Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Dec. 26-Jan 2...Crazy, I know, but where to go with family of 4? London/Edinburgh?Paris?Help!

Dec. 26-Jan 2...Crazy, I know, but where to go with family of 4? London/Edinburgh?Paris?Help!

Aug 8th, 2005, 10:35 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,034
Dec. 26-Jan 2...Crazy, I know, but where to go with family of 4? London/Edinburgh?Paris?Help!

I need some help and advice getting started with a new idea...

Unfortunately, our first family trip to Europe in July (Italy/Switzerland) was cancelled 4 days before departure due to my mother falling gravely ill. We are hoping to reschedule for next summer and I will post further questions regarding that on another post.

Anyway, bottom line is that we were all so psyched for a Europe trip that we are considering taking 8 days (7 nights not counting the overnight flight from DC) for a trip over Winter break. Our sons are 11 and 14 and that is the ONLY week off that my older son has the entire school year (don't ask - constuction schedule at school).

So, it seems crazy, but we are considering London, London/Edinburgh, Paris, or what? I know we will need to contend with Boxing Day and New Year's Day...are some things open? Will Europe still be enjoyable with warm boots, gloves, hats and less daylight? I am imagining more theatre, museums, pubs with fireplaces? Basically, what would those of you with more experience recommend for a great winter visit with kids? Where would you go? How many days in each place?

Thanks for any suggestions. Then, I will get to work and ask more detailed questions later.
fun4all4 is offline  
Aug 8th, 2005, 10:54 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,617
first, the cities can of course be very enjoyable in winter, just bring warm clothes, waterproof shoes and boots, etc.
With Xmas and New Year's Day on Sundays, Mondays will be holidays with or without Boxing Day.
However, I have been in both London and Paris over those holiday periods, and some popular tourist venues DO open on those days, not all, but some.
I don't know if the calendars are prepared yet, but if you check the websites for popular sights and museums, you can plan your time accordingly. There are also extras like ice skating, holiday concerts, etc.
Not to mention frequent stops for pastry and hot chocolate.
elaine is offline  
Aug 8th, 2005, 10:57 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,034
Sorry, I probably should have given a little more info about us. Husband and I have been to Europe twice before, but the kids have never been. We all like history, architecture and good food. Museums are ok in small doses with boys this age. We like to hike and be outdoors, but I hate to be too cold. We are huge soccer (football) fans so would love to see a game if happeing while there. Our budget is generous, but not extravagant (3*-4* places).
fun4all4 is offline  
Aug 8th, 2005, 11:00 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,034
Thanks Elaine, you are fast.
It is good to know that some stuff will be open on holidays. I don't expect to be able to do everything, but it would be nice to have a couple of things to do/see.

Do you have any thoughts on where we should visit? For example, is London or Paris or "X" a better winter destination?

fun4all4 is offline  
Aug 8th, 2005, 11:06 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,617
I love both cities, you can have a great time in either place
I once went to London with two boys who were at the time younger than yours. It was their first trip to Europe,and they had a great time. That's not to say yours wouldn't like Paris just as much.

By the way, sorry to hear of your family trouble and disappointment, glad you're able to reschedule now.
elaine is offline  
Aug 8th, 2005, 11:13 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 665
We went to England and Scotland last year at the same time. We were pleasantly surprised with the weather, it was not nearly as cold or wet as I had feared. We were able to get out everyday and explore ruins and parks without too many clothes. In fact I ended up schlepping hats and mittens most days because my boys didn't want to wear them. The daylight was weird, but we played lots of cards, went to plays.

If you pick the UK make reservations to see a pantomime. Every town has one during the holidays and they are fun retellings of fairy tales.
sprin2 is offline  
Aug 8th, 2005, 11:16 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,007
New Year's is one of the busiest festival periods for Edinburgh. I'm sure it would be a blast, but I also imagine that the city is absolutely packed and that lodging could be difficult - and expensive - to find.

