The Ultimate Packing List for Europe in Winter (+printable checklist)
Winter is a magical time in Europe. ✨
The dusting of snow on 700 year old buildings. The twinkling lights at Christmas markets.
Sure it might be a bit chillier than we like, but with big risks come big rewards!
So we’ve decided to brave the winter weather and head over to Europe this December! We’ll be experiencing the cities of Vienna, Prague and Budapest through a lens of glühwein, chimney cakes, and lebkuchen!
But let’s face it, winter isn’t exactly the easiest time to be traveling with two little ones. And I knew having our winter wardrobes on point would be the only way to ensure a positive experience for all!
So after hours and hours of online shopping research (a rough job, but someone’s gotta do it), I’m here to share our Ultimate Packing List for Europe in Winter!
(+scroll to the end for your own free printable winter packing list!)
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The Ultimate Family Packing List for Europe in Winter
While doing all of my research on the best winter weather clothing, again and again I kept coming across this magical fabric called merino wool.
It’s light. It’s soft. It keeps you cool in hot weather and warm in cold weather. This what it. This was exactly what I needed to keep our goals of traveling light with kids (even in winter!) a reality.
The other thing I knew I’d need? Layers. At least 3 to be exact. And so I set out in search of the very best options to mix and match.
Lastly? It’s all in the accessories. Hats, gloves, and scarves needed to not only be cute, but functional.
So what did we choose?
Let’s take a look at our Europe Winter Packing List for everyone in the family:
Europe in Winter Packing List for Women
First up, let’s talk about the ladies.
Here’s what kind of winter gear and clothing I’ll be packing for winter in Europe:
- Merino Wool Thermal Base Layer | Under all of our clothes, each one of us will have a merino wool base layer. Yes, basically long underwear which will keep us cozy despite dropping temperatures. This merino wool top and base layer pants are an Amazon favorite, though I was surprised to find this mid-weight wool top and matching base layer tights from REI were slightly more affordable. Yes, the base layer is spendy, but spending the money now will mean comfortable winter travels for years to come. And since the material is super light and breathable, it washes and dries quickly so just one pair can be worn again and again.
- Fleece-Lined Tights | I decided to add an extra pair of fleece-lined tights into the mix as well. These are a little dressier than the thermal leggings, and will work good under a nice sweater dress for fancier occasions.
- 4 Lightweight Sweaters | The key here is lightweight. Yes, those big chunky sweaters are cute and it might seem like they’d be warmer, but in actuality, a simple merino wool sweater will keep you much warmer, plus take up far less space in your suitcase. My other favorite simple merino wool sweater options are found at Banana Republic, and J.Crew online outlets.
- 1 Long-Sleeve Dress | This can be totally left out, depending on your style of travel. But if you plan to do any activities where you want to be a little more dressed up, a long-sleeve sweater dress is a solid choice (just don’t forget those fleece-lined tights underneath).
- 2 Pants | I pretty much always travel with a pair of my favorite skinny jeans from Banana Republic Factory. After that, I like to add in a black pant that can be dressed up or down. I LOVE these black stretchy jeans from Old Navy (most comfortable pant ever!), but if you like something a little more structured, J.Crew makes a solid skinny black pant too.
- Winter Coat | Of course, the reason I don’t spend too much time coordinating all these cute outfits is because in reality you’ll probably be stuck in your winter coat 99% of the time anyway! So if there’s one item you’re really going to splurge on, make it this one. You want something that’s both comfortable, yet you’ll love to see hundred of pictures of yourself in, like this classic parka with a faux fur hood.
- Merino Wool Socks | Another must here! You’ll want to have extra warm socks to keep your tootsies warm while you’re out exploring all day. This set from Amazon was one of the best deals I found.
- Knit Hat | Look cute and stay warm with a cozy knit hat.
- Scarf | I love a good scarf in the winter. The plus about a big chunky scarf is you can wear it on the plane to keep you warm and you don’t worry about how much room it takes up in your luggage. Buy one versatile scarf that goes with everything.
- Wool Gloves with Touch Fingers | Cause let’s be honest, how am I gonna InstaStory the beauty of Europe in winter without them? I opted for this pair.
