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Where to for Christmas 2021

Our family is dreaming WAY far forward to Christmas 2021 and we are hopeful that we will be able to travel to Europe (we had to cancel a trip this past summer and it seems likely that travel this summer will be tricky). There are four of us - our kids will be 9 and 7 by the time we would make this trip. At any rate, we haven't ever traveled to Europe during the Christmas season and we are excited about the prospect (despite the possible higher costs of doing so). Currently, we are considering 3 possible areas:

1) England (spending Christmas in the Cotswolds) [we've been here, but not at Christmas]
2) Germany (spending Christmas in Bavaria - maybe Nürnberg or nearby) [we've been to Germany, but not Nürnberg]
3) France (with Christmas either in Alsace or the Loire valley) [we've been to Paris, but not other parts of France]

I'm curious about other's experiences in these areas, particularly during the holiday season. I'm also curious about other's reasons for picking one of these; even if you can't compare them to each other, having more thoughts and opinions about these areas during the holidays would be interesting.

FWIW, we recognize that both the Cotswolds and Nürnberg are going to be crowded during Christmastime. We're only in the dreaming phase right now....

Posted by
7400 posts

You do realize the weather is likely to be a combination of a trip through a car wash combined with the Costco walk in dairy cooler?

The kids going to tolerate being bundled to looking like an Arctic explorer and wrapped in plastic?

No personal experience at those locales, but seeing you live in Fla., cannot help but wonder how the kids will deal with the weather.

Sweet dreams and hope it works out for you

Posted by
316 posts

I need to update my profile. We actually live just outside Seattle now, so we are all used to cold and wet during the winter.

Posted by
5634 posts

We have done two/three Christmas markets trips including both France (Paris, Strasbourg, Colmar) and Germany/Austria (Munich, Frankfurt, Stuttgart. Nürnberg, Salzburg, Innsbruck.) Crowds, yes, but manageable and in good cheer. Loved ALL the places. Each is slightly different. If it's possible, we will probably be back in 2021.

Posted by
438 posts

It can be magical but the weather can be depressing. Weeks of sub zero weather, perennial snow or rain and less than 8 hours of sunlight. Remember that many/most markets close their run by 12/23. Commercial activity locks up on Christmas too.

All of your destinations are wonderful/doable but consider or study the impacts of Covid next year combined with climate. Full disclosure, I lived/worked in Germany for 13 years and have spent lots of time in the Alsace and the Atlantic coast of France. Living and holidaying abroad are two widely different experiences. Hope it works for you.

Posted by
2510 posts

I've made three Christmas market trips to Germany and Austria over the last 5-6 years. All were delightful. Weather was cold at times but manageable -- certainly nothing that would lead me to discourage you from taking a Christmas trip. (And I live in South Carolina).

Posted by
2767 posts

We spent Christmas 2014 in London and loved it-and we're not fans of cold/rainy weather. London is magical at Christmas and our 24 yr old daughter is constantly lobbying us to go back. We prefer it to NY in Dec. She also wants to go to Christmas markets, but I think that is too cold for my tastes. (After all Dave, you do live in the colder part of SC). Loire and Alsace do appeal to me however-I would love to see Chateaux decorated for Christmas.
I will get thrown off the forum for saying this, but we went to Disney World last year in Dec (my husband had a meeting in Orlando), and pre-Covid, it was fantastic. If I had children the ages of yours, it would be my first choice for Christmas post-Covid. The pool at our hotel was heated and swimming was quite pleasant. We enjoyed Orlando in Dec so much that we went back at the end of the month for a bowl game. Ah, the places we could go in that long ago and far-away time before Covid. Our Dec trip this year is to Isle of Palms, SC.

Posted by
316 posts

Thank you for those who are contributing. To add a little context, we currently live near Seattle and we will be cold and wet if we stay home, so being cold and wet if we travel isn't a huge issue. Add to that - we lived in Florida before. I grew up there and I love the cold weather because I'm tired of being hot all the time. Personally, I love a cold Christmas, even if it is wet. I've had my share of warm/hot holidays. And being from Florida, we've been to Disney a lot and we travel back to Florida a lot for family. I used to work at WDW, so I have a lot of experience with and love for the Mouse.

