While Europe explodes into floral festivities during the spring and summer months, there’s something to be said for heading north for autumn and winter. Unlike much of South Africa, Europe experiences all four seasons, with an array of season-specific experiences and activities that provide a magical holiday backdrop in their own right.
“It’s the best time of year to beat the crowds and discover some of Europe’s best cities in a new light,” says Theresa Szejwallo, Trafalgar MD, South Africa. “Don your peak coat and cozy scarf, steaming coffee in hand, and take to the streets. There’s no better way to discover where locals love to hang out, than balancing free time to sightsee on foot with pre-arranged experiences that your guided holiday expert has spent years perfecting.”
“From Warsaw to Oslo, Budapest to Berlin, Europe is brimming with trendy and historic neighbourhoods. Each district is a cultural wonderland — independent coffee shops, vintage fashion stores, co-working spaces and art galleries," she said.
Here are Trafalgar’s top European neighbourhoods to explore this upcoming autumn and winter:
Explore Rome's bustling boulevards and labyrinthine lanes leading towards Pigneto, a world away from the city centre. This creative hub has become one of Rome's trendiest quarters in recent years, with a festive bar scene and an eclectic arts and crafts scene. Leave the Eternal City behind for a cultural encounter with Venice. As part of Trafalgar’s itineraries, you’ll cruise by private launch to Giudecca Island to see the delicate Venetian craft of glassblowing, a tradition that generations of Venetian craftsmen have perfected over the centuries.
Bairro Alto and Chiado, Lisbon
Live the good life in Portugal, Spain and Morocco – destinations that offer great value for South African travellers seeking to get the most out of their rand budget. While in Lisbon, ask your Travel Director how to navigate the tram network to get to Bairro Alto and Chiado during your free time. Both are two closely related districts, with Chiado being fashionable by day with its popular shopping and theatre hotspots, historic monuments and interesting cafés, while Bairro Alto emerges as a trendy hub at night.
Explore Germany’s best neighbourhoods and markets on a tailormade German Christmas Markets itinerary. Plagwitz in Berlin is one of many to explore with its strong Portuguese and Brazilian presence, as well as being a hub for the city's professional artists. One of Plagwitz's main attractions is the Spinnerei, a disused cotton factory that now houses art galleries, exhibitions, and film screenings. Kreuzberg is also a trendy area to step foot in while sightseeing with your Local Specialist. The area is home to Checkpoint Charlie, a crossing point of the Berlin Wall. Trafalgar’s Berlin Explorer itinerary takes travellers to a local brewery to indulge in some of the city’s finest brews and savour hearty German hospitality.
De Pijp, Amsterdam
Live in the moment, as you take on Amsterdam in the autumn and winter months when the Dutch tackle the new seasons with characteristic cheer. Watch them zoot around on their sturdy bikes and crowd the warm bruin cafés and bars across the city. Find your happy place as you visit a working Dutch Windmill with Trafalgar and discover the inner workings of the machinery responsible for helping to reclaim the Netherlands from the sea. You’ll also visit the Delft Pottery factory and enjoy a Dutch dining experience at a cheese farm where you’ll gain insights into the making of traditional wooden clogs.
Discover Paris like a Parisian, joining a Local Specialist on a journey to discover some of the city's hidden gems, including a behind-the-scenes tour of Montmartre. This historic hilltop neighbourhood is famed for its striped awnings and lively plazas. Head up to the soul-stirring Basilica of Sacre-Coeur, then down to the Boulevard de Clichy, lined with bars and kebab shops.