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2 weeks at Christmas in Austria and Germany- itinerary help needed please!!

Hello-
We have just finalized our flights for a trip to meet up with our daughter (she lives in Spain) for the Christmas holiday.
We are flying into/out of Munich- 12/15-29.
We would like to do some exploring of the Christmas markets in the Alsace/Bavaria region before heading over to Austria.

We have rented an airbnb in Mieders, Tyrol (outside of Innsbruck) Dec. 23-26 in the hopes of having a White Christmas and enjoying the mountain scenery. Other than that- I'm not sure the best way to move around to cover what we want to see in both Germany/Austria so was hoping someone on this forum could recommend an order to things for us.

As of now, we aren't planning to rent a car- just use train/bus.
Our wishlist of things to see/do over the 2 weeks are:
Germany/France: 5 days
*2 days (base in Strasbourg) to see Alsace region and visit some Christmas Markets
*2 -3 days touring the Bavarian region and Christmas markets (would love to spend at least 1 night in Rothenburg ob der Tauber if possible)- would love recommendations on Markets. Bamberg
*Visit Neuschwanstein Castle ( can do on front or back end of trip)

Austria: 9 days
3 days in Mieders is in the middle of the week for Christmas (12/23-26)- THIS IS ALREADY BOOKED

Time before/after Christmas:
*Stay in Vienna and Salzburg and take in town and christmas markets (how many nights in each place?)
*Enjoy a dinner/mozart concert in either Salzburg or Vienna
*Sleigh Ride on or around Christmas
*Spend 1 night in Hallstatt (guessing after Christmas?)
*Visit Vipiteno Italy & St. Magdalena

We do love charming towns with cobblestone streets and colorful homes. We prefer smaller towns to bigger ones but would like a mix of each on this trip. Any help or itinerary suggestions would be more than appreciated. As would restaurant recommendations for Christmas Eve or Day and any activities/traditions for the holiday that we could attend on or before Christmas. I would have love to attend a Krampus parade but think they will be all wrapped up before we get to Austria.

THANK YOU IN ADVANCE!!
Jeanna

Posted by
2153 posts

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/christmas-markets-switzerland-france-germany-2019

If the above link doesn't work, you can search my history and find my 4 xmas market trip reports posted 1/12/2020.
Try to get to Esslingen markets outside of Stuttgart- the most unique markets ever with the Middle Age theme. Stuttgart markets are also great with the elaborate decorations on the tops of each stall. Strasbourg markets are the most beautifully decorated . Rothenburg markets are very small, but I just love being in the town. Try to avoid Rothenburg on the weekends, esp Saturday night, because of the crowds, and book hotels asap!

So jealous, have a great trip!

Posted by
2153 posts

PS- skip Fussen. There's lots of discussion here regarding the pro's and con's.

Posted by
5697 posts

Innsbruck has some cute markets with an Italian flair.
Multiple markets in Munich, plus several within day-trip distance (Regensburg is a favorite.)
Salzburg is a 2-hour train ride from Munich, and Innsbruck a few hours East but Vienna is on the Western side of Austria and will take more time to return to Munich for your flight home. Hallstatt can be a day-trip from Salzburg (we took an all-day Bob's tour in 2019.)
Vienna markets run through New Year's Day (Sylvester)

Posted by
41 posts

Thank you Pat and Laura!
I have looked at Esslingen- I love all the charming smaller towns when possible. Regensburg, Dinkelsbuhl, Nuremburg, Bamberg, Annaberg, Wurzburg , Augsburg are all towns we'd love to see. We also really want to see Neuschwanstein Castle and maybe see/stay in Garmisch-Partenkirchen before heading to Austria? I think we have decided to skip Vienna (I know, the horror!!) but we are wanting to do so much and when it comes to Austria, we prefer the mountainous towns and scenery over the big city vibe (even if it is Christmas.) They are also closer to Munich than Vienna is. After Germany and our time in Mieders, we will head to the Dolomites for a few days before returning to Munich to fly home.

Question: I've ready about Wolfganese river boat and other boat tours, is there one that would make sense instead of training some place. Right now, we have Airbnb's booked in Salzberg for 12/20-23 and then 12/23-26 in Mieders. We can change up the Salzberg one if we don't need that much time there and would benefit from an extra day in Germany or somewhere else in our itinerary. Thanks for your help!

Posted by
4698 posts

Do you mean Wolfgangsee? "See" is a lake in German; it is not a river. There is an Advent Boat that runs between the three main villages of Wolfgangsee.

Posted by
2725 posts

We used the lake ship on the Wolfgangsee to see the various villages and Christmas Markets. We boarded in St. Gilgen. What a perfect way to spend a day! Small old town with cobblestone streets… St. Wolfgang was positively charming.

Vipiteno… well, it’s cute but not much to see. If they have the Christmas Market this year, our experience was is was the smallest, least interesting one we’ve been to. And we’ve been to many. I’d choose Brixen over Vipiteno, or at least go to both. Brixen was charming and the Diocean Museum is very interesting.

We happen to LOVE the Dolomites and the Austrian Alps. Been a dozen times so far. We stayed in Hall in Tirol on five trips. Less busy and less touristy than nearby Innsbruck, which by the way we also like. The markets here were more low key and local feeling. Yet very charming. Love strolling the cobblestone pedestrian only streets at night.

We’ve also been to Salzburg and the area many times. Never been to Vienna, yes the horrors! LOL

Absolutely love Salzburg. For beautiful alpine scenery try to see Berchtesgaden. By car I know it’s only 30 minutes from Salzburg. We loved the Christmas Markets there also.

