Winter Western Europe Tour

Old May 29th, 2016, 10:03 AM
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Winter Western Europe Tour

Hi,

My husband and I are planning a trip to western Europe for this winter, December-January, for about 3 weeks.

Background: My husband lived in a few of these cities as a child but he has not visited since then, I have never been to Europe. We are fairly experienced travelers in the US and Canada. We took a 3+ week road trip through the US, hitting 15 states and many cities, for our honeymoon. We took a similar trip, 1 week road trip through the eastern part of Canada, with stops in 5 major cities and other small cities. We've also taken many other shorter trips.

Right now we are thinking that we will be traveling from about December 20-January 10. But nothing is booked yet. We are available to travel December 18-January 14 but plan for a 3 week trip.

I am most concerned about Christmas and the week between Christmas and New Years. I don't want to be stuck with most places closed.

We would like to visit the following cities in this order, though the list is slightly flexible:
London (3)
Brussels (1)
Amsterdam(1)
Berlin(2)
Prague(3)
Venice (2)
Geneva(1)
French Country Side (1)
Paris (3)
London (1)
*parenthesis being the number of nights spent in that city.

We primarily plan to travel by train but realize a few of these legs would be best traveled by plane.

Generally, I am looking for advice and suggestions based on the above information. Specifically, about traveling during the holiday season.

Thank you in advance for sharing your advice!
andrea_m111 is offline  
Old May 29th, 2016, 10:33 AM
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First, you should fly into one city and out of another.

Second, this is the worst time of year to visit anywhere north of the Alps, or indeed much of Europe. It will be cold, and it will get dark early. The only reason to visit some of these cities at this time is to visit the Christmas markets.

Third, one night anywhere gets you less than a day. It is not worth the travel to get there and you will very quickly get tired of moving so much.

London and Paris have enough museums to keep you occupied for several days each, after which you would do well to head for Italy, although the further south the better. Unless you like snow, and have plenty of money, in which case Switzerland or the French Alps would make sense (not just Geneva).
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Old May 29th, 2016, 11:01 AM
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I agree with Thursdays, any place that has one night essentially means you have no time in that place. So I would cut everyplace you list as one night. Remember that it takes at least half a day to move from one location to another, as you have to count from when you check out of lodgings in one place until you get checked in at the next. Add those days to the cities you most want to visit.

You have, at most, two full days in any of the places you list (3 nights = 2 full days), not really enough time to explore any but the smallest towns.

I'd suggest London, Paris, Prague and Venice (as those are the places you gave the most time to) would be plenty for a first trip. Be aware that in some places things pretty much close down on Christmas and the day after (sometimes the day before as well) so research carefully to be sure you haven't scheduled yourselves somewhere that everything is closed for those days. Note also that some hotels will require a minimum number of nights stay over the holidays.
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Old May 29th, 2016, 11:06 AM
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Sorry -- but a road trip in the USA or in Canada nears no similarity to a trip in Europe.

This itinerary would close to impossible in the summer w/ long days and nice weather. In Winter, over the Christmas/New Year holiday, w/ the vERY short days and potential for weather delays/cancellations it is even worse.
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Old May 29th, 2016, 11:12 AM
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I was trying to post at the same time as Kathie but the site locked up on me . . .

Her suggestion of London, Paris, Prague and Venice . . . and maybe one or two other short stopovers is a good one.

and to emphasize . . . in winter 1 night in a city gives you even less time to see/do. It will be dark by about 4:30, many sites have shorter opening hours, and the weather may not be conducive to whirlwind sightseeing.

Fly open jaw into your first city and home from the last one -- and 6 cities max.
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Old May 29th, 2016, 11:19 AM
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Oh dear no, this won't work well at all!

Agree with both posts above. A one-nighter, especially in mid-winter and having to travel from some other place, means absolutely no time at all, so why bother? Pick 3 places and do them well, maybe with a daytrip.

