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7-8 days December, first time in Europe(kind of), where to go?

7-8 days December, first time in Europe(kind of), where to go?

Old Nov 20th, 2019, 10:19 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Nov 2019
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7-8 days December, first time in Europe(kind of), where to go?

Hello!


I found myself with 8 days(post-flight) of Holiday to burn (which I plan to fly at 1st December) and looking for my first real trip into Europe.

I am from Hong Kong and have only visited Belarus and a short stop in Ukraine for Pripyat.

Here are some of the things that I considered:
- Places where it may be too hot to travel outdoor during summer (I'm on the plus size), take advantage as I am traveling in December
- Historical/Religous > Nature (avoid hiking/skiing)
- Solo Traveller
- Food is a major factor
- Preferably in mid/large city along with 1-2 side trips instead of changing hotel every day
- Driving (car rental) / Public transport is fine, don't mind taking an additional flight to visit another city

My main issue is since I have not been to anywhere, too many choices are available and I am having a difficult time to choose.

I have thought of the following location so far but would love to hear if there are places that I should really visit as new to Europe/during December, and feel free to bash some sense into my silly thoughts.

- Italy; Rome Venice Florence (I would go there but feels weird not able to visit Venice
- Turkey; Istanbul Denizli (I have a feeling I missed a bunch of wonderful places and I was told to visit during Spring/Autumn instead)
- Greece; Athens ( not sure what to do apart from Athens)
- Ireland; Dublin (Fodor's Go list 2010, looks like a good place to drive the whole trip)


Thank you (sorry about my bad English)

Last edited by belinik; Nov 20th, 2019 at 10:25 AM.
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Old Nov 20th, 2019, 10:37 AM
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If I were making the choice and traveling solo in winter, I would just pick one easy European city and stay there for one week. Including a day trip or two if you like.

Amsterdam or Paris? Barcelona or Madrid? Rome or Florence?

If you want to do the driving trip, sure the Ireland idea works OK.
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Old Nov 20th, 2019, 10:43 AM
  #3  
J62
 
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December it will be better to so south rather than north, so no Ireland. Wet & cold, and very short, dark days.

My vote would be for Rome, with an overnight or 2 in Florence. December is not a great time to visit Venice, and they are experiencing bad high tide/flooding now. High tides/"acqua alta" are common in the fall but this year is the worst in 50 years. Not sure if what the flooding will be like in early Dec, but Rome and Florence are enough to keep you busy.

Never been to Turkey or Greece, so can't comment on those options.

Your English is fine - no need to apologize.
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Old Nov 20th, 2019, 11:51 AM
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What does "religious" mean to you?

Your English is fine.

At that time of year I'd pick Turkey or Greece or Andalucia.
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Old Nov 20th, 2019, 09:08 PM
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My choice would be Paris. I had one of my best trips ever in Paris in December.
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Old Nov 20th, 2019, 09:32 PM
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You mean the end of next week?

Cold isn't an issue. You might get wet.

Rome and Florence works. Add a day trip or two from Florence. You have quite a few choices.

Your English is better than mine most days.
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Old Nov 20th, 2019, 10:46 PM
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For a first trip to Europe I'd go to Rome.

Rome is the mother of the European civilization(I'm writing this with Roman letters!) having been the centre of the Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic Church. It's a treasure trove of history, art, architecture. Winter is a good time to go, since summers are very hot and winter is perhaps a bit less crowded with tourists(except at the most famous spots).

Italian cuisine is some of the best you can have in Europe, but in case you're from Hong Kong you'll probably find any European cuisine is pretty bland compared to Chinese.

The options for side trips are endless, but it's quite easy to spend a whole week in Rome itself.

Last edited by BDKR; Nov 20th, 2019 at 11:37 PM.
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Old Nov 20th, 2019, 11:26 PM
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I would also vote Rome. But I just saw a friend's pics of Barcelona and Athens and they would be great options too.

I would do at least one guided tour in Rome. Millennia Tours have a good reputation.


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Old Nov 21st, 2019, 12:40 AM
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Thanks for everyone's suggestion. I think I am firm in Italy now, now to decide how to split the time.

Is something like Rome > Siena> Florence > Pisa > coastline self drive something to consider? or just take the train/bus the whole way? Are most city outside of Rome car-friendly(seems like all in-town road are very narrow)?
Any must see places that I may want to consider over Florence?




Originally Posted by StCirq View Post
What does "religious" mean to you?

Your English is fine.

At that time of year I'd pick Turkey or Greece or Andalucia.
Turkey was high on my list as my friend was raving about it, but my youtube-fu has failed to find much info about it. I'm trying to plan a longer trip next year on spain.

Originally Posted by Traveler_Nick View Post
You mean the end of next week?

Cold isn't an issue. You might get wet.

Rome and Florence works. Add a day trip or two from Florence. You have quite a few choices.
Yes end of next week, hence I panic posted here hoping to get enough courage to decide on a place. Cold is good.

Originally Posted by BDKR View Post
For a first trip to Europe I'd go to Rome.

Rome is the mother of the European civilization(I'm writing this with Roman letters!) having been the center of the Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic Church. It's a treasure trove of history, art, architecture. Winter is a good time to go, since summers are very hot and winter is perhaps a bit less crowded with tourists(except at the most famous spots).

Italian cuisine is some of the best you can have in Europe, but in case you're from Hong Kong you'll probably find any European cuisine is pretty bland compared to Chinese.

The options for side trips are endless, but that it's quite easy to spend a whole week in Rome itself.
Your post got me sold! I am happy with European cuisine as I lived in Canada before.

