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6 week trip -Europe in Winter- itinerary help!

6 week trip -Europe in Winter- itinerary help!

Old May 17th, 2022, 06:06 AM
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6 week trip -Europe in Winter- itinerary help!

Hello everyone!

My husband and I are planning a winter trip to Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands & Austria for 6 weeks from mid December to late January.

We fly into Frankfurt and out of Vienna (these flights cannot be changed)

We are in our 30s and huge foodies. It’s our first winter trip to Europe and our first time in these countries. I have always wanted to visit the Christmas markets and would like to see as many as possible while they are open. While we both love the snow we don’t do any winter sports.

We prefer (where possible & practical) to base somewhere and do day trips rather then changing locations too regularly. We prefer public transport and will be using the train to get around (with some driving only if necessary).



Here’s what I have so far with ideas for possible day trips:


  • Arrive Frankfurt 2 nights
  • Frankfurt- Strasbourg 4 nights
    days trips to Ribeauville, Riquewihr, Colmar, Eguisheim
  • Strasbourg- Nancy 3 nights
    day trips to Metz maybe Luxembourg too?
  • Nancy- Paris 5 nights
    day trips to Giverny, Versailles
  • Paris - Lille 2 nights
  • Lille - Brussels 2 nights
  • Brussels - Bruge 1 night
  • Bruge - Amsterdam 5 nights
day trips Haarlem, Utrecht, Delft, The Hague
  • Amsterdam - Hamburg? 2 nights
    would Düsseldorf or Cologne make a better stop?
  • Hamburg - Nuremberg 2 nights
    day trip to Rothenburg ob der Tauber
  • Nuremberg - Baiersbronn? 2 nights
    is it worth spending a couple nights somewhere in the Black Forest?
  • Baiersbronn- Munich 4 nights
    day trips to Neuschwanstein Castle, Berchtesgaden, Regensburg
  • Munich - Salzburg 2 nights
  • Salzburg - Vienna 5 nights
day trips to Hallstatt, Grinzing
  • Vienna- Home

Any suggestions or ideas on how I could improve the itinerary would be greatly appreciated.
Would also love to hear about any other must see locations for day trips I’ve missed.

Thanks!!
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Old May 17th, 2022, 07:41 AM
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yikes,
dry boots and warm jackets a must
have a plan B for every day to ensure you can find a warm fireside
daylight hours are short and tourists are not about much so locals take extended breaks
spas, find spas

not my sort of thing at all but good luck
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Old May 17th, 2022, 08:07 AM
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Just a couple of very quick comments . . .

Specific: Monet's House is not open that time of year.
General: In several of your stops you plan a day trip almost every day leaving no time for the actual city you are in. Two nights in a city nets you one full day, 4 nights = 3 days . . . so you'll want to reevaluate almost all of your stops.
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Old May 17th, 2022, 09:07 AM
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Whew, I'm tired just reading your itinerary! However, since I've visited Paris and Vienna in January and am booked to go to Germany this November, I'm going to weigh in with my thoughts.

Paris - go to Versailles, book your tickets in advance to avoid the long queue. It's so easy to take the train, and although the fountains won't be running, it's still a wonderful day trip. Spend the rest of the time in Paris and soak in the city. It's so beautiful and you'll never run out of things to do/see.

Vienna - My sister and I visited this past January and although I was tempted by day trips to Salzburg and Bratislava, we stayed in the city the entire time and again, didn't run out of things to do. The Kunsthistorisches Museum was so great we went twice. Vienna was wonderful to travel to in Covid-times, they were so careful and pcr tests were free and readily available. Don't know what the situation will be next year though.

Germany - We're flying into Frankfurt and out of Munich, have a total of 10 nights. Other than going to Cologne, which is really out of the way, I'm considering Mainz as a base for 2-3 nights, then Freiburg (3 nights), Fussen (2 nights, 3 castles), and Munich (2 nights). Wish we had six weeks! I did look up when the Christmas markets start, and was very happy to learn that the markets who have listed their opening dates are right around November 21st. We arrive on the 23rd. So excited!
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Old May 17th, 2022, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
Just a couple of very quick comments . . .

