Best "Christmas" town with cheap flight from London in early Dec?

DH and I will in London the first week of December. On Dec. 7th, a Saturday, I'd like to have us hop a cheap flight to somewhere else, where we can spend a few extra days soaking up a Christmas market, decorations, mulled wine, etc.. Initially, I'm thinking of maybe: a) Salzburg, coming back from Munich (with a couple of nights in each) b) Prague c) Cologne Are there any cheap "package deals" from London that allow for a 2-3 nights stay? My thinking is that a "package deal" (combining accommodations with a return flight) might actually be a better cost-saving measure (we'd just be 'no-shows' for the package return flight and just fly home on an open-jaw).
UK friends, where would I look to find these? Any other suggestions? I also really liked Budapest and Krakow; and as with Prague and Salzburg, I wouldn't mind going back. I'd really not want to return to Vienna or Bratislava, so they're not in the mix for consideration. I also get the impression that Nuremberg would be uncomfortably crowded. Cologne would be new to me, is there anywhere else I should consider? My accommodation budget would be topped at approx. 100 euros per night. I would not want to spend more than approx. 100 euros/pp on the airfare to get there from London. Lastly, there should be a good Christmas market, with most stalls at least open Sunday to Wednesday. Many thanks for your suggestions! :-)

Posted by Linda
Bromley, Kent,, UK
1629 posts

I had a quick look at some of the major holiday companies but no joy. I think it is because it is too early for their winter break offerings. We are usually inundated with adverts in the newspapers later in the year.

Posted by Diane
Ottawa
1151 posts

Thank you, Linda :-) Which holiday companies should I periodically check?

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2600 posts

My favorite is probably Salzburg as far as bigger cities go. Also, really like the Heidelberg market. Another favorite is the Romantic road... stayed in Dinkelsbuhl and loved the little small town market...drove on to the wonderful market in Rothenberg and both of those were really fun. I am not much into buying a lot of christmas stuff, so I tend to base the ones I like on the food and the ambience, however both Salzburg and Heidelberg have the stores to shop at as well. There are so many to choose from, so I would base it on the market and the city/town you want to visit. I liked the Bruge market and just went to the market in Paris this year. I liked it, but when you think of the quintessential Christmas Market... Paris is not it. But, it had food, music, and stuff to sell...parisian style.

Posted by Diane
Ottawa
1151 posts

I don't think that I would want to drive in December, but the train should be realistic for getting to Rothenburg and Dinkelsbühl - they look like lovely towns! Which airport(s) would be the most convenient to access this region by train?

Posted by Linda
Bromley, Kent,, UK
1629 posts

These companies. They all seem to be part of the TUI travel group these days! I think if you Google Christmas Market breaks in Europe sometime in the summer you should get the majority of offerings. http://www.thomascook.com/
http://www.crestaholidays.co.uk/ Some of the airlines also offer city break packages eg Easyjet or British Airways. http://holidays.easyjet.com/cheap-city-breaks-deals.htm http://www.britishairways.com/travel/city-breaks/public/en_gb?source=MNVFAH3city_breaks&link=main_nav You could also try Eurostar.com for breaks by train. Going by coach for short breaks is a very popular alternative but seems to attract the older visitor and you may wish to check the hotels they use carefully. http://www.shearings.com/our-holidays/europe-and-worldwide/europe-autumn-winter/europe-christmas-markets http://www.newmarketholidays.co.uk/genre.asp?dlc=11290&WS=2&pid=522&sMnem=COACHES&gMnem=EUROBRE&fNPC=

Posted by david
washington
837 posts

No info on packages. However, insofar as cities are concerned, we were in Salzburg this past Christmas season. It is very charming, as Salzburg always is. However, by FAR the best Christmas destination I have experienced is Strasbourg. I don't know about airfare, but I suspect that you could train from London to Strasbourg for under 100 euro each. As for Christmas markets, there are fewer in Salzburg than most other places, but I found their wares more sophisticated than others. I do love Prague, but haven't been there during the Christmas season. I wouldn't go back to Cologne at any time of the year.

