Only three weeks are left until the long-awaited Christmas break finally starts!
For many students, that means only three weeks left until they finally go home for Christmas to see their families again. But for international students that can’t make it home and Dutchies that don’t want to spend the entire break at home and would like to use their vacation for a great, small-scale trip, here are some travel tips for Belgium, Germany and France.
For only €80, you can book a round-trip that goes directly from Rotterdam to Bruges and back.
Bruges is a perfect location in the winter months – it provides an Instagram-worthy wintery Christmas scene that is typically only seen on festive cards. Whilst the weather is grey and rainy, the atmosphere is warm, joyous and contagious, and most travellers fall head over heels in love with Bruges and everything it has to offer.
Bruges: Christmas Markets
The Bruges Christmas Markets are a very famous attraction and shouldn’t be missed in the wintertime! They take place throughout the month of December in the city’s medieval center. Although it’s a popular tourist spot, you will meet many locals in the markets with the intention to shop, stock up on food, ice skate, sing carols or even just to socialize. After skating on the ice rink, be sure to warm up with a cup of Glühwein and some frites as you wander around the market stalls, marvelling at all of the handmade clothing, wooden toys and ceramic beer mugs.
Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival
The Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival is another activity that should be on your to-do-list when making a trip to Bruges. Rug up in your warm winter clothing and be captured by the tonnes of ice and snow that are cut, carved and polished into intricately detailed sculptures. Be sure to visit the ice bar inside, and treat yourself to another Glühwein or hot chocolate.
Legends of Bruges Free Walking Tour
A great way to get to know the city at any time of the year is by foot. Legends of Bruges offers a free walk, twice daily at 9:45am and 2:30pm (except for Monday and Wednesday, where only afternoon tours are offered) that takes walkers on a local exploration of Bruges. On the tour, you can learn about the city’s history and urban legends as well as enjoy a beer and chocolate taste testing – a must when in Bruges! Each tour lasts for about 1.5 hours. With the non-existent price tag and the abundance of local knowledge that you will gain, you should definitely not miss it.
For around €30, you can get from Rotterdam to Hamburg to experience the unique atmosphere Hamburg provides in winter. Besides the very famous Christmas Market where you can eat, drink and find some last Christmas presents, Hamburg has a lot to offer even in winter.
Musicals in Hamburg
Hamburg is famous for the many different and amazing musicals you can attend. Especially in winter, when skies are grey and rain never stops, musicals are booming, giving you lots of options of great musicals to watch.
Tour of lights
Another great opportunity you get in winter is a tour through the “sea of lights”. Besides the lovely atmosphere created by many lights and winter decorations, the boat tour provides an overview of the most important monuments you can visit in Hamburg.
Ice skating (in the botanic garden)!
If you are a fan of ice skating, Hamburg has a lot to offer. For example, you can go ice skating inside the famous botanic garden, a very unique experience you can’t make in many other locations in the world. Different from the many different ice rinks, but also on various lakes and rivers that freeze in winter, here you can show your qualities as an ice-skater!
Depending on the date, you can find buses and trains starting at €20 from Rotterdam to Paris. Moreover, St. Christopher’s Inn’s provides a special deal during the winter; stay four nights but only pay three: https://www.st-christophers.co.uk/specials/deals/paris25
During this time of year, the entire city is covered with winter decorations that bring a surreal magic and an unique atmosphere to the city, making it perfect for picturesque evenings out. Furthermore, it’s low season in Paris, so you’ll have more of the city to yourself and won’t have to compete with hordes of tourists for entry to exhibits, monuments or when making a restaurant reservation.
The Parisian wintertime offers much to do indoors —there are plenty of famous museums, restaurants, and stores and the concert and arts season is in full bloom. There is something to see for every flavor. Just do some research beforehand, and ask locals for recommendations to plan the best trip for yourself.
Especially in the winter, Parisian Parks provide a romantic and warm atmosphere. If you pack correctly and bundle up, and if it’s not too wet outside, a wintery walk through one of the gorgeous Parisian parks or an evening stroll around the brilliantly lit streets can be mesmerizing. Early nights are lit up by Christmas illuminations all around town, while the boulevard Haussmann department stores Printemps and Galeries Lafayette are as much a draw for their festive window displays as they are for shopping.
The ice rink (at the Champs-Elysees)
The ice rink at the Champs-Elysées is another attraction you should not miss. Open until the 3rd of January, you can make an unique experience you will never forget.
The ice rink at the Champs-Elysees is probably the most famous, but there are also many other ice-skating possibilities in Paris during winter. Just check out the locations you plan to go, maybe there is an ice rink close by.
Parisian Cafes and Restaurants
The French kitchen is famous all over the world, and once you are in Paris you should not miss French Cafés and Restaurants. One of Paris’ great wintertime pleasures is watching the city bustle by while lingering at an outdoor table with a café crème, a vin chaud (hot wine) a hot chocolate… Most cafés fire up the braziers to keep things cosy in- and outside!