Advice please! 4 weeks in Europe Dec/Jan

Old May 29th, 2016, 06:59 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: May 2016
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Advice please! 4 weeks in Europe Dec/Jan

Hi all,

My wife and I are looking to do a month in Europe over December/January (it will most likely be roughly the 10th - 10th). She has done a package tour through a lot of countries (this was around 8 years ago now), while I have visited sporadically for work but never for pleasure. We have both visited during this time of year before, and know what to expect with regards to temperature/short days, and are entirely comfortable with it (we love winter/Christmas!).

Ideally we are thinking of visiting four countries as we do not want to catch ourselves permanently being in transit and missing the point of our trip. We are not interested in skiing/snowboarding, we are more after culture / food / scenery / museums etc.

The cities we have on our shortlist are:

Vienna
Lucerne
Prague
Somewhere in Germany (no real clue here, everyone says Berlin but we are open)
Bruges
Copenhagen

We are definitely going to London, as I have never been, and we'd really love to spend some time in Scotland also (we'd probably do these two in around 8 days combined and shave a few days off another stop), but aren't sure just how restrictive the weather at that time of year might be.

We are also unsure of where is best to spend Christmas and New Years given the closures that occur around this time.

Does anybody have any advice or suggestions for us? We are very early in planning this trip so nothing is booked or set in stone

Thanks for any help or feedback you might have!
woodz99 is offline  
Old May 30th, 2016, 01:28 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2006
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We live in Vienna, and we have spent the days between Christmas and New Year's in Prague, as well as spending post Christmas through New Year's Day in Berlin. The holiday closures in Vienna are the most restrictive of these three cities, as stores and many restaurants are also closed on Sundays; in Prague, everything was open for business on 26 December (St. Stephans Day/Boxing Day); and in Berlin, stores and some restaurants had begun closing in the early afternoon on NYE, but nothing like the rolled up sidewalks in Vienna. Your travel dates will also fall over Epiphany, 6 January, which is an official holiday in at least Austria.

This said, NYE in Vienna and Berlin can be memorable. There is a "New Year's Trail" throughout Vienna's Inner Stadt with concerts, opportunities for merry-making (e.g. eating and drinking) that begins in the early afternoon, with a fireworks display near Hofburg at midnight. The normally reserved Viennese go a bit crazy on NYE, with pyrotechnics beginning as early as midday. Berlin was similar.

In both Prague and Berlin we had rental apartments and so could with avoid or participate in the merrymaking as we saw fit. In all three cities there will be a few "New Year's" markets open after Christmas, offering all varieties of good luck tokens for the new year.

I hope this is helpful.
fourfortravel is online now  
Old May 30th, 2016, 03:03 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 6,047
The period between 24 Dec and 8 Jan will be peak season in tourist destinations, but will be deserted in business centers.

This means, you get excellent deals for 5 star hotels in cities like Berlin which are usually frequented by business travellers. The hotels usually offer special Christmas meals and parties for New Year's Eve. In Berlin, the place to be at midnight is the Brandenburg Gate - it is unbelievable what happens there!

When it comes to cities like Berlin, Wien or Praha, I am not sure which time is the best for visiting: Before 24 December you have the Christmas markets, from 24 to 26 December you have the Christmas celebrations, and New Year's Eve is also magical. After 1 Jan, things get much quieter.

Here some info for closing times in Berlin:
The State Museums (Pergamon etc.) are closed on 24 Dec, but open on 25 and 26 Dec as well as on 1 Jan. On 31 Dec some museums are closed others are open until 14:00.
traveller1959 is offline  
Old May 30th, 2016, 04:44 AM
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I just played with Google maps, and a car trip Berlin-Prague-Vienna-Lucerne-Bruges is around 22 hours plus parking time, etc. It would be about 27 hours by train, plus wait times. This does not include Copenhagen.

If you want to spend some time in London and Scotland, and you mention 8 days, you are down to 20 days for the rest. (I cannot help you with Scotland in the winter, we went in early May.) You have less time if you have to leave some days free for transatlantic flights.

The challenge for you is to play around with Google maps first, and see how you want to do this, and how fast. ON a hunch, I think you are young (as in, 30ish max) so you can probably take a few long train rides; you likely also can go back to work with less 'decompression' time than I need after a trip these days (I need some time to rest, get back in daily routine, etc.) The question is, how fast do you WANT to go?

Personally with 4 weeks I'd start with a very rough plan, like this:
7 days in Switzerland.
10 days in Berlin-Prague-Vienna.
7 days in London and Edinburgh (or Glasgow) and surrounds.
4 days to rest up before and after/flights whatever.
This is faster than I'd want to do it, but you are younger.

good luck.
Sue_xx_yy is online now  
Old May 30th, 2016, 03:13 PM
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I'd add those four rest days to London, and I'm not young. Maybe save a day to sleep if you otherwise would arrive home on Sunday and have to be back to work on Monday.
carolyn is offline  
Old May 30th, 2016, 04:21 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2012
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If you really don't want the cheap package tour experience, or "to catch ourselves permanently being in transit and missing the point of our trip" then I suggest the following:

A week each in London and Scotland. And a week each for 2 other cities on your short list, to include a day trip, weather permitting, to a nearby location out of the cities for variety. You'll have time to see a lot without time-wasting moves and a pace that will leave you relaxed rather than exhausted. You'll have some wiggle room to accommodate weather-related delays without disrupting your itinerary significantly. To my way of thinking, giving oneself extra time is infinitely better than not enough.
MmePerdu is online now  
Old May 31st, 2016, 11:40 AM
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Join Date: May 2016
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Prague is too crowdy during December...but lovely place to go, Vienna is more expensive...Krakow is fine or Budapest
tianere is offline  
Old May 31st, 2016, 11:50 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2007
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If you do all the towns on your short list by train then look at some kind of railpass - a Saverpass for 2 going on one pass - in all your countries you can just hop on any train anytime and the pass is if over 25 yrs old 1st class - another perk well worth it IME of riding trains with passes since the age of steam trains!

Great sources I recommend - www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

Personally at that time of year I'd head south for much warmer weather - like Italy or southern France for part of the trip.
PalenQ is offline  
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