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5 days in Salzburg at Christmas

Hi all,

My fiancee and I are taking a Danube cruise from Budapest to Passau in December as a honeymoon and would like to spend 5 days following somewhere reachable from Passau by train. This period would include Christmas. I originally thought Salzburg would be a great base for this time of year, but after reading the RS guide it seems like some of the highlights (eg. Hallstatt, Berchtesgaden, salt mines) might either be closed or not offer as much during the winter. I would like to know if anyone has any recommendations for better places to spend Christmas? If Salzburg is a good choice, I would appreciate any ideas for day trips from there. (What I read about Zell am See in another post sounds perfect.)

Here are some parameters:

  1. We would prefer not to backtrack to one of the cruise destinations (Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna, Melk, Linz, Passau), even though I acknowledge that there is probably a lot more to see in each of those places.

  2. We both love the mountains, which is what made me think of heading south into Austria in the first place. At this point in the journey, we will likely favor scenery and relaxation over museums, e.g.

  3. Our preference is to stay in one hotel the whole time, with at most one change. We will be using the rail system wherever we go. We are currently booked to fly out of Munich (back to eastern USA) on December 26, but the return flight location can be changed at no cost.

  4. We would love to see some Christmas markets and find a nice place to attend Xmas mass with great music.

I appreciate that this may be an unfair request--thank you so much for any help you can offer!


Posted by
3319 posts

Salzburg at Christmas is magical!! They have a lovely Christmas market, the concerts are amazing, and the atmosphere just cannot be beat IMHO! Freezing cold but I wouldn't want it any other way. I don't think you can fill 5 full days but Salzburg, combined with some other nearby place, would make a very excellent choice. I'm sure you'll get many suggestions in this part of the world...Christmas in this particular corner of Europe is just amazing.

Posted by
254 posts

As you plan, be aware that Christmas markets will likely close by (before) the 24th. Also, businesses close at 2 on the afternoon of Christmas Eve and don't open again until the 27th. When you reserve your hotel, ask about arrangements for Christmas Eve dinner. If they have a restaurant they will serve dinner for their guests. If no restaurant they will help you make a reservation. We found that restaurants were open for lunch and dinner on Christmas Day. Christmas Day is a great day to spend outdoors...hopefully you will get snow! Germany and Austria are amazing at Christmas. Congratulations, and enjoy!

Posted by
1618 posts

Most tourist things will be open on Christmas. We did the Sound of Music tour on Christmas and the Hallein salt mines on the 26th

Posted by
2703 posts

While we love Salzburg, for amazing alpine views, Christmas Markets and day trips, I'd go with Innsbruck. After our two "Christmas Market" trips in '10 and '13, if we could only go back to one place at this time of year, it would be Innsbruck. The Christmas markets in Innsbruck end in early January. So do the ones in nearby northern Italy, in the charming old towns of Sterzing and Brixen. These are both an hour at most from Innsbruck and easy by train. So is the medieval old town of Hall in Tirol, 15 minutes away, where we've stayed 5 times, twice during the Christmas Markets. The Nordkettenbahn right from the old town of Innsbruck goes high into the alps. Incredible views.

We have our photos from our 2010 and 2013 Christmas Market trips at: