What To Pack For A Winter City Break In Europe

I’m pretty new to winter city breaks. What can I say, I’m a sun-seeker at heart… But when you’re working a 9-5 and have limited annual leave, city breaks spread throughout the year are the best way to break up the monotony with lots of adventure. Especially when you live in the UK, the whole of Europe is at our fingertips! So last month, I jetted off to Amsterdam for a long weekend away with my besties.

With a few days away, I decided I would only need hand luggage. Especially seeing I was flying with Easyjet and would have to pay another 13 quid to check-in a bag. That’s a couple of beers in ‘Dam after all. (Backpacker frugality lives on).

I was all like, yeah cabin baggage is cool , I’m a travelling pro, I can do it. But wait, I’m a warm weather kinda gal. Of course I can pack light with denim shorts and headscarves, but this is a winter city break… how will I fit it all in? It’s a travel fashion dilemma for sure.

Don’t worry, I did the hard work so you don’t have to. Here’s what I learnt for my efforts.

Wrapping up in Amsterdam

Your coat is everything.

I knew this from living in London for most of my life. In the winter, your coat is everything in your fashion game. Because it’s so damn cold that no-one gets to see what’s underneath anyway. I’ve been known to buy all of my clothes from charity shops and then get an expensive coat. Priorities.

Anyway, this was definitely the case in Amsterdam. All of my photos involve me wearing this oversized camel wool coat. It was long and warm and completely chic in my opinion. Although contrary to my previous comments it was a total steal for £10 in the Primark sale! (I know right, who knew Primark did a sale?) But I’m glad because who wants to buy a winter coat in February, it’s just not a good investment with Spring looming. But I was totally glad for it. It kept me toasty.

Clogs in Amsterdam

Comfortable shoes in my backpack.

Ugh, ok I know the name of my blog. I’m big on taking heels. But I knew that my Airbnb was quite a walk from the city centre and I would need comfortable shoes for this trip. So I went for my old faithful Nike Airmax trainers and New Look ankle boots with a slight heel for the evenings. I’m nothing if not practical, kids.

But it was a good shout, city breaks in Europe always involve a lot of walking. At least when I go on them. And there’s nothing worse than aching feet ruining your trip. Definitely pack shoes you know you can walk around all day in.

Vondelpark, Amsterdam

Winter accessories at the ready.

Much like the coat, accessories are also on show in winter ensembles. So adding a couple to your look goes a long way I think.

I went for this dogtooth scarf (also from Primark) and a black turban headscarf from River Island. I thought it was a bit more wintery than my normal boho headscarves so felt fitting for Amsterdam.

Amsterdam hand luggage

Holdall over suitcase IMO.

This one was a happy coincidence. I packed my weekend wardrobe in my Mi-Pac Weekender bag, purely because I got it recently and think it’s cute, not remotely considering practicality. But all of my friends took roll-along suitcases – the small ones suitable for carry-on baggage, you know.

At first I thought I’d made a rookie mistake because I was going to have to carry my stuff, but actually it was a bit of a result. It meant I only packed what I could carry and was fine walking from the train station to the place we were staying with it all. Whereas my pals struggled to pull their suitcase along on the cobbled streets, it definitely seemed like more effort to me. So in future city breaks, I’m sticking with a holdall for sure!

Wearing layers in Amsterdam!

Layers and layers.

It’s a classic really isn’t it – pack layers! It’s cold when you’re walking around outside, then you’re boiling when you get inside a restaurant or a museum. All of the outfits I packed for the daytime involved a sweatshirt or cardigan over a T-shirt, with either jeans or fleece-lines leggings. Perfect.

Pancakes in Amsterdam

Space-saving mini capsule wardrobe.

Ok, when it’s only a long weekend, I think it’s sensible to plan out your outfits to some degree. But also keeping a bit of flexibility in there. For example, I packed a skirt to wear with tights and my ankle boots on the Saturday night but packed two tops that would go with it. Both tops were also casual enough to pass for daytime tops with my jeans. When everything you’re packing goes with everything else, you take less stuff and have more options. It’s win/win.

Also, like I said before, your outerwear is the main focus on these kind of winter trips so I went for casual outfits throughout, like this pink slogan sweatshirt from Topshop.

Easyjet flight to Amsterdam

Wear the bulky stuff on the plane.

Leaving enough room in my holdall for my mini toiletries, my SLR camera and my ankle boots meant there was less space for clothes. So I made the most of the space by wearing my bulkiest clothes on the plane. It was an hour flight to Amsterdam so it’s not like a long-haul flight where you need to be super comfortable, so I wore my jeans, trainers and sweatshirt on the way there. This meant clothes took up about a third of my bag space. Job done.

Top of the Heineken Experience, Amsterdam

There you go, my top tips for packing for a winter city break in Europe. I hope you agree! Let me know your tips if I’ve missed any!

Let me know what you think in the comments below or tweet me @HeelsInBackpack!

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