Specific: Monet's House is not open that time of year.
General: In several of your stops you plan a day trip almost every day leaving no time for the actual city you are in. Two nights in a city nets you one full day, 4 nights = 3 days . . . so you'll want to reevaluate almost all of your stops.
just confirming- those listed day trips are Ideas at this point, not set in stone and not planning to see every single one. Hence being here, asking the experts to help me narrow it down or add different ideas to the mix
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Old May 17th, 2022, 05:10 PM
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Hi klabarba, I have done many Europe trips in the winter. I come from Australia and the typical travel pattern there is a long break over the Australian summer to fit in with the school / university year, so I have done what you are doing.

Yes, you can do it with bases - personally I think that is a better way in bad weather, as you are not committed to travel every day when the weather is unaccommodating. Train is a good idea because snow can close roads or there can be black ice and if you are not experienced, particularly with the Autobahn, this is not a good time to learn. Cities are better than small towns or rural areas as you can duck into museums and cafés and generally not be exposed to the elements.

Agree with bilboburgler on the footwear. Take shoes/boots with thick soles so the cold doesn't creep up through your feet. Ditto umbrellas - northern Europe gets rain as well as snow. You probably know about the right clothes, but if not, ask here. In Australia, Uniqlo and Kathmandu are good (get clothes in Australia now for the European winter).

For a long trip like this you could use a calendar and write in your transit days and the destination for every night. That will help you manage your travel days over such a long time.

You asked about the Black Forest - yes, specific towns to visit might be Triberg, Gengenbach, Baden-Baden, possibly Freudenberg.

It sounds like it will be a very exciting trip!

Lavandula
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Old May 17th, 2022, 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by klabarba View Post
just confirming- those listed day trips are Ideas at this point, not set in stone and not planning to see every single one. Hence being here, asking the experts to help me narrow it down or add different ideas to the mix

I did understand those are only 'possible' day trips. But for instance with only 1 full day in Nuremberg any day trip would mean no time for Nuremberg itself. It seems you aren't fully accounting for the travel logistics of checking out/transit/checking in
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Old May 17th, 2022, 09:37 PM
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I wouldn't do any 2-night stops at all. It's check-out - travel - check-in - one day in a new town - repeat.
Consider that there can be travel disruptions in winter, the more you travel the more you risk this.
In Belgium, stay in Brugge or Brussel or Gent for 3 nights, don't switch hotels. These places are so close together.
If you can stock your luggage in Lille, you can spend a day there before continuing to Belgium.
How light can you travel for 6 weeks in winter?

5 nights in Amsterdam is good. Book a table at De Kas.
Pencil in your daytrips but don't book everything unless you really need to get tickets in advance for something. Trains in the Netherlands don't need to be booked in advance anyway. If you get bad weather you want to be flexible with your plans.
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Old May 17th, 2022, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by lavandula View Post
Hi klabarba, I have done many Europe trips in the winter. I come from Australia and the typical travel pattern there is a long break over the Australian summer to fit in with the school / university year, so I have done what you are doing.

Yes, you can do it with bases - personally I think that is a better way in bad weather, as you are not committed to travel every day when the weather is unaccommodating. Train is a good idea because snow can close roads or there can be black ice and if you are not experienced, particularly with the Autobahn, this is not a good time to learn. Cities are better than small towns or rural areas as you can duck into museums and cafés and generally not be exposed to the elements.

Agree with bilboburgler on the footwear. Take shoes/boots with thick soles so the cold doesn't creep up through your feet. Ditto umbrellas - northern Europe gets rain as well as snow. You probably know about the right clothes, but if not, ask here. In Australia, Uniqlo and Kathmandu are good (get clothes in Australia now for the European winter).

For a long trip like this you could use a calendar and write in your transit days and the destination for every night. That will help you manage your travel days over such a long time.

You asked about the Black Forest - yes, specific towns to visit might be Triberg, Gengenbach, Baden-Baden, possibly Freudenberg.

It sounds like it will be a very exciting trip!

Lavandula
thank you for your helpful reply Lavandula! Yes I am from Aus too!

thanks for the Black Forest suggestions I will research those.

we have travelled to Japan and South Korea in the winter so hopefully our foot ware is up to the task.

