versatile wardrobe with pieces that can lend themselves to different weather conditions/occasions.
Bonus tip: Make sure you have a really warm, high-quality base layer like this. Their Omni-Tech line is honestly like magic and you feel the warmth instantly. For a more affordable version, I have a set of tops/bottoms from this line and they kept me perfectly toasty through a Canadian snowstorm!
Out of all my winter staples, the best value for money is this scoop neck base layer. Its neckline is great for (stealthy) layering, it's super lightweight, and once you layer up, it seals heat in to keep you toasty... all for less than a sit-down lunch!
The weather is completely unpredictable
I can confirm that the weather in Europe is bananas almost 100% of the time.
You can’t predict it, and usually weather forecasts aren’t all that accurate either.
Prepare for all of the following: drizzly days, torrential downpours, hail, snow and crystal clear blue skies. If you’re prepared for all the elements possible, then you’re far less likely to be caught off guard 😉
Your coat will be over top everything
I know that it’s tempting to lug around a suitcase full of cute outfits because you want to look nice in photos, but I can guarantee that you’ll look 99% the same in all your photos because you’ll always be wearing your coat!
That’s why it’s important to bring a coat you love and feel confident in. This one is similar to the parka I pretty much live in during the winter-time – bright yellow so you can always spot me, and toasty warm… plus it pops well in photos!
Consider where in Europe you’ll be going
I know there’s a tendency to group Europe together as one entity, but the truth is (especially in winter), the weather conditions will vary a lot depending on what region you’re headed to.
Obviously, you should expect a lot of snow and low temperatures in Northern Europe, whereas there are more tolerable temperatures/rain in Western, Central and Southern Europe.
Warm accessories will save your life
Assuming you’re an adventurous go-getter, you’ll be spending a lot of time outside.
Make sure that you’re well covered up during your outdoor jaunts by having a solid arsenal of warm, high-quality accessories.
Think warm hats, earmuffs, mittens, gloves and SOCKS. I’m all for a good bargain, but don’t cheap out on these or else you’ll be freezing!
Don’t forget to moisturize 😉
Cold = dryness = chapped everything! And I mean everything. Moisturizer is a must.
If you're checking a bag, the best accessory you'll ever spend money on is an Apple AirTag. With it, you can monitor where your bag is at all times, which provides priceless ease of mind.
Winter Packing List for Europe: The Simple Breakdown of What to Pack
Here’s a quick clothing/accessories packing list for you! (This should last you a week. I wouldn’t pack more than this. Just do laundry instead to ensure you pack lightly!)
To see a more detailed explanation, scroll down.
PS: You can find a full resolution printable version of this packing list in my VIP Library here.
Clothes to Pack for a Winter Europe Trip
- 2 thermal base layer tops
- 2 pairs thermal leggings
- 1 nice top (suitable for going out)
- 1 cardigan
- 3 long sleeve tops
- 1 dressier sweater (e.g. sweater dress)
- 1 fleece/down layer
- 2 pairs of jeans/pants (trousers)
- 7 pairs of underwear
- OPTIONAL: 2 bras
- 7 pairs (base layer) socks
- 2 pairs very warm wool socks
- 1 pair of warm, waterproof boots (like these)
- OPTIONAL: 1 pair of “nicer” shoes
- 1 set of warm, long-sleeved pyjamas
Ugh. I bought this coat last winter and I've honestly been counting down the months so I can wear it again. Not only is it toasty warm, the hood is huge so when it rains, you're fully protected, and it's so poofy! And the perfect length!
Accessories for a Winter Europe Trip
- 1 warm blanket scarf
- 1 pair of gloves/mittens
- 1 wool hat that covers your ears
- 1 day bag (purse or backpack)
- 1 tote bag
- OPTIONAL: Umbrella (if you have a good hood on your coat, you can do without)
- OPTIONAL: 1 swimsuit (if your hotel has a pool)
If you use your phone ten million times a day while traveling like I do, then you need to make sure any gloves you bring are compatible with touch screens, like these (which are designed for that exact purpose).