Does anyone have recommendations for which towns to stay in? Or are the cities a better choice?

Posted by
2862 posts

We’ve been to all three of your proposed places but only Nuremberg’s Christmas markets (and many more locations in Germany and Austria). We even lived in Germany during one advent season and went to a month’s worth of Christmas markets in our city and surrounding towns when our son was 13.

I think all three of your areas have merit but I think I’d want to base myself in a more urban area in the winter with children. Here’s my thinking about this. The Christmas markets are best visited in the evenings when lights come on and locals are out to have a bite to eat and some hot mulled wine. Luckily it gets dark by about 5 PM. What are you doing to do during the day time hours, especially if it can be cold and possibly drizzly? I think it would be good to base in a town or city with good possibilities for train trips to nearby indoor locations like science, art, car museums for some daytime activities. To me, any city around Munich provides this indoor winter getaway. You could stay in Nuremberg, Bamburg, Landshut, Salzburg, Regensburg, etc. and take easy day trips to Munich for indoor activities. Cities may have fun winter outdoor activities like ice skating and or sledding.

No matter which location you choose your family will be in for a treat and memory making at Christmas.

Posted by
981 posts

My plan this year to visit Christmas Markets with my mother was put on hold for obvious reasons. So 2021 we will give it a try. Heading out the day after Thanksgiving to Amsterdam, visit my niece, then off to Munich with day trips to Nuremberg & Regensburg, then off to Strasbourg with a day trip to Colmar and ending with 3 nights in Paris. I can never pass up an opportunity to visit Paris. Amsterdam & Strasbourg will be new to me & visiting in winter during the holiday season will be new for all the locations.

Fingers crossed that our trips are successful for 2021.

Posted by
2083 posts

A few things to consider: Some countries celebrate Christmas on the 25th, others on the 24th. And some (orthodox) in january. Also, most countries more or less shut down over Christmas, especially the UK where almost nothing is open on the 25th.

And personally I think that the wetter you are, the colder you are. So temperatures a bit below 0 actually feels warmer than temperatures a bit above 0. For that reason I'd choose Germany over the UK, higher chance of snow and they can in general handle snow and winter (not sure about winter in France so I can't comment on it).

Posted by
5606 posts

I’m going to chime in and suggest London.

However, do understand that on Christmas Day public transport is shut down. No busses, no Underground, no trains. On Boxing Day public transport is also limited.

Christmas is a day to be spent with family. A great day to explore the city on foot ; enjoy a walk along the Thames path or a meander about Hyde Park or Regents Park depending on where you’ve chosen to stay. Having a large park near your accommodation helps with keeping the children busy. Over the years on Christmas Day I’ve loved watching families out and about wearing new coats, hats, gloves, jumpers and scarves. Children playing with remote controlled toys, walking new puppies, and trying out toy sail boats and new bikes. As the vast majority of restaurants and cafes will be closed on Christmas Day you’ll need to make reservations at places that choose to stay open ( some pubs offer a special Xmas day fare) and/or do your food shopping on Christmas Eve day to stock up. Investigate staying at Premiere Inns as some serve food on Christmas Day or an AirBnB offering with a full kitchen.

Christmas lights, window displays, Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, pantos, Christmas markets and Santa Runs are all part of Christmas in London. The Queen also tapes a message of hope and good will that airs on Christmas Day.

Last year after a lengthy early morning walk through Richmond Park’s Petersham Meadows and along the Thames path I throughly enjoyed watching the 1951 feature film Scrooge ( known in the states as A Christmas Carol) with Alastair Sims in the comfort of my hotel room.

I’ve spent a number of Christmases in London. Each enjoyable with wonderful memories: being totally surprised by a Santa Run in Victoria park, midnight Christmas Eve mass in St Paul’s, purchasing boxed Christmas Cards to help charities, the Classical Spectacular at Royal Albert Hall, a Panto at Wilton’s Music Hall, buskers performing dressed as elves or Santa, the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square, the unique Liberty department store, the size of Selfridges shoe department, hot ciders, the free and fun Hyde Park Winter Wonderland and watching the Peter Pan cup race in the Serpentine.

