Western Europe honeymoon in Jan/Feb

Old Sep 11th, 2021, 09:55 AM
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Western Europe honeymoon in Jan/Feb

Hello everyone!

My fiance and I are considering Western Europe as our honeymoon destination starting end of January 2022. I know it's going to be winter but we would like to take advantage of the low rates to explore Europe for the first time. We considered Maldives but it doesn't seem like the best bang for our buck considering the airfares and pricey resorts there due to peak season.

We would like to explore historical architectures, food, culture, some adventure/nature activities and, of course, relax on an island. Do you think Spain would give us all of this in winter? We are also open to considering other locations like Greece, Portugal and Cyprus.

For Spain, I have been reading up and found places like Andalucia, Tenerife, Seville, Madrid and San Sebestian I would love to visit and an additional Sierra Nevada for a winter destination. Our length of stay will probably be around 10 days so it will be difficult to visit more than 3 cities. Which ones do you think would be best to visit (and in what order) at the end of January for a honeymoon?

I would really appreciate your suggestions to make this a memorable honeymoon Thanks!
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Old Sep 11th, 2021, 12:42 PM
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Remember that along with winter in Europe comes shorter days, less sunshine and little opportunity for eating outside. If “more bang for the buck” does not give you the experience you really want, then no matter how cheap, it is not good value. OTOH, if you don’t mind bundling up, seeing great museums and cathedrals, and cozy evenings inside are good for you, then winter might be great.
Of course you have a budget, but it IS your honeymoon. If it is to be in winter, then don’t pick a location that is primarily a warm weather destination; pick a location that is good, no matter the weather or pick a location known for winter vacations. It seems you have a ton of different ideas, kind of all over the place, including city sightseeing, architecture, nature and “relax on an island.” Picture your days and evenings. Museums and dinner inside, hikes in woods or walks on beaches and dinner in outside cafes? If the Maldives was your real wish, there may be other, less expensive places that would fit.
Where are you departing?

Last edited by Sassafrass; Sep 11th, 2021 at 12:44 PM. Reason: New question
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Old Sep 11th, 2021, 07:42 PM
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None of the places you listed are at their best in winter ... and any reference to islands means you haven't looked at a globe, not a map. They are all too far from the equator. Are you from the US? Many Americans mistakenly equate the Mediterranean with the Caribbean ... no! It's much farther from the equator ... temps are something like Washington DC. You can have a wonderful honeymoon in London or Paris, with stunning museums, superb restaurants, fascinating walks through historic streets, lanes & parks. And if the weather turns rainy or windy, there's always a cafe to duck into. And the nightlife will be far more interesting than in summer in world capitols like these.
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Old Sep 11th, 2021, 08:30 PM
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You probably won’t get everything: warm island plus city culture and nature hikes. If you can give a more specific picture of what you hope for in a honeymoon and your total budget, including travel, as well as your location, you can get some good, concrete suggestions. Will your total trip be 10 days or will you have 10 days on the ground plus a couple more travel days? You may also still have to take COVID restrictions into consideration.
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Old Sep 11th, 2021, 09:53 PM
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Europe in the winter can be really special -- Christmas markets, winter festivals, theatre, concerts, long evenings in front of a roaring fire. If its January and it must be Europe, I'd want a city-centric trip . . . definitely not an island sojourn. Nowhere in Europe will have 'beachy weather' though Sicily and very southern Spain might have pleasant days. But to have long days and warm weather look to the southern hemisphere. Maybe South Africa?? Great beaches, wonderful scenery, amazing animals, and interesting culture/history.

10 days is not very long - you stay 10 days "length of stay" - does that mean you'll actually have 12 or 13 days total when factoring in travel days??
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Old Sep 11th, 2021, 11:16 PM
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When I was younger I liked winter vacations in Europe, but that was to go skiing in the Alps.