We also travel during this time period. We've spent New Year's in Portugal and Brugge (Belgium), and are going back for Christmas in Brugge this year. It's a wonderful time for a visit - yes, it's colder, but I think it adds to the charm. In both locations we have not had trouble finding restaurants that were open on New Year's Eve/Day.

As for football, you're better off in England than in Paris! Most teams have their own websites with schedules posted. Just checked the Man U site and they do indeed have matches scheduled through winter...impresses me since our MLS teams take a winter break.
beanweb24 is offline  
Aug 8th, 2005, 11:17 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,007
Whoops...meant to mention the Edinburgh festival by name. It's Hogmanay. Here's a link:

beanweb24 is offline  
Aug 8th, 2005, 03:03 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,034
Thanks everyone. It seems that this time period will work with proper clothing and hot chocolate stops. Now, how to decide where - I suppose anywhere we choose will be great.
beanweb24, you seem to like Brugge which has always appealed to me. What would you recommend there? Would it work well combined with a Paris visit? We could fly open jaw.
Edinburgh sounds great combined with London, although I'm not sure I want to tackle hogmany.

Would love to hear from others out there.
fun4all4 is offline  
Aug 9th, 2005, 04:41 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,007
You could certainly combine Paris with Brugge. There was just recently a thread on how to get from Paris to Brugge that you might find helpful:


One of the biggest reasons that I love Brugge so much is because I love Belgian beer so much...and that's probably not very appealing for an 11 and 14 year old.

Brugge is a beautiful little city. The medieval architecture is just gorgeous. The city is small enough to walk around, and the canals have earned it the nickname "the Venice of the north" (although as much as I love Venice and Brugge, the canals are really the only similarity).

Brugge has Christmas markets and an ice skating rink in the Markt that your children would surely enjoy. They would also likely enjoy a walk to the top of the Belfry. And of course, they would enjoy getting their daily fill of frites from Peter Frituur (or is it Frituur Peter?) at the base of the Belfry...heavenly. And there's also the numerous (and cheap!) chocolate shops that you would enjoy ducking into - my personal favorite being Dumon. I believe there's a chocolate museum as well, though I haven't been to it yet.

Brugge is cold during Christmas/New Years -- I had a scarf, gloves, and layered tights under my pants to keep warm. The cold just makes that little cafes and pubs even cosier and better, in my opinion.

If you google "Brugge children," you'll get some other ideas of what kids might enjoy.

You can even find some dining options at www.resto.be. In the search options, choose West Flanders as your province.
beanweb24 is offline  
Aug 9th, 2005, 04:43 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,007
Here's a link to my last Brugge trip report...

beanweb24 is offline  
Aug 9th, 2005, 05:31 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 987
We were in London for 8 days from 26th December last year. Our kids had a great time. It was very cold but we had no rain to speak of. Provided you were warmly rugged up it was no problem at all.

Virtually eveything was open during the time we were there except for Boxing Day and New Year's Day themsleves but we still found things to do on those days. Just generally wandering around past the famous sites on Boxing Day, the London Eye on New Year's Day and watching part of the New Year's Day Parade. I remember that Madame Tussauds was open on New Year's Day but we never bothered to go.

The main thing I would warn you about is the crowds. I have been to London several times before, including over their summer and I had never seen it that crowded before.

