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Help me choose between 3 itineraries in December

Hi all,
Thanks to all of your help in my other posts, I have been working on narrowing down my options for Germany in December to a more manageable pace. We will arrive early AM on a Saturday and depart in the afternoon on Thursday (dates are fixed). Flights have not been booked and we have several options.

Priorities:
- history + beautiful towns (some half timbered houses)/architecture
- generally prefer small cities/big towns over large cities
- Christmas markets (me, less so my husband). I have read many good things about the Esslingen and Strasbourg/Colmar markets which has informed option 1
- I have previously only been to Berlin and my husband has been to Trier, otherwise we have never been to Germany/eastern France/Austria

Option 1:
- Fly into Stuttgart on Saturday AM and stay 2 nights. Plan to visit Esslingen during this time or perhaps Heidelberg
- Monday midday travel to Strasbourg, France and stay 3 nights. Potential side visit to Colmar. I have read so many wonderful things about the Alsace region
- Direct train/bus to either Frankfurt airport or Paris airport on Thursday AM for late afternoon flight

We could also fly into Frankfurt rather than Stuttgart and take a train to Heidelberg as a base for 2 nights or stay in Frankfurt for 2 nights.

Option 2:
- Fly into Munich on Saturday AM and stay 2 nights
- Monday midday travel to Regensburg for 3 nights. Day trip to Nuremberg. Would Nuremberg be the better base and spend a day trip to Regensburg?
- Thursday AM train back to Munich airport

Option 3:
- Fly into Munich on Saturday AM and stay 2 nights
- Monday midday travel to Salzburg for 3 nights. Day trip options?
- Thursday AM train back to Munich airport

Do any of these stand out as doable at a steady but relaxed pace or that best fit our priorities? I wish we could stay longer but we have two young kids waiting at home.

Thank you so much for your input! I am very grateful.

Posted by
26 posts

Yes, I saw the half timbered road but wondered if it was most conducive to driving. With our limited time we thought it might be best to stick to 2 places to explore but open to suggestions!

Posted by
250 posts

I like all your options. The Stuttgart and Esslingen Christkindlmarkts are worth seeing. Your three nights in Strasbourg should give you the time to visit Colmar. Just make sure you can get an early enough train to make your departure flight. Remember that Strasbourg is closer to Munich than Paris. You could combine Option 2 & 3. Upon arrival in Munich take the S Bahn to Ostbahnhof and take a regional train to Salzburg. This can be done on a Bayern ticket so you can catch any regional train regardless of your arrival time (we were over 5 hours late). Two nights in Salzburg, then two in Nuremberg with a visit to Regensburg if you can tear yourself away. Take an early train your final night in Munich to have time there and be in position to depart. Have fun!

Posted by
26 posts

@Schteffi Thank you for your reply. I mostly chose Paris as a potential departure due to the availability of direct trains from CDG to Strasbourg (2 hours) even though the distance is much greater. If you could choose to depart from either Frankfurt, Stuttgart or Paris back to the US - do you have a preference?

Posted by
250 posts

Your TGV train from Strasbourg to Paris may not go directly to CDG, be careful. It adds time to get from central Paris to the airport if your train is not direct to CDG. Frankfurt will likely offer you more direct flights to the US than Stuttgart. My choice would depend upon airline cost, flight times, and convenience more than airport.

Posted by
26 posts

Luckily we have enough airline miles to fly into any of these itineraries for about the same number of miles and cost doesn't play a factor this time. There is a direct train from CDG to Strasbourg which takes ~2 hours. We could alternatively fly into Frankfurt and take the train or express bus to Strasbourg (also same price).

Would love any more votes for which itinerary/reasoning! Thanks so much.