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:
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.
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.
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.
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!