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Europe Late December/early January

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Jan 11th, 2011, 05:02 PM
  #1
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Europe Late December/early January

What a great forum. I have off December 16/17 2011 until Jan 2 2012. Which is a perfect time to take a long vacation. Over the past month I've map the route I would like to use. I've made a lot of notes on the attractions, transportation, hours of operation as well lodging. I plan to fly into Amsterdam and Depart from Rome. I know I will be traveling a lot. Unlike most I prefer to hit the spots and move on. As of right now this is what I plan to do.

Amsterdam- 2-3 days
Brussels day trip in route to Paris
Paris 3 days
Train to Geneva day trip
Lucerne 1-2 days
Milan ( in route to Venice) 1 day
Venice 2 days
Florence 3 days
Rome 3-4

I've read a lot of mixed reviews on Winter in Europe. Some say December and Christmas is awesome while others say its not a good time to go. Financially its cheaper. With my long vacation time I feel like its the perfect time to go. The train ride ( unless there are issues due to the weather) and the cold is not a factor. Any thoughts on Dec-Jan in Christmas as well as my itinerary ? Your comments are greatly appreciated.
atlantamsc is offline  
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Jan 11th, 2011, 05:35 PM
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The main negatives to this time period are unpredictable and potentially severe winter weather and limited hours of sunlight. I would also note that some countries completely shut down on or around Christmas, and you may have trouble finding restaurants or diversions that are open. Unless you are a big Christmas fan, then I don't think the Christmas decorations, etc outweigh the negatives.

I've had friends and family come to Europe over this period and simply cannot recommend it, due to the negatives above. If you want a long vacation at this time period, I would point you toward SE Asia.
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Jan 11th, 2011, 05:46 PM
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IMO waaaaay too many stops in too short a time. Especially in winter. W/ the short days and more than iffy weather you will want more time in fewer places.

I love many of those cities in the winter - if you dress for the weather there is no reason not to enjoy it.

But I'd cut way back
janisj is offline  
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Jan 11th, 2011, 06:01 PM
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I agree. Many too many stops. I would cut out the day trip stops for starters. The amount of time it will take you to travel from one place to another virtually eliminates time for a day's stop. Why not start in Amsterdam, travel to Paris, fly to Venice and then train to Florence and Rome. It is still a lot of travelling for two weeks but would give you a fair chance to experience the places you stop. Remember that the days are short and the weather can hold you up at any time. As for travelling at Christmas, you are the best judge of whether you will enjoy Europe in winter. You have plenty of time to plan. Enjoy!
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Jan 11th, 2011, 06:07 PM
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A couple of considerations:

Christmas day and New year's Day are dead almost everywhere.
In some places Christmas Eve, boxing day (day after Christmas) are also dead
Many businesses (offices) close from before Christmas to epiphany (jan 6) so there will be a LOT of other vacationers - esp in winter sports destinations
Trains will be very crowded around holidays and you may need advance reservations
Daylight hours are very short (europe is north of the US) and quite a few attractions are on shorter winter hours
You can have bad weather (as in holding things up for a day or two) in most of the places you are going


If I were you I would work you itinerary on calendar days figuring when you will be places with nothing open - or traveling on the same days as the rest of the country.

I wouldn;t want to move that fast - but that is your decision - but it would be a pity to get somewhere and find the entire place shut for the one day you have.
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Jan 12th, 2011, 06:14 AM
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"I love many of those cities in the winter - if you dress for the weather there is no reason not to enjoy it."

I completely agree and we enjoy traveling at that time of year. We love the Christmas markets and local festivities, as well as appreciate the lack of crowds, extra vacation time allowing us to stay longer and lower prices. There are trade offs but for us, well worth it.

I agree that you have too many stops and would cut out the day trips and at least of your planned overnight stays. The suggestion to start in Amsterdam, travel to Paris, fly to Venice and then train to Florence and Rome is an excellent one IMO and that is the itinerary I would choose based on your initial plan.

As to weather, you can have bad weather at any time of year.
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Jan 12th, 2011, 07:57 AM
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As to weather, you can have bad weather at any time of year.

Kind of. Sort of.

The reality is that the likelihood of bad weather in Europe (or at least what most people consider bad weather) is much higher in December and January than it is in June. If you want to minimize the likelihood of bad weather, then you shouldn't travel during December and January.

Christmas day and New year's Day are dead almost everywhere.
In some places Christmas Eve, boxing day (day after Christmas) are also dead


Agreed. If you are losing 2 or 3 days to closures, then you've just kissed away a fair chunk of your trip.
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Jan 12th, 2011, 08:29 AM
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I would not travel in summer to Europe. I do not enjoy the heat, the crowds, the prices.

My family very much enjoyed the Christmas we spent in Italy. We did not expect much to be open so planned our time around that and had a lovely time. From tickets to midnight mass with the Pope, to a very nice dinner at a restaurant in Florence on Christmas Day, it is a trip we all remember with great pleasure.

We are planning to spend the time between Christmas and New Year's in Austria next year, another favorite spot for winter travel in Europe.

We have enjoyed 8 or so winter visits to Europe, with late fall being another favorite. A July trip in 2005 was miserable due to heat and crowds.

We have not personally experienced anything but minor delays when traveling in winter and that was last month due to the snow storms in Germany. We had a few trains run late over the course of 16 days. It was stunningly beautiful and one of our best trips ever.

Different strokes...
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Jan 12th, 2011, 08:45 AM
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One can have a good time, provided that you want winter weather (or don't care). If you want 'better' weather, I was simply pointing out that your odds are not good in December.

My objection to December travel is much more about the limited daylight hours, too many closures, and the increased potential for travel disruptions.
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Jan 12th, 2011, 10:15 AM
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It wouldn't be the way I'd spend my money, but that doesn't matter if you want to do it.

Just wanted to mention that one of your reasons is that you expect it to be cheaper. things may work out that way for what you intend to do, but I know in Paris, for example, hotel rates are at their absolute peak during the time between Christmas and New Years. Air fare ususally is more expensive on certain days around the holidays, also, but you can plan to get the dates when it is not (often flying on Jan 1st is cheap, for example).
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Jan 12th, 2011, 04:51 PM
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I just returned from Paris (there 12/21-12/28) and I loved Paris in December. A little snowy but the weather didn't bother us at all. The Christmas markets and the shop windows are a real treat. I would not hesitate to go back to Paris in December. I am not alone, many of those who commented on my trip report shared that they also love Christmas time in Paris. It's really special.

Christmas Day is not dead. Cafes and restaurants start opening back up around lunch and definitely by late afternoon. Christmas Eve is a little quieter actually, but there are things to do. We had no trouble finding places to go.

I agree with a previous reply that if you dress warmly, the weather is no issue and the Metro in Paris makes it easy to get places without getting too cold. Good weatherproof boots and a warm coat and hat and I was fine. Take some "hot hands" if you think you will really be cold. A small umbrella for the snow/rain mix and we were totally fine!

My T/R is a few pages back if you want to see pics and read about our December Paris experience. (title is Christmas is Paris was Fantastic)
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