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Thread: Suggestions for a 2 week trip to Europe over Christmas

  1. #1
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    Suggestions for a 2 week trip to Europe over Christmas

    My fiance and I have the opportunity to travel to Europe over Christmas break (he is a student and I'm a teacher). We will definitely be visiting friends in London for 3-4 days, but we aren't sure where we should go after that. Our travel dates are roughly between December 19-Jan 3 travelling from the NYC area.

    Does anyone have any tips for winter travel in Europe or a good recommendation for where to go and what to see? We're having trouble narrowing down a destination after London, so I'd love to hear what you all think!

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    You might take a look at this thread:

    Which European country would you visit if you had a week?

    (though it doesn't focus on winter travel)

    I was once in Istanbul for four days, in February, while they were having a cold spell (four degrees!) and I was running a fever. Even so, it was one of my favorite trips ever! Can't go wrong - the food is pretty great across the board, fascinating sights to see (many of them indoors, if the weather is bad), wonderful shopping, centuries of history and culture to absorb.

    Another trip I've always wanted to do is to stay at the Ice Hotel in Sweden. What could be more wintery?!

    I've also heard that Christmas in Germany is amazing (or alternately, Christmas in Italy). (Not to say that Christmases elsewhere aren't wonderful! ) If Italy: Venice or Rome (imagine the Pantheon in a snowstorm!!) would probably be fantastic, with far fewer tourists to cross your path.

    I'm not sure where exactly to focus your travels, but those would be my starting points for research.

    Hope you have a fabulous trip - come back and post pictures!! (With your bags in the foreground, of course. )
    Last edited by haraya; 09-07-2014 at 04:50 PM.

  3. #3
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    If you can spare a few days and want some festive spirit in England, try staying in Oxford for a couple of days. It's near London. Explore the colleges, walk about the city centre, go to some pubs if you like drinking. If it snows, take a walk in Port Meadow. It may seem like a boring suggestion, but Oxford is a very happy town all year round and only gets more festive at Christmas!

    ETA: There are also lots of Christmas performances in various Oxford college chapels. If you like choral or early music, Dec/Jan is a great time to catch some good performances for cheap.
    Last edited by adalangdon; 09-07-2014 at 01:57 AM.
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    I don't know if you're only planning to visit the UK but if you get the chance I would have a look at Bruges or Brussels. Both are gorgeous, picture-postcard places, with excellent food (and beer).

    Around Christmas time Bruges will have Christmas markets in the main squares and an ice sculpture exhibition near the train station.
    It's a really nice chilled-out place to wander around. My wife and I usually visit once a year and we always come back refreshed.

    Brussels is also great and at that time of year you can probably get a good deal on some of the hotels near the European Parliament, my favourite is the Renaissance, they used to do a package for 2 nights where you get breakfast included and vouchers for public transport and a beer sampling session in a brewery on the main square. It was a great deal, not sure if they still run it but worth looking out for.

    Failing that try to get to one of the German towns with a Christmas market, they have such a great atmosphere. We have done Cologne and Aachen and enjoyed both, but there are loads more.

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    Registered User adalangdon's Avatar
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    +1 for Brugge, though I was there in spring. Food's great. People are nice. It's a very, very picturesque town. If you're a history and architecture buff, there are plenty of medieval and renaissance buildings. Plus Ghent is not that far away and there's the famous art museum there, too!
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    Most often than not, you will be freezing in northern Europe.

    In winter, you will be better off in Italy, Spain or Portugal. A very popular destination is the south of France.

    I think that you could either choose your destination by price (see where the bargains are in Europe) or by afinity do you like quiet strolls, gourmet food and picturesque old towns or busy markets, fairs and noisy celebrations or castles, museums and other architectural gems or operas. ballets. cabarets. concerts or local, regional, state parks?

    Europe is wonderfully diverse, has a nice highway system (but gas is very expensive) and an even nicer railway system.

    It is pretty much like the U.S east and west coast combined from Seattle to San Francisco and Maine to DC. So it is not large.

    And... you only need two currencies: Pounds and Euros.

    Most people speak English but it is nice to know a few words like thank you, good morning, good evening, sorry, this, that, how much is it?
    Last edited by backpack; 09-07-2014 at 09:13 AM.

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    Why not tell us what places interest you and what you like to do.

    Are you looking for "Christmasy" things or is it just coincidence that you're going during that time?

    Almost anything you can do over the summer you can do over Christmas. You'll just have to dress warmer.

    Trains will run, planes will fly, roads will be horrible. (But don't plan to travel on Xmas day.....most transport don't run.)

    One thing to be aware of.....that time of year the days will be short. As an example, in London on Xmas day, the sun will rise about 8 AM and set by 4 PM. That's only about 8 hours of daylight. Even if you go south to Rome you'll only add about an hour of daylight.
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    Thank you everyone for chiming in! I appreciate your experience!

    To be more clear, we aren't specifically looking for "Christmasy" things to do, we just happen to have the Christmas/holiday break to travel, but we wouldn't mind it either. We've tried to narrow it down, based on everyone's input, so now we're looking at Italy (Rome/southern Italy) or Germany and a possible skiing trip. So warmer weather vs. lots of snow. I've heard Innsbruk has great skiing-anyone have experience with this?

    Thank you!

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    You could also think about skiing in Italy if you go north rather than south (obviously, haha). The Alto Aldige is reputed to have good skiing and you'll get to sample the more Northern European aesthetics, architecture, food, and customs, which are quite different from other parts of Italy.


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    I cant think of a more romantic place than Paris. it is only a bit over 2 hrs by eurostar, city center to city center.
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    I can't speak for the skiing in Innsbruck but the location is beautiful. I stayed in Igls which is just up the hill from Innsbruck.

    One of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen was there. I was taking a stroll after dinner and the sky was full of clouds the same color as the snow on the mountain. I could barely tell where one ended and the other started. I felt as if I was inside a white amphitheater.
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    Rome is awesome leading up to Christmas

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    Thank you again everyone! We just booked our tickets. We decided to head to Germany and Belgium for Christmas!! Now all I have to do is order some more TB gear

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