Spitalfields and Portobello markets are large and fun to meander about especially if you go early to avoid the masses....check to see what might be special for during the Christmas holidays at the London Zoo and if you are ice skaters the rink outside the Natural History Museum is a must.

I vote for London.

Posted by
449 posts

I don’t want to steel this topic from the OP and I can’t speak for them but I have been Thinking about this a bit and my current idea is something like the following .
Fly into Germany spend a couple days to a week seeing a few places at Christmas time, hit a market or two.
Then take a train to Paris for two days to see Paris decorated for Christmas then on to London for a few days. Then perhaps find a small hotel or B&B for Dec 24th - 27th. Then fly home.

D1 travel
D2 -3 Germany City 1
D4 travel
D5-6 Germany City 2
D6 travel
D7-8 Germany City 3
D9 Germany. To Paris
D10 Paris
D11 Paris to London
D12-14 London
D15 travel to B&B
D16-17 (Christmas and Boxing Day) at B&B
D18 return to London
D19 fly home

Alternatively D-2-8 could be replaced by a tour or a cruise or whatever else But scheming those at that time is problematic.

Yes this is a fast trip, three places in Germany, Paris, London and a B&B. But remember a few things. Unlike the OP I would be traveling Solo. Also I expect that in most cases I would be going to places I have been before (for the most part). I have been to Paris and London twice for about two weeks each. I have been to most of the places I want to go to in Germany as well by now. The novelty of this trip is to see them at Christmas time. So the markets the decorations and what have you.

I don’t need to spend a day at a museum or some such.

Also in my unique case. If I implement this plan I will be traveling for the first time solo to Europe after losing my travel partner. So keeping very busy is a GOOD thing. The issue for me about this is the 25/26 and being alone... Normally when traveling on my own (in the US) I enjoy being all by myself in the mid of a crowd. But Christmas on my own? That may be an issue. Thus my thought to find a little B&B and kind of attach myself to the rest of the folks on those two days.
Just some thoughts

Posted by
7528 posts

The Loire Valley can be bleak in winter unless you live there and have family, friends, and a support system. This meshes with what Jeff said above.

Posted by
316 posts

Thanks, Bets. That is helpful. We certainly don't want to be somewhere bleak. Cold and wet is one thing, bleak is another (at least in my mind). Our daughter really wants to go to France (as she hasn't been), but it was a long shot for me anyway, so we may need to take it off the short list.

We know that Bavaria will be super Christmasy and we also know that the Cotswolds will be like a chocolate box, as they say.

For more context, this would be a two week trip where we would see other parts of whatever country we visit. The specific areas I listed would be where we would spend the few days around Christmas when things are shut down and we want to be holed up in a beautiful place as we spend time around the AirBnB or guest house. One advantage England has is that, beyond the lack of a language difference, we are also Episcopalian, so going to Christmas Eve services will also feel like home.

Posted by
769 posts

As someone who lived near enough to Nurnberg to spend three years doing those Christmas markets and who currently lives about 40 minutes south of Seattle (depending on traffic of course) I'll recommend Bavaria. You may get snow, but it's just as likely you wouldn't. It will be cold, but no worse than Seattle at the same time. The days will be about the same as far as daylight. So don't even consider those as issues.

Bavaria around Christmas is fantastic. Not because of all the big markets. Because of all the ones nobody here goes to. Every little town has a Christmas market or fest; some only for a weekend. But the small towns decorate their shopping areas for pedestrians. Street vendors and the iconic Imbiss stands sell a lot of the same seasonal specialties.

Go to Amberg, or Crailsheim, or Neumarkt, or Ansbach, or Bad Windsheim, or Bayreuth; walk those old cities and you'll have a great time. You may be the only Americans on the street. The decorations will be up, the stores will be full, the places will smell like Christmas.

God I hope it's so.