Drop all the places you have scheduled for 1 night (and probably 2 nights, too) - do you realize how much time it takes to check out of a hotel, pack, have breakfast, get to the train station, get on the train, take the train ride, get off, get to your next hotel, unpack, get oriented? Usually most of the day, especially with the distances you are contemplating. You're going to need to be more than "slightly flexible" with that list. Especially since it will basically be dark by about 4 pm at that time of year.

"French countryside": where, exactly? And for what? The "French countryside" is bleak and bare and looks like scorched earth from November to about March. And small towns can be pretty much dead, with everyone who runs the boulangeries and cafés off on vacation in Corsica.

Depending on where you are, you can expect things to be closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's, maybe New Year's Eve.

Finally, there is no reason to expend the time or expense to return to London at the end of the trip. Buy open-jaw tickets - into your first city and out of your last.
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Old May 29th, 2016, 11:53 AM
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the week between Christmas and New Years. I don't want to be stuck with most places closed.>

go to Amsterdam - this is one of the busiest weeks of the whole year there - folks come from all over to the revelry.

Otherwise except Christmas Day museums, etc should be open. In the UK most things are shut on Christmas day save pubs and restaurants and trains don't run much either ther 25th or the day after - Boxing day.

We primarily plan to travel by train but realize a few of these legs would be best traveled by plane.>

When you do pare you list down to say several cities that are fairly close together - you are flying into and out of London but should look at open jaw - say fly into London and out of someplace on The Continent where you will end you trip - or else you have to fly or get back to London.

anyway for lots of info to plan the rail portion - check www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com. If taking several longish train trips look at some kind of railpass. You can also take overnight trains between lots of cities and save on daytime travel time and the cost of a hotel.
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Old May 29th, 2016, 04:34 PM
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Are you prepared for the winter weather? At this time north of the Alps there is a reasonable chance of sleet,ice or snow which can significantly delay your travel plans - and with your proposed itinerary a done-day delay will mean chaos.

IMHO in the 19 or 20 days you have (I can;t tell if you have included your departure day, your arrival day - 1/2 day at best and your day to return to the US) you should limit yourself to 4 or at most 5 days if you really want to see anything. Remember not only the bad weather but sun not rising until 8 am and going down at 4 pm - plus some places on shorter winter schedules.

Of course, you can do whatever you want - but IMHO hat you have is a very long, exhausting, and expensive tour of the train stations of europe which will be a blue before you even head for home.

And do save at least one day by flying into London and out of your last city - the air fare shouldn't be any higher when you consider the cost of trekking back to London to return home.
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Old May 29th, 2016, 11:06 PM
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No point at all in staying anywhere for just one night (except in transit), because you will have little time to see anything other than the airport/train station. Furthermore, two nights in a city will give you only one full day for sightseeing, sandwiched between two days of travel.

Not counting your days of arrival and departure from Europe, you have scheduled <b>nine days of travel</b> between locations. That will be very expensive both in terms of money and time.

Suggest you whittle down your itinerary to about half what you have planned, and spend at least 3 or 4 nights in each location, more for London and Paris where there is so much to see.
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Old May 30th, 2016, 02:12 AM
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I disagree that the only reason to visit some of these cities is the Christmas Markets. There is plenty to do in all of these places in winter. And cities don't close down during the holiday period; it's a very busy time for city trips. In London there's no public transport and most museums are closed on the 25/12, but all other days are business as usual.

Agree that a 1 night stop is useless, don't do that. Even 2 nights only give you one full day of sightseeing. I would do at least 4 nights per stop.

We had a very mild winter last year, no snow to speak of. It could be different, and cold weather and snow will mess with your itinerary.
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Old May 30th, 2016, 09:38 AM
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In London there's no public transport and most museums are closed on the 25/12, but all other days are business as usual.>

Yes and Boxing Day - the 26th sees huge sales I believe in major London stores:

http://www.visitlondon.com/things-to...2pULRsDk00T.97
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Old May 30th, 2016, 09:41 AM
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We live in London and travel the week of New Years every year and love it!!

We have been to
Tuscany
Paris
Portugal
Rome
Strasbourg

And are heading to Venice this year.

It's not warm but we always enjoy ourselves.

Definitely drop 1 nighters. Consolidate and enjoy where you will be.
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