Christmas time in Europe

Travel Forums Europe Christmas time in Europe

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1. Posted by ILv2Travel (Budding Member 2 posts) 19w Star this if you like it!

Europe during Christmas times - Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris and London
We are planning a Christmas time tour to Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris and London.
We are family of 4, My hubby, I and 2 girls 21 & 25.
Flying to Amsterdam via London on Dec 21st; will reach there evening time.
Will stay there 3 nights 21-24. Need some input on activities over there for 2 days. Booked a hotel near Dam Square since most tours start from there.
24th we will take train to Brussels, will explore neighboring areas. We haven't been to both the places, so everything is new for us. Booked a hotel near Grand Place since most tours start from there. Decided on Brussels since it is kind of on the way spot.
25th morning taking train to Paris, will go to Eiffel tower around sunset and then planning a walk or bus for holiday lights. I have booked apartment on Champs Elysee and may explore central Paris. We had been to Paris before but been only to Arc and Louvre before and the river cruise. So, what do you recommend near Champs Elysee or in Central Paris? Other option we are thinking of is Palace of Versalles. Need your input here. If we decide to go to the Palace, then I may cancel this hotel and book near the train station for convenience.
26th night we are taking train to London and will stay there for 3 nights. We might be tired after a lot of walking done in the earlier part of tour, so thinking of Hop on and Hop off bus; but the reviews are mixed and we have never taken those kinds of buses before, so cannot decide. What is your experience? What do you suggest to do in 2 days at London? Booked a hotel in Islington area.
Flying back to USA on 29th afternoon.
Your advice is highly appreciated.

2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5418 posts) 19w Star this if you like it!

For Amsterdam: All the bridges along the canals will be prettily lit up at night with small christmas lights, which is one of my favorite things about what otherwise tends to be a pretty dismal time of the year to be out and about there, so be certain to spend some time walking along the canals after dark (from 16:00 onward).
You don't list your interests, so it's hard to give direction, but in general I'd say that heading west to southwest from the Dam shows the nicer parts of Amsterdam, while immediately east of there is the red light district with all its seedy overflowing with tourists bustle. (There's absolutely nice and non-seedy parts, but just walking past, you won't be left with that impression.)
In particular, to the southwest, the "9 straatjes" (9 streets) are 9 short streets connecting three of the canals, with lots of tiny quirky shops lining them.
Quite some distance off to the south (just about walkable, but probably worth taking a tram that time of the year) is the "museumplein", where the famous "iamsterdam" letters used to stand. That still has both the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum. I'm not a museum person myself, but both are extremely well worth it. I'd probably give the edge to the Van Gogh museum, as it's smaller and of course focuses on a single subject, thus you can actually walk away from it with the feeling that you've seen something without being overwhelmed. (A decade ago the Rijksmuseum was being renovated, and reduced to maybe 10% of its area, with only the main hits like the Night Watch being displayed. They should've just kept it like that.) :)

London is the only place in the world where I've ever done a hop-on hop-off bus, and as a way to spend a chilly afternoon after we'd spend way too long walking, it positively surprised me. Just make certain to bundle up very well, and you'll get a pretty decent overview of the city.

[ Edit: Edited on 07-Jul-2019, at 07:39 by Sander ]

3. Posted by BeateR (Full Member 146 posts) 19w Star this if you like it!

Please have a carefully look. Most christmas markets close down on 22. or 23. decembre:

4. Posted by ToonSarah (Travel Guru 1049 posts) 19w Star this if you like it!

The Hop on, Hop off buses in London seem to be OK to me - I live there so haven't felt the need to do such a tour, but they have comprehensive routes and lots of stops in the sort of areas you would want to visit. However from what I have seen most of them have an open air upper deck, which you might not find comfortable in December, and from downstairs you wouldn't see so much while on the move. If you're only using them to get from A to B, rather than expecting to see the sights from on-board, you would find it cheaper to use the Tube (the Underground trains). There are stops near all the major sights so you could minimise walking if you need to and still see a lot of the city.

