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South and Central Europe in December: Worth it?

Hey all,

I am going to be a freshman in college next year, and my school is on a quarter system, which gives us a great winter break (Before Thanksgiving>January 4). I have worked quite a bit this summer and been saving up my money, and I really want to do something fun with this extended break. After some brainstorming, I came up with an itinerary for a 3 week Europe trip that I really like. It would have me spending 3 days in Barcelona, 3 days in Florence, 4 days in Prague, 4 days in Amsterdam, 3 days in Copenhagen, and 4 days in Paris (with hopefully in each city at least one day where I could go out and see countryside/small towns/go off the beaten path). Obviously the first three weeks in December are not prime travel season in Europe, due to the weather, but I want to know if the weather is bad enough that it would make me have to postpone the trip at least a year (I don't think I would be able to go until summer '09). I am purposefully avoiding the UK/Scandinavia(sans Copenhagen), to avoid the really lousy weather, as well as southern Italy and the Mediterranean because I figure visiting there in the winter would just be a bit tepid, but how will the weather be in the cities I listed? Would the weather be decent enough that going now would be a fulfilling and fun trip, or should I really put it off until a summer where I can enjoy the sun?

Thanks for any input

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks, I just did a brief Google search and found some good websites that predict the weather. It appears that most of the areas don't get too rainy during the times when I would be there, which was my biggest concern. I can deal with cold weather, but if it was raining the entire time I was there, I would be much more inclined to postpone this trip. Is my "cold but not too rainy" theory seem reasonable? That is what it appears I am finding online, but I could be misreading the numbers.

Posted by
3 posts

No, I didn't, I didn't know I could get messages haha. I'll reply through the message system thing. Thanks!

Posted by
157 posts

For my money, anytime is a great time to visit, in fact I've been to Europe way more in the winter than in summer. It can be very cold, snowy, icy, rainy, blustery. Although with the recent global climate changes it could be warming up!

That just means you have to bundle up - layers, something windproof and something waterproof. Good shoes, warm hat and gloves.

It also means that the fountains can be frozen, the gardens are closed, many small villages are pretty well tucked in for the winter and some of the attractions are closed.

But the really cool part is there are very few tourists. Several years ago we visited the Louvre around Thanksgiving time and there were two people ahead of us. At the Paris flea markets (Puces and local neighborhoods) were all locals - nary a tourist in sight!

If you just plan on cold temps (think Buffalo, and if you get Seattle, count yourself lucky!), but no crowds, a much more intimate experience with the locals and lower prices.


Posted by
1589 posts

As noted by Chris, ANYTIME is the time to go. Don't wait until "someday". Try skipping the northern most spots, since your trip is already too scattered.

Have a great time!

Posted by
154 posts

Hello, I went to Venice, Salzburg, and Paris in Dec 04. When it's 30 degrees it's hard to enjoy walking around and siteseeing. I loved being there. It was a great time to learn the ropes and how to get around BUT I think I will enjoy it much more when I go next month. The Louve was practically empty which was great. But I really wanted to enjoy the gardens and take the bike tour. Try it in both seasons then you'll get the benefits of low and high tourist season.

I will admitt I'm from Florida and 90 degrees is perfectly fine for me.... but 30 is still too cold for most people.

Posted by
18 posts

<< should I really put it off until a summer >>
No, absolutely not! Everything is odious in summer. December's a great time to travel.

Posted by
35 posts

Hi Charlie,

The off season is a great time to travel....far fewer tourists and thus the locals are much more relaxed.

Weather is a matter of luck, but don't let it stop you. I spent late December in London about 20 years ago. The weather was better then than it was when I returned to the city the following July!

Have a great trip