- OPTIONAL: Airtag to keep track of your luggage
What to Pack for Travelling Europe in Winter (Detailed Clothing List with Explanations)
Alright, now we’re getting into the nitty gritty of what to pack when travelling Europe in winter. The Winter Packing List for Europe essentials listed above will now be explained in further detail.
2 thermal base layer tops
These are the SECRET to staying warm in Europe – I promise. You’ll want to look for thin, breathable tops that are built for the purpose of keeping heat in.
The magic of these is they’re versatile – they can trap heat in when it’s freezing out (and after surviving -25 temperatures on a recent trip to the Québec Winter Carnival, I’ve learned the value of this!)… or when it’s not that cold out, they’re still breathable and comfy.
I cheaped out for years, thinking regular long sleeve tops would work well as bottom layers. Trust me, there’s no comparison. Make sure you have some good thermals and you’ll be golden.
2 thermal leggings
Similarly, having thermal leggings can be super handy – not only can you wear them with a dress or skirt and still stay warm, you can also layer them under jeans or regular pants.
A lot of people ask me if snow pants are needed for winter in Europe. Honestly, unless you’re going to be skiing or trudging through snow, you won’t need them. Some warm thermal leggings under your go-to jeans will be more than sufficient! (Depending on where you’re going of course).
Thermal leggings can also go under stockings for a warm way to wear cute dresses. I have a bunch of these (for varying degrees of warmth) and they’re super affordable and comfy.
1 ‘nice’ top (suitable for going out)
While warmth is obviously a priority, I find it handy to bring at least one ‘nicer’ top that you can wear in case you go out to a nicer dinner or bar (which will likely happen in Europe, I assure you).
The good thing is you can easily layer other tops over it to keep warm, and now you have one cute option “just in case!”
Cardigans are an easy layer to add on and great for when you want to look nice (maybe while settling into a cozy cafe somewhere!). Ideally it should match your (aforementioned) “nice looking tank top” 😉
3 long sleeve tops/thin sweaters
When travelling Europe in winter, I highly advise bringing thick long sleeve tops/thinner sweaters rather than ultra thick sweaters, because those giant sweaters (as cozy as they are) take up way too much space.
Bringing 3 thinner sweaters like these should be sufficient for a week.
I’ve been going through a bit of a turtleneck phase lately, and find they’re are a great low-maintenance way to look put-together, so I’d advise making one of these long sleeve tops a turtleneck like this if you like them.
1 dressier sweater (e.g. a sweater dress)
Whether you opt for a cute sweater dress or just a dressier “nice looking” sweater, I find it helps to have one cute outfit that makes you feel like a total star.
I’d advise picking something that could work for a nice dinner in the evening, but also not look out of place while exploring during the day. As I mention in my how to pack light article, you want to avoid packing any clothes that are single-purpose.
1 thin fleece/puffer (for layering)
On some days of your trip, it’s likely the weather will be unexpectedly nice.
When the sun is shining, wearing your big thick coat might seem like too much of a commitment.
That’s why I’d recommend bringing a thinner fleece or puffer that you could a) wear on its own for warmer days and b) use as an additional layer under your coat on colder days.
So good I have it in two colours! I don't understand how this thing is as warm considering how little it weighs, and how small it can scrunch up in your bag, BUT it's one of my winter favourites. I keep it as an emergency in my day bag and love wearing it for some extra warmth.
2 pairs of jeans/pants (trousers)
Dark colours work best, like this super comfy pair.
Don’t bring any that are too tight because you might need to layer leggings or thermal underwear underneath them.
1 very warm jacket/coat
Hands down, the most important consideration of your winter packing list is the coat you bring. This one is similar to the parka I pretty much live in during the winter-time – bright yellow so you can always spot me, and toasty warm 😉
Remember, you’ll be wearing this over top all your clothes, and it’ll likely feature heavily in any photos you take, so bring one you love and feel confident in.
Keep the colour in mind too! Neutrals work best. I once packed a bright red parka like this and only two pairs of pants: one of which was maroon. I looked like a ridiculous tomato. Don’t be stupid like me!
