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hongec Oct 22nd, 2009 05:39 AM

Best place to spend Christmas in Europe
I know this is broad, but thougt to ask you guys for some ideas. Will get married in December, and now looking for some honeymoon spot and/or best place to spend Christmas together in Europe. I've been to Paris, London, Rome, some major cities, but not whole a lot. Willing to try new places. Any suggestions?? Thank you.

laurie_ann Oct 22nd, 2009 06:16 AM

Do you ski? Consider combining culture and skiing in Switzerland, Italy or Austria. We had great week a couple of years ago at New Years in Salzburg. The city is wonderful and there are good daytrips nearby and if you ski they have a great shuttle service that runs daily about one hour out to various ski slopes and they help you with lift tickets, ski rental etc.

hetismij Oct 22nd, 2009 06:23 AM

Or what about Norway or Sweden? Since you will be in Europe in Winter you might as well have snow. Lapland maybe. You may get to see the Northern Lights. There are a couple of ice hotels built every winter. A night there would be a highlight maybe. Dog sledding, snowmobiling, reindeer, home of Father Christmas.
otherwise I agree Switzerland/Austria would be good, though the snow is less reliable there.

Tell us a bit more about your likes dislikes and your budget too.

Cries_Van_Notebook Oct 22nd, 2009 06:26 AM

I spent Christmas 2007 in Berlin and loved it. There are many Christmas markets throughout the city. Food is cheap in Berlin and you can usually get a good deal on a hotel room. Have you ever eaten Stolen (sp?), the German Christmas bread? It is fabulous. Get a cup of gluewine, some stolen, and wander the Christmas markets--nothing could feel more like Christmas.

I was born in London, but I don't like the city during the Christmas season. Too many restaurants and other venues are shut down and the damp always results in a nasty cold for me.


hongec Oct 22nd, 2009 07:07 AM

Thank you for the replies so far. Unfortunately, both my fiance and I are not much of a skier, but would love to do something active ( sledding, or anything that requires no prior skills:). The only concern I had about norther europe was a short daylight. I've never been there and would love to visit, except I'm not sure it'll be too dark too soon. what you guys think?

laurie_ann Oct 22nd, 2009 07:21 AM

Most of Europe is more north than you think.

Here are some examples from for December 24

Madrid 8:37 and 5:53

Vienna 7:43 and 4:03

Oslo 9:21 and 3:13

Berlin 8:15 and 4:00

And I agree with a couple other posters that you might enjoy a place that celebrates winter (such as Scandinavia or Austria or Germany) than a place which is enjoyed more in spring or summer (Spain or Greece) as things will be open, cozy, festive.

Or you might enjoy South America (for example Buenos Aires which has longer days that time of year of course but which is still very "European").

(And I enjoyed Salzburg and area very much and I don't ski, it's only my husband who does.)

traveller1959 Oct 22nd, 2009 07:37 AM

They are incredibly romantic places for Christmas in Europe, especially in the mountains - but most of them are already booked. Maybe you are lucky for Christmas 2010.

E.g., this hotel in Black Forest offers an amazing, highly personalized Christmas experience with music, carols, gifts and a fabulous Michelin-starred menu:

We will spend next Christmas in this hotel (a tip from Ingo):

Maybe they have still availabilities.

Big cities are a different story. Business-type luxury hotels will be VERY cheap over Christmas.

If you opt for a city in Europe, I highly recommend Berlin. The main boulevard, Unter den Linden, will have festive lightings, and the gorgeous historical buildings will be illuminated, creating a special atmosphere after dusk (yes, it comes early, but that's the reason why Christmas in Europe is so romantic).

Another aspect is that Berlin is quite inexpensive (the price level is less than half of that in London, Paris or Rome). If you are ready for an affordable splurge, try the city's very best hotel: may give you better rates than the hotel's website.

traveller1959 Oct 22nd, 2009 07:44 AM

The Hotel de Rome offers REALLY good Christmas packages:

You won't have never again in your life the opportunity to stay that cheap in such a good hotel. And the location is fantastic: You are right in the midst of things.

jamikins Oct 22nd, 2009 07:58 AM

We've spent the festive season in Bruges and Strasbourg. Belgium, France and Germany we have found to be very festive with lots of xmas markets, decorations and festivities. We are spending New Years in Paris this year.

