Christmas in Europe
As we learned filming our PBS European Christmas special, thatís a jolly time to travel. Please share your feedback and tips for travelers heading to Europe for the holidays.
- Please don't post questions here. Use our Travelers Helpline.
Christmas in Italy with the Angels
Last year, we went to Italy for Christmas and decided to stay in Rome in the end and booked our Christmas Day walking tour with Angel Tours. Our guide was so funny, entertaining and well versed in the local history. The tour was long but well worth it. We wanted to visit Florence this year and do the Angel Tours Christmas Day tour in Florence but we just couldn't do that this year 2012. So if your in Italy and need a Christmas tour, Angel Tours in the way to go. Www.angeltoursrome.com
Christmas in Austria
We spent a beautiful winter holiday in Austria last year! My husband and I, with our three teenage children (13-18) started in Salzburg which is nothing if not utterly charming--especially at Christmas! We then took a train to Vienna and stayed at a modern hotel right in the middle of the city. We had a lovely traditional Christmas Eve dinner then off to midnight mass at St. Stephens. And as we were leaving the mass....snow! So beautiful! Most of the major museums were open on Christmas Day, and that evening we went to a very intimate and incredible Mozart concert right near the cathedral. En route back to Munich, we also snuck in a few days in Hallstatt which was incredibly beautiful. The town was basically ours, to ourselves, but we had some good snow hikes, and lovely Austrian food. We welcomed the peace of the lake after the "pre-holiday" craziness of the USA. We love sneaking away for the holidays. This year we are off to Scotland!
Dallas, Texas USA 09/07/2012
Christmas in London
We spent this last Christmas in London and loved it! My daughter graduated from LSE in London in mid December. We then took the train with another family up to Edinbourgh and rented Forter Castle for a week. It was simply amazing, this beautiful property in the Scottish countryside. The castle was luxurious, most enjoyable, but also alot of work. Bringing the logs in from the Piggery, keeping the fireplace going, all the levels, navigating the roads on our day trips. . .but most exciting! We flew back to London on Dec 23 and spent the next four nights at Le Merridian Hotel, and found spending Christmas in that area was perfect. We spent our first night back in London at the National Gallery, and saw the Last Supper on display, it was a special showing. Then we went ice skating at Tiffany's rink at Sommerset House. It was most festive and exciting, simply beautiful! We had breakfast at Fortam and Mason on Christmas Eve, again very festive and hopping! Lots of great gifts available! We shopped as we were right in the middle of so many stores, our hotel was in a great location. I had ordered tickets to the Christmas Eve service at Westminster Abby before we left the states. Attending that service was a dream come true! It was a candlelight service, simply beautiful, my college aged kids loved it, as did my husband and I! We then had drinks and dinner at one of the beautiful hotels, it was a very festive atmosphere! Christmas Day we spent with one of my daughters British friends and their familt, so we were so fortunate to experience a true English Christmas. On Boxing Day alot of the stores were open, actually some stores had lines outside with people waiting to get into the store, it was unreal! We spent our last afternoon having tea at a darling tea house, very British, and ended our journey dining at The Wolseley, a true British institution! It was a wonderful way to spend the holiday. I would do it again in a heart beat!
Chicago, IL USA 06/24/2012
Christmas in Rome
Christmas in Rome is that perfect time to linger and enjoy the sites without the stress of crowds, schedules, and hot weather. Rome has moderate temperatures in winter (50-60F) so a light jacket will do. Churches are bedecked with precepi; Santa Claus is non-existent; and the emphasis is on family and food. Many Romans leave town to visit relatives elsewhere and many small shops are closed. However all services, museums, and transit are open and running as usual. Buon Natale.
Evanston, IL USA 05/29/2012
Christmas in London
Love reading all these tips and treats! We've done Christmas in Europe several times over the last few years, [INVALID]nating between London & Edinburgh, Scotland. Oh and Paris once, during the snow so I can't really speak to the true experience of a Parisian Christmas!
I can say that the Brits really know how to do Christmas! We love the seasonal foods, the music, the window decor. One of the best parts of traveling in the off season like this is avoiding all the usual super busy tourist travel months, but also avoiding the usual holiday frenzy at home - There's so much (too much?) holiday cheer all around the city, you don't have to do much to get in the mood. We enjoy taking the money we'd spend on the season and putting it toward travel. Trying to be flexible enough to use miles, opting for self-catering houses and flats, eating in as much as possible, and taking advantage of all the free museums and events, it works our really well for our family of 6. We don't ignore the traditions completely, instead we do a simple "secret santa" exchange, and have fun scouring the markets to find unique gifts, and food shop for the holiday meal. Plus it's fun to find things to bring home to family and friends as a sort of New Years gift, a bonus after the holiday craziness.