You should ensure that your coat is very warm (I recommend packing one for the coldest destination you intend to visit during your trip) and waterproof, with a hood (because you never know when it’s going to start raining), something similar to this.
Size-wise, it should be a little bit longer (3/4 length coats work best) because you’ll be throwing it over top every outfit you own, so you don’t want an awkward long cardigan to be sticking out in all your photos!
I would also get one that fits a little bit loose, considering you’ll be wearing many layers underneath it. There’s no use in having a nice warm coat if you can’t zip it up!
Last but not least, think about the coat’s pockets! I love winter coats with warm, fuzzy pockets to keep my hands warm. Trust me, when you’re outside waiting in line to get into the next hotspot or attraction, you’ll be thankful for those bad boys.
7 pairs of underwear
You could honestly get away with less if you do laundry on the road, but 7-8 pairs of underwear is a nice number so that you only need to take care of laundry once a week!
A friend of mine also recommends packing panty liners so that you can just use those/not have to switch underwear as often… but that’s not for everybody!
Pretty self-explanatory 😉
Don’t be like my friend who once brought 10 bras on a 10 day Europe trip. Why, girl, why.
7 pairs of (base layer) socks
Okay gross fact time: your feet are going to get really sweaty during winter travel. Like…. REALLY sweaty. Yay!
That’s why, above all else, you want socks that are warm, comfortable and also wick away moisture.
In other words, avoid polyester. I personally swear by these merino wool socks which are warm, comfy, and most of all, DO NOT SMELL!
I literally wore the same pair for a week during a winter trip in Canada for research, and even after a week of sweaty trodding, they were odour-free. These would be great for layering underneath thick wool socks on colder days.
Merino wool is an amazing material that is breathable and less likely to breed bacteria, which means with these socks, your feet somehow do NOT smell or get sweaty... even after days of re-wear. I'm not kidding. It's low-key scary. These are a must for winter layering!
1 or 2 pairs of very warm wool socks
I always bring at least one pair of ridiculously thick wool socks just in case temperatures are worse than I anticipated (which is 99% of the time).
I recently invested in a pair similar to these and I can’t recommend them enough – so comfy with some padding along the heel so you can do plenty of walking while staying comfy.
You don’t need more than 1-2 pairs of these thick ones as you’ll be layering them over your thinner base layer socks so you should only need them for especially cold days/nights.
1 pair of warm, comfortable boots
When travelling Europe in winter, warm and comfortable shoes are key.
I highly recommend packing just one pair of versatile boots.
I recently got my first pair of solid Sorel boots and am in LOVE! This pair is like walking on clouds and it has served me well in over five countries already – I love that it’s warm and comfortable but not overly clunky.
These boots are honestly like walking on clouds, with just enough grip to keep you warm and steady on European cobblestones. These are perfect for European winter city travel, but I also have this heavier duty pair I bought for more extreme snowy conditions.
1 pair “nicer” shoes
If you have room, I’d advise packing a nicer pair of shoes that you could wear out to dinner. If you’re low on space, I find that a pair of simple black ballet flats like these can do the trick and pack super well because they’re squishable.
1 set of warm, long-sleeved pyjamas
Something that’ll keep you warm and cozy. Don’t bank on being able to sleep in shorts and a tank top! The heating systems in some European buildings/hotels can be weirdly temperamental.
What to Pack for Travelling Europe in Winter: Accessories & Other
Alright, now onto what to pack in terms of winter time accessories!
Don’t forget – the sun shows up in winter too 😉
Sometimes, the European winter will just surprise you with a day of ridiculously clear skies/sunshine.
Don’t be caught off guard and make sure you pack these! Definitely something that’s way too easy to leave out on your winter packing list for Europe. These classic ones are my go-to. Whenever I lose them (which is sadly often), I just buy the exact same ones because I love them so much. Ideal when you have giant cheeks like me!
1 thick, warm scarf
Scarves are like packing magic when it comes to travelling Europe in winter!
