Who hasn’t been dreaming of a European city break (at least) after the past year and a half? Whether you’re a history buff, foodie or just after a change of scenery, Europe is still a hop, skip and jump away. However, one thing that can make or break your time abroad is the weather.
Daily mean temperature
Wet day frequency
Each category was given a percentage score based on its unpredictability and then a final score out of 100 to see which one is the most unpredictable.
The most unpredictable European capital city in terms of weather is Tallinn in Estonia with an overall score of 69 out of 100. This is largely due to the high score in wet day frequency and sunshine duration, with highly varied results. This means that one day you could be soaked from a sudden downpour, whereas other days it could be scorching hot.
Riga in Latvia follows closely with a score of 68. Set on the Baltic Sea, this capital city is very unpredictable in terms of precipitation, ranked at 69%. Luckily, Riga is a fairly cheap city to hire a car in, so at least you will have some shelter from the weather.
Helsinki and Bern come in third and fourth with scores of 67 and 64 respectively. Both have high percentages for sunshine duration, showing that the amount of sun you can expect in these capital cities will alter drastically from day to day.
Vaduz in Liechtenstein, known for its mountain-hugging castle, is next on our ranking of most unpredictable weather in European capital cities. Its overall score of 62 out of 100 displays the data deviation for each type of weather, especially when it comes to wet day frequency (65%).
Sofia (61) and Stockholm (60) are in sixth and seventh place in this ranking. Although Stockholm has a low percentage for cloud cover unpredictability, the data for wet day frequency showed that the city experienced sudden downfalls.
Bratislava in Slovakia placed in eighth with a total of 56. The sunshine hours are pretty predictable but the data for frost day frequency is very varied, which indicates that you wouldn’t be able to predict when you’d wake up to frost in this capital city.
There are four capital cities coming in at ninth place. Luxembourg, Belgrade, Skopje and Budapest all received identical scores of 55 out of 100. Although these capitals had low unpredictability for sunshine duration and wet day frequency, the percentages for cloud cover, frost day frequency and precipitation were all fairly high in comparison.
If you’re looking for a permanent clear sky, Lisbon is perhaps not the best capital city to visit. The uncertainty surrounding the cloud cover means it scores 85% - the highest out of any other city.
Madrid, Luxembourg, Zagreb and Sofia are all within the 70% range, so don’t bet on a cloud-free sky if you go.
There are four cities in joint tenth place - Riga, Prague, Vienna and Tallinn. The data shows that these capitals all score 65% in terms of unpredictability with cloud cover on a daily basis.
Waking up to a covering of frost is possible but not a certainty in Bratislava, with an unpredictability rating of 75%. Your suitcase should definitely be packed with clothes to suit all weather conditions if you’re going on a trip here.
Another city where frosty days are random is Vienna. The Austrian capital has 73% for frosty day frequency, suggesting a high variance in the data for this type of weather.
Other capital cities in the top spots for unpredictable frosty day frequency are Belgrade, Luxembourg and Riga - all within 70%.
A large amount of precipitation can make or break your holiday abroad. The term precipitation refers to any form of water falling from the sky, such as rain, snow, hail or sleet. Sofia in Bulgaria (76%) tops the ranking for cities where the amount of precipitation is uncertain throughout the year.
Belgrade (71%), Riga (69%) and Skopje (68%) come in at second, third and fourth place. Although it’s quite unpredictable whether you’ll experience rainfall on your trip to these capitals, it’s best to pack some waterproofs just in case, as precipitation in Europe has a trend of rising every year.
When packing for a trip abroad, the temperature of our destination is something that most of us will check. It can mean the difference between chucking in a few pairs of shorts or taking your thermals. Stockholm and Riga (68%) are capitals where unexpected temperature changes are likely and so your suitcase will need to be overflowing with options.
Copenhagen and Helsinki (62%) are two more cities where the mean temperature may make you pile on the layers in the morning only to start sweating later on.
Completing the top 10 capital cities with the most unpredictable mean temperature is Warsaw in Poland. It has a ranking of 52% in terms of unpredictability which shows the temperatures can change dramatically without notice.
A wet day on holiday can put a dampener on your plans, making you instead opt for indoor attractions. Thankfully, there are plenty of indoor activities to do on a rainy day in Helsinki, so your trip won’t be ruined as the unpredictability for wet days is ranked at 82%.
The three Scandinavian capital cities appear on this list - Stockholm (81%), Oslo (75%) and Copenhagen (66%). Although these destinations are well-known for the harsh Scandinavian winter, the exact amount of wet days are unknown from year to year.
In joint first place for the capital cities with the most unpredictable sunshine duration are Oslo and Bern with 85%. In Oslo, sunshine hours can range from over 16 hours to five hours depending on the month.
Vaduz and Helsinki are another two capital cities that have a ranking of over 80%. So, if you’re looking to visit either of these destinations, make sure you’re ready for an unpredictable amount of sunshine.
Uswitch wanted to find out which European capital cities have the most unpredictable weather.
35 European capital cities were analysed* on a total of six variables: cloud cover, frost, precipitation, daily mean temperature, wet day frequency, and sunshine duration.
Data was collected from multiple sources, including Eurostat, cmsaf.eu, and crudata.uea.
All data was then confined to that pertaining to the 35 European capital cities, and a weighted average was calculated and aggregated by season and by variable.
An unpredictability score was created for all of each cities’ variables based on the weighted standard deviation of the data, meaning that the more variated or dispersed the data was, the higher the unpredictability score.
Each variable was then assigned a percentage out of 100 based on how unpredictable it was, and a total score out of 100 points was then created for each capital city ranking overall unpredictability of weather.
*Some European cities had to be omitted from the study due to insufficient data.