Janisj has a good suggestion! I’m an American living in England, and have been to South Africa twice for the Christmas - New Year period, and a couple more times in spring and fall. Nothing better, IMO, than escaping the northern hemisphere winter and spending some time in the south. Cape Town itself has everything you could wish for in a city, with beaches, mountains, wine district, fantastic restaurants, modern shopping centres, and the Cape of Good Hope. With a few extra nights you could fly to one of the luxury safari lodges bordering Kruger National Park.
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Old Sep 12th, 2021, 12:37 AM
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Cyprus might be a good option for you. Itís a big island, the 3rd largest in the Med. There are many historical sights, lots of culture, restaurants etc. Itís Greek ( the Republic) with a hint of the Middle East thrown in. The best mosaics Iíve seen at in Paphos which has an old castle in the harbour. Locals are very friendly & hospitable.
In the Troodos mountains there will be snow with ski resorts open and by the coast it might be sunny & warm but there could also be rain. Jan is the rainiest month usually. Wild flowers start to appear by Feb.
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Old Sep 12th, 2021, 03:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Sassafrass View Post
Remember that along with winter in Europe comes shorter days, less sunshine and little opportunity for eating outside. If ďmore bang for the buckĒ does not give you the experience you really want, then no matter how cheap, it is not good value. OTOH, if you donít mind bundling up, seeing great museums and cathedrals, and cozy evenings inside are good for you, then winter might be great.
Of course you have a budget, but it IS your honeymoon. If it is to be in winter, then donít pick a location that is primarily a warm weather destination; pick a location that is good, no matter the weather or pick a location known for winter vacations. It seems you have a ton of different ideas, kind of all over the place, including city sightseeing, architecture, nature and ďrelax on an island.Ē Picture your days and evenings. Museums and dinner inside, hikes in woods or walks on beaches and dinner in outside cafes? If the Maldives was your real wish, there may be other, less expensive places that would fit.
Where are you departing?
Originally Posted by Sassafrass View Post
You probably wonít get everything: warm island plus city culture and nature hikes. If you can give a more specific picture of what you hope for in a honeymoon and your total budget, including travel, as well as your location, you can get some good, concrete suggestions. Will your total trip be 10 days or will you have 10 days on the ground plus a couple more travel days? You may also still have to take COVID restrictions into consideration.
Thanks for the honest feedback! Thinking about this a little more, we are willing to move "relax on an island' to a nice-to-have as long as we do have somewhere to decompress after the wedding i.e. it can be relaxing anywhere. The important part is to have a good experience in terms of things to do, sightseeing and some adventure. We are not looking for nightlife as such so we are fine with cosy evenings inside, in a cafe or somewhere else indoors. Having a cultural experience and hikes in the woods/forest would be great!

We will be departing from Oman after visiting some family there. I had 10 days for the whole trip in mind but on a second thought we are willing to include 2 extra days for travelling. Let me know your thoughts
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Old Sep 12th, 2021, 03:15 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
Europe in the winter can be really special -- Christmas markets, winter festivals, theatre, concerts, long evenings in front of a roaring fire. If its January and it must be Europe, I'd want a city-centric trip . . . definitely not an island sojourn. Nowhere in Europe will have 'beachy weather' though Sicily and very southern Spain might have pleasant days. But to have long days and warm weather look to the southern hemisphere. Maybe South Africa?? Great beaches, wonderful scenery, amazing animals, and interesting culture/history.

10 days is not very long - you stay 10 days "length of stay" - does that mean you'll actually have 12 or 13 days total when factoring in travel days??
Originally Posted by Heimdall View Post
When I was younger I liked winter vacations in Europe, but that was to go skiing in the Alps.

