Itinerary help- 28 days Europe Winter

Old May 20th, 2022, 05:07 PM
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Itinerary help- 28 days Europe Winter

Hi all,

We are coming to Europe for the first time from Australia from 17 Dec to 14 Jan and our kids will be 6,5 and 9 months when we arrive but we are pretty used to making fun times for wherever we are, regardless of whether it's "kid" specific. Anyway I know we might be crazy but it's happening!

So I'd love your feedback and ideas as I have based this purely on research over the net and have tried to minimise moving around too much but still might be?

We ideally want a good mix of quieter regional areas and larger cities to explore. We're okay and aware of the cold- it will be a novelty as our Christmas is always so hot.

We love bookshops, wine, food, markets. Kids enjoy dinosaurs, zoos. Superheroes and mini golf!

I've started on a rough itinerary:

-Fly in London- 2 days explore

-Train to Brussels and then overnight train to Vienna

-4 days Vienna

-Drive to Italy (stop overnight at Hallstatt to break up drive (not sure though?!)

OR fly directly to Florence?

- Florence x 6 days (Christmas here)

-Nice x 5 days (NYE here- not that we'll do much with kids!) Negotiable and open to other Southern bases?

- Dordogne x 4 days

- Paris -7-9 days including day trips and Disneyland

Fly out of Paris home.

wallk is offline  
Old May 21st, 2022, 09:46 AM
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Just one very quick comment- well two. . .

2 days in London becomes a ‘why bother’ unless you plan on just hunkering down so everyone recovers from jet lag. 1st day will be lost to logistics / checking in etc. I’d definitely want a minimum of 4 nights and more would be better.

I personally wouldn’t plan on driving much on the continent especially with winter weather. Trains and flying would be better options in a lot of places
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Old May 21st, 2022, 10:20 AM
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Do not underestimate your and your children's jetlag.
This is one occasion when I would say fly to Vienna after a longer stay in London, to give you time to get over it and see something of the city. Fly to Italy as well. Hiring a car in Austria and leaving it in Italy or France will be expensive. Likewise hiring one in Italy and leaving it in France.
Realise just how early it gets dark, and how late it gets light at that time of year. Dordogne in winter is grey and dull and cold an many things will be closed. Skip it and add the days to London.
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Old May 21st, 2022, 11:03 AM
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I certainly agree you need more time in London. There are lots of things to do and see in winter, including many activities aimed at children. That time of year is when many theatres put on pantomimes, fun for children, and a good excuse for adults who have children to let their hair down and enjoy the performance.

Since you will be in Europe in winter, why not do something winter related? You don’t have to be skiers to enjoy an Alpine resort, as there are other activities, including dog sledding, sleigh rides, etc.
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Old May 21st, 2022, 11:30 AM
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Either spend a meaningful amount of time in London (where there is loads to do), or fly straight to Vienna.

Why all that time in Florence? I would be more inclined to spend your Italy time in Venice or Rome. I would pick Venice, even in winter (it should be less crowded) but YMMV.

Not sure about Hallstatt in winter, and it's not a straightforward train trip from Vienna. I would probably go Vienna - Innsbruck - Venice, by train. Although you could stop off in the Dolomites on the way.

Agree that winter is not the right time for the Dordogne, or Provence, although Nice should be OK.
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Old May 21st, 2022, 02:51 PM
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Give at least four days to London!
I would use trains and not rent a car because you would need car seats for three kids, plus luggage, and that means a larger vehicle. Through snow or mountains, you need snow tires or chains.
The idea of some nice place for winter fun for part of the time is interesting though. Would strongly consider that.

Fly into London, four days (five nights) Wonderful activities for kids.
Train to Paris, five days (six nights). I have not been at Christmas, but the window decorations look amazing. Lots to do.

The Netherlands and Belgium is pretty in Winter and easy by train from Paris.
Train to some snowy place for three days (four nights) perhaps Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany with lovely painted houses. Check on this because snow patterns are changing, don’t know how early they get snow. Other places recommended? Vienna? Salzburg?
End in Rome?
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Old May 23rd, 2022, 06:20 AM
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I can second Belgium as pretty in winter. I was in Ghent in January and they light the city by attaching the streetlights to buildings and having them point inward, so the light radiates out and around. It's a complete fairlyand when it's dark, which it is most of the time, and then only a touch gloomier during the day! Here's pictures:
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Old May 23rd, 2022, 08:26 AM
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I wouldn't count on Venice being less crowded during Christmas week. It's high season right up to Jan 6th.

