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Germany/Austria for Christmas

Thinking about spending Christmas in Germany -- I hear such great things about the Christmas Markets. Thinking about visiting Regensburg and St. Emmeram. Is that enough to make a trip out of? Perhaps tacking on Austria? Anyone have experience traveling here? Any recommendations for a great midnight mass in that area w/ great music?

Posted by
9041 posts

Christmas in Germany and Austria can be lovely, but keep in mind some of the following:

  1. Most Christmas markets shut down on the 22nd or 23rd. Small towns may only have a market for a weekend and usually around the 1st or 2nd weekend in Dec.

  2. Everything will shut down on the 24th after about 1400 (except for transportation), restaurants included. Unless you are staying at a hotel or make reservations for dinner at a hotel, you will have a hard time finding a place to eat on Christmas Eve.

  3. The 25th and 26th are official holidays, so no shopping, many museums may stay closed, but restaurants will be open. A lot of places do just shut down though for this week between Christmas and New Years. The 25th is a Fri. the 26th a Sat. and the stores are closed anyway on Sun. the museums on Mon. So plan your trip accordingly. If there are museums you want to visit, check each ones website to see what their holiday hours are.

  4. It gets dark quite early, around 16:30

Your best bet is to find a ski resort type place that will have activities on Christmas, dinner and so on, lots of snow, fireplaces, and beautiful scenery, or be in a large enough city like Munich or Berlin to that will have a few things open.

Posted by
485 posts

We did a Christmas Market tour this past Christmas (it was 2nd time I had done this particular tour) and as always, we loved it. Our itinerary was: arrive Frankfurt, Regensburg (short walking tour), Rothenburg, Bamberg, Nuernburg (biggest Christmas market), Salzburg, and end in Munich. Each town had its own character and atmosphere. If you can fit in Salzburg, I highly recommend it. It's my favorite city.

We went the 2nd week of December. If you're actually going over Christmas, most everything closes down for a few days, so be prepared.

Posted by
1837 posts

Many years ago we did the following Christmas trip, which included Christmas markets: fly to Zurich, train to St. Moritz (3 nights), rental car to Salzburg (3 nights) with an overnight at Innsbruck (both towns had lovely extensive Christmas markets and beautiful display windows in the shops), drive to Badgastein Dec. 23 where we spent three nights at the Gruner Baum Hotel about a mile or so above the town. The resort had a charming Christmas Eve pagent, but there were probably masses in town. Christmas Day we took a sleigh ride several miles up the valley. The area was like being inside a
Currier and Ives Christmas card. December 26 we drove back to Salzburg where we flew to Paris for several days.

Posted by
3428 posts

The Salzburg Christmas market is absolutely wonderful. We did a trip there to celebrate our 30th anniversary. It snowed just enough to be pretty one day! The food is great and the atmosphere is definitely "old Europe". Vienna and Innsbruck both also have good Christmas Markets (Vienna has several spread through the city). There are great day trips from all of these places.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you everyone for all the great suggestions. They're all incredibly useful.