September can be an ideal time to visit Europe. The hordes of summer tourist that crowd the continent's must-see destinations have returned to work and school, but most of the major attractions and restaurants are still operating during normal hours.
Savvy packing can help make the trip more enjoyable and comfortable, whether lucking into sunny weather, have to cope with a sudden chill or get hit with a rainy day – any of which can happen when traveling through Europe in September.
Weather Conditions in Europe
The weather conditions in Europe can vary significantly from region to region in September. Here's a general overview of the weather in different parts of Europe during this month:
- United Kingdom (London): In September, London experiences mild temperatures with an average high of around 18 degrees Celsius (64 degrees Fahrenheit) and an average low of around 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit). Rainfall is relatively common, with an average precipitation of around 60mm.
- France (Paris): September in Paris sees average high temperatures of around 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) and average lows of around 12 degrees Celsius (54 degrees Fahrenheit). Rainfall is moderate, with an average precipitation of around 45mm.
- Italy (Rome): September in Rome is generally warm, with average high temperatures reaching around 26 degrees Celsius (79 degrees Fahrenheit). Average low temperatures hover around 16 degrees Celsius (61 degrees Fahrenheit). Rainfall is relatively low, with an average of around 30mm.
- Spain (Barcelona): Barcelona experiences pleasant temperatures in September, with average highs of around 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit) and average lows of around 18 degrees Celsius (64 degrees Fahrenheit). Rainfall is typically light, with an average of around 45mm.
- Germany (Berlin): September in Berlin tends to have mild temperatures, with average highs of around 19 degrees Celsius (66 degrees Fahrenheit) and average lows of around 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit). Rainfall is moderate, with an average of around 40mm.
- Czech Republic (Prague): In September, Prague experiences average high temperatures of around 18 degrees Celsius (64 degrees Fahrenheit) and average lows of around 9 degrees Celsius (48 degrees Fahrenheit). Rainfall is moderate, with an average of around 30mm.
- Norway (Oslo): September in Oslo is cooler, with average high temperatures of around 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit) and average lows of around 8 degrees Celsius (46 degrees Fahrenheit). Rainfall is moderate, with an average of around 70mm.
- Sweden (Stockholm): Stockholm in September sees average high temperatures of around 16 degrees Celsius (61 degrees Fahrenheit) and average lows of around 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit). Rainfall is relatively high, with an average of around 50mm.
Stick with the Basics
Unless there is an army of assistants to cart the luggage, it is recommended to pack light, which means focusing on a few basic pieces that can be mixed and matched to make multiple outfits. Because September weather can vary, mix up lighter weight pieces with warmer ones. If pants are the base of the travel wardrobe, make sure to limit to three pairs in the same neutral color but choose one lightweight fabric, one medium-weight fabric and one warmer fabric to adjust to the weather. Simple T-shirts, wrinkle-resistant button-ups, pants and long skirts are among the most versatile pieces.
Choose One Color Family
Neutrals will get the most outfit mileage, so choose one key color and pack around it. Black is a classic, but gray, navy and khaki work well, too. Stick with the main color for most of the wardrobe and use a few accent colors for T-shirts, scarves and cardigans to keep the pieces from getting too monotonous. Follow the same principle for the shoes, and stay limited to two pairs: one super-comfortable pair for walking around all day and one comfortable stylish pair for restaurants and clubs.
September weather can be changeable, so layers are essential. A chilly morning can quickly warm up into a toasty afternoon, or an autumn rainstorm can make a sunny day unexpectedly cool. Thin sweaters, cardigans and scarves are easy layering pieces that can be tied around the waist or shoulders until needed. Slip on a T-shirt, button-up, cardigan and scarf with black pants for a chilly morning, drop the cardigan and button-up off at the hotel at lunchtime and trade the T-shirt for a dressier top at dinner time.