regarding Germany what are your thoughts on staying in Hamburg (or cologne or Düsseldorf) for 2 nights? Is it worth it or better to spend an extra night in say Munich and maybe Nuremberg? I have been trying to work out a way to eliminate those 2 night stays…
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Old May 17th, 2022, 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted by klabarba View Post
regarding Germany what are your thoughts on staying in Hamburg (or cologne or Düsseldorf) for 2 nights? Is it worth it or better to spend an extra night in say Munich and maybe Nuremberg? I have been trying to work out a way to eliminate those 2 night stays…
Look, I was a language student when I first visited Hamburg so I found it fascinating because of the dialect there, and the smoked eel snacks in the railway station!. There are a few drawcards which would interest more normal travelling tastes: the red light / bar district the Reeperbahn (which if you live in a big city is probably not that interesting); the harbour - it's a working port and you can do a cruise of it; Miniatur Wunderland which is a model train display (model building / trains is a big deal in Germany) and HafenCity, which has the Elbphilharmonie and Speicherstadt. I haven't been for a number of years, but I think it's got a little bit more going for it than Düsseldorf, which has an engaging restaurant/bar district (and a cracking Christmas market, it goes on for at least a kilometre, if that is your interest in December and you can get there before about 23 Dec). Cologne has the cathedral, and some good museums and of course it will have about 7 markets in December also. But northern Germany is really different to the south in manner, food and architecture, so I am reluctant to strike out a choice in the north for something in the south if you are visiting Munich anyway. I would rather sacrifice the Black Forest if I had to make a choice. It's nice but you will get a really good idea of the contrasting cultures if you visit Hamburg and then Munich. If you are in Hamburg for a couple of days take an afternoon out to see nearby Buxtehüde so you see proper old north German Fachwerk architecture; much of Hamburg was destroyed in WWII but Speicherstadt is all 19th century warehouses given the urban renewal treatment.

I fully appreciate the idea of striking out 2 day stays. But I would be brutal about it on a bigger scale and cut out a whole country (you decide which one), allowing more time for the things you are already seeing in the countries you prioritise. You will come back to Europe again, maybe many times!

Lavandula
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Old May 18th, 2022, 12:12 AM
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Originally Posted by klabarba View Post
. . . regarding Germany what are your thoughts on staying in Hamburg (or cologne or Düsseldorf) for 2 nights? Is it worth it or better to spend an extra night in say Munich and maybe Nuremberg? I have been trying to work out a way to eliminate those 2 night stays…
Thats a big job because you have 7 two nighters, and 1 one nighter -- so basically eight places where you will see very little. You probably need to sit down with a map and/or guide book(s) and rethink the whole itinerary. Six weeks is great, but I'd want to slow down a bit and have more extended stops.
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Old May 18th, 2022, 01:40 AM
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I also feel that you have too many short stays. I sometimes do a bit of hop-skipping around, but wouldn't do it over such a long period. After the first week or two, I'd be ready to call it quits and head home early!

You're not likely to see snow in the Netherlands or Belgium, especially near the coast. There is a high probability of rain, mist, or fog.

I think Hallstatt is much closer to Salzburg than Vienna. If you want to go there, I would add a night to Salzburg, because it's pretty much an all-day trip. In fact, I would probably not go to Hallstatt at all at that time of year. In the winter, I prefer to visit cities, rather than small towns, because there are more indoor activities if the weather is not pleasant.
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Old May 18th, 2022, 02:22 AM
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Since you're going to Hamburg, I would absolutely include Groningen on your itinerary.
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Old May 18th, 2022, 03:52 AM
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Originally Posted by menachem View Post
Since you're going to Hamburg, I would absolutely include Groningen on your itinerary.
I wouldn't if travelling by train. With the bridge down still it is a very complicated journey.
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Old May 18th, 2022, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by hetismij2 View Post
I wouldn't if travelling by train. With the bridge down still it is a very complicated journey.
Aha. It's still out of service? Yes, then it's a pain
There's a very good flixbus between Groningen and Hamburg: just over 4 hours by bus.
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Old Jun 6th, 2022, 06:01 AM
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klabarba - We often - for various reasons of work and family - spend three weeks in Europe in December. We love food, art, walking around cities and checking out all the things. It can be a great time to travel - European cities are lively and pretty in winter with lots of fun things happening. Cold and weather has never been a problem for us. Here's how I'd rearrange your trip:
Arr FRA, get on the train to Strasbourg. It's just two or so hours. I don't recommend two nights in Frankfurt. Here's where I'd go:
Strasbourg
Nancy
Paris - you won't regret more time or nights here
I'd skip Lille. We spent two or three nights there in December and it was disappointing.
Belgium - add nights here. We spent a few in Brussels, two in Bruges, three in Ghent several years ago and loved it all. Ghent was my favorite.
Amsterdam - fantastic in December. As is Rotterdam, the Hague, etc. Personally I think Rotterdam is way underrated - it was one of our favorite places during one of our December vacations.
Hamburg - my daughter-in-law is German and is a big fan of Hamburg. I haven't been but look forward to it.
Nuremberg - was there as a child and this was the Christmas market of my dreams
Munich - we will be there this December for Christmas
Vienna is amazing in December. The museums!