Have you driven in the snow before? Do you know how to fit chains? Unless you do I'd REALLY suggest not driving . You don't want to learn how to winter drive in a strange country with a strange car in the mountains.

Understand the 25th and 26th many things will be closed. Are you booking an apartment and cooking Christmas dinner? If not plan on booking a restaurant early. Walk ups will likely be difficult
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Old May 23rd, 2022, 08:55 AM
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Missed that this is your first post . . . Welcome to Fodors

First time I read your OP I thought you had 2 children but rereading it realize I missed that there are three little ones. As Sassafrass says you will need three child restraint seats of two different types which REALLY complicates things. Would you be bringing three child seats with you or depending on the rental agents providing them?

I'd pick locations that are easily reached by train (doesn't limit your options very much) and totally forget about driving.

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Old May 23rd, 2022, 09:21 AM
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I totally agree that I think you need more time in London. You might want to also consider taking the train from there to Paris versus since it is a pretty easy trip and you could do all your Paris Disneyland stuff right at the beginning so that you have more time to sit still and recover from the travel.

I don't know if it would work with your family for the kids, but there is also a new night train route from Paris to Vienna. Here's the highlights from a CNN article:

"OBB's Nightjet train from Vienna to Paris launched in December 2021 and runs three times a week in both directions. It's one of several trains connecting major European cities -- it runs via Salzburg, Munich and Strasbourg -- and follows the route of the original Orient Express (for a much lower price). The 14-hour journey departs from Vienna at 7.40 p.m. and arrives in Paris at 9.42 a.m., just in time for a croissant and a café au lait; if you're taking it the other way, it runs 10 minutes later. Fares start at $101 in a private cabin."

You could rent a cochettes or sleeping cabins if you think your kids would do well on a night train adventure

I would probably skip the Dordogne in the winter. It will be a long way from the other places you are going to be, hard to get to and likely to be wet and cold. And it is an area where you really need a car. Just my 2cents.

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Old May 23rd, 2022, 03:14 PM
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Is Brussels just a place to connect to the next train or will you spend time there and haven't noted it here? Mini-Europe would be quite the draw for people of that age. Many attractions / funfair type of places will be closed down but there will be Christmas markets with some rides for the kids and which are good for everyone. You will have to check when they close in the cities you will visit. Where will you spend Christmas?

I agree with other posters about the car - black ice on the roads, etc. However, without a car it will mean kids are more exposed to the cold for longer periods, so factor that into your dressing. Kathmandu is good for winter gear. I also used to get some winter clothes from Land's End (inexpensive US mail order company) for my daughter when we did winter trips.

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Old May 23rd, 2022, 08:29 PM
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wallk, all the places you've chosen are wonderful and it's good to see you allocating a reasonable time to most of them. However, you are covering a lot of ground and significantly increasing that by travelling from London to Vienna and almost back again. I suggest that you end in the destination furthest from your starting destination (London). Perhaps something like: London - Paris - Dordogne - Nice - Florence - Vienna instead?

I visited Europe in winter (for the first time, although we've visited a fair bit in other times of the year) with my daughter, and as Australians we were really keen to experience snow (preferably in a rural or village location) and the Christmas markets, neither of which we'd ever experienced before. You may possible be the same, so you could include something similar. While certainly a million miles from an expert, I would think that you're unlikely to get snow in any of the places you've chosen.

If it were my holiday, I think I'd try to cover less ground. There is just so much to see in Europe that it's hard to get your head around. I commented to my husband recently that Italy from north to south was roughly the same distance as Melbourne to Sydney but I could spend years exploring Italy and never visit the same place twice. Transport (especially trains) in Europe makes travel a joy and, very often, a car unnecessary. We always choose trains over flying whenver possible. It's great to mix up the size of towns we visit.

I suggest either dropping Vienna or perhaps replacing it with Salzburg or better, more time in Italy or perhaps a brief stay in Switzerland. Unless your kids appreciate European art, I'd likely choose somewhere other than Florence, although Florence is a great transport hub. I think I'd include somewhere smaller and more different to your other destinations. I've never been to the Dordogne so can't comment on that. If you'd like suggestions of other places, please let us know.
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