Keep in mind that some churches have strict dress codes, so stick with long skirts or pants and make sure to have something to cover the shoulders when out sight-seeing. If bringing a heavier piece such as a raincoat, plan to wear it on the plane so it doesn't take up room in the bags. Blends that contain a little spandex will resist wrinkling so they're a good option for travel. If planning to wash clothes along the way, stay away from heavy fabrics such as denim that take a long time to dry.
Dress codes in Europe
Dress codes in Europe can vary depending on the specific activity and the cultural norms of the region. Here's a general overview of dress codes for different activities in different parts of Europe:
Visiting a Museum or Cultural Site:
- Western Europe: When visiting museums or cultural sites in Western Europe, such as in France, Italy, or the United Kingdom, it is generally considered appropriate to dress smartly and modestly. This means avoiding beachwear, revealing clothing, and overly casual attire. Opt for neat and comfortable clothing, such as trousers or skirts paired with a blouse or shirt.
- Eastern Europe: In Eastern European countries like Poland, Czech Republic, or Hungary, a similar dress code is followed when visiting museums or cultural sites. Dressing modestly and smartly is generally recommended.
Attending a Concert or Theater Performance:
Dress codes for concerts and theater performances in Europe can vary. In general, it is best to check the specific venue or event for any dress code guidelines. However, the attire can range from smart casual to more formal, depending on the event and venue.
- For classical concerts or opera performances in Europe, particularly in cities like Vienna or Prague, it is common for attendees to dress more formally. Men often wear suits or jackets, while women opt for dresses or elegant outfits.
- For contemporary concerts or music festivals, the dress code is usually more relaxed and casual. Jeans, t-shirts, and comfortable footwear are often acceptable.
Dining in a Fine Restaurant:
Fine dining establishments in Europe, especially in major cities like Paris, Rome, or London, generally have a more formal dress code. Men are typically expected to wear suits or jackets, and women often choose elegant dresses or formal attire.
However, it's worth noting that the dress codes can vary depending on the restaurant and its specific ambiance. Some upscale restaurants may have stricter dress codes, while others may adopt a smart casual approach. Checking with the restaurant or reviewing their website in advance is advisable.
Specific items essential for your 12-day trip to Europe
When packing for a 12-day trip to Europe in September, it's important to consider the weather conditions, cultural norms, and the variety of activities you plan to engage in. Here are some specific clothing items that are generally essential for such a trip:
- T-shirts: Pack a few comfortable and versatile t-shirts that can be layered or worn on their own.
- Blouses/Shirts: Include a couple of blouses or shirts for a more polished look when visiting museums or dining at nicer restaurants.
- Sweaters/Cardigans: Bring a lightweight sweater or cardigan for cooler evenings or unexpected temperature drops.
- Jeans/Trousers: Opt for a pair of well-fitting jeans or trousers that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.
- Skirts/Dresses: Pack a skirt or dress for a more feminine or formal outfit option.
- Raincoat/Windbreaker: Since September can bring unpredictable weather, a lightweight, packable raincoat or windbreaker is essential.
- Jacket/Blazer: Consider bringing a light jacket or blazer that can add a touch of sophistication to your outfits or provide extra warmth.
- Comfortable Walking Shoes: Invest in a good pair of comfortable walking shoes or sneakers as you'll likely do a lot of exploring and walking.
- Dressier Shoes: If you plan to visit more upscale venues or enjoy fine dining, a pair of dressier shoes, such as flats or low-heeled boots, will come in handy.
- Scarf/Shawl: Bring a versatile scarf or shawl that can add warmth, style, and be used as a cover-up when visiting religious sites.
- Hat/Sunglasses: Protect yourself from the sun and add a fashionable touch to your outfits.
- Swimwear: If you plan to visit coastal areas or encounter opportunities for swimming, pack a swimsuit.
- Socks/Tights: Bring enough socks or tights to keep your feet comfortable, especially if you plan to wear closed-toe shoes.
- Underwear: Pack an adequate supply of undergarments for the duration of your trip.
Try to pack versatile clothing items that can be mixed and matched to create different outfits, saving space in your luggage while allowing for more flexibility during your trip.