Posted by Carroll
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
1346 posts

Diane, Before you think too hard about Rothenburg and Dinklsbuhl, you should know there is no train to Dinklsbuhl. It is accessible by bus, but when we were there in late November last year, we could find no busses that could get us there quickly or conveniently from Rothenburg. You can get a train to Wurzburg direct from the Frankfurt airport (about 90 minutes), then a train to Steinach (forget how long, but less than an hour), and a train to Rothenburg (about 15 minutes). The trip from Munich is similiar (Rothenburg is on a spur line from Steinach). It's pretty easy, but I'm not sure it's the best choice for a 2-3 day trip. Rothenburg has a fairly small Christmas market, but it is enchanting at Christmas time. The town is charming and beautifully decorated for the holidays. I understand it is very crowded during the summer, but it was not crowded when we were there.

Posted by Diane
Ottawa
1151 posts

Thanks for the reality check re: R & D. I'd like to drive the Romantic Road and spend some serious time in Bavaria at some point - that'll have to be another trip. Strasbourg has also caught my attention... doing the TGV back to Paris would make for an easy route home. Salzburg, tho, is definitely charming and DH has not been. Maybe we can extend a bit and do both! We could probably stretch extra time from the Saturday to the following Thursday ;-) I'd just have to check the train connections between both - I think that it'd be doable in one-day's travel.

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
3403 posts

If you don't want to go as far as Germany or Austria, and why would you, take the Eurostar to Paris. At Christmas time the whole length of the Champs Elysée from Pl. de la Concorde to the Rond-Point is one enormous Christmas market, with kiosks chock-a-block on both sides of the road. There is also a huge one at La Defense.

Posted by Ken
Spring, Texas
599 posts

I've only been in Paris and London during the first week of December. Paris had their Christmas market that wasn't all that impressive although there were a lot of different markets scattered all around the city. My wife and I are not accumulators of "stuff" and there wasn't anything very interesting for sale in the markets. It was interesting to stroll through them but all we did was eat a small cone of chestnuts and drink a mulled wine. It was a great time in both cities to see the sights. Crowds were minimal and hotels were giving special rates. I suspect that will be true everywhere. The best deals may be to separate the flight and lodging.

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
3403 posts

Ken, during the first week of December hardly anything Christmas-y (or wintry) is going on in Paris. The Haussmann stores do not yet have their illuminations or Xmas windows, the Hotel de Ville skating rink is not in place, the Christmas markets have not begun. Your experience at that pre-Christmas time is not what I have experienced several times, including just December past, from mid-December to the end of the first week of January.

Posted by Diane
Ottawa
1151 posts

Norma, thanks for the Paris good suggestion, but we have been there many, many times and will be returning... We will be enjoying the Christmas decorations in London and I was hoping for more of the German-Eastern European atmosphere as an add-on to London, which happens to be a good hub for cheap airfares and package deals. Thanks for the extra links, Katy!
I will be waiting for the Fall seat sales to buy our tickets from Canada to London anyways.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2600 posts

I think Strasbourg sounds like the perfect spot,(where I have been, but not during market) but another one that I visited this year was Brugge and it was delightful. Similiar in feel to the German markets. I know you said not Paris, but for others reading this... I was in Paris first week in December 2-8th and the Christmas Markets were up and running... not sure exact date they opened,but it wasn't middle of Dec.

Posted by Ken
Spring, Texas
599 posts

When I was there there were Christmas markets scattered all over the town. The biggest was on the lower portion of the Champs Elysees. There were other markets at Montmartre, Tracadero and several other places. There were ice rinks by the city hall and at the Tracadero. Christmas decorations were everywhere. It was definitely "in progress." It may ramp up in later weeks but I trust I had the "experience." I think it added a little bit to that specific trip to Paris for us. I would certainly not say to avoid Paris then since it was so easy to go see and do everything. Lines almost didn't exist. If the prime objective is to see the Christmas market, I can only say I wasn't all that impressed with what I saw in Paris. Unfortunately, I haven't seen any other Christmas markets so I can't comment on other locations.

Posted by david
washington
837 posts

This past year we were in Paris, Strasbourg, Salzburg, York, and London. As I stated above, Strasbourg was the jewel. We arrived in Paris on Dec 6 and were there a week. All the attractions mentioned in prior posts were in full swing. However, I would say that Paris was the biggest disappointment. It was nice, but certainly no London.