Southern Europe Weather Overview
Southern Europe is generally much warmer than Northern Europe, with a typically Mediterranean climate overall. This region doesn’t see the blisteringly cold winters, such as those experienced in the Northern countries of Sweden or Finland for example, and instead sees much milder conditions, and fantastic beach weather during the summer months.
Consisting of popular countries such as Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Portugal, Spain, and Turkey, basically Southern Europe is all about summer holidays, although it is still a wonderful place to visit during the winter months, with more in the way of tradition on offer, away from the typical touristic conditions found from May to October.
Overall, the weather in Southern Europe is affected by the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea, which in coastal regions at least brings a much warmer feel to the weather, with constant light breezes keeping searing summer temperatures at bay. Inland however, you can expect hotter summers and colder winters, as a result of no breeze to control conditions.
Summers are long, with plentiful sunshine and endless blue skies, usually beginning in mid-April and lasting until mid-October – the general summer tourist season tends to be May until the beginning of October in most resorts in this region. Winters tend to be mild, especially compared to countries in the north, such as Norway, or even in the west of Europe, such as Belgium or France. There is however more in the way of rain at this time of year, and the odd Mediterranean storm can bring high winds and local flooding for a short time. Despite this fact, forecasts will always keep you up to date on any freak storms heading your way.
Spain & Portugal
Two of the most popular countries in this region find their beaches packed during the summer months. Sitting on the Iberian Peninsula, the climate is affected by the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, depending on the resort’s proximity. Climate types vary across the region, from continent, to oceanic, and then to Mediterranean. Typically, inland you will see hotter summers, because the winds from the ocean don’t reach that far, however on the coasts the conditions are much more bearable, and this is where you will find the most in the way of tourism, such as Barcelona in Spain, and Costa del Sol.
Sea temperatures are warm during the spring, summer, and autumn months, which means beach days are certainly on the agenda, with the Algarve in Portugal very popular indeed, recording around 12 hours of sunshine per day during the sunniest month of August.
One of the fastest destinations in this region of Europe is without a doubt the Dalmatian Coast. Running along the Adriatic coastline, Croatia is one of the newest countries to experience a summer tourism surge. Dubrovnik and Brac are two of the most popular destinations, and the unspoilt conditions are what make it so favourable for holidaymakers wanting something a little different.
Situated just north of Greece, the summer conditions in Croatia are typically Mediterranean, however as you head inland, towards the mountains, you will experience more in the way of variation. Summers on the coast however can be very hot, with mild winters too.
Known as the ‘Islands of the Eternal Spring’, the islands in this region are famous for year around sun, ideal for a spot of winter sun-seeking. Tenerife, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, and Fuerteventura are the most popular islands, with resorts filled with typical holiday ingredients.
The great thing about the Canaries is that they are mild all year around, lying just off the coast of West Africa, and they are also in the path of what is known as the Canary Current, meaning temperatures are never too hot, and are never too cold – for example, in Puerto del Carmen in Lanzarote, you can expect a high temperature of around 14°C during January.
The Canary Islands are also one of the best places in the world for endlessly clear skies, meaning star-gazing is a top activity for visitors.
Despite the fact that Cyprus is firmly in the realm of Southern Europe, it is in much closer proximity to Southwest Asia, which means it is even warmer than some of the other countries in the region. Located just south of Turkey, in the eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus experiences long, hot summers, sometimes extremely hot, with an average high of around 32°C experienced in Ayia Napa during August, and mild, but rainy winters.
Aphrodite’s Rock is one of the most popular tourist spots on the island, as well as the aforementioned clubbing mecca of Ayia Napa, and beautiful Limassol. The weather is classic summer holiday fare, which explains why the beaches are packed during the summer months, with the season often extending into November.
Greece covers a huge distance, and is made up of the mainland portion, and its many summer hotspot islands. The capital, Athens, can be stifling hot during the summer months, with an average temperature of around 29°C in July and August; perhaps visiting the capital is best saved for the spring or autumn months, when conditions are more comfortable. The mountainous regions of the country are typically much cooler, with a totally different climate to the more frequently visited areas.
Despite that, the Greek Islands are ever popular during the summer months, with a typical Mediterranean climate meaning warm sea temperatures during May to October, and plentiful sun; for example, Crete experiences a sea temperature of around 25°C in August, making beach time and water-sports a fantastic way to spend your time. The winter months however tend to be much wetter, however certainly still very mild, with an average low temperature of around 12°C in Kos during December.
There are many different islands to choose from, and they all have slight subtle differences which set them apart from each other – don’t be fooled into thinking that if you’ve visited one, you’ve visited them all.
Turkey is one of the most popular countries in Southern Europe, no matter what the month of the year. During the summer months you will see the southern coastline packed with sun-seekers, heading to such resorts as Bodrum, Gumbet, Marmaris, Alanya, and Side, and each resort offers the same high standard of summer holiday fun, with water-parks, action, adventure, and thrills to be had.
Because of the huge size of the country, you can expect hugely different climates from region to region. The southern half of the country, along the coast, experiences a typical Mediterranean climate, with long, hot summers, and mild, wet winters. During the peak summer months of May to October, temperatures can reach blistering levels, often hitting the 40s during spikes in temperature or heatwaves. It’s important to remember sun safety at these times.
Heading north to the popular city of Istanbul will show you an entirely different picture of Turkey. Istanbul experiences an average temperature of around 16°C during the spring month of May, however it can dip to freezing levels during January, with snow quite frequent at this time. Inland will generally be much colder during the winter than the coastal regions, with more chance of snow overall.