Amsterdam, Bruges

First thanks to everyone for their advice! We just returned from a glorious three weeks, mostly in Italy!

Looking toward a trip over Christmas of 2015... I really want to do the German Christmas markets and some little towns for a week, then another 7-10 days for...??

How are Amsterdam, Bruges in winter? I know cold but... Isn't everywhere going to cold? Might do Paris for a couple days...

Are those reasonable places to go the week between Christmas and New Years? Anything especially bad or good about any of those?

Other suggestions for that time frame? Just not Italy since we did a lot of that this trip...


Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
14103 posts

We did Christmas in Germany a couple of years ago. Flew into Strasbourg (oldest Christmas market), on to Rothenburg, day trip to Numberg, Christmas in Munich, and New Years in Prague. It was in the mid teens most of the time and snowed about half the time. And it was humid so the cold felt very cold. We are from Colorado so we could handle the cold pretty well but it was still cold.

The day we from Strasbourg to Rothenburg was a very long day because of icing on the trains. I think we did five train changes getting there. With the snow falling Rothenburg was nearly magical. The Germany Christmas market all close by Christmas eve while Prague is open beyond New Years. You need to plan Christmas eve and day carefully since very little is open starting the afternoon of Christmas eve. All in all a great time and we would do it again and probably well.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
7340 posts

I visited Belgium last Christmas/New Year, it was great! A little cold but layering works.

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
11069 posts

Belgium and the Netherlands also have Christmas markets, although usually only in the larger cities.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
5689 posts

The Christmas markets in the medium to big cities are open the 4 weeks before Christmas, but mostly close by the 22nd or 23rd at the latest. Very few are open on Christmas Eve or after Christmas. Small towns will have their markets on just one weekend and that is usually closer to the beginning of Advent up to the middle. Not common to have a 2 day market right before Christmas.

My favorite markets in Germany are Esslingen, Stuttgart, Bad Homburg, Frankfurt, Mainz, Idstein, B├╝dingen, and Marburg. Strausbourg and Colmar have great markets too, so if you are in that area, go visit them too.

In Germany at least, things shut down on the 24th around 14:00. That means you will need a hotel that serves dinner as all the restaurants are closed. This is when most Germans celebrate Christmas, with church services, big dinner and opening gifts. The 25th and 26th are official holidays with all stores closed. Museums may or may not be open, but many restaurants do a booming business.

It may be wise to be in a larger city over the holidays so you will have something to do.

Posted by Kim
San Francisco
561 posts

Thanks for the advice, and yes, I just realized that the other places have markets too and those seem to last into the new year! yeah!

I am currently thinking arriving 12/18 (this is in 2015..), and maybe base somewhere for 4-5 nights where I can day trip by train out to see some other cities... Fly into Frankfurt or Munich...would like not to base in munich since we just went there (although loved it)... how is nuremberg? I could day trip out to regensberg and wurzberg by train?... need to look and see what else is good in those places to see. Will have kids 10 and 12 so need to plan for that too. But 5 nights there might be too much, although not sure I want to be moving every 2-3 nights.

I was also looking at strasbourg - my husband went there on business once and loved it. I too am worried about the actual holiday, so we would need to get a place with a kitchen probably. Is that a big enough city for actual Christmas? Can I get a train on 12/26 or will I need to base somewhere until 12/27? I probably need to arrive at my Christmas base by 12/23.

Then I was thinking of heading up to Bruges, Brussels, Amsterdam for the next week or so... maybe Bruges OR Brussels, not sure need to read up on those. Hopefully fly out of Amsterdam.

Just not quite sure how to approach the first part... don't want to push too hard in the first few days. We based 4 nights in Munich upon arrival last month and it was an easy land and everyone adjusted well.