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Thinking of trip to UK/Ireland for Christmas/New Years

Chicago, Illinois...
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Thinking of trip to UK/Ireland for Christmas/New Years

I wanted to do something different this year for Christmas and New Years so I was thinking of taking my wife to the United Kingdom. Nether of us have ever been to Europe...I know that traveling in the summer, especially the UK, is the best time to go, but my wife is in medical school, which means she only gets like three weeks off per year and the stretch from December 21-January 5 is by far the longest. The only other break she gets is a small one in the spring.

So, keeping that in mind, is visiting the UK or Ireland worth it this time of year? If so, do you have any recommendations for places to stay and see? I know a lot of things are closed in the winter because of a lack of tourism but its really the only time we can go. Any thoughts or suggestions would be very helpful. We would be interested in seeing cities as well as some beautiful scenery. Honestly, the scenery is probably more important. Because we would be staying for at least ten days though, we could hypothetically travel to multiple cities in the UK or Ireland. I am open to lots of different ideas! Thanks again for all of your time.

Justin

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Chicago, Illinois...
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11. Re: Thinking of trip to UK/Ireland for Christmas/New Years

The problem with Alaska is that it's only slightly cheaper than Scotland or Ireland and it just seems foolish to spend all of that money to go to a place which has far less to see and do. Iceland and Norway are good suggestions...I am looking into them, but from what I can tell, Iceland is EXTREMELY expensive to travel to compared to the UK. I don't know anything about Norway though. Thanks for the suggestions.

Rutland, UK
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12. Re: Thinking of trip to UK/Ireland for Christmas/New Years

The best time of year to see the northern lights is not midwinter but the equinoxes and the best UK location is northern Scotland. And the best displays are on an 11 year cycle, 2023/2024 being the next. Thus, wonderful as it would be to see them, consider it to be a fantastic bonus.

I don't want to put you off visiting the UK but feel a tour with a city focus is far better suited to the winter months than visiting the countryside.

Chicago, Illinois...
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13. Re: Thinking of trip to UK/Ireland for Christmas/New Years

Thanks for the suggestion...I appreciate the advice. I am looking into other areas but I hate the idea of paying big money to travel to Alaska, which really has nothing other than the lights to offer...Iceland is not a bad idea but it is out of my price range, costing double what it does to get to Scotland.

Chicago, Illinois...
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14. Re: Thinking of trip to UK/Ireland for Christmas/New Years

I think you are right Beauchamp...Still considering Scotland but leaning away from it now, unfortunately. Not sure what there is to do there in the winter, even in the city. I need to look into it.

Chicago, Illinois...
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15. Re: Thinking of trip to UK/Ireland for Christmas/New Years

Actually, I take that back...now that I am able to look into it more closely, I am realizing that Iceland may be possible. Still not sure about it though. I think Scotland would be more enjoyable in every other way, especially at New Years.

Budapest, Hungary
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16. Re: Thinking of trip to UK/Ireland for Christmas/New Years

Norway is the most expensive country in Europe - a beer (.5L) is about £9 ($14 ?).

For future reference, Northern Norway and Finland are possibly the most reliable places to see the N lights, but there are no guarantees anywhere in the world.

We were in Vardo, the northernmost town in Western Europe, for 4 days in June 2012, when it should have been possible to see the midnight sun. It rained for 4 days.

Edited: 29 August 2013, 20:33
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17. Re: Thinking of trip to UK/Ireland for Christmas/New Years

Have you ruled out Canada ? If the priority is seeing the Northern Lights, we saw wondersul displays some years ago in Churchill on Hudson's Bay - this was in October/November as part of a Polar Bear watching holiday - maybe there is the equivalent in the Spring to match your wife's holiday ?.

So a possible split - Canada for the lights and something entirely different for Christmas

Chicago, Illinois...
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18. Re: Thinking of trip to UK/Ireland for Christmas/New Years

Definitely worth thinking about...Thank you for all of the suggestions. I am going to look deeper into Canada but what I am finding is that often Iceland and the UK are nearly just as expensive as traveling to remote parts of Canada or Alaska, unless you drive of course...It's ironic but for a few hundred dollars more, we could go someplace more exotic. I grew up in New Hampshire, which is one of the most northern-most parts of the U.S. and borders Canada, so going to Canada just doesn't have much of an appeal to me...but if the lights are my primary goal, it might be the best possible option and is probably slightly cheaper than Alaska.

Chicago, Illinois...
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19. Re: Thinking of trip to UK/Ireland for Christmas/New Years

Just checked out Hudson's Bay...It looks like a possibility but how the heck did you get up there?

Rutland, UK
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20. Re: Thinking of trip to UK/Ireland for Christmas/New Years

How about this

www.norwegiancoastalcruises.com