Hi All - assuming it's safe to travel in 2021, we (my wife, three children ages 9, 15, and 18, and myself) are planning to spend our winter break somewhere in Bavaria (haven't landed on the city yet), and I'm just curious to know when we should start making reservations, etc., as my understanding is that Bavaria is quite busy for Christmas. We would likely book a small apartment via AirBnB versus a hotel, as we're looking to settle in somewhere and become temporary locals to enjoy all the fun festivities. Any wisdom here would be appreciated. Thanks!
Christmas season is main travel time in Germany. So, reserve asap, especially the travel tickets.
In larger tickets it can happen that enough business hotels have rooms available for very affordable prices but this happens more rarely in the last years.
Hint: there is no snow guarantee in Bavaria for Christmas except on Zugspitze mountain top.
btw: People in Germany celebrate Christmas on eve of Dec. 24. The next two days businesses and shops are closed (except larger supermarkets at main train stations of larger cities).
Assuming it's safe to travel... Bavaria is pretty diverse. If you haven’t done so take a deeper look and determine what looks good for you and your family. If you can narrow it down, then better recommendations could be provided? Christmas markets are usually done by 22-23 December. The ramp-up to Christmas during the four weekends before is usually the best and most festive outside of family events. You might consider dividing your time between two or more Bavarian locations, or even other German Bundesland, or into Austria. Something like Nürnberg and Garmisch-Partenkirchen/Mittenwald or Coburg and Landshut or Erfurt, Regensburg, Salzburg, or Oberstdorf and into the Austrian Zugspitz Arena area (skiing) etc. You can search for Ferienwohnung or Fewos for Holiday apartments.
You can use AirBnB but I almost always use the town website. Most towns have a website with the format www.TOWN NAME.de. If that doesn’t work, wikipedia will list it. These websites usually list ALL the accommodations in the town.
I don’t think you need to reserve now for Christmas next year.
It gets dark early in December in Germany. We are not the types to spend a long evening in a Gasthaus and need a fairly good sized town with a moderately large pedestrian zone (including a Christmas Market) for walking about after dark. Regensburg, Würzburg and Nürnberg among others fit that description for us. In our case It would not work to get too far out of the pedestrian zone in selecting a place to stay unless we are pretty confident about local public transportation.
We would also want multiple day trip choices for an extended stay. The towns I mention above fit that need as well.
In Bavaria, they decided not to open X-mas markets this year due to covid, so I assume it should not be as busy as usual, the prices should also drop compared to the previous years. I am not even sure if skiing resorts in the Bavarian and Austrian Alps will be open this season, need to check it.
Corona-lite restrictions will currently continue through 10 January 2021. There is supposed to be a temporary pause/relaxing of restrictions 23 December to 1 January for family holidays. Germany is leaning towards keeping the ski slopes closed. There are still quarantine requirements when coming from a RKI risk area. Hotels are closed for tourism and restaurants closed for dining-in.
There is a lot of info here on the Forum regarding the xmas markets in Europe. You can run a Search, [altho the Search feature on this site could be improved.] Mrs. Jo, who lives in Germany, has several extensive reviews here on the various markets/towns, and has been quite generous with her assistance to us all.
We went to the markets in Switzerland, France, and Germany in 2019, and had a blast. I did find that some accommodations were booked by June, especially for the weekends. If you find no deposit or refundable lodging, there is no loss in booking early.
I think you need to research which towns/markets you want to visit, as there are so many, all over Germany, and then decide what location is best for lodging. [If you click on my name, you'll find the Travel reports of my experiences, posted Dec 2019 and Jan 2020.]
Again, do note when the markets close, before xmas, and the fact that most things are closed on xmas day and the next day, along with Sundays. I believe Vienna is the exception [I know, not Germany] where the markets run thru New Years.
Hopefully Christmas activities in Bavaria will be back to something resembling past years by December 2021.
I'd recommend using Booking.com to look for accommodations. That resource includes apartments, hotels, B&Bs, you name it.
At first you look for basic results for your family. You'll put in 2 adults and 3 kids. Then you'll have to put in the ages of the kids. Note that the 9-year-old will probably be the only one considered to be a child.
After getting the basic results, you can filter by many different criteria. I'd be very surprised if you're able to get much that's useful for next December right now. But you can maybe search for a time in the summer for practice and to get a clue as to pricing.
Depending on the exact dates of your trip and where you intend to settle in, and considering how things close up over the holidays, an apartment is probably your best choice.
I'd expect that at best restaurants will require reservations far in advance and at worst will be closed. In an apartment you can plan and shop ahead and be able to eat.
One bit of advice about searching Booking.com for apartments, do not bother with stars (*). Stars are really not applicable to apartments. Choose Review Score instead. The reviews are done by people who have actually stayed in the place.