This last year we rented a house in Notting Hill and our travel adviser (from Elegant Retreats International, they were great) suggested the concerts at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and eating in the Crypt Cafe (is that the name?) below. I can't believe we hadn't done that before. My kids thought this was the coolest, even gave raving reviews to the food (it was good, and not bad for London prices!) and wanted to do the grave rubbings and all that as well.
It's such a unique experience. And I know that our family will make use of the memories and the experiences of these holiday trips much more than they would probably end up using material items that tend to pile up in December.
I am squarely in the pro-travel-at-Christmas column, if you can't tell. Just remember that things are closed on Boxing Day (day after Christmas) and sometimes the day after, and plan accordingly.
Oh, and make sure to eat lots of mince pies, and sticky toffee pudding and Grasmere gingerbread (another recommendation from our TA) if you can find it, and if you can't, you should order some delivered to your hotel or vacation rental. It's seriously the best thing you'll ever taste in your life. It smells like Christmas. :) It's another of our family travel traditions.
Los Angeles, CA USA 03/12/2012
Europe in December
We have been to Europe three times and each trip has been in December. If you dislike heat and humidity, and crowds, don't hesitate to treat yourself to this beautiful season in Europe. Just stopped by the site today to plan our fourth December trip, and I remembered my concerns before our first trip about the weather and the availability of attractions, etc... I couldn't find much on the web about this time of year. Now there is this wonderful page. December in Europe is magnificent - promise!
Victoria, BC Canada 02/29/2012
Christmas in London
We just spent 10 days in London through Christmas, and found it to be one of the most enchanting experiences of our traveling lives. We first of all had to dispel our own expectation of carolers dressed in period garb on every corner. Much of the time, we could not even tell that it was Christmas and would not have were it not for the incredible number of programs on the telly devoted to Christmas food preparation, including the ongoing debate about the relative merits of "sprouts", which to the British is the same debate that we experience over fruitcake.
Easily the best part was the amazing LACK of concentration on commercialism, consumerism and consumption. Hardly any commercials or advertisements were devoted to the purchasing of presents, the focus instead being on family and celebration. With the absence of our American obsession with buying presents, we simply felt as if we were dipped in magic waters. We were left with being able to focus on the culture and the spirit of the season, which also gave us the opportunity to focus on each other and the wonderment of the relationship. What a gift! We will now consider Europe as our home for Christmas, and the joy of the Season.
Paula and David Dickman
USA, USA USA 01/06/2012
December in Italy
We spent the entire month of December in Italy and it was absolutely fabulous! Crowds were non-existent at the major sites (imagine a deserted Pompeii on a sparkling winter morning), streets were colorfully lighted, presepi (creches) were everywhere. Were there were crowds it was on the shopping streets and for the passaggiata in Naples, Rome, Sorrento. Rain? 2 days of "signifcant" rain. You have to have a plan for rain days (museums, churches) but like the Italians, just dress for the weather and get out there and enjoy!
Portland, OR USA 01/04/2012
New Years in London
My husband and I spent the week before New Year's in London. It was fantastic. Please note that many places to visit are CLOSED on New Year's Day!! Reputable ticket booths actually sold us 'Fast Pass" Tickets for a day that The Tower of London, and St Paul's was closed! so we lost money on that... the only other negative experience was with cab drivers. some of them will cheat you , so only get in a cab that has a meter showing on the dashboard! Otherwise, we had an awesome experience and would love to go again! Note: it is not really a place to take young children / grandchildren for vacation. Subways, trains and streets are crowded, and there did not appear to be many activities for small kids.
Humble, TEXAS USA 01/04/2012
New Year's Eve in Rome at hotel lancelot
We spent Christmas and New Year's at Hotel Lancelot in Rome. It was amazing! Especially New Year's Eve. 5 course amazing meal, music, singing, belly dancer, fire works over the colosseum and dancing to follow. It was so incredibly wonderful AND when it was all over we just roll into bed! If there is anyway possible, I'll be there next year!
Best New Year Eve at HOTEL Lancelot!
Seattle, WA USA 01/02/2012