Janisj has a good suggestion! Iím an American living in England, and have been to South Africa twice for the Christmas - New Year period, and a couple more times in spring and fall. Nothing better, IMO, than escaping the northern hemisphere winter and spending some time in the south. Cape Town itself has everything you could wish for in a city, with beaches, mountains, wine district, fantastic restaurants, modern shopping centres, and the Cape of Good Hope. With a few extra nights you could fly to one of the luxury safari lodges bordering Kruger National Park.
Thanks for your input I did see that we do have a chance of a winter sun in Southern Spain and this is where the idea of Spain came about. South Africa would've been great but we are planning on visiting the country later in the year for a close friend's wedding.
Apart from Spain, is there any other European country to consider for February? And do you perhaps have suggestions for what kind of places/cities to visit during this time?
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Old Sep 12th, 2021, 03:16 AM
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Originally Posted by balthy View Post
Cyprus might be a good option for you. Itís a big island, the 3rd largest in the Med. There are many historical sights, lots of culture, restaurants etc. Itís Greek ( the Republic) with a hint of the Middle East thrown in. The best mosaics Iíve seen at in Paphos which has an old castle in the harbour. Locals are very friendly & hospitable.
In the Troodos mountains there will be snow with ski resorts open and by the coast it might be sunny & warm but there could also be rain. Jan is the rainiest month usually. Wild flowers start to appear by Feb.
Thanks! I'll definitely look into Cyprus a bit more. Let me know if you have any specific places you would recommend in Cyprus?
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Old Sep 12th, 2021, 03:50 AM
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Paphos is really lovely, nice seafront, good hotels eg the Annabelle, Almyra or the Amara in Limassol if you want to be more central.

But from Oman, you have several choices. South Africa has been mentioned, which is a fantastically beautiful country to visit, have been many times, Seychelles (did not like Mahť island very much but there are other islands to choose), Mauritius, Kenya & itís Indian Ocean beaches + safari. Iím not sure of the COVID situation/entry rules of these places except Cyprus is pretty easy. Check out Tripadvisor too for Cyprus suggestions as they have a pretty active forum.
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Old Sep 12th, 2021, 04:32 AM
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Perhaps consider Nice in the South of France? It started its tourist life as a winter sun destination for British and Russian aristocracy. Evenings in January/ Feb will be cold; however, you should get sunny days to eat outside for lunch (although no weather is guaranteed on the Med in winter).

Plenty to see and do, both culturally and socially, with day trips a plenty to pass the time.
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Old Sep 12th, 2021, 06:46 AM
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"Apart from Spain, is there any other European country to consider for February?"

Any country in Europe can be great for a winter trip . . . just not for lazing in the outdoors,, beach time, even just walking in the countryside (possible on good days / not possible on really rainy/snowy/blizzardy days -- which you can't plan ahead for). I spend time in London almost every winter and LOVE it, and Paris can be magical. Venice really doesn't work because of the possible flooding. So -- if you want a winter city trip pick any one or two cities that interest you and go for it.

If you want a low key/kick back/lots of outdoors time and South Africa is off the table for this trip -- maybe look into the Canary Islands or possibly Morocco or the Azores.
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Old Sep 12th, 2021, 08:09 AM
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Maybe I should ask which European destination will maximize our chances of being outdoors in winter? Will Southern Spain + Canary Islands be a good combination for this? I'm also strongly considering Portugal now. Thanks
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Old Sep 12th, 2021, 03:22 PM
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A few years ago we spent some days in southern Spain in February and while it certainly wasn't terribly warm, it was shirtsleeve weather for part of most days. We based in Gibraltar for a couple of days and in Tarifa for the rest. We'd been to Gibraltar before and found it as interesting as ever, even though the crossing to/from Spain was subject to some delays (only for cars; pedestrians can cross easily, and there are rental car offices on the La Linea side of the frontier if interested.)

From Tarifa we visited a couple of wonderful "white villages" in the Andalusia hills, and also visited the Baelo Claudia Roman ruins near the sand dunes and beach where the kiteboarders and windsurfers were enjoying themselves immensely. Every day was sunny, the roads and restaurants pretty empty, and we enjoyed ourselves immensely. We didn't go into Cadiz but could have easily; Seville is a couple of hours from Tarifa as well.

Here are a couple of photos if interested.