Continental_Drifter Oct 22nd, 2009 08:31 AM

No question - Gstaad, Switzerland.

I once did a trip report on our stay in Gstaad over Christmas about five or six years ago, but I can't seem to find it.

I'd highly recommend Gstaad. Take the train in and you'll feel like you just arrived under your Christmas tree when you reach the valley and Bavarian-style village surrounded by classic Swiss Chalets. It's complete with snow caps, ski slopes, a great apres ski scene, even if you are not a skiier and a hillside castle hotel overlooking the village!

In town there are terrific restaurants, taverns and even a public ice rink!

Geez... this sounds so good, we may have to go back. Hang on... have to go check fares...

I'll look for that trip report again, but let me know if you are interested!

markrosy Oct 22nd, 2009 09:05 AM

Absolutely no question about it - we went for my wife's 40th.

Tromso in Norway - 200 miles north of the Artic circle, cheap to get to, good stylish hotels, OK silly expensive but this is the best place in the world see the Northern Lights - we did 3 nights running and Disney would have proud of the NYE show. Best experience of a lifetime. There's also skiing, huskey sleds, reindeer sleds and whale watching.

Non of the Swiss Alpine " I have never done a days work in my life and Daddy can you bang me another wodge for the bar bill" types.

What else do you want in winter.

One downside - the sun is up for 2 hours a day!

southeastern Oct 22nd, 2009 09:12 AM

Take a River Cruise down the Rhine.

SUMMAGOLD Oct 22nd, 2009 09:16 AM

hi! we are looking for a place to spend christmas too. can anyone tell me if it is advisable to drive from Paris to Gstaad Switzerland? How long is the drive, and is car rental going to be a problem going to another country? also can you rent a Navigation system from the car rental place?

Continental_Drifter Oct 22nd, 2009 09:18 AM

Okay, Mark, you made me look up the word "wodge."

Nonetheless, Gstaad was fab, regardless of the heiress scene or the French guy who we think was sweet on my hubby.

We're pretty down to earth and BOTH work ... daily ... and it was still a great location in which to spend the holiday.

markrosy Oct 22nd, 2009 09:27 AM

Sorry mom23rugrats - I definitely was not sitting in judgement on your choice of Gstaad - with that many rugrats I imagine you have to fight for your wodge.

derives from olde Emglish circa Margaret Thatcher.

Used in context "wap your wodge on the counter" whilst visiting the Bentley dealership. Ah those days when bankers bonuses could buy a half decent car!

Continental_Drifter Oct 22nd, 2009 09:33 AM

With great relief, I can share that I am only Mom to Three Rugrats.

I appreciate your thoughts on Norway also!

Summagold - You "can" drive to Gstaad from Paris, but why would you? It's a lovely train ride and it would be very far, not to mention the snowy roads and mountains. We took the train from Zurich when we went and normally drive places.

Yes, you can rent a GPS from the rental agencies, but for $100, it's easier and cheaper to take one with you. Just download the Europe maps.


robertino Oct 22nd, 2009 10:57 AM

We had a great time in Bavaria. Started in Munich and caught the tail end of the Christmas markets. Saw the Nymphenburg and the Amalienburg in the snow. Midnight Mass at the Dom.

Rented a car Christmas morning and drove to Garmisch. Lots of snow. It was a clear day so we went up the Zugsptze. Fantastic. Stands selling Gluwein at night. Used Garmisch as a base to see Wieskirche, Neuschwanstein, and Linderhof. You could also think about Oberammergau, Ettal, Mittenwald, and even Innsbruck. Or shift slightly east to Berchtesgaden and Salzburg.

The roads were fine. Perfect, really.

We ended our trip in Landshut, on the north side of Munich. No snow but a charming town with a great castle, and very close to the airport.

SUMMAGOLD Oct 22nd, 2009 11:32 AM

hi jamikins, which did you like most during christmas, Bruges or Strasbourg?

agedude Oct 22nd, 2009 12:43 PM

The best place I've spent Christmas in Europe was Krakow. The churches run services all morning, there was a Christmas pageant near the town center with a nativity play, the Christmas market was open all day. Everyone seems to celebrate Christmas as a community event vs. a stay at home and watch TV with family.

SUMMAGOLD Oct 28th, 2009 10:03 AM

hi i am topping this thread to see if jamikins or anyone else can answer my question, which did you like most during christmas, Bruges or Strasbourg?

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