This Thanksgiving weekend, take advantage of the extra vacation day to discover a European city!
For most of us, Thanksgiving is about turkey, football and family. However, the wanderlusters among us might lament over the meager vacation time for which America is infamous and opt to take advantage of the long weekend for a quick getaway in Europe. Most offices close at 2pm on Thanksgiving Eve, so if you bring your luggage to work, leave the office and head straight to the airport, you’ll waltz right through security. Yes, Thanksgiving Eve is the busiest travel day of the year — for domestic flights. The international departures terminal is a breeze!
Wake up Thursday morning on the other side of the pond ready to explore a European city for the forthcoming weekend. If you’ve got the itch to travel, here are six European cities to visit this Thanksgiving that are easy to reach from the U.S.
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you will most certainly remember the iconic scene where Harry, Hermione, Ron and their fellow little witches and wizards indulge in a magical feast in the Great Hall of Hogwarts. From 16 November to 26 January, Hogwarts in the Snow at Warner Bros Studio, an epic Christmas celebration, takes places. Kick off the holiday season by spending Thanksgiving weekend in a festive atmosphere. Explore the Harry Potter studio and get close to the intricate movie props, stroll down Diagon Alley and drink your own weight in Butterbeer!
London itself is an inspiration this time of year. Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland starts on 21 November and goes until 6 January. There’s no entrance fee and once there, you can take your pick from whichever activities tickle your fancy. Choose from ice skating, a giant Ferris wheel, live performances, such as the Magical Ice Kingdom, delightful food options for the whole family and much more! Tickets for the individual activities can be booked in advance or purchased on site. And when you’re in town, ward off the winter chill by partaking in the beloved ritual of afternoon tea. From the conventional to the unconventional to the family-friendly, there are plenty of options to choose from.
The City of Light is lovely in November. The autumn foliage starts to fall from the trees, and Paris, as always, remains a veritable Instagramers paradise. Head to Paris, if for no other reason than to set sight on the city. Stroll along the iconic Champs-Élysées to admire holiday illuminatinos and watch street performers. The city’s majesty is not the only thing you can feast on. Paris is one of the world’s gastronomic capitals with a wide variety of delicious options for your weekend repasts, among which you’ll find more than 100 Michelin stars. Don’t miss the iconic Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, the world’s largest museum and home to the Mona Lisa, which, through January, is part of a special Leonardo-dedicated exhibit celebrating the artist’s quincentennary that runs from October 24 to February 24. Fashion lovers won’t want to miss the Yves Saint Laurent Museum, home to one of Paris’ most interesting fall art exhibits. Discover the designer’s creativity through accessories, costume sketches, photos and videos as well as an impressive 5,000 prototype dress collection.
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This relaxing bohemian paradise is located on Portugal’s Atlantic coast, which results in mild November temperatures averaging 68°F. When in Lisbon, indulge in its delicious local cuisine and sample a variety of delicious Portuguese cheese and then sip on some Port wine. Admire the diverse ceramic tiles and distinct architecture that renders the city’s vibrant neighborhoods works of art in and of themselves. Walk along the shoreline or take a tour to Torre de Belém and the Monastery of Jeronimos, which recounts the story of colonial Portuguese history as well as the country’s religious roots. The city is dubbed “City With a Future: as it is also progressive, refreshing and holistically inviting. In fact, it’s been named a 2020 European Green Capital. Discover the city’s culture scene at one of the many museums, including the Modern Art Center, where you can spend an afternoon pondering contemporary art including the installation in the serene garden.
The capital of Scotland since the 15th century, Edinburgh has a reputation as an intellectual hub for intellectuals who studied literature, engineering, education and more. It is the U.K.’s second most popular travel destination after London due to its medieval buildings and amazing cultural festivals and events such as the EH6 Craft Beer, Food and Music Festival (November 23 – 25). You’ll also be in time to see the fabled Christmas decorations on Princes Street as they’ll be up by mid-November. Edinburgh and the surrounding rural area is known for spectacular landscapes such as the West Highland Lochs and the beautiful centuries-old castles scattered throughout the lush countryside, such as Kilchurn, one of Scotland’s most photographed castles. This time of year is particularly magical with the colors of fall transforming the landscape into a backdrop that seems directly out of Scottish folklore storybook. And, of course, don’t forget to sip some Scotch!
Barcelona is a city of many faces with a multitude of art experiences that will quench the creative thirsts of all art lovers. Antoni Gaudí’s eccentric Catalan Art Nouveau architecture helps define Barcelona, and many of the city’s top must-see sites bear his signature, with the most iconic being La Sagrada Familia (book in advance as the entry line can be daunting). Gaudí’s other noteworthy works include Parc Guell, an enchanting wonderland fittingly inspired by nature itself, and Casa Batlló, where delightful surprises await around each twisted corridor and spiral turn. Adventure out of the city and into the mountains where the Monserrat Monastery sits high atop an otherworldly mountain range for a jaw-dropping view of the Spanish countryside. If you wish, trek along one of the hiking paths. If you are a Game of Thrones fan, you will be delighted to discover Girona, the medieval town outside of Barcelona where scenes from the hit series were filmed. Finally, finish your day by dining at a tapas bar.
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We needed a veritable Winter Wonderland on here and Vienna, with its almost daily snowfall, bustling markets and heartwarming illuminations is one of the best cities to get into the Christmas spirit. The Austrian capital feels like stepping into a dream! Just bundle up and be prepared for the cold. The Viennese Christmas market outside City Hall takes opens on November 15, the Christmas Village at Belvedere Palace opens November 22 and the market at Maria-Theresien Platz kicks off November 20. Keep warm with a hot drink in one of the iconic coffee houses Vienna is perfect for photo enthusiasts who, at this time of year, are likely to catch a few snaps of the city’s most Instagrammable places covered by a picturesque blanket of snow. And don’t forget to snack on some gingerbread cookies!