You’ll be wearing your scarf a lot so pick one that you love and that matches most of the pieces in your wardrobe.
I’d recommend bringing a blanket scarf in a pattern you love – remember, it’s going to show up in most of your photos, so you better love it.
1 pair of gloves/mittens
Keep in mind you’ll likely need to be on your phone for Google Maps, messaging friends to meet up, etc. so be sure to invest in either a pair of cute texting gloves like these (that allow your fingers to still work on a touch screen) or flip top mittens like these.
1 warm hat that covers your ears
So important!! There’s no worse feeling than ice cold ears. A looser fitting toque/beanie is better, because then you can avoid that dreaded hat hair 🙂
I love cute knitted ones like these that have the giant pom pom up top. Call me basic but they make me feel like a little forest creature and I love it.
1 daybag (purse or backpack)
Realistically, you don’t need more than one purse… I know, crazy right?
Here’s what I do: Instead of a wallet, I bring this adorable wristlet to hold my cash/cards. That way, if I’m going out, I’ll bring this wristlet in lieu of a purse.
Then, as a day bag, I have an old Kate Spade ‘Adelina Danbury’ satchel similar to this one that is honestly a piece of travel magic.
It looks smart, but is somehow big enough to fit a bunch of stuff, plus it has a second pocket inside that you can zip your valuables into for additional piece of mind. I really wish it was still for sale – there’s a reason I still use it daily after five years!
NOTE: A cute backpack would work too, but I prefer the security of a purse (I can keep my hand on it, so I know it’s safe from pickpockets).
When I do need to bring a backpack though (if I have lots of camera gear, etc.) I bring this classic black backpack which is really inconspicuous and holds a surprising amount of stuff.
OPTIONAL: Umbrella (if you have a good hood on your coat, you can do without)
Chances are good that it’ll rain at least once during your trip, but to be honest, I find that bringing a coat with a hood is a much better defence than having an umbrella.
Still, if you’re an umbrella person, then be sure to bring a lightweight yet sturdy one like this, which folds up inside out so the water is contained and doesn’t get all your stuff wet!
OPTIONAL: 1 swimsuit (if your hotel has a pool/jacuzzi)
Be sure to research your accommodations/activities beforehand to determine whether or not you’ll need a swimsuit. After all, doesn’t snowy jacuzzi time just sound magical?
Must-haves that will make your winter in Europe 1000x easier
Packing cubes – These are seriously my favourite thing ever. They do wonders for helping you stay organized, and can compress all your clothes neatly so that you can fit more in your bag!
Refillable bottles – SUCH a good investment. Buying miniature toiletry bottles is such a pain. Buy one of these and you’ll have travel-ready shampoo, conditioner, etc. ready instantly! Click here to read my full guide on the best travel size bottles you can buy online.
Clear bag for carry-on liquids – You need these for getting any of your liquids/toiletries past airport security, and a durable bag is an awesome investment that will save you from countless dinky Ziploc bags. Click here to read my full guide on the best travel toiletry bags you can buy online.
A travel towel – this is my favourite towel in the universe because it dries super quick and folds up to be tiny. It comes in handy for a surprising number of occasions so I would recommend always bringing one.
Universal adaptor – Never stress about whether or not you have the right adaptor! Having a universal one will mean you can just pack it every time you travel, regardless of where you’re going. One less thing to worry about.
Luggage locks – One of the downsides of travelling Europe is that there’s often pickpockets! I recommend buying a pack of three small luggage locks to bring with you so that you can protect your goods while in transit, or perhaps in a hostel/hotel room where there’s no secure place to keep your belongings. Here’s a really affordable pack you can get online.
I adore packing cubes because they keep everything organized and can help you save space by squishing and condensing all your stuff. I've tested a bunch of the top brands and this set is my favourite.
I hope you enjoyed that winter packing list for Europe!
Travelling Europe in winter is such an amazing experience, and with the right wardrobe, you’ll be able to stress less and focus your attention on what counts: eating all the desserts you can fit in your mouth.
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions re: travelling Europe in winter! Thanks for reading 🙂