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What to Pack for a City Break in Winter can seem hard. Especially when you have hand luggage only as packing for Winter means jumpers, scarfs and boots which take up so much more room and are much heavier than packing for a Summer City Break taking 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 so you know only to add warm clothes to your City Break packing checklist.
Secondly, I feel you need fewer outfits for Winter trips 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.
Lastly, a good tip on how to pack light for winter travel is that you’ll wear one set of clothing on the plane as it’s likely it’ll be cold where you are flying from so that’s one less set of bulky clothes to pack.
I’ve been on quite a few Winter City Breaks in European 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 woolly items I won’t end up wearing!
So let me give you my top packing tips for Europe!
CITY BREAK TRAVEL INSURANCE
First up, do you have travel insurance for your city break trip yet? Remember, even if you live in the UK & Europe and you’re going on a European trip outside of your country, you still need insurance! I am covered by World Nomad’s who I recommend, they offer great customer service, a range of policies and were designed by travellers for travellers!
Get a free quote from them here while you think about it:
You’ll want to be connected on your trip! Here are the Best Prepaid European Sim Cards that work all over Europe, which you can buy online and get delivered ready for your trip. I recommend the Orange Bestseller as it offers 20GB of data plus 120 minutes for $49.90!
Find out more here:
If your phone is locked and you cannot put another sim card in it, you’ll need to get a portable wifi device for Europe, which you can get delivered to your home free of charge 2-3 days before you leave!
Winter Packing List for Europe!
Best Clothes to Pack for a Winter City Break
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!
1-2 x Jeans
Travel in them and wear them throughout your trip, if you want to travel with a Winter City Break capsule wardrobe, just take one pair of black jeans as they’ll go with all outfits and shoes!
2 x Scarfs
Travel in one, pack the other these are must packs when it comes to what to pack for a city break in Europe. To make your outfit more interesting, my winter packing tip is to take colourful scarfs!
1 x Thermal Long Sleeved Top
Pack this as you’ll be too hot on the plane! I purchased a similar black thermal top to this last year which was great!
1 x Tights or Thermal Leggings
Pack these too. I purchased these thermal leggings last year which are great for under jeans and you can’t tell you’re wearing them so add them to your Women’s packing list for Europe Winter.
1 x Vest Top or T-shirt
A good, tight vest top or t-shirt it as a good underlayer under your jumper. To stay extra warm, consider taking a thermal vest!
1 x Evening going out Top
If you’re going on a Weekend in Europe in Winter and think you’ll be out for drinks and dinner then pack some nice evening wear but still remember how cold it will be and that the temperature drops even more at night! To dress an outfit up more, a few stylish winter accessories will do the trick!
1 x PJ’s
Hotels in Europe will have central heating and thick blankets but pack warm pjs too. If you’re staying in Hostels in Europe, they should have good heating but they’re cheap and in Eastern Europe, they may not so be prepared to wear warm clothes in bed!
2 x Thermal Socks
I have these black thermal socks which keep my feet so warm and fit well under my boots.
1-2 x Woolley Hats
Travel in one, pack the other and remember to get colourful hats to make your outfit more colourful too! Hats should be added to a Men’s packing list for Europe Winter too to keep warm!
1 x Pair of Gloves
Put these in your coat pocket so they’re ready for when you get off the plane. I recommend touchscreen gloves so you don’t have to take your gloves off to use your phone because
1x Winter Coat
Travel in this and make sure it’s good quality to keep you as warm as possible!
1 x Foldable Ultra Light Jacket
This can be worn under your main coat if it’s going to be extra cold, for example, if you are travelling to Scandinavia in Winter or to a snow destination! This is a similar ultra-light jacket to mine which I love and doesn’t take up much room in your bag.
My city break packing list looks like all of these items! 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 as I wore some of it on the plane:
This is what my suitcase looked like whilst wearing one outfit:
Best Shoes To Pack for a Winter City Break
1 x Boots
A pair of black or brown Chelsea style boots are a good idea when thinking about what shoes to wear in Europe in Winter as they are warm but also stylish and you can wear these on the plane to help travel light for a winter trip.
1 x Walking Boots
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 underfoot comfort, and we know how much you walk on city breaks! 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 so I much prefer wearing walking boots on winter city breaks!
To see my review on Keen Footwear, have a look here in case you want to get some before you pack for a trip to Europe in Winter.
Travel Essentials for a Winter City Break in Europe!
A compact travel-sized umbrella is perfect to help you pack light for Europe!
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.
When it’s cold our phone battery dies quicker and so do camera batteries! To help stay charged all throughout the day, take a power bank with you. I have this 2 in 1 Travel Adapter and Power Bank Charger which has a European plug and is lightweight and the perfect travel essential for a City Break trip.
Backpack for Suitcase for traveling in Europe?
Europe is good for either! Personally I always take a carry on suitcase on European trips, especially short city breaks.
I have a 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!
However, backpacks can also be very appropriate and handy in Europe, especially if you are doing a lot of travel between places. A great carry on backpack for Europe is this Pacsafe VentureSafe 45L bag.
My Top European Packing Tips for Winter!
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!)
Getting Around Europe in Winter.
The train system in most European Countries is really good, if you need to prebook tickets, and you should, especially if you are travelling close to Christmas. You can book all of your trains and buses in Europe on The Train Line which is the platform I always use the UK and Europe!
If you’re travelling around Europe you might find these posts useful: