sightseeing in Europe choice is limited in December, unless
a) you're happy with primarily indoor culture b) you don't mind
the cold c) you head south.
North and middle Europe are usually either cold, wet and grey, or
cold, white and dark, with daylight in increasingly short supply
as you move north.
On the upside, tourists are also in short supply, many cities add
interesting lights to their streets, and indoor entertainment is
Some European cities have lively pre-Christmas markets, or colourful
New Year celebrations, or super-value January sales.
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are lively, colourful Christmas markets
and entertainment in these pretty European cities:
(Brussels, Ghent, Antwerp,
(Paris, Lille, Strasbourg, Nancy,
Nuremberg, Stuttgart, Munich, Trier, Dusseldorf); Netherlands
(Amsterdam); Sweden (Stockholm).
Austria: Vienna Kaiserball
- waltzing into Vienna's glamorous ball season is this, the ultimate
in posh dances, set in the Hofburg Palace. No expense spared. December
Officially the London sales
start in early January, but many high street shops start their sales
just after Christmas. Combine shopping with Christmas and New Year
celebrations, throw in a few sights and some sensational, free museums and you might be able to ignore
the chilly grey skies. Snow is rare.
Scotland: Edinburgh has post-Christmas
sales, plus a totally wacko Hogmany, Dec 31st, a truly wild and
wooly underwear occasion, with a torchlight procession, a Fire Festival,
fireworks, concerts and much insobriety, in a city dark yet strangely
light...Beware low light, cold, wind and high precipitation.
Sweden: Santa Lucia Day, (blonde girls celebration/parade) especially Stockholm, Dec 13th.
Russia: St Petersburg, Russian
Winter Festival, late
Also see European
Festivals or Arts
Festivals for suggestions, information and
sightseeing/culture in reasonably comfortable weather conditions
with the exception of Madrid(cold)
and the North(wet), Spain is generally warm and pleasant in December.
The best bet for a dry cultural experience is in the south, visiting
the magical Moorish cities of Seville,
Cordoba and Granada, where the days are warm and the nights coolish.
Barcelona too is a lively,
interesting city, though it can be a little chilly/wet in December.
The southern part of Italy has generally mild winters with blue
skies, so Rome, Pompeii, Herculaneum
and Sicily are excellent cultural targets, while Amalfi takes
good care of those who need a scenic uplift.
Venice is chilly, damp and foggy, but has a terrific mysterious,
romantic quality, enhanced by the lack of tourists and relatively
All over, but especially French,
Italian Alps, Pyrenees, Austria.
on canals if it's cold enough.
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