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Europe honeymoon in winter in Europe - what you need to know

Europe honeymoon in winter in Europe - what you need to know

Oct 6th, 2012, 05:17 PM
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Europe honeymoon in winter in Europe - what you need to know

There have been several posts recently from people who want to spend their winter honeymoon in europe - but seem not to realize several key points - and so end up with plans that don't make any sense.

Things to be considered:

All of europe is a temperate (not tropical or even semi-tropical) climate and has a real winter (cold temps, snow, ice and sleet). You may not be prepared for these temps, have the proper outdoor clothing, or be prepared for doing things mostly indoors. (This means you will need a warm winter coat, hat, gloves, scarf, sweaters, warm, waterproof winter boots with non-skid soles and sturdy folding umbrellas).

While it is true that there are some areas (very southern Spain and possibly Sicily and Crete) that are not SO cold - you can get snow almost anywhere and in Switzerland you will have LOTs of it. Going to Switz in winter - except for winter sports - doesn't make a lot of sense, since many of the things you would do are not possible. Also - this is high season - so even more expensive than usual.

Most of europe is very far north and days tend to be short - making nights colder and giving you fewer daylight hours for sightseeing.

Off season (which this is in many places) sights can be open much shorter hours. In Italy places may well be open only from 9 am to 1 or 2 pm..

When planning a trip you need to allow at least 1/2 a day for moving from one city to another. If you are flying and there is bad weather - even fog - you may be delayed a day or even more. You need to allow time for this in your itinerary.

Unfortunately, several of these posters seem to have locked themselves into less than optimal (ranging to the absolutely impossible) itineraries before coming here. And seem to think - for some reason - that they are locked in - even though the trip isn't until several months from now. (I don't know if they have paid for all in advance to local travel agents or are just not familiar with the concept of changing plans.)

If we keep bringing this to the top perhaps some will notice it before making it a nonsense.
nytraveler is offline  
Oct 6th, 2012, 06:15 PM
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You make a good case for people looking at a globe once in a while and a real map too.

I would like to add that for winter travel, it's a good idea to pack reading material. You never know if the weather will keep you from visiting all 19 cities in 20 days.
LSky is offline  
Oct 6th, 2012, 06:38 PM
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The main problems are 1) most of them won't think your info applies to them,


2) one or another 'helpful' Fodorites will post something to the effect >>Oh pooh pooh, the naysayers are just being mean. It is YOUR trip and if you want to cover 12 cities in 6 countries in 13 days in December I say GO FOR IT!

Happens nearly every day here . . .
janisj is offline  
Oct 6th, 2012, 07:00 PM
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It always helps to have some flexibility in one's plans when the weather can be "uncertain"!
Although not Europe, a couple of years ago I had a very busy work-related week planned for Washington DC. Arriving with the first flights after "Snowmaggedon" to find that the subways were mostly shut and the places I was booked to visit were shut, I spent a whole week doing little work, but slogging my way around DC, visiting almost all the major sights and most of the Smithsonians (which were open on rotation), with ample time to take advantage of a big sale at Macy's.
What could have been a disaster, with flexibility and the right attitude, turned out to be a fantastic time for me in DC.
Sure there wasn't much work done that week, but that was beyond my control...
bendigo is offline  
Oct 6th, 2012, 07:12 PM
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This is a really helpful post, given that so many Indian posters have recently posted about honeymoon trips that are entirely unrealistic. It's interesting that so many Indians are going to Europe...and interesting how clueless they are about traveling in Europe in winter. It's not a picnic
StCirq is online now  
Oct 6th, 2012, 11:07 PM
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Good tips Nytraveler! I would like to say it pays to take a hard look at the globe once in a while to get perspective. For example, Minneapolis is on the same longitude as some parts of Italy. Now, in my Fellini fantasy, I would expect to be able to ride around on my Vespa in Italy year round, but that is not the case! It gets cold, damp, snowy and rainy in many parts of Europe in the winter.
Finecheapboxofwine is offline  
Oct 7th, 2012, 12:03 AM
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That would be the same latitude CBOW .

The most quoted one is Madrid and New York are on the same latitude more or less.
Thanks to the Gulf Stream Western Europe does not suffer from the same degree of cold, or snow as much of the US does, even though it is much further north.
But NYtraveler makes excellent points, which I hope those planning to visit will take on board, and make more realistic plans.
Don't be put off visiting though!
hetismij2 is offline  
Oct 7th, 2012, 12:13 AM
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Just testing to see if you are awake- and you are definitely right, hetismij2!
Finecheapboxofwine is offline  
Oct 7th, 2012, 01:03 AM
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Very good points.

StCirq - it's even worse on Tripadvisor. I think it's a result of the Bollywood movies which were mostly filmed in Switzerland.