- Winter Boots | I decided to go with two pairs of shoes for this trip: one super practical, yet still cute, boot, and one tall boot that’s a little dressier. You could also sneak in a pair of booties instead. But whatever you choose, limit your shoes to two pairs (one to wear while traveling and one for your suitcase). Any more than that and you’ll lose all of your precious luggage space.
- 1-2 Bras | Hand wash and rewear!
- Undies | I typically pack no more than 6 pairs, knowing I’m usually doing laundry every 5 days or so while we travel.
- Swimsuit | Now this might seem like it doesn’t belong, but since we’re headed to Budapest and want to check out the thermal baths, we’re all bringing one swimsuit. You might also want to consider bringing one if your hotel has an indoor pool. I won’t bring any other swim gear (towels, robe, flip flops, etc.), as we’ll plan to rent these at the baths.
- 1 Set Long-Sleeve Pajamas | Knowing Europeans are a lot stingier (errrr…economical) with their heat than us here in the US, I definitely will be packing a set of warm long-sleeve pajamas.
Europe in Winter Packing List for Men
Alright, on to the men. Much of what you’ll find here is pretty much the same as what I will be packing for myself. But I have linked some of my favorites for the men, such as:
- Merino Wool Thermal Base Layer | Again, a must under all of our clothing. This top and these bottoms from REI are highly rated, but in the end I decided to go with this shirt and these pants from Amazon.
- 4 Lightweight Sweaters | I was happy to find lots of merino wool styles for men from my favorite stores like J.Crew and Banana Republic Factory. Button up, V-neck and crew neck sweaters will vary up Matt’s wardrobe.
- 1 Pullover | On the chance that one day will be nice enough to forgo the big winter parka, this pullover is a nice alternative that can also be worn as a sweater on an especially chilly day.
- 2 Pants | One pair of jeans, and one pair of chinos or cords will add a bit of function and style. As always, our theory when packing light is to rewear and rewash, so 2 pairs of pants is all we go with!
- Winter Coat | Again, Matt wanted something comfortable that could be dressed up or down, and this winter coat from Amazon fit the bill.
- Merino Wool Socks | The same merino wool socks linked above work for men or women!
- Knit Hat | I haven’t quite convinced Matt he can pull off the fur hood just yet, so a nice knit hat is a must.
- Scarf | Either a lightweight neck warmer like this one, or a chunky men’s scarf.
- Wool Gloves with Touch Fingers | This pair from REI was highly recommended. I’ll report back once we’ve had a chance to test them!
- Winter Boots | Another popular Amazon buy, Matt’s been crushing on these affordable boots ever since we bought them for Yosemite last winter.
- Underwear | 6 pairs, max.
- Swim Trunks | I like all the options at Target. Snag some on clearance while you can!
- Jogger Pants and Long-Sleeve T-Shirt | Aka, pajamas. These pants and long-sleeve shirt will double as a travel outfit.
Europe in Winter Packing List for Kids
Now onto the fun part, kids stuff! I am clearly biased in this area by having two little girls, so I apologize to all the boy moms out there! But the same general principles apply. Let’s take a look at our winter packing list:
- Merino Wool Thermal Base Layer | I’ll be sizing down to make sure they fit snuggly. This set is available in various colors and sizes.
- 4 Lightweight Sweaters | Shout out to Old Navy and H&M for making my favorite kids clothes for travel. You’ll find a plethora of options here and here. Remember to lean towards lighter, cozy fabrics, preferably washable wool, when possible.
- 1 Long-Sleeve Sweater Dress | I’m a sucker for a sweater dress and tights, so I have to throw at least one in.
- 4 Pants | For kids, I bring one pant per top. In this case, I’m going for a bit thicker options like these fleece leggings, skinny jeans, or pants. I’ll be experiementing with sizing at home to make sure the base layer fits underneath.
- Winter Coat | I really struggled to find a winter coat that was warm enough, but not too puffy for Evelyn. In the end, I decided to go with this winter parka, though an quality insulated down jacket would really be most ideal.
- Wool Socks | These are especially important for little feet. This is a nice, affordable set for girls or boys.
- Knit Hat | This super cute one has an extra inside lining.
- Gloves | I always struggle with kids gloves, so I went with a simple set from Amazon. (if you have any favorite, let me know!) You could also go with merino wool mittens like these for younger kiddos.