But, I don't think most people have grasped just how this pandemic is going to change things. There's a very good chance that it may last another year. If that happens all bets are off. If it even goes into March it's going to be drastic. History shows us global pandemics last decades. If that happens the vendors who have stalls at the Kristkindlemarkts won't be there next year. They will have gone out of business. Those stalls are semi-permanent, the same family, the same place, year after year. Until they go out of business because they depend on making that money in December to get thru the winter. And without it they won't make it a year. The guy baking can't buy provisions, the farmer can't raise as many pigs, the family ate their chickens, the stall fees went for medicine, etc. And all those shops, they'll be gone too. And the city money for decorations, all spent on the new poor. I hope like heck that doesn't happen.

Posted by
130 posts

I vote for France in the Alsace region. We stayed in Colmar a few days before Christmas-it was absolutely magical. We enjoyed walking around town and visiting their incredible Christmas market- it wasn't crowded at all. Of course we visited Strasbourg and loved the food, ambience and markets. We decided to take a train ride to Paris for Christmas day, though. Many small towns close down for Christmas day and possibly the day after. We went to Paris Disneyland on 12/25, and found Paris to be not as quiet as the small towns. We ended up having dinner at a cafe near our hotel the evening of 12/25. You may be able to stay in town if Disney isn't your thing, although your kids would love it. I would totally recommend this trip, and hope to go back someday!

Posted by
4286 posts

I’m a mom and Christmas market aficionado. I’ve lived in Vienna with my family for 13 years.

Here’s my two cents - go somewhere where you have significant indoor activities. You’ll definitely do the outside market stuff, but only for a couple of hours each day. One can only handle so much craft shopping and hot alcoholic beverage drinking. Also, markets are best when the sun goes down. So what will you do doing the cold daylight hours if you’re in a small town or village somewhere? Probably sit in the couch with iPads unless you’re near museums, theaters, etc.

You need to do a larger city, in my opinion, with good day trip options.

Posted by
5128 posts

For more context, this would be a two week trip where we would see
other parts of whatever country we visit. The specific areas I listed
would be where we would spend the few days around Christmas when
things are shut down and we want to be holed up in a beautiful place
as we spend time around the AirBnB or guest house.

In Germany, holing up from the 24th - 26th is indeed the rule. Yet there are exceptions that prove the rule.

Pre-Christmas Nuremberg can get pretty overrun with market visitors. There's a good chance that will happen in '21 as vaccinated, market-starved visitors return. But Nuremberg is always lovely and makes a wonderful base for outings to Bamberg and other places. I think I concur with you and the others that it's a great choice, at least for a week or so, prior to the 24th.

But you want to see "other parts of the country" too. I think staying maybe several days in a second location, including the 24th - 26th, would be a sound strategy. You might have a look at Mainz or thereabouts. Mainz is a university town and train hub with a large tangle of pedestrianized streets, several museums (including the Gutenberg Museum and the Antique Shipbuilding Museum, normally open 12/26) as well as some worthwhile churches (Dom, Augustinerkirche, St. Stephans.) From Mainz you would be within daytrip distance of several good destinations, including Frankfurt and Marksburg Castle (in Braubach, normally open 12/26) as well as Heidelberg and Heidelberg Castle (normally open 12/24 and 12/26.)

Another easy day trip from Mainz is the city Speyer, where in normal years the Christmas market is open on the 24th (for about 5 hours) and re-opens on the 26th or 27th for an additional run into the New Year. Speyer also has a grand Romanesque Dom and is home to the Technik Museum, a family favorite that is open every day of the year.

Presumably, the restaurant at the Technik Museum will be operational. You will probably find food stands open at the train stations on days when everything else is closed. Still, it would probably make sense to pack a lunch before leaving your AirBnB on rail outings.

So with a move like this, I think your family could be as busy as you want it to be over those normally very quiet days.

Posted by
7 posts

This has been a great thread as I too, plan my 2021 Christmas market trip. While I haven't been during Christmas day and surrrounding, I have gone a couple times from Thanksgiving (my now favorite day to travel) through the first 2 weeks of December.
My observations: I have been to Christmas markets in Liege, Bruges and Brussels in Belgium and Cologne, Munich and Berlin, Germany and Paris and London. I am planning on exploring smaller towns in 2021 and hopefully my tourist dollars will help in some way. Since this forum has helped me immeasurably, here are a few of my experiences in case it helps.

