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best European destination between Christmas and New Years

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Aug 22nd, 2010, 07:57 PM
  #1
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best European destination between Christmas and New Years

We are considering a trip to Europe during the week between Christmas and New Years and assume a city vacation is best, given the bleakness of the weather at that time of year.

We've visited Paris and London several times and love them both. We know it will be cold, but would like a recommendation for a European destination that is special for that time of year. Zurich? Frankfort? Lake Como? or as south as we can go? Malaga? Seville?

Thanks in advance for any advice.
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Aug 22nd, 2010, 08:19 PM
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Germany ??? but where??
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Aug 23rd, 2010, 01:06 AM
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Germany? The week "between the years" is, to me as a local, the most boring time of the year.
If you are after Christmas markets, most of them terminate before Christmas Eve. Berlin is about your only option in Germany, they keep a few of their markets open beyond the holidays.

Frankfort is in Kentucky, by the way...
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Aug 23rd, 2010, 01:15 AM
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Moscow or St Petersburg are great destinations for between Christmas and New Year as the Orthodox Christmas is in January. Other destinations in Europe can be boring as this time is usually spent with families so alot of things are closed or very quiet.
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Aug 23rd, 2010, 12:53 PM
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Quokka - if you were going to spend the week prior to Christmas in Germany, where would you send it? I was aware that the German Christmas markets close down that week.
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Aug 23rd, 2010, 12:58 PM
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"Best" is the country that you prefer to visit. Christmas will not change it significantly.
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Aug 23rd, 2010, 01:28 PM
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May not be your cup of tea but one of the places most popular for the week between Xmas and New Year's is Amsterdam - actually this is the very busiest week of the year i have been told by those in the know for Amsterdam

People, mainly younger ones IME, flock here from all over Europe - many to party and New Year's Eve, when i was there last year, was bombastic to say the least - fireworks started in early afternoon everywhere - folks tossing them all around before nightfall when the city's sky looked like Baghdad's during the shock and awe days.

Amsterdam is always fun and no matter what you want you will find it here - a raft of world-class museums, some of the neatest architecture - new and old in Europe - one of Europe's prettiest cities with its canals and also things like legalized cannabis dispensed in coffeeshops from posted menus. But again if not into a citywide festive atmosphere and seeking quiet this is NOT the week to come here.
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Aug 23rd, 2010, 02:26 PM
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Morocco would be nice. Or the Caribbean. Or much of Asia.

Seriously, though, I find it hard to recommend too many cities in Europe during that time period. The weather ranges from iffy to awful across the continent and this period sees significant closures. I've done Paris and Southern Spain at this time 2 of the past 3 years and, frankly, can't recommend it. We had much, much, much better experiences in SE Asia and Cancun (despite not being "Cancun people").

If absolutely pressed for a destination, I would choose one of the biggest (and most commercial) tourist cities. London would probably be my first choice, followed by Amsterdam, and then Paris. I would be leary of much beyond that. Certainly, I would not recommend Lake Como (too sleepy during the winter, even if it weren't Christmas), Zurich (not interesting enough, and too much closure at Christmas), and Frankfurt (It is Frankfurt). As noted, I did Andalucia during this period - it is okay, maybe 60% open, with mass closures on certain days, and uncertain weather, but I would still rate it above your other choices.
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Aug 23rd, 2010, 02:26 PM
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Krakow was nice.

Bloody cold, though.

And remember, it gets dark REALLY early in nearly all of Europe in winter compared to what an American would be used to. Rome is roughly the same latitude as New York City, almost every major Western or Central European city is north of Rome, so their night fall generally is earlier than the winter night in NYC (about 5pm -- and no, this is not an exact time, but as a rough guide, it works).

In Gdansk, sunset was before 3 pm; Moscow and St. Petersburg are at higher latitudes than Gdansk, even though they are an hour "ahead", so the sun will (if it shines) be a fleeting and infrequent visitor.
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Aug 23rd, 2010, 02:33 PM
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Prague look gorgeous in Winter. And you have Vienna down the road. Prague for Christmas, Vienna for New Year.
http://www.jeremytaylor.eu/prague_photos.html
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Aug 23rd, 2010, 04:14 PM
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My favourite region during Advent season (i.e. the four weeks before Christmas, which are a festive season of their own to us) is Saxony. Dresden and the many small towns around and the Ore Mountains. The problem is, in that area many markets close already on the weekend before Christmas.
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Aug 23rd, 2010, 05:32 PM
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Thanks to all.

We are not considering the weeks prior to Christmas, but rather Dec. 26- Jan. 4 (approximately) so I'm not counting on markets, nor do we care about Christmas celebrations, per se.

