Plan ahead: This one seems self-explanatory, but I have been guilty of this! When my family came to visit during Christmas and New Year, I relied on everywhere I wanted to take them to be open. Unfortunately, many restaurants close early certain days or even for the whole week of Christmas. So if possible, get in contact with the places you want to go to see if they will have Holiday hours. There are definitely many restaurants still open; they just may not be the most authentic local choices, since most of them go to be with their families. But don’t let this deter you, keep a good attitude, and you can create a wonderful unique memory, like eating Asian fusion with local German beer for Christmas dinner!
Always have a backup plan: Even if you are prepared and did your research, you may stroll up to a restaurant that said they would be open, only to find they left early since they were not busy. This is where it is important to have a backup plan. No one likes to be hangry and stressed with family, so trust me, always have a plan b, and maybe even c just in case.
Go to Christmas mass: You may not understand the language they are singing, and you may not be overly religious, but I still recommend stopping into a Christmas mass. Most churches and Cathedrals in Europe get ornately decorated and this is when all the parishioners will turn out, so it makes for a beautiful experience.
Find a Christmas market: There are so many wonderful Christmas markets around Europe! They are full of booths selling food, drinks and gifts. Usually located in the city center or town square, they are a great place to grab a delicious fresh meal and glass of gluhwein, warm spiced wine. It is served in mugs usually decorated in custom scenes for each city. You can return it and get your deposit back for the glass, or keep it as a souvenir!
|(the family out in Leuven for NYE)|
Go out for New Year’s Eve: Whichever country you are in, you are sure to find some sort of celebration. If you are unsure of where to go, ask a local. They are most likely going to know a few things going on, and for big celebrations like New Year’s Eve, they believe the more the merrier! Just make sure you are familiar with your surroundings, when in doubt, keep a map on you! Lots of bigger cities will still have cabs available, but prices will be exorbitant due to demand; and be mindful that some public transport will not be open normal hours.
Overall, the holidays are a great time to travel with loved ones, just make sure you are prepared and always keep an open mind!