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Family Christmas in Germany

We are crossing our fingers and hoping that we'll be able to travel to Germany over the Christmas holidays. We have two very active boys, ages 9 & 12. This will be their first time overseas. We're thinking of booking the flight from Nashville into Munich, which is fairly straightforward. Based on reading many of the threads in this forum, I'm thinking of the following:

Nuremburg- 5 nights - daytrips to Bamberg, Würzburg and/or Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Giessen- 7 nights (Christmas with family)
Garmisch-Partenkirchen- 5 nights- winter sports/some sightseeing

We won't have a car. My husband and I have already been to Munich, Salzburg and Berchtesgaden so we're trying to pick some new places. I've considered swapping out Stuttgart for Nuremburg. As for activities, our kids won't have patience for things like large art museums. I think they'd enjoy seeing a castle, museums like the Medieval Crime Museum in Rothenburg (my husband and I have been), etc. Of course we want to go to some Christmas Markets with them. It's tough to balance exposing them to history and culture, but also keeping it within their interest and tolerance levels.

So, I guess the question is, does this seem like a good plan? Any suggestions on sites to see or things to do with children in these areas that would be unique to the culture and history of Germany?

Posted by
6326 posts

Here's a good article on the best German Christmas markets for children. Might be helpful.

Although they might not like art museums, I'll bet they would enjoy the transport museum in Munich - cars and trains and buses, oh my.

Posted by
750 posts

I have my fingers crossed too, hoping to get to Germany with my 12 and 14yo grandsons in early December! I think your plan looks pretty good. Don't know the actual days you're traveling, but try to plan your days in Nuremberg to keep you away from the market on the weekend. It's such a crush then.

If you have 5 nights and I'm assuming 4 days in Nuremberg, day trips on three days may be a bit much. I find it usually takes longer than expected to get places by train, if there are many changes along the way. I think the boys will love Rothenburg, and you can give them a longer leash there without losing them.

I love the G-P area and always stay in Mittenwald. I have only a couple of days there on this upcoming trip, and I'm really hoping for clear weather so we can go up the Zugspitze and hike the Partnachlamm. I know my guys will like that. When I have longer I spend a day with Herr Nimitz on a cross-country open carriage ride near Andechs. coachinginbavaria.com

I like Stuttgart too. And the nearby medieval market has a lot geared to kids. So many great choices in Germany at Christmas! Hope we both get there this year!

Posted by
1283 posts

More fun activities in Rothenburg-
Night Watchman's Tour
climbing the rickety steps to the top of the Town Hall
Walking on the Town Wall.
They boys will love the Crime Museum!

I'm assuming you know that most xmas markets shut down Dec 23 or morning of Dec 24. Also, book your hotels asap for the xmas market cities, especially for the weekends.

Stuttgart has its own great markets, along with Esslingen about 15 min train ride away, and the Mercedes Benz nine-floor car museum.

Perhaps fly into Munich and out of Frankfurt- or reverse- to eliminate backtracking.

You will have some wonderful family memories after a trip like this. Safe travels!

Posted by
75 posts

Nancy- thanks for the link to the article on Christmas markets for kids. Both Nuremburg and Rothenburg are on their Top 10 list, so I guess I'm making a good choice!

Ruth- thanks for the tips. I hadn't considered Mittenwald. I'll check into that. I'd really like to take my boys to Zugspitze and hike the Partnachlamm also. The sleigh ride is a great idea also. The kids would love that. We don't exactly get enough snow here in Nashville for sleigh rides! To clarify on the day trips from Nuremburg, we wouldn't do three days of day trips. As you said, that is too much. I'm thinking we would do two day trips. My list of cities was just some of the options I've come up with thus far. Hope your trip with your grandsons works out. How wonderful that you are able to share that experience with them!! They'll treasure those memories forever!

Pat- My husband and I actually did all those same things when we were in Rothenburg about five years ago and loved the experiences! That's why we were thinking it would be good for us to take the boys to Rothenburg also.

Posted by
750 posts

Re the carriage ride in Bavaria, there's very rarely enough snow for the sleigh. Herr told me only a few days a year does that happen. Usually he takes his open landau pulled by a pair of horses, and the steady clip-clop through woods and open fields is magical. He always stops at a very local brew Haus for lunch and to rest his horses. He's a lovely gentleman. In 2019 our day with him fell on the weekend of the
Andechs Christmas market, and it was memorable to climb up the hill to see the baroque church, the outdoor living nativity, and the tiny local market.