From London we went to Paris for a week and for what it is worth, our 3 teenage kids (2 boys and a girl) all enjoyed London more than Paris.
shandy is offline  
Aug 9th, 2005, 05:33 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 998
Hello Fun,
We travel to Europe every Christmas instead of celebrating at home. We don't spend any money on gifts etc. Anyway, we have been to London, Paris, Rome and Strasbourg during the holdiays. You may want to consider Rome as it is a little warmer. If you do arrive in London on boxing day You shouldn't have any trouble. Everything will be closed but you will still be able to eat and you could just walk around and get your bearings. The one thing that you won't have to deal with is crowds. Have you thought about going over christmas also? Christmas is actually very moving and the masses at St. Peters and Notre Dame are very cool to see even if you arent catholic. You can email me if you have any other questions.
jay is offline  
Aug 9th, 2005, 05:37 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 3,868
last year we took our family of 5 (three grown children) to Garmisch-Partenkirchen during the precise dates you're looking at. It was fantastic and it's my belief that it would appeal especially to kids as well as adults. See my trip report called Winter Wonderland. This is Christmas to the nth. I can't recommend it highly enough. In fact, we had so much fun and enjoyed it so thoroughly that we're pushing our luck and going to Salzburg this year.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Aug 9th, 2005, 05:44 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,129
Note that in the UK, because Christmas Day is on a Sunday this year, both 26 and 27 December will be public holidays, and a lot of people take that whole week off work. In France, only 25 December is a public holiday and they do not officially get another day instead, so the 26th and 27th will be normal working days. French people again miss out at New Year, because 1 January 2006 falls on a Sunday. The UK has 2 January as a holiday instead and Scotland gets the 3rd off as well.
GeoffHamer is offline  
Aug 9th, 2005, 06:29 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 4,874
The days are very short in London that time of year. In my mind, a good time to see some shows, but don't know if that would appeal to your family.

I've been in Paris during that exact time frame. The temp ranged from the high 20s to the low 40s during the day. We went to lots of museums, so the cold wasn't too bothersome. As New Years Eve approached, the city got very very crowded-not with American tourists, but with European tourists. New Years Eve was absolutely wild, but we didn't have kids with us.

We did take our kids to Paris one March. If you do a search, you can find what my kids (of similar ages) enjoyed.
missypie is offline  
Aug 9th, 2005, 06:32 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 4,874
I forgot to mention: Paris has Disneyland (which is also easy to access from London). It was great...like taking a vacation from our vacation. The two parks are beautiful.
missypie is offline  
Aug 9th, 2005, 10:08 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,034
This is great everyone - very helpful. Now I just have to start thinking through some of the pros and cons. I was planning to leave on the 25th and arrive on the 26th. We could leave on the 24th, however, it doesn't seem to buy us much but another holiday with most things closed. As Christmas is not a holiday for my family, I'm not sure it is worth coming in early for that day.

I was leaning towards London with a possible sidetrip, but it is a concern that so many of the days (at least 3) appear to be public holidays. On the other hand, I'm not sure Paris in the winter will have quite as many things for my boys, but I'm sure we can find plenty to do other than museums as we always do whenever we travel. Brugge sounds very appealing.

I was not considering Rome because my husband and I were just there (loved it) in October, and our family is planning a trip to Italy for next summer.

I will check out all your suggestions and discuss it with the family.

Many thanks!
fun4all4 is offline  
Aug 9th, 2005, 11:22 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 403
Throwing in my two cents worth and agree that London sounds like a great choice with the 2 boys. You have limited time, and London has so much to offer. Theatre (Lion King and many other musicals all would enjoy), wonderful museums (British with the Egypian exhibits), as well as so much else that will appeal to kids and adults. I think for a first time European trip for the kids, London is so accessible. As far as day trips outside of the greater London area, just going to Warwick Castle, Stratford, etc. on a day trip or two would be fun.

Andeesue is offline  
Aug 9th, 2005, 01:00 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 47
I'm enjoying reading this thread, because we are planning a similar trip for Dec. 23, 2006 thru Jan. 7, 2007. We plan to spend a week in England, then go to Paris. We're also planning to spend 3 nights elsewhere, but haven't decided where for sure yet. Possibly Rome.

We hope to spend 2 nights at DLP on our trip. We are coming from Florida. Will we be miserably cold? I don't want to go, if we'll be so cold we won't enjoy it, but being a huge fan of WDW, I'm very much looking forward to visiting the parks.
tarheelmjfan is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:28 AM.