I do think Paris is lovely and was fun during that time in prior years. Same with London. Just looking for another option. Museums, sightseeing and good food soooo very important It sounds like Amsterdam might be good. Or Prague and Vienna. Glad Frankfurt is not too much fun and sad I spelled it wrong.

Thanks again. More comments welcome.
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Aug 24th, 2010, 08:04 AM
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If Amsterdam is in the cards then it is imperative to book hotels really early as everything fills up weeks in advance. I know because i tried to book a hotel once for that week and was told everything was fully booked by late November.
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Aug 24th, 2010, 08:21 AM
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I wouldn't go to London on Dec. 25 or 26 -- the largest city in Western Europe is virtually dead on Xmas day; Boxing Day is a bit more like maybe US Thanksgiving.

Prague is a New Year's destination, or so its hotels believe because they crank up the rates around New Year's Eve (I'm sure Prague has great celebrations in and near Old Town Square and you can check out the Prague Post for that information, Krakow's main NYE celebration is in Rynek Glowny -- its market square). Tons of German tourists will come to Prague for New Year's. That means you have competition for hotel slots. Considering the relative proximity, there will probably be lots of Russians too.

Not sure I'd call Prague a "good food" destination -- it's not Italy, France, or Spain nor does it have the panoply of cuisine choices you get in London. That said, Prague is a great place to visit and the Charles Bridge in winter is a photographer's dream (sheeyoot -- we get enough artistic photogs at the Fort Worth Main Street Arts Festival every year showing off their photos of Prague in autumn and winter, there's definitely a market for that).
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Aug 24th, 2010, 08:59 AM
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In 2001 we booked a last minute trip to Prague/Budapest Dec. 24 to Jan 1. We knew it would be COLD and a little snowy, but dressed appropriately and had a wonderful time walking both places. Saw concerts, opera, dancing - all advertised by locals handing out brochures in the square. New Year's Eve dinner in Budapest at Gundels was the BEST: violins, waltzers, opera singers....and fabulous food. Saw the fireworks at the park from our table. (The euro was just introduced that Jan 1st - wish we had bought a bundle for 99cents per euro!!)
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Aug 24th, 2010, 09:05 AM
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Madrid was great last Christmas. I went from Dec. 25-30. Museums were all open. The shops and restaurants were very busy with people celebrating the holiday. A visit to San Miguel Mercado near the Plaza Mayor and San Gines Chocolateria were really great. I picked up some goodies at El Corte Ingles. There was some light rain but the temperatures were 40's and 50's.
London doesn't reopen until the 27 or 28 and some shops are closed until after the new year. Weather isn't too bad and you can go to the theater and museums.
I'd go back to Madrid this year if I had the time.
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Aug 24th, 2010, 09:56 AM
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A week in Andalusia in that week would be great (and a nice break from the cold back in the US).

The high temps will vary between 50F-60F depending on where you are.

Seville, in addition to being a fantastic food town, is itself worthy of 4-5 nights but also worth 3 or even 2 nights so you can squeeze in other nearby areas like Malaga and Granada. You could even do an open jaw on Iberia Airlines - into Seville and home from Grenada.
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Oct 5th, 2017, 02:24 AM
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Beautiful Prague in the Czech Republic. Their exquisite Christmas Markets are open and the city is a glowing jewel both at night and by day. We were there for three or four days in late December after Christmas with our teenage daughter. Lots of history there too with Karl IV. Take a side trip to UNESCO World Heritage town Kutna Hora as well for the fascinating Sedlac Obsiduary or Bone Church. Even the chandeliers are fashioned from human bones. Very cool! Neighbouring cathedrals in the town are also UNESCO sites and check out the town itself. Winter is the best time to travel in Europe in my opinion; no hoards of tourists and winters are mild compared to North America. Also go to Budapest in Hungary and Vienna in Austria. All three are amazing. Vienna is the place to be on New Year's Eve. The whole city shuts down its streets to cars for a giant party. All the museums are open and so too are the Christmas markets. Skating in front of the beautiful Rathaus and there are free outdoor concerts everywhere while massive chandeliers light the streets. Have Mass at St. Stephen's cathedral as the bishop blesses the people for the New Year. Warm up with Glüwein in ceramic lucky pig or mushroom mugs, and enjoy yummy Austrian pastries or savoury potato, herbs and onions in a creamy sauce with Weiner schnitzel of course. Delicious! Then at the stroke of midnight, the ballroom guests come out onto the Rathaus balcony to walz with the crowds below in the square to the Blue Danube. It is so much fun! Then we all watch the fireworks explode overhead as we all ooh and aah. It was perfect.
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