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Packing for a Winter City Break can seem hard. Especially when you have hand luggage only as Winter jumpers, scarfs and boots take up so much more room than Summer dresses, sandals and shorts. However in many ways, I think it’s a bit easier to pack for a Winter Trip in Europe.
Firstly because you know what the weather is going to be like in Winter – cold!
Secondly, I feel you need less outfit choices because generally, no one sees what you are wearing under your coat or jumper, and wearing the same black jeans for 3 days straight doesn’t seem as noticeable.
Plus there’s no desire to wear anything different to go out for dinner in as it’s so cold the idea of changing into a different more ‘going out’ top isn’t that attractive!
Also, you’ll wear one set of clothing on the plane as its likely it’ll be cold where you are flying from so thats one less set of bulky clothes to pack.
I’ve been on quite a few European Winter Weekends away that have been rather cold (Vilnius, Amsterdam, Riga, Cotswolds, Basel, St Anton & Hamburg) and I feel like I’ve figured out and perfected the art of what to pack for a European Winter City Break using hand luggage only to ensure I optimise the space in my case and don’t waste space with bulky wooly items I won’t end up wearing!
I’ve also not been overly cold whilst on these trips which is a huge plus so my obsession with layers has worked!
Here’s my Recommended Packing List for a European Winter City Break (2 or 3 nights) using hand luggage only, plus tips:
2 x Thick Jumpers – Travel in one and pack the other. (I love Winter jumpers from H&M as they’re great quality for a good price!)
1 x Black Jeans – Travel in them and wear them throughout and hope you don’t get your dinner down them!
2 x Scarfs – Travel in one, pack the other.
1 x Thermal Long Sleeved Top – Pack. (I purchased a similar black thermal top to this last year which was great!)
1 x Tights or Thermal Leggings for under your jeans – Pack. (I purchased these thermal leggings last year which are great for under jeans!)
1 x Vest Top or T-shirt for under your Jumper – Travel in.
1 x Evening going out top that is warm – Pack.
1 x PJ’s – Pack.
2 x Thermal Socks – Pack. (I have these black thermal socks which work well when wearing boots)
Underwear – Pack.
1-2 x Woolley Hats – Travel in one, pack the other.
1 x Pair of Gloves – Put in Coat Pockets. (I recommend touchscreen gloves so you don’t have to take your gloves off to use your phone!)
1x Winter Coat – Travel in.
1 x Foldable Ultra Light Jacket to put under your main coat if its going to be extra cold! – Pack (This is a similar one to mine)
I took these shots whilst wearing my PJ’s so this is everything I had clothes and shoes wise on my trip to Riga in December but obviously this didn’t all go in my case.
This is what my case looked like whilst wearing one outfit:
1 x Boots – Travel in them.
1 x Walking Boots – Pack.
I have been wearing KEEN’S Terradora Pulse Mid WP Brown Walking Boots on ALL of my Winter trips.
They were gifted to me but honestly, compared to my black ankle boots they have been a game changer in enabling me to walk even further due to their incredible under foot comfort. They are also waterproof so they keep my feet dry and warm and they’re really not as un-attractive as walking boots initially sound!
To see my review on Keen Footwear, have a look here!
Water Bottle – I use a Chillys Thermal Bottle which I love and you can fill it with warm-ish water which will stay warm and keep you warm when you drink it.
High Capacity Power Bank– oh how I adore this!
All of the basic toiletries, make up, hair brush etc etc!
I pack all of this into my Red Tobago Revelation cabin case which I love! I’ve been using this for most of the year and it’s still in great condition despite being dragged around a lot of cities and I swear I’m never going back to a 2 wheeled case again!
Remember that one set of warm clothes is what you’ll wear on the plane anyway, including your coat, so that’s one day’s outfit done!
Don’t worry about re-wearing jeans, vest tops etc, that’s just the nature of the winter space game I’m afraid!
Take 2 hats and 2 scarfs which are different colours to each other and mix them up to help show in photos that it is indeed a different day as you are wearing different accessories. (Example below of a pink day and then a red day in Riga!)
I hope this insight into my suitcase gives you some inspo on what to pack for a Winter City Break!
If you’re travelling around Europe you might find these posts useful:
Please note that I have been gifted some of the items above however I would never recommend something I didn’t truly love! Some items linked are affiliate links but I truly recommend these too and they come at no extra cost to you.