Paul

Posted by
41 posts

@Paul-thanks for your reply. We have changed up our itinerary since this post. We are now doing the following:
Dec 15,16- Colmar
Dec 17.18- Strasbourg
Dec 19- Strasbourg>Esslingen (for Christmas markets) then >Augsburg for overnight.
Dec 20- Augsburg>Salzburg (overnight 3 nights in Alstadt. We are crossing our fingers we get to see Krampus at Winter Festival on 12/21 and then daytrip to Hallstatt on 12/22.
Dec 23-27/28- Seefeld (Hotel Haymon) We will daytrip to Innsbruck and Mittenwald but otherwise- we welcome any suggestions. Looking forward to any suggestions.
Dec 27/28-Dec 30- Seefeld>Germany for overnight base (thinking Nuremberg?) to do day trips…. still debating which ones to visit bc they all look great! Rothenberg, Bamberg, Wurzburg, Regensburg, Rudesheim, Bacharach, Dinkelsbuhl and Fussen are all under consideration.
Dec 30- fly home from Frankfurt

We are training (no car.) wanted to see Neuschwanstein Castle but apparently all tickets are sold out with tours and direct ticket sales. Having said that- If anyone has changed their dates and can’t use theirs, we would love to buy them (we need 4!!) :)

Posted by
4698 posts

Sorry to break it to you, but Krampus appears on St. Nicolas Day, which is Dec. 6.

Posted by
41 posts

@Emily- I’ve read that they have made an appearance at the Winter Festival in Salzburg on Dec 21 in the past so that’s what we we hoping for. My apologies, I should have clarified.

Posted by
3262 posts

It doesn't sound like you'll be going there because of ticket availability at the Castle, but I loved Fussen. There's an interesting museum and it was a good place to walk around. We wouldn't have gone there if my daughter hadn't wanted to see the castle, but I'm glad we went even though I didn't care for the castle-a modern palace, not a real castle.

Posted by
8 posts

We were in Salzburg for the December 21 solstice in 2015 and the Perchten display in the main square was absolutely spectacular! It was not really advertised but it started at dusk in front of the cathedral and was well attended by local people.

We are planning a trip to Germany and Austria for the last two weeks of December this year as well, and plan to be in Salzburg that night again in the hopes of a repeat.

Posted by
1631 posts

Unfortunately, a lot of the Christmas markets have been cancelled.

Posted by
28147 posts

Unfortunately, a lot of the Christmas markets have been cancelled.

Including all of Bavaria.

Austria is shut down - no tourists allowed until at least 13 December, and watch this space in case it extends.

Posted by
41 posts

Thank you Nigel- I’m keeping close watch as we are tentatively set to arrive in Salzburg on Dec 20. We will be in Colmar/Strasbourg before that so may wind up staying in France or Switzerland if Austria doesn’t reopen. Challenging times to travel indeed but we have a daughter in Europe and are planning to meet her. Otherwise, we probably wouldn’t go. We are all vaccinated and boosted so we’re as protected as one can be to travel during these crazy times!!

Posted by
13765 posts

The Christmas markets in Budapest are open and you can apparently transit through Austria (even change from plane to train ... 2.5 hour ride from Vienna and 5.5 hours from Salzburg) that is if the flight isn't canceled.

Hungary is open, no restrictions other than masks in crowded indoor areas and on the metro and a PCR test to get in, or no requirement by land (train), but I would still get the test. (no PLF's, no QR codes, no paperwork)

Just a Plan B if you are interested.

Posted by
13765 posts

I hear you may be considering Plan B. There might be someone else out there in the same position, so .....

You can take a commuter train from the airport to Wien Hauptbahnhof Station or a taxi. Either way about 20 minutes. With kids in tow, I would choose the taxi. Either way, figure about 2 hours to get off the plane, claim bags and get through immigration and get to the station with a little extra time to figure it out.

For the train I used the Hungarian site https://jegy.mav.hu/jegy/reszletes-kereso to check rates, but you will be better to use the Austrian train site. Its about 21 euro a ticket. It's a 2:40 hour train ride depending on the train you pick.

You will arrive in Keleti Station. When you pull in call City Taxi (you will want to download their app for all future use). +36 1 211 1111 Facing the front of the station go out the doors on your Right, there you will find the taxi que. Or you can do the metro if you know where you are going. For that, go down the stairs in the center in the front of the station. On the right you will see a ticket/information office. Buy TravelCards there. Get cards good for the length of your stay. https://bkk.hu/en/tickets-and-passes/prices/travelcards-valid-for-one-or-more-days/

I have checked and you have another option. Hungarian citizens have no problems crossing the border, so call for a transfer. I am guessing about $300. http://www.silverwings.hu/ is the guy I use when I need such a thing.

If you need help with accommodations, pleased to do so. Let me know where you are considering and maybe I can tell you something about it or the neighborhood it is in. Need help with what is going on in town that week, let me know.

Enjoy: https://1drv.ms/v/s!Ai7Zk-szxfTJirgOk-Xr5lRYt4nrig?e=hGI4k8

Posted by
41 posts

Thank you James E. We are actually flying in/out of Frankfurt (not Vienna) and plan on spending dec 15-20 in France (Colmar/Strasbourg) so we are actually thinking if Austria doesn’t reopen, we will stay in France and possibly visit the French Alps (or Swiss) depending on availability. We also have considered taking the TGV to Paris for a few days too. We aren’t able to change our flight without paying a hefty cost as we got a good deal on flights using points. I think at this point, with all the talk of this new variant, I’m concerned about being able to travel even if we wanted to. We are just keeping a close watch and hoping for the best! Our daughter lives in Spain and we wanted to meet in a place that had Christmas markets and snow but at this point, we just want to see her so who knows. We are now renting a car instead of training so we hope that will allow for some additional flexibility. If anyone else is out there experiencing a similar situation ans looking for a plan B, would love to hear it! I appreciate your feedback James.