If the weather is bad, I recommend the museums in South Kensington, which are free. If you skate, there is a rink by the Natural History Museum (of course you pay for that) and others too in some great places in the city, e.g. at Somerset House. Another museum worth visiting is the Museum of London, which tells the history of the city. It's near St Paul's Cathedral so easily combined with that. You'll probably want to go to the Tower of London, as it's your first time here.

If the weather is fine (we often get cold but crisp days around that time of year) you could take a stroll through St James's Park and see Buckingham Palace. If you're up for a slightly longer walk, the South Bank of the Thames is great - I recommend the stretch between London Bridge and the South Bank Centre (Royal Festival Hall).

Whatever the weather you could also catch the Thames Clipper boat down to Greenwich. Seating is all under cover and it's much cheaper than the sightseeing cruises, although you don't get a commentary on board. In Greenwich, visit the Maritime Museum (free), Greenwich Observatory (to stand on the Meridian - charges to enter), Cutty Sark (charged-for) and/or Royal Naval College (charge for the stunning, recently restored Painted Hall, while the grounds and chapel are free to enter). If it's clear, the views from the park across to the city are great!

5. Posted by Andrew Mack (Travel Guru 1037 posts) 19w Star this if you like it!

Check opening times and prices.

Tower of London (not cheap but the guides are usually worth the price on their own ) ;

Tower Bridge (next to the tower of London and impressive with a decent view on a good day);

If the weather is bearable then a walk from Tower Hill (the area where the tower and bridge are) to St Pauls can be nice ;
going via Leadenhall market ;
Which is in 'The City of London' aka the 'square mile' and many visitors miss this area as it's usually rammed with workers ;

There are also some very interesting guided walks (some going to areas you wouldn't want to walk around on your own, like the Jack The Ripper walk);
Or maybe a river boat cruise ;

[ Edit: Edited on 07-Jul-2019, at 12:09 by Andrew Mack ]

6. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 1003 posts) 19w Star this if you like it!

>26th night we are taking train to London

Just a heads-up that 26th is a public holiday in the UK, with reduced public transport services. It is possible that the Eurostar timetable will be reduced so check as soon as infor for that date becomes available (should be about 180 days beforehand).

The same applies to >25th morning taking train to Paris<. Christmas Day is a public holiday in all EU countries so public transport runs to a reduced timetable. As soon as the info becomes available check train times for 25th on the Belgian railway website in English:

7. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 1272 posts) 19w Star this if you like it!

The Eiffel Tower is a great idea and it is open on Christmas day. I was going to suggest a dinner cruise on the Seine for the evening but see you have already done a cruise and probably don't want to do another although with the Christmas lights, it might be fun.

Most museums are closed, but interestingly the Petit Palais is open and is also free of charge (unless there is a special exhibit you want to attend there). They have a tea room that is quite nice so you could have tea in the afternoon and dinner later at a restaurant of your choice. Do be sure to make dinner reservations because many places will be closed on Christmas but I'm sure you already know that. Here's the web site for the Petit Palais if you want to check it. The Petit Palais in Paris

Another possibility is the Institut du Monde Arabe. There is a fascinating museum on floors 4-7 and a restaurant on the roof with views over Paris. Again, with the Christmas lights, that would be even more beautiful than it usually is. BTW, their mint tea is amazing and there is a telescope on the roof if you want a closer look at, for instance, Notre Dame Cathedral to see how the renovation is progressing. Here is their web site. Institute of the Arab World web site

I have no idea if they are open on Christmas, but you could try a reservation for Dec. 25 and find out. Our favorite restaurant in Paris is La Bonne Excuse at 48 rue de Verneuil in the 7th not too far from the Musée d'Orsay. It's a small, family-owned restaurant using local foods. It's a little over our usual food budget but it is definitely worth it. The food is excellent and the service exemplary. We chose it for our 50th and 55th anniversaries . . . and go at least once whenever we're in Paris.

Have a wonderful holiday and enjoy Paris.

8. Posted by ILv2Travel (Budding Member 2 posts) 19w Star this if you like it!

Thanks a lot everybody, really appreciate.

9. Posted by summertime345 (Inactive 9 posts) 19w Star this if you like it!

In London you must visit Hyde park, because it is the most spectacular place during Christmas time :)

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