Amsterdam after dark, The Netherlands
If Christmas isn't necessarily your thing, or you're simply feeling a bit festived-out, you'll probably be looking for some sort of means of escape right about now, and with the extra days off work, it's pretty good timing. Avoiding Christmas in Europe is no easy task, but there are still plenty of ways you can enjoy that wintery feeling during December, without Santa on your back. Personally, as you probably know from reading my previous blogs, I love skiing so would happily just hit the slopes, but as it's still quite early on in the season, I've come up with a couple of alternative ideas along a scenic road trip route for making the most of the festive season around Europe.
The Road Trip
Travelling around Northern Europe during the wintery months has its advantages. Not only are the accommodation and activities cheaper out of season, but it also gives you the opportunity to try new things you wouldn't usually do in the summer months. So why not set off on a road trip adventure from Folkestone up around Scandinavia, ending your trip with a New Year's night out in Amsterdam - an incredible way to round off 2014 and ring in the new year!
Your first leg takes you from Folkestone over to Calais with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, and from there, on to Hamburg.
Chill out in Planten un Blomen, Hamburg, Germany
With services running 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, you have the freedom to set off as early as you like for the scenic seven-hour drive through Belgium, Amsterdam and finally Germany. Park yourself up and head into Hamburg for an epic brunch in a great rustic restaurant called Eisenstein; the pies are amazing, and just the thing after a long drive. After you've regained your strength, you'll find that there's so much to do, from a cycling tour round the Alster Lake, the Old Town's cobbled streets and the stunning Port, or a two-hour walking tour of the city's rich Jewish heritage, to simply kicking back and having a coffee in Park Planten un Blomen. And if you're planning a trip over soon, you could even catch a performance of The Phantom of The Opera in the evening which is in town until January 22nd, 2015.
Next, depending on how long you want your road trip to be, you could either drive straight from Hamburg to Copenhagen, or take a detour through Denmark first, stopping off along the way.
Along the waterfront in Copenhagen, Denmark
Either way, you'll find yourself in Copenhagen, one of Scandinavia's most beautiful cities, and the jewel in Denmark's crown. There is no shortage of things to do here, with its reputation for slick design, cool culture and world-class cuisine, leaving you spoilt for choice. If you're a little short on time, however, and only have time to do one thing, I'd recommend heading down to see the famous Little Mermaid statue, inspired by the much-loved fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen.
From Copenhagen, you can easily drive to Malmö in Sweden, over the Øresund Bridge, made famous by the recent Danish/Swedish crime drama TV series
Take some time out to relax in the Moderna Museet Malmö, Sweden
Similarly to Copenhagen, Malmö has an effortlessly cool and contemporary air about it, and a very multicultural vibe, with influences from Southern Europe, the Middle East and beyond contrasting with its Nordic heritage. If you're looking to unwind with a dose of culture after all that driving, spend an afternoon strolling around the Moderna Museet Malmö, the little sibling of Stockholm's famous modern art gallery.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The drive from Malmö back down to Amsterdam will take you about nine hours, so you'll want to set off just after breakfast. If you're planning a trip to coincide with New Year's Eve, you're guaranteed to have a night to remember, as the Dutch definitely know how to throw a good party. That said, just as much fun is to be had at any other time of year that you visit! For some great insider tips on where to get some of the best food in the Dam before hitting the town, check out our blog post on how to
Eat like a local in Amsterdam
Setting off with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle
Get your festive season break off to the best start with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle. It takes just 35 minutes to cross the Channel from Folkestone to Calais, and with our services running 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, you can even travel on Christmas Day or January 1st, that is if you want to! Whatever you choose to do, we wish you a happy holiday season from everyone here at Eurotunnel Le Shuttle.
Hamburg, Germany @ Flickr user www.GlynLowe.com
Copenhagen, Denmark @ Flickr user JamesZ_Flickr
Malmö, Sweden @ Flick user La Citta Vita
Amsterdam, The Netherlands @ Flickr user Moyan Brenn