International Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
July 5, 2014 11:40 AM   Subscribe

What is the best city in Western Europe in which to spend Christmas? My spouse and I have decided to spend Christmas and New Year's in Europe! We will be going to Athens for New Year's Eve, but we aren't sure where we should spend Christmas, and the days leading up to it.

The front runner was Rome - one of us has visited before and one of us hasn't. Now we're thinking maybe Paris is a better option? London is out because we've already spent significant time there.

Wherever we wind up, we will be there for 5-6 days, include Christmas eve, day and boxing day. We will be renting an apartment. Good food is important, as is (dry) wine and cocktails (not interested in beer.) We like city life - we will take in a few museums but we also enjoy walking around, shopping, and just generally experiencing life in a new place. Climate isn't important - we don't mind the cold at all.

Tell me about your amazing European Christmas adventures!
posted by cessair to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The Christmas Market in Strasbourg is nice, so is the local wine, food and the museums. You can rent apartments here, here, here etc. As a bonus, there are several smaller towns and villages in the area worth a visit.
posted by iviken at 12:26 PM on July 5, 2014

York, Lille, Berlin (and if central Europe is okay) Prague, Bratislava, Brno, Vienna.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 1:07 PM on July 5, 2014

We like city life - we will take in a few museums

You'll want to check for opening times, but you should be okay.

Christmas is a bigger public celebration in northern and central Europe: Germany, Austria, Czech Republic; Bruges, Lille, Strasbourg. Vienna might be a sweet spot for wine over beer.
posted by holgate at 5:10 PM on July 5, 2014

I spent a beautiful week in Prague over Christmas several years ago. The Old Town is very Christmassy with a Christmas market running every day all lit up with Christmas lights in the main square, selling Czech Christmas decorations, mulled wine, roast pork etc.

Most things were open including the main museum, restaurants and bars.
posted by RubyScarlet at 7:19 PM on July 5, 2014

Christkindlmarkt in Nuremberg? The original is always the best, and Nuremberg is a fascinating city to visit.

Been there many times for Christmas, never gets old.
posted by Master Gunner at 8:23 PM on July 5, 2014

Copenhagen! Enough off the beaten path that there won't be a ton of tourists and the Danes do Christmas right.
posted by whitewall at 9:22 PM on July 5, 2014

Ooooh, Christmas Markets! Munich and Vienna were the ones I liked best, though I haven't been to Nuremberg.

Bratislava was not enjoyable for me for several days - it would have been better as a day trip from Vienna.
posted by kadia_a at 12:32 AM on July 6, 2014

It is indeed a difficult decision!
I do this every Christmas and have been to a few cities in Europe now. Rome is great at Christmas. The collosseum is open on Christmas day but the hours are shorter. Paris is also great.. There will be lots of tourist around and lots of places open. You will have lots of dining options in both.

I will also second kadia_a above. The Christmas markets in Munich and Vienna are fantastic. Fairy tale stuff. Nothing better than strolling around a snowy market, hot gluhwein in one hand, wurst in the other, listening to carol singers.

Hard to pick just one. You will have a great time in all four.
posted by drugstorefrog at 2:21 AM on July 6, 2014

Vienna is a great place to visit for Christmas, and the days leading up to it. The entire inner city (First District) is decorated lavishly with lights, and spiced wine and punch is sold at every street corner.
I live in Vienna and my work involves advising guests from oversees on what to do on their visit, and the feedback I had many times so far was that Christmas in Vienna is an excellent experience, whether you are into cultural experience or culinary or both.
If you like food and wine, there are many very nice options, for all kinds of budgets.
Vienna has many museums, and Christlkindl markets everywhere, both kitsch and more sophisticated ones (if there is such a thing...).
Christmas markets in Vienna

What you should know however is that all shops will be closed on 25 and 26 December (those are public holidays). Traditionally, Christmas Eve (24 Dec) is the main family event (gift exchange, etc), so shops and restaurants close early (4pm average), and the 25th is reserved for family dinners or visits, as well as the 26th.
You would have to look closely before which museums are open on those two days (this info is online for the vast majority of museums), also many restaurants are closed on 25th.
So if you do chose Vienna, you might want to move on to Athens a day earlier.

If you want more detailed recommendations (accommodation, restaurants), do feel free to memail me. As Vienna is popular destination at Christmas, accommodation should be booked asap.
posted by 15L06 at 4:04 AM on July 7, 2014

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