What to do in Europe during winter?
October 3, 2005 2:49 PM   Subscribe

I'm planning to take a trip to Europe with two to three friends for about two weeks during January break. We all have experience travelling in Europe - where would be good to go during winter?

So far, we have been thinking mostly about western Europe, mostly because it's an area we know reasonably well. Between us, we've hit most of the major cities in Italy, France, and the UK, though some repetition wouldn't be bad. Some specific ideas include:

• Renting a car and exploring the French countryside (stay south-ish so it's a little warmer? maybe include French cities we haven't been to.)
• Eastern Europe? (don't know the languages or the area)
• Ireland? (flights are cheap, but are there things to do in the winter?)

In general, we like cities or countryside, castles are cool, museums are fun, good food is a plus. We're students, so cheap is good. We're not that interested in skiing or big group tours.

What destinations (general or specific) would you recommend we check out this winter? Any winter-specific ways to keep costs down?

posted by heresiarch to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I travelled around Europe in January and February a few years ago. It was pretty cold everywhere we went - sometimes even when we where indoors at a museum or castle. I would recommend heading to Southern Italy as it will be warmer than places farther north. It's also more reasonable for tight budgets than many places in Europe - and you can get some good bargains in places like Ischia or Capri that cater to summer crowds.
posted by Staggering Jack at 3:15 PM on October 3, 2005

Argentina, Chile, Uruguay... it's late summer, early fall there, a lot of the tourists are gone and the prices are amazingly low. Southern Chile has great outdoor activities, national parks etc. Mendoza, Argentina is like the Napa/Sonoma of Argentina. Uruguay is a hop-skip ferry from Buenos Aires to Montevideo (2 1/2 hr) or Colonia del Sacramento, (45 min) a really great, arty town.
posted by lois1950 at 3:46 PM on October 3, 2005

I went to Ireland in December a few years ago. It was beautiful...very cozy, and actually warmer than the Northeast US at that time. I don't know if you're looking for a warm-weather vacation.
posted by nekton at 4:28 PM on October 3, 2005

You could consider staying at some of the places mentioned in a previous post. They have castles and everything (in the UK)!
posted by biffa at 2:54 AM on October 4, 2005

Spain is beautiful all year round. If you want a slighly milder climate, try Seville. The countryside is amamzing, in a stark sort of way, and of course, the food is fantastic. You might also head over to Lisbon, and north to Porto, if you have any interest in port.

There are some amazing cities in Eastern Europe, particularly if you like castles and gothic architecture generally. Think Prague, Budapest, Riga, Sofia -- I haven't travelled much that way myself, but friends have very positive stories, plus those cities are usually a lot cheaper than the west.

Venice is stunning in the winter, although very cold -- and very expensive. But I'd recommend it to anyone, just for a few days. For beautiful scenery, head north from there to the lakes (Como, Garda, Maggiore) and the Dolomites.

And do pop in to London for a day if you have time!
posted by londonmark at 7:10 AM on October 4, 2005

Big cities like London, Paris, etc. are just fine in the winter. I've visited London in the wintertime several times and just made lots of tea stops, gone to the theatre and museums, et cetera, and had a grand time.
posted by Vidiot at 8:30 PM on October 4, 2005

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