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Christmas and New Year's in Europe - Tips? Where to go?

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My husband and I are planning to take a trip to Europe over Christmas/New Year's and are trying to decide where to go. Where are the best destinations for that time of year? We are planning a 6–8 day trip, probably in no more than two cities so we really have time to explore.

We are in our late twenties, and are looking for a romantic getaway to celebrate our anniversary. We enjoy food, wine, history, architecture, and beautiful landscapes. We grew up in the Midwest, so snow and cold temperatures don't frighten us, but we'd probably prefer a more temperate climate if given the choice. Budget is definitely a factor; ideally we'd like to go somewhere we can get the most bang for our buck.

We've already been to Paris together (we actually got engaged there), and have both traveled fairly extensively through Germany and Austria. We would like to travel somewhere neither of us have been before, although we are considering being in Paris for New Year's Eve because the city holds so much meaning for us.

Do a lot of the shops and markets close down during the week between Christmas and New Year's? Is it fairly easy to travel between countries on the train? Any advice for European travel over the holidays would be most appreciated!

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    At that time of year the only places with a warmish climate (but NOT beach weather) would be southern Spain - or possibly parts of Sicily or Crete. No guarantees though.

    Rome is usually not too cold that time of year - but snow is possible if they get a cold snap - as is very chilly rain. A friend of mine did a week in Venice around Christmas and it rained every day - except for one it snowed and the temps never got out of the 40s.

    Christmas Day most things are closed everywhere. And in many places they close early on the 24th and in some place the 26th is a holiday called Boxing Day. Also things are closed New Years Day and may close early on the Eve.

    I would not reco London - or the UK at all - because of the holidays. Wherever you go make sure you have meal reservations for all the holidays - since many places are closed or booked solid in advance.

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    I would suggest the UK, especially London over Christmas. Or Cyprus can be pleasant at that time of the year, snow in the mountains and warm enough to sit outside for lunch during the day. Plenty of sites to visit, good food, lots of architecture, very friendly people. Americans don't visit it much since they only know Greece. I have been to Moscow & St Petersburg over Christmas and the New Year, I can recommend that for somewhere different.

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    <<We enjoy food, wine, history, architecture, and beautiful landscapes.>>

    French Alps. Italian Alps. Swiss Alps. Bavarian castle trail.

    The "beauty" of landscapes changes - at that time of year, you may need someplace wintry to enjoy a given landscape at its peak. You won't see the poppies in France or the innumerable sunflowers in Italy in late December.

    Realize this: you will have FAR LESS daylight in Europe than you would in the US for what you would consider an "equivalent" city climatologically.

    For instance, New York City is in the "northeast" United States, but it is on the same parallel as Madrid (40N - 40 degrees north latitude). Rome (41N), which is southern Europe, is on the same parallel as Chicago (yes, New York is SOUTH of Chicago). Paris (and Munich, both 48N) is well north of Toronto (43N) and Montreal (45N). London is on the latitude of Calgary. Edinburgh is north of Edmonton (53N) and Dublin is roughly on the same parallel as Edmonton. It will get dark early on you (in Krakow, night falls by 4 pm at that time of year).

    And St. Petersburg is just south of Anchorage. You'll need vitamin D supplements and will also have to contend with this (from Wikipedia) "The Neva River within the city limits usually freezes up in November–December and break-up occurs in April. From December to March there are 118 days average with snow cover, which reaches an average snow depth of 19 cm (7.5 in) by February."

    <<Is it fairly easy to travel between countries on the train?>>

    Considering that the borders are effectively open in the Schengen countries, yeah.

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    The only time trains will be a problem is if there really is some kind of snowstorm, because trains cannot run with more than a certain amount of snow on the tracks. I wouldn't go to some real cold, snowy destination and plan on trains myself, but I wouldn't go there anyway in Dec-Jan.

    At that time of year, I would only consider a major city myself, where the weather doesn't matter as much. London sounds good to me. I've heard Edinburgh has a great NY eve blowout, but don't know what their weather is like then. I'm sure cold, but I don't know other levels.

    Where cities are on latitude in US vs. Europe isn't a good predictor of temps and weather, as the climate is different even for places at the same latitude, although it is very useful for understanding daylight hours, as noted above.

    You could easily do London and Paris, that would be fine for me (since you want to be in Paris for NY eve). Of course some things close between Christmas and NY, it is a slow time of year, but shouldn't be any major problem (except plans for dining on exact holidays). I think more closes in London, they even have some holiday that isn't recognized most places (Boxing Day), including France. And London is also unusual in really closing down on Christmas, even public transportation from what I've read. I don't know of any other city that closes down like that on Christmas.

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