I traveled to Liege for business for a few years otherwise I don't think their market is a destination location which made it more local and way less touristy. However the food at that Christmas market is something out of this world. Standing at an outside table with a bottle of wine, mussels, escargot, pate, ham and camembert is a memory I will cherish forever. Of all the markets Ive been to they had the best food. I took the train from Brussels to Bruges then to Liege to Cologne- the church was magnificent and the markets were all spread out but they had a little tram for easy access. Stayed oh so conveniently in a Holiday Inn right out of the train station directly across from the cathedral. Didn't even need a taxi. Then to Berlin -markets were fun but with a bigger city vibe. Different markets had a different feel. Bruges is delightful but 2 days is probably my limit. Markets were lovely but I wouldn't go out of my way just to go to their market. I loved the markets in Brussels but mainly good food and amusements. As my first and most frequent market due to business travel I hold it very fondly in my heart. A year earlier I was in Munich- had super great food as well and a lot of holiday gifts-more than other markets. This past year (2019) my sister and I were in London-Paris-Oxford. London at the holidays was delightful-shopping, theater, the Dickens House and the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park was great fun- seemed like a very local thing to do. As Christmas markets go ,nothing to write home about in the city proper (just felt like an extended outdoor happy hour) but just a great big city (like NYC) holiday vibe. Oxford was a great side trip- not necessarily for Christmas markets but the atmosphere in general. Paris was super lovely. We only had a short time but stayed in the Opera district (Hotel Volney-highly recommend) which was close to the newly relocated (from Champs-Elysees) Christmas market near the Jardins de Tuileries. Absolutely delightful with stalls and figures that look as if they've been lovingly used since the 1950's-1980's. Good food and good fun-lots of amusement rides.
Yes, it might be cold, yes, it might be dreary, but that's what gluhwein and comfy, warm and cozy restaurants are for, in my experience. My suggestion would be to give yourself some wiggle room in case the weather prevents you from doing something. I had to scale down my expectations and usually packed schedule due to a back problem so realized a lot more leisurely lunches and stops for afternoon tea. I realize that traveling with kids makes that quite different, though but I assume they like some downtime as well. I've actually traveled a lot off season in the past to save money (my photos from Florence in January don't have any flowers but there were less than 10 people in the room when I saw the statue of David!!) so Im a little used to the dreary weather (and I live in Pittsburgh!)

Happy planning and I hope you have a great time!

Posted by
2021 posts

So, My husband and I have been talking about spending Christmas in Croatia for many years. We are going to go in 2021. In the north, where we will be, the weather is the same as in NY. We will just dress appropriately. Last night we took a walk after dinner to see the Christmas lights in the Italian neighborhood near us, they really go over the top. At one point I said, let’s pretend we are walking the streets of Paris with all the lights. That was one of our cancelled trips. Optimism is my new best friend. Where ever you decide to go, you will have a great time, cause you will be together.

Posted by
503 posts

With two weeks, you have lots of options. We've spent Christmas in London and in Rome and both were fabulous. I agree with other posters - I'd opt for a more urban setting for Christmas. If the weather is truly bad (lots of rain and wind) there will be plenty of indoor things to keep you busy.
One option would be to do both London and Paris - Fly into one city and then take the Eurostar to the other. As for London on Christmas day - even though public transportation is not operating, there is still plenty to occupy your time. We used the day to sleep in a bit (ok, with kids that meant 8:30 am versus 7 am normally!). We rented an Airbnb and so I made a big breakfast and I'd taken our Christmas stockings -so we opened those after breakfast. Then we got our coats on and walked to Hyde Park. Stopped for hot chocolate and pastries along the way. One benefit is that the sidewalks weren't crowded and so it was fun to really see the store windows. Worked our way back to the flat and everyone relaxed. I made Christmas dinner (pre-ordered from Marks and Spencer) and we had a great evening - played games and watched a Christmas movie. What I didn't really count on in planning is that having such a relaxed and easy day really worked out well - gave everyone a chance to recharge a bit and so we had lots of energy for the remainder of our trip.
As for the cold, it's about the same as Seattle - just bring good walking shoes/boots and layers and you all will be fine - worst case you buy another sweater or scarf to keep you warm!!!

