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Your help to plan winter European holiday

Your help to plan winter European holiday

Sep 19th, 2015, 04:28 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 5
Your help to plan winter European holiday

Hello fodorites

My husband and I have 3 weeks holiday to travel from Christmas day to mid January. Unfortunately this is the usual holiday period for our respective employers and we cannot travel outside of these dates.

We have traveled to Europe in winter and have really enjoyed the Christmas markets and festivities.

This time, we will be traveling with our son who will be 14 months.

We have previously visited cities in France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Netherlands, Spain and the UK but all pre-child. We are happy to re-visit any of these countries or try new ones if they fit the bill.

We are really stuck in deciding where to go given there are so many options so we are looking to you all for your guidance.

What we are looking for:
- We would like to to stay in a maximum of 2 or 3 cities.
- We would like to be able to reach each of the cities with a direct train.
- Our son loves big crowds, festivals, events, food, parks and all the other things toddlers enjoy. We would love to stay in cities which have enough activity over this period during the day to keep us occupied.
- We love walking so a walking city (stroller friendly!) would be great.
- Cities which offer lots of day trip options would be desirable (but not necessary).
- Given it's winter, we would like to visit cities which offer toddler friendly indoor options as well (does this even exist?).
- At this stage we have an open budget for our holiday.

We appreciate that our itinerary will be limited given the weather and our little one but would appreciate your suggestions.

We look forward to hearing from you wise folk. Please no negative comments. Yes we know it will be cold but we cannot travel any other time. Yes we know it will be more difficult with a toddler but he has traveled overseas previously quite well and we wouldn't be the only ones in the world doing this.

Thanks in advance.
mojobear is offline  
Sep 19th, 2015, 04:36 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
I would head to southern Spain or Sicily in order to get more pleasant weather so you can do outdoor things on many days - as well as visit indoor sights. Much easier with a little one than have to be bundling them into and out of a snowsuit or other heavy winter clothes several times per day.
nytraveler is offline  
Sep 19th, 2015, 05:10 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 6,047
Be aware that the two weeks from Christmas Day are peak season in European holiday regions. On the other hand, the 5 star business hotels in the big cities are empty and offer excellent rates. Use search engines like www.hrs.com to find good deals.

My first recommendations would be Berlin and Vienna, but any other capital city would be fine as well. Berlin has probably the best New Year's Eve party in Europe.
traveller1959 is offline  
Sep 19th, 2015, 05:14 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,339
Well for train info check these superbly informative sites: www.budgeteuropetravel.com (download their free online European Planning & Rail Guide for lots of itinerary suggestions by rail; www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com.

In winter I would go south to places like Italy.
PalenQ is offline  
Sep 19th, 2015, 05:51 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 56
As you are saying what you are looking for are places that are easy to negotiate with a buggy/pushchair. Vienna springs to mind straight away - all the underground stations have lifts, the pavements are by and large well maintained, there is loads to see and do, and lots of Christmas cheer.

another place that springs to mind, which probably has more day trip opportunities plus child-friendly activities is Amsterdam - the zoo and the science museum spring to mind, and our kids loved the floating Chinese restaurant in the harbour, though they were a bit older than yours at the time.
cornishannie is offline  
Sep 19th, 2015, 06:30 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 2,348
For Christmas market atmosphere and activities, I think Prague should probably be your first stop. The markets there do not end on Christmas eve, but go to January 1. There are a few other places where this "extra" week is available, like Copenhagen, Budapest, Brussels, Strasbourg, but I am not certain of the "scale" of those markets in the days past Christmas - it may be that just one of many market locations is open. Berlin, for example maintains the Gendarmenmarkt open until Dec 31 this year, but I don't think many of other Christmas markets in Berlin are open that long.

Starting in Berlin for a few days and then taking the train to Prague, or vice versa, ticks a couple of your boxes off.



I sympathize with your concern about posting (your last paragraph) and I wonder how many people simply don't post because they don't want the aggravation. What makes people think telling you it will be cold or that it takes time to travel from one place to another is helpful is beyond me. Straying into suggestions on how you should travel with your own children (which is not uncommon in here) is even worse.
Aramis is online now  
Sep 19th, 2015, 05:16 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 1,704
Have you considered Bern, Switzerland? Easy rail connections, stroller-friendly, beautiful in a light snow...
mokka4 is offline  
Sep 21st, 2015, 02:06 AM
  #8  
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Posts: 5
Thanks everyone for your suggestions.

Would anyone recommend Nice?
mojobear is offline  
Sep 21st, 2015, 05:24 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 21,683
I would not count on better weather in southern Europe -- it can often be even colder and snowier in the south than in the north (excluding Scandinavia and Poland!).

Besides Paris, as far as I'm concerned the best Christmas cities in France are Strasbourg and Lille (not forgetting that Alsace has a lot of wonderful towns, but they're not the same as "cities"). Both Strasbourg and Lille have huge pedestrian zones. Unfortunately, Strasbourg is already pretty much booked solid for the entire Christmas season except for the most expensive hotels.
kerouac is online now  
Sep 21st, 2015, 09:33 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,339
Yes I would recommend Nice as the weather will be better than in Paris I believe (though kerouac is rarely wrong!) and Nice has a bevy of nice easy day trips - but yes if you want Christmas spirit go north to cities with a tradtion of decorations, etc.
PalenQ is offline  
Sep 21st, 2015, 10:12 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 21,683
The thing is, I'm far from sure than anybody coming to Europe in December is looking for the least bad weather in the first place. If I were planning a December trip to the United States and had an interest in Boston, New York and Chicago but could only go to one of them, I would not use the weather as a determining factor for making my decision. Hey, it's December!
kerouac is online now  
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