Woman walking a canal in Amsterdam

Your Ultimate Off-Season Travel Calendar

Everybody loves a summer holiday, but more often than not, travelling during the peak tourist season can be a bit of a drag. The flights you want to book are overpriced, the places you want to stay at are more expensive, and the attractions you want to visit are mobbed with tourists.

In the off-season, you don’t have to worry about dealing with any of those downsides. Sure, you won’t get the best weather, but booking your trip in the low season comes with a bevy of benefits: cheaper airfare, wallet-friendly hotel rates, and fewer crowds.

If you’re ready to jump on the off-peak travel bandwagon, the only question left to answer is: where should I go in the off-season? That’s where this guide comes in! We’ve curated a list of some of the most popular travel destinations and their corresponding low season periods so you can start planning your next off-peak adventure ASAP.

Woman standing at a lookout point with mountains in the background in Iceland
Winter in Iceland means fewer crowds and a higher chance of spotting the northern lights | © Emma Francis/Unsplash

Europe

For the most part, Europe’s off-season runs between November and March.

Of course, temperatures and weather conditions will vary by region; if you visit in say, December, you may have to contend with freezing temperatures and snow flurries in Northern Europe, while Mediterranean countries like Greece offer a fair amount of sunshine and relatively mild temperatures. 

No matter what destinations you choose to visit (aside from ski resorts), you’re guaranteed to find fewer crowds and bargain-worthy prices when travelling to Europe during the winter months.

Here are a few great cities, countries, and regions to choose for off-season travel — those places where you’ll get the most bang for your buck and have a fantastic overall experience:

  • All of the continent’s most popular and iconic cities (Venice, Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Amsterdam)
  • Greece
  • Spain
  • Iceland
  • Budapest
  • Prague
  • Malta
  • Finnish Lapland
Gondolas docked along a canal in Venice, Italy
Avoid the crowds by visiting Venice in winter | © Ricardo Gomez Angel/Unsplash

Asia

Southeast Asia – June to October

Despite its relatively compact size, Southeast Asia plays host to several climates to match its incredibly diverse landscapes. Many travellers avoid the off-season in this region completely, but — with a little extra planning and preparation — it can actually be a fantastic time to travel here.

Just remember: the off-season months typically coincide with the rainy season. Monsoon rains usually occur between June and October in most parts of Southeast Asia, but weather patterns can vary drastically depending on the destination. 

During this time, your trip can be disrupted by torrential downpours, or you might get lucky with sunshine and short-lived periods of rain — it’s a chance you take travelling during the low season!

Here are the off-season months for some of Southeast Asia’s top hotspots:

  • Bali – April to June
  • Bangkok and Northern Thailand – May to October
  • Thai Islands (Gulf of Thailand) – October to December
  • Thai Islands (Andaman Sea) – June to October 
  • Vietnam – May to September
  • Cambodia – July to September

Japan / China / Taiwan – November to March

The best time to escape the crowds in China, Japan, and Taiwan is during the winter months (as long as you’re not travelling to wintry destinations or ski towns like Harbin and Hokkaido).

India & Sri Lanka – May to August/September

India and Sri Lanka experience varied weather conditions, with certain regions (such as Goa, for example) being dominated by rainfall at any given time of the year. 

View of Mount Fuji in Japan
Book your Japan trip during the off-season to save on airfare and accommodation | © Manuel Cosentino/Unsplash

North America

With the exception of tropical states like Florida and Hawaii, the low season in Canada and the USA falls between the winter months of November and March/April. 

Los Angeles, Vancouver, and other West Coast destinations offer milder temperatures throughout this season, while cities in the northeast (New York, Toronto, Boston) transform into real-life winter wonderlands.

Prices skyrocket during winter holidays and school holiday periods, so it’s best to avoid Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and March Break if you don’t want to deal with inflated hotel rates and crowded attractions.

In Mexico and the Caribbean, the off-season period begins shortly after Easter and lasts until the middle of December, just before the holiday season is in full swing.

  • United States – November to March
  • Hawaii – April to early June and September to mid-December
  • Canada – November to April
  • Mexico – May to mid-December
  • The Caribbean – May to mid-December
Person walking down a street covered with snow in New York City
New York looks even better blanketed in a dusting of snow | © Chanan Greenblatt/Unsplash

South America

Given its gargantuan size, it should come as no surprise that there’s a whole host of varying climates and microclimates occurring on this vast continent throughout the year. 

Generally speaking, the low season falls during the chilly winter months in most South American destinations, apart from countries like Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia (where the weather patterns are dictated by two seasons: wet and dry).

If you don’t mind packing a few extra layers and waterproof gear, you’ll love travelling outside of peak season here.

  • Peru / Ecuador / Bolivia – December to March
  • Machu Picchu – October to February (The Inca Trail closes every February for essential maintenance.)
  • The Galapagos Islands – May to June and Septemeber and October
  • Brazil – May to September
  • Chile and Argentina (excluding Patagonia) – June to August
People walking across the street in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires is a great destination in any season | © Sasha Stories/Unsplash

Africa

In many African destinations (especially safari hotspots), low season travel comes with loads of perks: the Kalahari Desert offers fantastic game viewing during the off-season; the low season in Kenya means better deals and cheaper international airfare; Tanzania’s birthing period falls during the off-peak months, so you’re more likely to see lion cubs and other baby animals.

Plus, you’ll get great value for money, you won’t have to compete for space at wildlife sightings, and the rainy season brings lush landscapes — which makes for excellent photo opportunities. 

It may be wetter during the low season, but if you can bear a bit of rain, there are a number of fantastic benefits that come with off-peak travel on this continent.

North Africa

  • Morocco – November to February
  • Egypt – June to August

Central/East Africa

  • Kenya & Tanzania – March to June and October to December
  • Uganda – April and May
  • Rwanda – April, May, and November

Southern Africa

  • South Africa – April to September
  • Namibia & Botswana – December to April 
  • Mozambique – March to June
Baby lion cubs in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
The birthing period in Tanzania falls during the off-peak months | © Joel Herzog/Unsplash

Oceania

Australia – June to August

Most people want to experience summer Down Under, but visiting during Australia’s winter (June to August) will save you cash on everything from your airfare to tours and bucket list activities.

And, since the weather is still pleasant and warm in many places around the country, choosing to travel during the off-season comes with some serious advantages.

New Zealand – June to August

The off-peak winter season is similar in New Zealand: you’ll find far fewer crowds at all the popular tourist spots (besides the ski resorts dotted around the country, of course).

Prices go down, hotel rates drop, and, in some destinations, you might feel as though you have the whole place to yourself.

Roys Peak lookout, New Zealand
Travelling to New Zealand in the off-season means you can snag the best flight deals | © Jingwei Ke/Unsplash

Things to consider when booking an off-season holiday

Not every destination is suited to off-season travel; you definitely don’t want to be trekking in the Himalayas in a foot of snow, or sweltering in Northern Australia in 45-degree heat. 

You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons and do some additional research before you travel to any particular destination during the low season. Weather, seasonal closures, and safety are three of the main things to keep in mind while you’re planning your trip.

Have you travelled in the off-season before? What was your experience like? Share away in the comments!

Ashley is a Content Editor at TourRadar. When she’s not writing, travelling, or obsessively checking flight prices on Skyscanner, you can find her attempting to fine-tune her photography skills or watching a shark documentary.

A man walking towards a Pyramid in Egypt
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