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Last minute bucket list visit to Christkindlmarkts

My oncologist just gave me the “ok” to see a bucket list item, Germany’s Christkindlmarkts. My wife and I are leaving in 2 weeks and are planning this trip on the fly. We’re staying 15 days and returning on Christmas eve.
Flying to Berlin, then train to Dresden and Munich. We are looking for any suggestions on day trips from any of those cities or places to visit along the way. As of now we are very flexible with only the flights booked. No other specifics set on an itinerary. We are undecided on Nuremburg. Major travel sites recommend it for the large market. However, most individual comments disagree b/c too crowded and bland. We’ve taken river cruises and previously saw the river cities and don’t want to repeat those sites (Regensburg, Wertheim, Salzburg, Heidelberg). We’ve also been to Munich before and saw Dachau and Neuschwanstein. We’re sticking to central, eastern, and southern regions. We’re likely only using train/bus travel.

With an open agenda we’re looking for any suggestions, especially unique experiences (special spa, Christmas events, unique site). As fyi, I am a big history buff (Eagle’s nest?). Thinking of stopping at Wittenberg due to my Lutheran heritage. Already planning on going to Potsdam for a day trip. We’ll also see the major sites in our base cities that are recommended in guidebooks.
No need to repeat items in recent postings on this forum as I am following them.

Especially enjoyed/unique hotel suggestions also appreciated. A sincere thank you to those who reply. Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas to all.

Posted by
6 posts

Two years ago, I went to the markets at Munich, Strasbourg, and Nuremberg. I was so unimpressed with Strasbourg that I almost skipped Nuremberg. That would have been a big mistake. Nuremberg was by far the best. Much of my conclusion is attributable to the beauty of the city itself. I also timed my visit for the opening night ceremony presided over by the Christmas angel, which I found to be charming. The items for sale at these markets is fairly consistent from market to market. But, in my opinion, the ambience of Nuremberg wins the day.

Posted by
696 posts

I do believe that Eagle's Nest is closed in the winter due to hazardous road conditions. Salzburg has a lovely Christmas market and if you have never been to Salzburg it is quite pretty with much to see. I also recommend the Christmas markets at Augsburg and Nuremberg.

Posted by
4 posts

Wow, thanks Pat. The Eagle's Next is closed until May. I didn't even consider it being closed. Real bummer as we would have enjoyed the history and the natural beauty. Likely will be skipping anything south of Munich. Reconsidering Nuremberg as it does have a lot of history as well as the market. One of the first blogs I read completely panned it's markets in multiple comments. Have read some good comments about area surrounding Erfurt. Surprised I'm not seeing much on Leipzig outside of tour books.

Posted by
3 posts

Giving there are only 15 days, I can't recommend overdoing the trip with multiple cities (your health and well being a big consideration) as all the cities have Christmas markets. Nuremberg markets have been noted as overly busy and to pass for another locale. Does anybody concur or have other recommendations?

Has anybody purchased the Berlin Welcome Pass or other city pass for bus transportation and discounts? Which is better?

Posted by
980 posts

Flying to Berlin, then train to Dresden and Munich. We are looking for any suggestions on day trips from any of those cities or places to visit along the way ... We are undecided on Nuremburg. Major travel sites recommend it for the large market. However, most individual comments disagree b/c too crowded and bland ... We’re likely only using train/bus travel.

When we lived in Munich we always preferred the Dresden markets over the Nuremberg ones (I believe they are the two largest in Germany). As others have mentioned the main issue we had in Nuremberg was it was just too crowded.

Keep in mind most cities have multiple markets. In Dresden I always enjoyed the medieval market over the main Striezelmarkt (read more about it in English here)

In Munich, in addition to the main market on Marienpaltz, there is a craft market in Schwabing, a medieval market on Wittelsbacher Platz and a community Christmas Market in Haidhausen (my favorite).

With an open agenda we’re looking for any suggestions, especially unique experiences ... As fyi, I am a big history buff.

One option you might consider is take the BOB train to Schliersee and visit the town and the nearby Markus Wasmeier Open-Air Museum (within walking distance of the train station). The museum grounds consist of several relocated farm buildings and give a glimpse of what life was like in Upper Bavaria farms in the past few centuries. The town has a Christmas market and from Dec 13-15 they have a Christmas Market at the museum.

Have a nice trip!


Posted by
85 posts

Definitely check out the Christmas markets in the Erzgebirge (Ore mountains) region. This is where the wooden Christmas items are manufactured. Advent/Christmas in this region is absolutely wonderful. Each house has candle arches, miner and angel figures in the windows, all lit up, there are large pyramids on the squares, there are concerts, gatherings with music and storytelling (in German though), you can visit workshops etc. Mid-size Christmas markets are in Annaberg-Buchholz, Schneeberg, Freiberg e.g. Schwarzenberg has a very atmospheric Christmas market from 2nd to 3rd Advent which I highly recommend. Seiffen is a must for manufactures/private workshops of craftsmen - shopping paradise for Christmas items. Don't forget to visit museums, too.

Posted by
1123 posts

Passing up Nuremberg's Christkindlemarkt would be a mistake; it's the one everybody uses as the baseline, and rightfully so. If it's too crowded in the central square take a walk along the river towards the Trodlemarkt. Just west of the city is the little known Museum of Military Technology which is quite good.

Half way between Munich and Nuremberg is Ingolstadt. If you're a history buff you should make this a destination for the Bavarian Military Museum and it's WWI displays. It's a nice city worth seeing for other reasons, and easy to get to and around.

Closer to Munich is Augsburg, another worthwhile destination if you haven't been there.

For spas I highly recommend Bad Windsheim; an historic "Bad" with a couple good spas catering to Germans and not well known to most tourists. For a totally different style experience Kristal Palm Beach in Nuremberg where you can sit in a hot tub while waiters bring you drinks and then go body surf in the wave pool.

Posted by
877 posts

Nuremberg is "the" Christkindelmarkt" BUT the area has lots of other Christmas Markets that appeal more to the locals. For example, Bamberg is a gorgeous UNESCO World Heritage City with a fun smaller market. Augsburg is also lots of fun, with local flare. My favorite "local" market is the Furth Medieval Market, which can be reached via U-Bahn from Nuremberg in about 20 minutes. If you are in Nuremberg visit their large market, walk back to the main train station and catch the U-bahn to Furth. Have some Gluhwein, brats or spatzle and think of every US county fair you have visited.

Posted by
1339 posts

Was just in Seiffen im Erzgebirge this last Sunday -Tuesday. Not sure how you would get there with public transportation. The whole town is like a Christmas Market with Glühwein und Wurst stands, plus the wooden Schwibbogen, Räuchermänn, Nußknacker, Weihnachtspyramiden etc. manufacturers and multiple gift stores. Was not even the first Advent yet, but bus loads of tourists there. On Sunday with all the people it looked like a movie set. A few café and restaurants. It was relatively quiet in the evening. One day would cover it. It was dark with the grey weather we had at 16:00. Lighted Schwibbogen and Hartensteiner Advents und Weihnachtssterne in almost every window.

If you do go south of München and want mountain views, the new Jennerbahn near the Kehlsteinhaus will be open.

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks to everyone for some great suggestions especially ones off the beaten path. They’re often the best places to go. Time to set the itinerary!