One thing, though: Many Europeans take vacations in the Alps in winter and do not necessarily do winter sports like skiing/snowboarding. There are usually many km of hiking trails groomend in and around the towns, often also starting from top stations of cable cars, sledding is fun and doable for almost anyone, sleigh rides and train trips are also fun, not to forget the spas, fine dining, and simplay watching the others doing sports. And the mountains are still there ... But that's certainly not what the typical first-time Indian traveller expects.
Ingo is offline  
Oct 7th, 2012, 02:49 AM
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Ny, a good thread and we need to publish it.

"Many Europeans take vacations in the Alps in winter and do not necessarily do winter sports like skiing/snowboarding." I think I need to pull this apart. Other sports include

Mountain climbing, minor sport
Sledging, a bit of fun
Being cosseted in chocolate and furs...!
Hiking in the hills, for more than one day a week a very minor sport for people coming for a holiday
Cross country skiing, a major sport all over the alps but hidden away from the package tourers
Snow walking, see hiking.

I don't think "many" people come to switzerland on holiday in the winter for anything other than winter sports (except Russians who hire resorts for indoor sports).
bilboburgler is online now  
Oct 7th, 2012, 04:16 AM
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Excellent post. It reflects everything I think each time someone needs help on their February honeymoon itinerary. I wish they would come for advice before making plans that (in their views) can't be changed. I don't consider myself a travel agent but after 17 self-planned trips to Europe, I can offer suggestions. Many on this board are real experts.

So, winter honeymooners, come here first. We're always happy to help.
mamcalice is offline  
Oct 7th, 2012, 04:21 AM
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IMHO any sports in snow are winter sports - skating, sledding, sleigh rides and even hiking in snow.

My fear is that a lot of these people see Switz in summer and somehow think that in winter the snow is confined to the mountaintops while the rest of the country is still green and warm with Heidi and all her cows prancing around. And if you've never dealt with snow /real cold and don't have the proper clothing it can be both quite a shock and may make you miserable.

On another post about winter in NYC a person from CA is bringing long johns - IMHO overkill - but she admits she's freezing if the temps ever go below 75. What about people from somewhere a lot hotter than that?
nytraveler is offline  
Oct 7th, 2012, 05:33 AM
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Good post, and so true.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Oct 7th, 2012, 05:40 AM
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It's the dark, stupid (I mean, inexperienced).

When our daughter lived in Glasgow, she got to work in the dark in the morning and left in the dark in the afternoon. In Rome, in December, 2010, it was dark by 5, not surprising because it is on roughly the same latitude as New York, where it is also dark by 5 in December.

It is the wind. When our son was a student in Aix en Provence, the message of the palm trees (warm, subtropical) was offset by the reality of the frigid Mistral (see also "bura" and its relatives in the Adriatic.

It is the temperatures: US and British troops in North Africa during WWII were astonished by the freezing nights.
Ackislander is offline  
Oct 7th, 2012, 06:14 AM
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Great post, hope people do some research BEFORE buying those plane tickets and read it.
socaltraveler is online now  
Oct 7th, 2012, 06:21 AM
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St Cirq, you are right about the Indian people. I still worry about a group who are planning to arrive in Paris on Christmas Eve. Hope they changed their minds, it just seemed so impractical. One must consider huge holidays.
LSky is offline  
Oct 7th, 2012, 07:39 AM
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I have a chart of monthly average temperatures in my town which I can compare to the average temps in my proposed destination. If I plan on traveling outside of my normal June-to-October time span, I can get a better idea of how to dress.

By the way, I have a large collection of umbrellas, most of them pretty low-quality, which I've bought at my destination because I was sure I wouldn't need an umbrella on this trip.
Pegontheroad is offline  
Oct 7th, 2012, 08:12 AM
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I *knew* my post would get such a reaction out of bilboburgler and nytraveler (would have been surprised if not). LOL

Originally I wanted to add "that require some training/skills" to the kind of winter sports that I pointed out. But then I thought it would be discriminating towards the other kinds of sports ...

Anyway, "many" means almost 50% of the guests, especially in Switzerland. Sleigh rides are winter sports? Then a taxi ride in Manhattan must be summer sports.

For bilboburgler: Other winter sports that are offered in the Alps and that you did not mention are e.g.: ice skating, curling (which is very popular in Switzerland). Cross-country skiing, btw, is VERY popular as well, there are numerous resorts in the Alps that are specialised in this kind of sports (Seefeld, Ramsau, Engadin St. Moritz, Goms, Antholz/Pustertal). Ditto for sledding/tobogganing.
Ingo is offline  
Oct 7th, 2012, 08:17 AM
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One Janury I visited NY ...the wind was punishiing .....cold, wet....right through your bones
I had to buy a warm undershirts
...and we live in Canada!
It is a good idea to point out to some travelers to Europe that weather conditions in the winter
could be miserable: cool, rainy, windy, foggy.
When I lived in Europe, I remember sitting at various airports for hours - waiting for the fog to lift up.
danon is offline  
Oct 7th, 2012, 08:25 AM
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Ingo, I think we agree not disagree. Have a good afternoon.
bilboburgler is online now  

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