- Boots | We decided to do two sets of boots: one dressier and one more functional. I’m also really loving these snow boots and this more casual UGG-inspired pair.
- Underwear | 7-8 (accounting for a few extras).
- Swimsuit | Our favorite swimsuits for girls are from Rufflebutts. They’re all our kids have ever worn!
- 2 Sets Long-Sleeve Pajamas | I’m adding in two long-sleeve pairs for chilly nights.
Europe in Winter Packing List for Baby
Finally, I wanted to include a baby packing list because they are a little tougher to plan for. Obviously, keeping baby warm is essential and such an important part of the planning process. And while Sophie isn’t exactly a baby anymore, many of these items will still apply to her since she we know she hates to be cold!
- Merino Wool Thermal Base Layer | I love this one because it’s one of the few one-piece layers I’ve found with footies! I’m also loving this set in pink or blue.
- 3 Long-Sleeve Rompers or Jumpsuits | I’m loving all the options (for boys or girls) from H&M (how adorable is THIS?), and Old Navy has some solid options too. I really love a one-piece because a) it takes less coordinating of outfits, and b) they’re stinking cute!
- 2 Sweaters or Long-Sleeve Body Suits | But if you prefer two piece options, this cute little sweater, or these long-sleeve wool body suits are perfect.
- 2 Pants | Wool leggings or joggers are great for wearing over the base layer.
- (or) 2 Cable Knit Leggings | Or, switch things up and add some cable-knit leggings over the base layer instead.
- Snow Suit | When out and about, you’ll want to bundle your little one up extra warm. A one-piece snow suit is a great way to do that and still make use of a stroller or baby carrier.
- Fleece Hat & Mittens | A set like this one or this one that keeps the ears and fingers warm.
- Booties | Either a super warm pair of slippers like these, or these super cute UGG booties!
- Fleece Pajamas | Again, you’ll want to be extra sure that baby is warm and cozy at night, so we’re packing a couple pairs of fleece onesie pajamas.
- Wearable Blanket | And one-step further, a wearable blacket to ensure our baby girl is extra comfortable.
- Swimsuit | Our favorite is this one piece from Rufflebutts with snaps for changing diapers (+don’t forget the swim diapers!)
- Stroller with Rain Guard | Even if it’s not raining, putting a rain guard on the stroller helps as a windbreak and keeps it just a touch warmer inside the stroller. We love our Babyzen Yoyo+ which comes with a rain guard. Otherwise, there are lots of generic versions out there.
- Stroller Footmuff | If you want to ditch the snow suit altogether, a footmuff is perfect for keeping baby warm in the stroller.
Other Items to Pack for Winter in Europe
- Toiletry Bag | I try to keep all of our family’s toiletries together in one functional bag like this one. To maximize our space, we share things like shampoo, body wash, and lotions, and always carry a minimal amount using these refillable travel-size toiletry containers.
- Camera | If you’re looking for a high-quality camera that’s also compact enough for family travel, I highly recommend the mirrorless Canon G7X Mark II. I’ve been using it pretty much exclusively since Sophie was born, and while I miss my dSLR, it is much easier to navigate while wrangling two kids.
- Electronics Case | We keep all of our chargers, memory cards, and cords in this zip up case so we always know where our electronic accessories are. We also keep cords neat and organized with these gear ties.
- Plug Adaptors | The C-plug or E/F-plug are used throughout most of continental Europe, with exception of the L-plug which you’ll find in Italy and the J-plug that you’ll find in Switzerland. Those traveling to the UK and Ireland will want a G-plug. Traveling to multiple countries or just want to have your bases covered? Then go with an all-in-one universal adapter.
- Small Umbrella | While we don’t expect heavy rain showers, winter weather can be often dreary and unpredictable. We’ll bring one small travel umbrella just in case.
- Sunglasses | These are my new favorite shades from Amazon. They’re affordable enough that I don’t have to worry about losing them (as I often do)!
- E-Guide Book | While I don’t tend to use guide books for planning a trip, I do like them for providing cultural and historical context to places we plan to visit. Rick Steves makes some of my favorite guide books for this purpose, and many of them are also available for digital download!
Printable Packing List for Europe in Winter
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Have I missed anything? What do you always pack for a winter getaway?
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