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14 days in Europe - suggestions?

Hello, this is my first post here and would like to seek for some recommendations on a 14-day trip in Europe, sometime between mid-Dec 2012 to early-Jan 2013. So far, I have been travelling to the following places: England (London, Windsor, Stonehenge, Bath), Germany (Berlin, Munich, Bavarian areas, Rothenburg, Nurnberg), Austria (Salzburg, Vienna), Spain (Barcelona), Italy (Milan, Cinque Terre, Venice, Florence, Sienna, Rome), Czech (Prague), France (Paris, Loire). One thought can be that I start from Amsterdam -> Belgium -> Rhine Valley -> Swiss -> Southern France -> Madrid. Visiting Christmas market is always a good thing to enjoy. Exploring more in Spain can also be an option. I don't mind simply focusing in only few countries in order to reduce all the commute times. Any recommendations/advice would be much appreciated. Thanks,
Victor

Posted by
12849 posts

Victor, there are several options. Too many to suggest so why don't you start with a theme. The theme can be Christmas Markets or the theme can be Communist Europe, Fjords or ....??? Or you can simply pick a country, or two at most and do an in depth visit. North American tourists tend to skim over the top and miss so much of the heart. Something else you might consider is looking for places that will not be the same in a few years; or possibly not accessible if the current political climate continues. I throw everything from Romania, through Bulgaria and into the Caucuses into that category. Oh and the latest edition of Travel and Leasure published 101 places you should know. You might look at that list.

Posted by
8431 posts

You have mentioned wanting to go to 6 countries in 14 days. I think that is a bit ambitious. Is that 14 days including your travel days? Remember that if you stay somewhere 2 nights it is equal to one full day, and so on. Christmas markets are usually before Christmas, so if you want to experience that you should arrive mid-December. Germany and Austria would be your best bet for the markets. I would focus either north (Amsterdam/Belgium/Rhine Valley) or south (Southern France/Spain. Wherever you decide to go, I would try to lock in your lodging. Over the holidays is a very popular time for people to travel.

Posted by
12849 posts

Also depends on your age and how crazy you are. we spend Christmas in Budapest from time to time. But we enjoy the theater, concerts, food, wine, etc. Its a fine dining, classical nirvana in the winter under a blanket of snow. But that's what we enjoy and its not for all. One January we decided to do the ultimate cold vacation. We went to Moscow for Orthodox Christmas on January 7. Crazy, but fantastic to be in Red Square that time of year and Moscow is affordable in the winter. A most memorable adventure (direct flights from Budapest made it easy). Oh, and the Christmas markets in Budapest stay open until the end of December. Here is another idea for you to research; Grand Hotel Kimpinski High Tatras which isn't far from Krakow which is another good idea. I always say in the winter if you can't get close to the equator you should go where they know how to have fun in the cold. Yes six cities would be too many for me too. i would limit it to no more than three cities and really enjoy each one. As for rates, central and eastern Europe are going to be very economical in Dec and January. So is most of Europe.

Posted by
12040 posts

If you decide to include Belgium, try to incorporate Hasselt in your trip. Their yearly Christmas market ("Winterland") is the most elaborate I have seen in Europe. Actually, it's more of a carnival than a market, but definitely worth visiting. Oh, and I agree... your proposed trip would be far too ambitious even in the summer, and much worse in the winter. If you considered a stop-over in the Swiss Alps, realize that many hotels in the mountain regions require a minimum stay of 3 or more nights during the holiday break.

Posted by
14458 posts

Mid-December is a good time for Xmas markets (I have a trip planned for Dec. 6-16 and there were way too many to choose from). You could spend a week in the north seeing the markets, then get a flight south to Andalusia for a week. Or a week in Andalusia and a week in Morocco or Portugal.

Posted by
12849 posts

Morocco and Marrakech are great ideas. Personally I would try to find a couple of places with similar weather to make packing easier.

Posted by
8431 posts

James makes a very good point regarding packing.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks very much for all your inputs. After submitting the post, I realize that going to all 6 places is not realistic. Last year, I spent 10 days in London, France (mainly Loire) and Barcelona and I had to bring in more clothes to suit different weathers. I will need to decide whether enjoying Christmas markets or enjoying warmer weather is my primary purpose. I have experienced the Christmas markets in Munich and Berlin but I don't mind doing it again since my wife has only experienced the one in London. We haven't explored much in Spain last year so it can be another option, but we may consider other countries since we just went to Spain last year. Lots of considerations and decisions to make. :-) Thanks all!