A few notes: the food in Germany/Austria is often disappointing. So just set reasonable expectations. And I have found that the Christmas Markets I've visited the last few years are all identical and just OK. That includes Rennes, Lille, Brussels, Pottsdam, Leipzig, Berlin, Vienna. So many of the same little huts. If you love food you might consider more time in France at the beginning- perhaps Dijon - and less time in Germany. One of our favorite Christmas trips was five days in Rennes followed by two weeks in Paris. We also loved Belgium and the Netherlands in December.


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Old Jun 6th, 2022, 12:19 PM
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Make reservations for Stomach in Vienna:

https://www.mylittlevienna.com/en/re...l-stomach.html
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Old Jun 7th, 2022, 01:13 AM
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Personally I think Rotterdam is way underrated - it was one of our favorite places during one of our December vacations.
Absolutely agree! I lived there in the 1980s, and my husband and I spent several days there in 2019. It has undergone a remarkable transformation in the interval, and has become perhaps my favourite city in the Netherlands. A vibrant modern city, good restaurants, impressive architecture, and a beautiful harbor.

I also agree about the Christmas markets. Same little huts...and the same chemical odor of cinnamon and pine trees.

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Old Jun 7th, 2022, 01:24 AM
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Also in agreement about the Christmas markets. Beer, mulled wine, junk food, and the same tacky stuff in most places.
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Old Jun 8th, 2022, 04:18 AM
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Thanks for your reply!
I was actually thinking of cutting Frankfurt and Lille out to buy more time in our other locations ..

Im sad to hear that about the Christmas markets.. it’s been a long held dream of mine to go.

I’m still not sure about where to stay in (or around) the Black Forest though… Or is it worth maybe cutting across to France or even Switzerland somewhere close to the border? We would like that whole countryside/lodge/spa vibe if possible. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

This is our updated itinerary:Arrive Frankfurt- train straight to Nuremberg

Nuremberg 2 nights

Strasbourg 4 nights
Riquewihr, Colmar, Obernai day trips

Nancy 3 nights
Metz day trip

Paris 6 nights
Versailles day trip

Brussels 4 nights
Bruge, Ghent day trips

Rotterdam 4 nights
Delft, The Hague, Leiden day trips

Amsterdam 5 nights
Haarlem, Utrecht day trips

Black Forest 3 nights ?

Munich 5 nights
Neuschwanstein Castle, Berchtesgaden, Regensburg day trips

Vienna 5 nights
Salzburg, Hallstatt day trips


Originally Posted by rosetravels View Post
klabarba - We often - for various reasons of work and family - spend three weeks in Europe in December. We love food, art, walking around cities and checking out all the things. It can be a great time to travel - European cities are lively and pretty in winter with lots of fun things happening. Cold and weather has never been a problem for us. Here's how I'd rearrange your trip:
Arr FRA, get on the train to Strasbourg. It's just two or so hours. I don't recommend two nights in Frankfurt. Here's where I'd go:
Strasbourg
Nancy
Paris - you won't regret more time or nights here
I'd skip Lille. We spent two or three nights there in December and it was disappointing.
Belgium - add nights here. We spent a few in Brussels, two in Bruges, three in Ghent several years ago and loved it all. Ghent was my favorite.
Amsterdam - fantastic in December. As is Rotterdam, the Hague, etc. Personally I think Rotterdam is way underrated - it was one of our favorite places during one of our December vacations.
Hamburg - my daughter-in-law is German and is a big fan of Hamburg. I haven't been but look forward to it.
Nuremberg - was there as a child and this was the Christmas market of my dreams
Munich - we will be there this December for Christmas
Vienna is amazing in December. The museums!

A few notes: the food in Germany/Austria is often disappointing. So just set reasonable expectations. And I have found that the Christmas Markets I've visited the last few years are all identical and just OK. That includes Rennes, Lille, Brussels, Pottsdam, Leipzig, Berlin, Vienna. So many of the same little huts. If you love food you might consider more time in France at the beginning- perhaps Dijon - and less time in Germany. One of our favorite Christmas trips was five days in Rennes followed by two weeks in Paris. We also loved Belgium and the Netherlands in December.
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