In Mittenwald I always stay at the Alpen Rose. Very traditional, family owned hotel with a good restaurant. Mittenwald might be tough without a car. Not sure how you'd get to either the Zugspitze or Partnachlamm without one. It's a quick taxi ride from the Garmisch train station to Hertz if you'd consider renting a car for a few days. That's a really easy area of Germany for driving. Mostly scenic two lane roads.

Posted by
50 posts

Garmisch is wonderful. This is a great place to stay. https://www.gasthof-fraundorfer.de/ You can also take the trip up to the Zugspitze. I think your plan sounds wonderful. I think the Christmas markets will be a given and no matter where you end up, it will be fabulous.

Posted by
75 posts

Ruth- I looked at the link for the carriage rides and it looked like it was just multiple day excursions. Am I missing something on the website? Thanks for the info on the hotel in Mittenwald. It looks fantastic! My husband and I went with family to the Andechs Monestary for lunch when we were there several years ago. It was such an amazing time. The view from the patio during our meal (it was summertime) was breathtaking!! Love that area!

Mo R- Thanks for the hotel info!

Posted by
1283 posts

The Esslingen xmas market is one of the most unique that I've visited. Many of the vendors are I'm medieval costume, and there's stage entertainment, fire juggling, the chemist [apothocary] doing 'magic', and a costumed parade. There's also a young person's area with games of chance typical of the era. It was a highlight of our trip.
Esslingen is about a 10 minutes S-train from Stuttgart.
Safe travels!

Posted by
1593 posts

I didn‘t think much of the Rothenburg Christmas market. Very small, closed early. However I love Rothenburg and we had a light snow overnight that made it magical. I think the kids would like it without the market. I have another 4 days scheduled for it next summer.

Posted by
1283 posts

We went to Rothenburg in spite of the markets, which are small, but the town remains magical!

Posted by
750 posts

There are definitely one day coaching trips. We usually leave his barn by 10AM and are back before 5PM. You may need to send him an email. Contact info should be on his website. PM me if you can’t find it. He lives in a tiny village about 50 min from Mittenwald. Need a car to get there.

Posted by
146 posts

As I wrote on another post, I agree about Esslingen Medieval Market, one of my favourites since German friends took me there in 2018. The train ride on a cheap family ticket on a Regionalbahn train from Stuttgart lets you see vineyards and other sights. There is a hat store in Esslingen you may never get out of without a hat each. At Christmas time my Wegener or Mayser fedoras keep me warm and dry. They are felt rollup hats which you really can roll up into a small cylinder in your suitcase. Some of my German friends prefer trapper style (synthetic) fur hats with ear flaps to stay out later on cold evenings by the market stalls. There is a children's book museum in Esslingen with more fun displays than you would think. Google it. Plus lots of little cafes and the market stalls. And if you go to Stuttgart, the Wilhelma zoo and botanical garden has something for everyone. I could watch the apes for hours, and wonder who is watching who. Info at www.wilhelma.de. They have all kinds of animals and plants in an amazing space. Curious legacy.

In Rothenburg I find it worth climbing up the one open tower that overlooks the town wall. The view is great, and they may have taken down the exhibit showing Rothenburg in ruins in 1945 and naming the US Air Force unit that levelled it. The exhibit omits the fact that SS troops used Rothenburg as headquarters, tried civilians pro forma and hanged them for any sign of pacifism and were generally directing a last ditch group of mostly Hitler Youth as American tanks liberated that part of Germany. Unfortunately for locals, the tide of battle swung back and forth, allowing the SS to hang or firing squad anyone who had surrendered or suggested the Hitler Youth do so. A small museum at Brettheim nearby commemorates the village schoolteacher and the mayor who were tried and hung for being simply reasonable men. I skip the medieval torture museum myself. Too many recent echoes. I do like to see all the stone plaques along the walls from as far away as Japan from donors who helped rebuild them. And 'snowballs' in the candy store are hard to resist. After counting the cuckoo clocks in the clock store on the main square, maybe on the hour as they all peep at once? And the wood carving of Riemenschneider in the Michaelskirche is almost as fine as the Dettwang Church Altar, a short walk down the valley. Consider a taxi ride there and walk back. Few tourists find it. The carved faces are as real today as then. People who just wanted to live and let live. And come in from the cold.
Stuttgart has the Mercedes Benz factories and Museum - Google it and see if that appeals. They did invent the car.