Barbary apes in Gibraltar



Europa Point lighthouse, Gibraltar



Jebel Musa, the southern Pillar of Hercules, as seen from Gibraltar. There's frequent ferry service from Tarifa to Tangier in Morocco.



Baelo Claudia Roman ruins



Vejer de la Frontera, one of the white villages



A bruja ready for Carnival burning in Medina Sidonia, another white village (and a very historic one.) All the street trees are full of oranges in the winter.



On the beach near the Punta Paloma sand dunes



Here's a map of the region if interested - https://goo.gl/maps/F89wWmHDC39ps8TTA

Last edited by Gardyloo; Sep 12th, 2021 at 03:30 PM.
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Old Sep 12th, 2021, 10:45 PM
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We visited Andalusia in southern Spain in December (I'd been there twice before in warmer months) and we absolutely loved it. The weather was mild with some sunny days (check historical weather at wunderground if you wish). I would not hesitate to return again in winter, although I have never visited in January or February. If you have 10 nights on the ground, then I agree that a maximum of 3 stops would be best. I suggest you focus on Andalusia, with stays in Seville, Granada and Cordoba. This is a classic itinerary and for good reason. In this area, the main airports are Seville and Malaga.
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Old Sep 13th, 2021, 12:46 AM
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Donostia-San Sebastian is quite cold and rainy in January (well, itīs rainy all year round, and rarely too warm), so I would not include it for a winter trip if youīre looking for warm places and beach weather.
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Old Sep 13th, 2021, 01:46 AM
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Originally Posted by keegan2022 View Post
Maybe I should ask which European destination will maximize our chances of being outdoors in winter? Will Southern Spain + Canary Islands be a good combination for this? I'm also strongly considering Portugal now. Thanks
Most Europeans are outdoors 365 days a year.

If you're looking for beach weather the Canaries are fairly busy during the winter. It won't be my definition of hot but you'll have no trouble finding places with Northern Europeans swimming in the ocean. Problem is you'll lose at least a morning getting there and a second one on the return. A ten day trip makes those mornings precious.

The second thing is don't think north south. Granada IIRC is 700 metres above sea level. That means it'll be colder than say Valencia which is further north.

The only red flag I see in your requests is the want/need for adventure. What's that? Remember on the mainland many of the adventure activities are likely closed for the off season. You'll find surfing,scuba, sailing etc easily on the Canaries.

Final point your personal cold tolerance ends up playing a big role. I wouldn't call any of the places discussed cold or even that cool. If OTOH you're from Hawaii or other warmer parts of North America you might have a totally different cold tolerance.
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Old Sep 13th, 2021, 02:47 AM
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As a northern European I tend to go as south as possible for this sort of holiday and as close to the coast as possible. The Canaries are the obvious visit as they are geographically part of Africa. I also go to Morocco as they offer a European-lite version of Africa and Islamic Africa (partially because Morocco has a number of religions and a good policy of positivity to other religions) Two obvious places to stay are Marrakesh (often warmer here than on the coast) or Essaoiura on the coast(more traditional) but there are plenty of others. I'd also look at the Azores but note that the weather changes a lot on an hourly basis in the Azores.

Southern Portugal and Southern Spain is also possible but I'm not convinced unheated water will be ok. Some people reckon that Sicily is also good and certainly prices fall heavily in winter and I've been frozen in Sicily in February.

Another option would be to go to a spa (fresh or salt water). There is a culture of spas (both out doors and indoors) on line from Germany to Hungary and some of them can be fantastic. When combined with skiing or at least cross country skiing or just snow that can make for a great holiday.
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Old Sep 13th, 2021, 04:00 AM
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No matter where you go in Southern Europe there is risk that the weather will be/might be cold/rainy etc, whether it is Spain, Canaries or Cyprus etc. Athens can be ok too as can as lot of places. Some years it can be a mild winter, others it can be severe. Iíve been very cold on the CŰte díAzur in Feb, vineyards with frost and ice but it was lovely. If the OP can accept the risk, any of these options can work.
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