Posted by
356 posts

Hallettm, thanks for your lengthy post. But I am curious about how you divided up your time. How many nights did you actually spend in London, Paris, Cologne, and Bruges? In retrospect, would you change how much time you spent in each destination and, if so, how so?

Posted by
2487 posts

I’m thinking about it for next Christmas, too. I have very little interest in being outside in snow and very cold weather on my trip, though (I live in snowy places, I can handle it but don’t want to spend hours outdoors in snow or freezing rain.) So as neat as the German/Austrian markets look I don’t think it would be all that enjoyable for me.

So my options would be somewhere in which I spend most of my time indoors or somewhere with decent weather. For indoors, a London or Paris trip focused on theater or museums, with shorter walks seeing Christmas lights and outdoor seasonal things could be fun.

For nicer weather Im thinking Rome or Seville. Average highs in 50s-60s. I can handle that. I have been to both cities and love them. While not the image of European Christmas, the images I’ve seen of their holiday celebrations are lovely.

One thing I’m thinking about is timing. I know things really close down in the days right around Christmas. I will rent an apartment and cook my own holiday meal and be sure to be comfortable on days where stores/restaurants are closed.

Posted by
18739 posts

Based on monthly averages (which I admit have their limitations, since they hide extremes), Seville is likely to be a lot warmer than Rome during the Christmas period. Both the average high and the average low are about 7 degrees warmer--which would matter to me when the highs are 55 (Rome) and 62 (Seville) and the lows are about 36/43.

Barcelona's average high falls between those of Rome and Seville, but its low temperature is warmer than either one--four degrees higher than even Seville's. Malaga averages just a smidgen warmer than Seville. Valencia's average temperatures are close to Seville's--a bit cooler in the daytime and a bit warmer at night. So there are several large cities in Spain where one probably wouldn't experience seriously cold weather.

Palermo (Sicily) is warmer than Rome.

Posted by
1 posts

Everyone are commenting on wonderful places. Here's my two cents. We had a wonderful nine day Christmas trip in 2019 to Germany and Czechoslovakia. We home-based in Munich for a four days across from the train station and visited the various Christmas Markets via train. The fifth day train riding into Bavaria and Czechoslovakia ending in Prague which we used as a home-base traveling the country side. It was beautiful, the people were amazing and I would love to go back to Prague and spend more time. I hope you find the trip that works for you. I can attest that Czechoslovakia is kid friendly, economical, and rich in history.

Posted by
981 posts

Just booked or should I say rebooked my Christmas Season trip for Nov/Dec 2021. Netherlands, Germany & France. Hope all is right or as right as it can be as the year progresses.

Posted by
1682 posts

Iceland! Northern Light and Nordic women (wink-wink).

As for Nuremberg, you can visit the site of the Nuremberg Trials as well as the prison where the defendants were held.

Posted by
113 posts

You have a lot of good suggestions on here. I haven’t been to any of those places but I have been to London around the holidays and it’s amazing! There is a Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park which is like a little carnival. There are rides, attractions, food, and shop stalls. Perfect for the kids and best of all it’s free, you just pay per ride. Oxford St is magical with its Christmas lights. Going shopping along this street gives you some shelter from the cold while still enjoying the Christmas spirit of the city. There are also multiple ice rinks set up around the city in front of beautiful landmarks. Plus London has a plethora of free museums to explore, another activity to keep the kids busy. London’s science museum is super fun for all ages. I highly suggest you think about adding London to your list.

Posted by
9623 posts

In 2018, I spent Christmas/New Years in London. In 2019, I spent Christmas/New Years in Manchester. I enjoyed both. (I was supposed to be in London in 2020 but we all know that didn't happen.)

In the UK......EVERYTHING is closed on Christmas. In London, the only restaurant open near where was staying was one pub and KFC. Luckily for both of those trips I had a kitchen so I stocked up beforehand. Public transportation also comes to a standstill.

The weather wasn't too bad in either place.

Unless you can find a hotel in the Cotswolds that guarantees to serve food on Christmas and even Boxing Day, it may be hard to find things open in small towns. I believe this is true for much of Europe.

