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The 5-8 Night Solo Winter Trip - help narrow it down!

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Hi! I'm hoping to plan a brief solo trip for just after Thanksgiving. I will have 5-8 nights to spend, so I'm thinking about places as 5 night or 8 night itineraries. I've been looking at flight prices most of today, and it looks like there are some decent deals during this time period. Now I'm just trying to put together itineraries that make sense for my interests and don't require too much running around. Want to keep flights from New York under or around $700 roundtrip, which helped me narrow my focus. No real budget, but would be more apt to go to the more expensive destinations for 5 nights, and extend the trip in countries where I get more euro for my dollar for 8 nights.

Since it's winter, I want to focus on great indoor activities (museums and fantastic architecture especially, local culture, live music/sport viewing opportunities). Great food is a priority: I'm a lover of street food and cafe/small eatery culture, nice restaurants are not too important on this trip. I'm coming from New York, so I'm not looking for sunshine and great weather: I'm prepared to embrace cold in exchange for culture. I love great scenery and would be into outdoor sports like snowshoeing/cross country skiing as well, but less of a priority. And I want to go someplace I’ve never been before. So my shortlist:

ISTANBUL (& CAPPADOCIA) - flight $582 with Austrian Airlines, 5-8 nights. 5 nights would be Istanbul only, 8 nights would be Istanbul and Cappadocia. This checks all my boxes, especially great food and easy street food. I think my only hesitation here is I've always thought about visiting Turkey in spring, fall or summer , and not sure about going when the weather is likely to be rainy and wet (versus other places I don’t have preconceived ideas about). Istanbul I’m less worried about than Cappadocia/countryside in winter solo.

ISTANBUL (& VENICE) - flight $663 with Air Canada/SWISS airlines open jaw, 8 nights. Variation on a theme, this would be two cities with some interesting shared history and a great compliment: Istanbul hits my interests in history, Venice fulfills with art. I’d do an even 4 and 4 night split, even though the Venice piece would probably be a bit more expensive, though better than high season. The foggy winter ambiance and lack of tourists is appealing, is the l'acqua alta manageable as a tourist? And food X two!

AMSTERDAM – flight $715 with Icelandair, 5-8 nights. A little more expensive flight, but worth it because I’d very much like to see the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum now that both have reopened. I don’t know much about Dutch food, but I’d imagine they have some interesting street food options and some specialities to warm up cold souls! Canals would be great scenery. Bonus that I could stop over in Iceland for free if I wanted to. 5 nights would be Amsterdam only with maybe Iceland stopover, 8 nights maybe a daytrip (Bruges? Haarlem? Leiden?) and definitely an Iceland stopover

ICELAND – flight $661 with Icelandair, 5-6 nights (more expensive). This is the semi-wild card for a full trip, because I've heard while wonderfully unique, the food isn't great and there aren't a ton of traditional sightseeing opportunities. Scenery is the big draw, and it will be cold. With 5-6 nights, I'm thinking mostly in Reykjavik, maybe some trips (Golden Circle, Vik?) and Northern Lights chasing. Shouldn’t be too short in my opinion since the plane flight from NYC is about 6 hours.

ST PETERSBURG – flight $579 with Lufthansa (there is a cheaper one with Austrian but an oddly long layover but not stopover in Vienna), 5 nights (more expensive). This is the real wild card for me. So the flight is cheap, but I guess I make up the costs later with time on the ground? Hermitage and other sights sound great, but a little worried about language (don’t speak/read Russian), visa and costs, and not looking particularly Russian or white, so thinking this isn’t the right place for solo travel right now. I’m only leaving it in because the flight is the cheapest.

Help steer me in the right direction?? What sounds most reasonable? Any itinerary where I’d be doing much too much in too little time? Thank you for your thoughts!

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