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Old Nov 21st, 2019, 12:50 AM
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Originally Posted by belinik View Post
Thanks for everyone's suggestion. I think I am firm in Italy now, now to decide how to split the time.

Is something like Rome > Siena> Florence > Pisa > coastline self drive something to consider? or just take the train/bus the whole way? Are most city outside of Rome car-friendly(seems like all in-town road are very narrow)?
Any must see places that I may want to consider over Florence?
.
No car. Just train and the one bus to Siena. Actually I'd suggest staying in Florence for that part of your stay. Wake up early take the train to Pisa. One hour later you'll be there. Take the bus to Siena.

The problem with the car aren't the roads.

1) The train between Rome and Florence goes at 300km/h. If you buy it today it's not much more than just the toll for that route. If you drive you'll need to pay rental and fuel on top

2) All those cities have ZTLs. Which mean you aren't allowed to bring your car into the city centre if you aren't a resident.

3) Very few if any of the in city hotels have parking.

Forget the car. Save some money and time.

Nothing is a must see. What matters is what you're interested in. This time of year the bigger cities are easier because they have more indoor things to do.
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Old Nov 21st, 2019, 01:50 AM
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Agree with Rome; but at this stage, you may want to check air fares and hotel availability for any place first.

Another option might be London/Paris; fly into one, out of the other and Eurostar between the two.
There is so much to do in these two cities, many activities indoors in case of bad weather, and plenty of good food.
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Old Nov 21st, 2019, 03:48 AM
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"Is something like Rome > Siena> Florence > Pisa > coastline self drive something to consider?"

4 cities in only 7-8 days?

Given your short time(for the trip and before the trip) I'd keep this first trip simple and hassle free.

Go to Rome for the whole time(perhaps adding a 1-2 daytrips somewhere near(not as far as Pisa or Florence).

" Turkey was high on my list as my friend was raving about it"

Turkey is a great country, but it's not European and it's better to see it in spring or autumn.
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Old Nov 21st, 2019, 12:20 PM
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Ah, just saw your 1st of December thing.

Go with Paris OR Rome OR Germany. Currently in Strasbourg right now, have been to all places around Christmas. Weather is mild, decorations glorious, museums a plenty.

but Rome has my heart, and although the weather is mild here, it would be even better in rome. Go to Rome and Naples.

Last edited by marvelousmouse; Nov 21st, 2019 at 12:23 PM.
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Old Nov 21st, 2019, 01:49 PM
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Is something like Rome > Siena> Florence > Pisa > coastline self drive something to consider?

No, not with only seven days. Too many places too little time, plus the 'complication' of now you are thinking of renting a car and driving?

That just doesn't work. If you do only Rome and Florence you definitely do not need a car and those two cities would well more than fill one week's time!
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Old Nov 21st, 2019, 02:49 PM
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Go to Rome for the whole time(perhaps adding a 1-2 daytrips somewhere near(not as far as Pisa or Florence).
Florence is an easy day trip from Rome; the two cities are an hour and a half apart by high speed train, and the center of Florence is an easy walk from the station. In a single day, you can take a rewarding walk around the historic center, visit several of the churches that have splendid art displayed, and even visit one museum. I would suggest skipping some of the most famous (and crowded) sights, any one of which could eat up a good part of your day.

In the Duomo area, I would suggest entering the Baptistery and visiting the Museum of the Duomo. I don't think it's worth the long wait to enter the Duomo; the outside is much more beautiful, and much of its art is now in the museum.

Very near the train station, the beautiful Basilica of Santa Maria Novella holds a treasure trove of Renaissance art.

A walk around the center should include the Piazza della Signoria and the Ponte Vecchio. Read up on all of these things before your visit.

If you also want to see Pisa, you should spend a night or two in Florence. If you go to Florence early one day, you can spend the whole day in Florence. The next day you could go to Pisa early, and either return to Florence for another half day, or go back to Rome. Of course, two nights in Florence would allo you to see more.

I think I would recommend skipping Siena, unless there is something there you really want to see. You could fit in a day trip to Siena if you spend another night in Florence.

If you fly into Rome, you might want to take a train directly to Florence, and spend three nights there. Then you could return to Rome and spend the rest of the time there.

​​​
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Old Nov 21st, 2019, 03:22 PM
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"I don't think it's worth the long wait to enter the Duomo;"

Are there so many tourists even in Dcemeber that you have to wait? Are you from Firenze?
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Old Nov 21st, 2019, 04:16 PM
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Iím not from florence, or the poster, but I can vouch for the lines in December being ridiculous. Itís one of the reasons I wouldnít choose Florence.
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Old Nov 21st, 2019, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by BDKR View Post
"I don't think it's worth the long wait to enter the Duomo;"

Are there so many tourists even in Dcemeber that you have to wait? Are you from Firenze?
We were in Florence for 4 days last December, 27,28,29&30. There were huge lines waiting at the Duomo and Baptistery all day every day.
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Old Nov 21st, 2019, 04:48 PM
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I haven't been to Firenze since 1998, that time even September was OK when I visited.

I thought there would be less tourists in winter, but it looks like it's crowded year round, sigh...

I'm wondering about Venice too. Last time I was there in 2009 November and it was amazingly quiet, very few tourists.
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Old Nov 21st, 2019, 05:08 PM
  #20  
kja
 
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Ditto what greg said about car vs. public transportion, and another vote for limiting your trip to Rome and AT MOST one other destination -- which would depend on YOUR interests.
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