Of course, there is always AirBNB and you could self-cater for the holidays.

Posted by
7 posts


Most of my Christmas market experiences were tied to business trips so Cologne was a day and a half-only saw markets and the Cathedral, Bruges was 2 days but saw many churches and walked the city and went to the markets. Bruges is quaint but still, I think 2 or 3 days is enough. Brewery tour is also a nice addition. Berlin was 4 days and I added a lot of museums in and they have a lot of markets so each night was a different one and days were spent in churches and museums. London was a 3 day trip but we've been there before so it was a theater, shopping and the markets were an afterthought. There were more things we would've liked to do in London but many events were sold out. My suggestion is that while markets are great, make sure to plan some other activities and sites and treat the markets as evening fun.

Posted by
938 posts

My vote is for FR, why? According to an article in Forbes magazine, Basel (BAH-sel), CH is the Christmas market to visit in 2021. Not that they’re an expert on the topic, but it’s a 45m direct train ride to Colmar, which is a beautiful town to be in during the holiday.
I would sleep in Basel, Colmar and Strasbourg to get a true feel of what these places are like. You can take a direct train from Colmar to Strasbourg (45m) and a direct train to Paris (2h). Heck, from Paris you can take the kids to Disneyland.
Both DE and the Alsace region of FR is where these markets originated. I would also purchase RSs FR guidebook, a new edition comes out in Oct.
I would fly into either Zurich / Paris and out the other (called an open jaw).

Furthermore, I would wear hand and feet warmers. My last Christmas market in Munich was so cold, I couldn’t stay outside long enough to enjoy it.

Posted by
316 posts

After the initial post died down, I hadn't been back to check for several months only to come back to some wonderful suggestions. Thank you all for so much information. I'm still hopeful that we'll be able to make this happen this Christmas, though the current surge in Europe is concerning. Thankfully, our family is already starting to get vaccinated, so hope springs eternal!

We were just talking about the possibilities of this trip tonight at dinner which prompted me to come back and see what else people might have added.

Here's to vaccines - and hoping that Europe gets a bigger supply soon!

Posted by
1 posts

My wife and I have hit several Christmas Markets in Europe, and have never found it too cold (and we live in the south). Trains are quick and easy and there is no reason you cannot do both France and Germany if you stay in a compact area. Many cities have good flight connections to Stuttgart which supposedly has a very good market. Nearby (20 minutes by U or S Bahn) is Esslingen. Esslingen has a medieval market that your kids should enjoy. Next stop is Baden-Baden, a lovely spa town with a very nice and family friendly market. Baden-Baden is right on the border and you will be in Alsace in no time. Colmar’s markets are very pretty and manageable. You are now just a short train or bus ride for many nice markets in the area: Strasbourg, France; Mulhouse, France; and Basel, Switzerland. Plus, there are several small markets in some of the Alsace wine villages: Obernai, Selestat, Rudesheim and Eguisheim. For us, after two or three days we are ready for the next market. Although similar, you will enjoy the subtle differences offered by each.

Posted by
2083 posts

I'm still hopeful that we'll be able to make this happen this

My guess is that it should be possible. Hopefully there will be Christmas markets this year.

Posted by
129 posts

Germany for sure, possibly with France or others as well. But Nürnberg, while great, isn't our favourite.

My suggestion is St. Wolfgang / St. Gilgen / Strobl in Austria. Salzburg is nearby (extra points if your kids like The Sound of Music). Other favourite market is Bremen. Lübeck is also great. The trio on the Wolfgangsee is the most likely to have snow.

Brussels, Strasbourg, and Prague have renowned markets. All good markets are great for kids, though some more than others (for example, the appeal of Stuttgart is actually the variety of the wines, so it might not be the best fit for a family with kids). All of them serve Kinderpunsch, many offer rides (Bremen, Nürnberg) and lots of fun things to see and do. Germany has lots of good small towns. The north is Protestant, so you can likely find a good service in almost any town (Bavaria / Austria are heavily Catholic). Small towns often only have markets on one particular weekend, so they can be trickier, but attending a Christmas service in a village is pretty special.

I hope that helps.