My husband & I plus another couple would like to spend a week in a small town somewhere in Austria for a week before Christmas. We were hoping to use trains and buses and not rent a car if possible. An apartment with a kitchen is what we are looking for. I know the weather will be cold and probably icy. What I am really wondering is if this is possible without a car.? We would love to able to walk to grocery stores, Christmas markets, and restaurants.
An Option: Innsbruck as a base and Weihnachtsmarkts. Take the Stubaitalbahn to Fulpmes. find a place to stay there. Eat at the Restaurant Huisler Stube once (make reservations). Take the lift to the Schlick 2000 top. Hope there is snow. Maybe a bus trip and lift to Top of Tyrol?
If you plan to stay in the Innsbruck area I recommend "Seefeld in Tirol". It is a nice little town, known in winter for its cross-country skiing trails. There is a train to Innsbruck every half an hour, so you can get a city feeling in less than 40 minutes.
We stayed here already several times: http://www.appartement-tirol.com/
(For switching to English you need to scroll to the very bottom of the page.)
St. Gilgen on the Wolfgangsee is magical at Christmas. This small town is just south of Salzburg so easy access for a day trip. You can also ride the ferry across the lake to St. Wolfgang, another charming small town. The lake, Wolfgangsee, is sprinkled with Christmas lights making it very special to see. Google images for Wolfgangsee at Christmas and you’ll see what I mean. We also have many favorite restaurants in St. Gilgen.
While we had a car and stayed by Berchtesgaden for two of our Christmas Market trips, our day on the Wolfgangsee was a highlight. From your post, I’d also suggest basing in St. Gilgen. Easy to visit Salzburg. Even Berchtesgaden. Spend a day cruising the Wolfgangsee and visiting the small towns along it and their Advent Markets.