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Where to visit in Europe during December/January?

Where to visit in Europe during December/January?

Jun 21st, 2012, 01:55 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2012
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Where to visit in Europe during December/January?

My boyfriend and I are traveling to Europe over Christmas for 2-3 weeks. I know it's not the best time of year to go, but it's the only time we can take off for 2-3 consecutive weeks. It will be our first trip to Europe, and we are very excited!! We would love to get advice from seasoned travelers.... Where should we go?
A little about us....
We prefer villages over big cities, unless there is something incredible to see in the city. We love the outdoors (not the best time of year... I know).
We love to bike.
We also love to snowboard, but not necessary on this trip.
We love the ocean.
We absolutely love to go wine tasting. We love good food; although I am vegetarian.
I know the weather is warmer in southern Europe, but still unpredictable. We have considered Switzerland for Christmas. Snow could be fun.... right? We've also considered southern Italy and Greece.
We'd appreciate any suggestions. Thank you!
Crystalloveslife is offline  
Jun 21st, 2012, 02:09 PM
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In the winter we prefer cities over villages as there is usually more to do if the weather is bad.

Everything that you love, other than wine tasting, is really better suited to warm weather. Another issue over the Christmas holidays is cost....many places charge more for that time of year.

I like your idea of Switzerland. In addition to that, perhaps you could consider spending part of your time in a city....Rome, Paris or London would all have activities to keep you busy.
Judy is online now  
Jun 21st, 2012, 03:40 PM
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I don't think snow is guaranteed in December in Switzerland. The last couple winters snow has been late.
Mimar is offline  
Jun 21st, 2012, 04:43 PM
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Maybe someplace in the south of Spain like Seville, Costa del Sol, or Alicante. There might be snow in the Sierra Nevadas near Granada in December.
walkabout is offline  
Jun 21st, 2012, 06:07 PM
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My husband and I travelled to Italy in December of last year. Granted, we arrived before Christmas but the weather was actually quite nice. What we did was we started from Venice (where it was cooler) and moved to Florence and ended in Rome (both cities were warmer). It was very, very comfortable. We got to enjoy museums in both Florence and Rome, some wine tasting in the Chianti area and even had 2 wonderful days in Venice. It wasn't that cold- and we're from the Philippines so that's saying a lot. Hope that helps.
tobyandchie is offline  
Jun 21st, 2012, 06:12 PM
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With all of these "interests" which could be pursued just about anywhere I'm honestly not sure why you think Europe is the right place to visit. Why did you pick that region rather than some other? Knowing this actually might help us give you better advice.

I mean you can bike, snowboard, see the ocean, go wine tasting, and be outdoors in lots of places but you cannot do all of these in some European countries. Also might help to know which ones of your interests are THE most important for this trip.

Thank you.
Dukey1 is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2012, 10:38 AM
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The problem with travel at that time of year is not so much cold/rain/snow - though that is of course quite possible at that time, but rather lack of daylight. In the northern countries - UK, Germany, Scandinavia etc it will be dark by 3 or 4 pm and not light enough out to do anything till well after 8 in the morning. Therefore, outdoor type activities are limited. Thus, cities are usually better destinations because there is lots to do in the evenings - museums, shopping, eating, see the cities 'lit up' as most European cities are beautifully illuminated after dark.

I would pick a couple of cities that have some small towns as easy day trips. Any of the biggies - London, Paris, Rome - would work. I think Rome would be good, you could do a few day side trip to the Amalfi Coast, although a lot will be closed, if you stayed in Sorrento, you could still have a nice few days if you get good weather - and the bus to Amalfi and Positino will still be running even if the boats are not. Pompeii is a good side trip from there. With three weeks I would probably pick three cities, with two week I'd stick to two. If they are in different countries I'd look into flying between - look at easyjet.com
isabel is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2012, 12:19 AM
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I've never found lack of daylight in the winter a problem, and I have lived in Moscow through winter, it never stopped me doing anything.

Having said that I'd go to Uruguay, if I had 2-3 weeks at that time of year.

