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What to do during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day?

My family is going to Berlin, Dresden and so on during the Christmas and New Year. Considering the winter weather and holiday closing, I am concerned that it will limit our museum visits and outdoor activities. I saw Rick Steves' book that 12/24 is half-day closing, 12/25 is closing and 12/26 is possibly closing (Boxing Day). Is it true? I plan to leave Berlin for Dresden by train on 12/24 and hope the train schedule will not be impacted due to the holiday. Staying 12/24 and 25th in Dresden for 2 nights. The question is "What is out there to do when most of the tourist attractions are closed?". The only thing I can think of is going to the cathedral for Christmas service. Love to hear any suggestions.

Posted by
7958 posts

As someone who travels to Europe often the day after Xmas (since other than church nothing is open on Xmas day) the best practice is to look up the hours of any tourist attraction that you are planning to go to. All of them have websites where this info is listed and where you can also buy tickets online in advance. Most tourist attractions anywhere you go in the Christian world are closed on Xmas day and New Years day. Living in Chicago a major tourist destination I have seen tourists ice skating on Xmas day or walking along the lakefront that is about it. I have been in France, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands on New Years Day. In France, Spain, and the Netherlands we slept in after staying out late partying and went to the beach as it was warm enough to just have a picnic and some wine.

Also check the train schedule for Berlin to Dresden in about two weeks. The schedule for 12/24 is not out yet.

When everything is closed take daytrips to places with striking scenery outside, that is about all you can do.

Posted by
2378 posts

I saw Rick Steves' book that 12/24 is half-day closing, 12/25 is closing and 12/26 is possibly closing (Boxing Day).

This is a bit of an exaggeration. True, the whole country closes on Christmas Eve after 16:00, so to speak, and it is quite important to find an open restaurant and book a table. But on Christmas Day everything is back to normal. Stores are closed, of course, like every Sunday and holiday, and some museums too, but for the latter there are no fixed rules, you have to check the respective website. The second holiday is a normal Sunday, everything except the stores is open.

The schedule for 12/24 is not out yet.

Will be out next week, wednesday, Oct 12.

Posted by
11348 posts

I am seeing so many posts about Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It took a lot of work and assistance from locals to get reservations in London and Rome over the holidays. I would not do it again.

Posted by
2458 posts

Some attractions may not be closed. We were in Salzburg and did the Sound of Music tour on Christmas and the salt mine on the 26th

Posted by
8992 posts

Pretty much everything shuts down by 14:00 on the 24th, though many places will simply be closed. All stores will be closed by then and if you are in a small town, perhaps even earlier. Restaurants will either be closed the entire day or close by 14:00. If you want a meai on Christmas eve, make reservations at a hotel that is offering one, or you may find an ethnic fast food place open. Churches will have services of course.
The 25th and 26th are official holidays and stores remain closed. Many restaurants will open and do a booming business, so make reservations. Museums may or may not be open, but their websites will state this. Same thing with tourist attractions.

Posted by
293 posts

Yes, I agree with the above comments and would only reinforce what Ms. Jo says: 1. day of Christmas (the 25th) and 2. day (the 26th) are huuuge day for eating out at nice restaurants with family for Germans, so you really really really need reservations, and often quite far in advance.

Posted by
80 posts

On 24th you can still pay a short visit to the Christmas markets - Striezelmarkt e.g. closes at 2 pm. You may even save quite some bucks and get discount prices, merchants don't want to take items back home ;-)

In the afternoon I would visit a Christmas service - very festive e.g. in Frauenkirche. In Kreuzkirche with the famous boys choir expect long lines at the entrance but a wonderful musical experience.

For dinner make reservations, best is in hotel restaurants as not many other restaurants will be open.

All the major museums of the State Art Collections (Zwinger, Royal Palace, Folk Art museum ...) are open on 25th. If the weather co-operates you could instead do a day trip to the mountains - National Park Saxon Switzerland with bizarre sandstone formations, canyons ... or Ore mountains in the snow (narrow-gauge steam train ride, horse-drawn carrige rides, tobogganing, walking in a winter wonderland ...)