Canaries or Cyprus are probably the warmest, winter can be good for cycling in Cyprus as it's too hot other times of year for this. There can be snow in the high peaks too & there is a ski resort plus plenty of wine villages, but expect some places to be closed.
Odin is offline  
Jun 26th, 2012, 11:17 AM
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Thank you so much for your reply's. This gives me a lot to think about.
Crystalloveslife is offline  
Jun 28th, 2012, 09:31 AM
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Darkness can certainly stop you from doing things that are outdoors, like visiting parks. I think the point is that this may not be the best value for your money and vacation time. A lot of people think Europe is a warm country in winter or something, I don't know why. So they'll think that if they leave the US in winter, it won't be winter in Europe (except maybe Scandinavia). You can look at a map and see Europe is not near the equator, so even in Spain, it is winter and not like the tropics, even if somewhat warmer than the Netherlands. It isn't the tropics in Southern Italy or Greece, either, so it's not like a winter vacation when you go to the Caribbean, for example. But you will be able to get about and temperatures will be mild in southern Spain and Italy and those places. I wouldn't go to Greece, but depends what you want. Beach resorts are closed down, of course, and it may not be that easy to get to/from the mainland and islands in winter. YOu can go to Greece and not any island, of course, but I wouldn't go there in winter.

I don't even think some things are open in winter in some areas (like in Provence, it isn't tourist season and I don't even know if you can visit vineyards). So I'm wondering if it is the same in some other areas. Vineyards are dormant and bare in winter.
Christina is online now  
Jun 28th, 2012, 10:10 AM
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Why wouldn't you go to Greece?
Greece and especially Southern Greece ( the Peloponnese) and the island of Crete are wonderful in the winter.
The climate is mild, temperatures of 20 C are not rare , so is sunshine.
Crete is the most southern point of Europe, and there is a lot to see there. Beach resorts may not be the place to be during the winter, but major cities of Crete like Chania and Rethymno are very active as these are university cities with a large permanent population.

Same goes to the Peloponnese, which has many great places to visit, from Nafplio, Epidaurus, Olympia in the North, to Kalamata and the Mani in the South.
clausar is offline  
Jun 28th, 2012, 03:30 PM
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Croatian villages in the winter..........not a good idea.
danon is online now  
Jul 5th, 2012, 01:52 PM
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We love Europe in winter, as crowds are avoided. For a short trip, a few ideas would be; Fountainebleau with easy access to magical Ile de France & Paris; Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland near Jungfrau & great snowboarding; Loire valley with lots of chateau & countryside; Salzkammergut area near Salzburg; Bavaria near Fussen in lovely countryside & castles. My son enjoyed a trip to Champagne area in winter.
SusannahT is offline  
Jul 5th, 2012, 10:48 PM
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<> Nope, in fact some parks are best at night,e.g. Tivoli Gardens amusement park (open around Christmas), parks in Moscow (that become ice rinks in winter) and many others too numerous to list.

<> There is activity in vineyards in winter, on the vines you consider dormant, which is mainly pruning. Provence is a place where people live all year and this year, I visited during Feb this year and it was stunning, with vineyards covered (unusually) in snow.
Odin is offline  
Jul 6th, 2012, 12:49 AM
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We go away every new years and have a great time! We love xmas markets that many countries have in their squares (Germany most notably) and many cities are all dressed up with lights etc.

Just bundle up and enjoy the atmosphere!




We have spent New Years in Bruges, Strasbourg, Paris, Rome and Portugal and loved them all! Cities are the way to go in the winter. You know its winter, so just prepare for it - bring warm clothes, accept that the weather will be likely cold with some rain (snow perhaps) and that the light will be short. But the cities will be lit up with lights to make up for it.

Just rememebr that most of Europe's cities shut down on Christmas Day - for example London doesnt even have public transit that day. So its important to prepare for Dec 24 - 26 by making dinner reservations and checking opening times for things you want to see. Travel may also be impacted so plan accordingly.

I'll post back with our trip reports so you can get an idea and see our photos.

jamikins is offline  
Jul 6th, 2012, 02:17 AM
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Oops - here's the link for Portugal:

jamikins is offline  
Jul 6th, 2012, 11:18 AM
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We loved Paris at Christmas time!


Would love to visit Strasbourg at Christmas, as well.
denisea is offline  
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