Hello! I am planning our 2014 early December trip to Germany (Bavaria) and Austria (Salzburg and Upper Austria). I can't think of a more magical place than these two areas at Christmas time. Plus my Hubby wants to visit family in Munich, so here we are. So I have two questions for the community. #1. I saw pictures of Hallstatt and wondered if it would be hard to get to in December. I have heard it is pretty sleepy in early December. That is ok with me as all I really want to do is satisfy my shutterbug addiction. The scenes there look amazing. Same goes for Salzburg, Berchtesgaden, Mittenwald and other places nestled in the mountains. We would most likely be driving. (I know, I know, trains are amazing but are not what we want for this trip). #2. Also what are some good Christmas Markets for Bavaria and Western Austria? I am looking for unique to Germany things to see and buy. Not too commercialized. Thanks in advance!
Hi Susan, We did a "Christmas Market" trip to Bavaria and Austria in late Nov. 2010. We flew into/out of Munich and based near Berchtesgaden (Schonau am Konigsee to be exact)and near Innsbruck (actually Hall in Tirol). We visited: Salzburg, St. Gilgen, Berchtesgaden, Bad Reichenhall, Hallein, and then Innsbruck, Hall in Tirol and Rattenberg. This year we're doing a similar trip but including: St. Wolfgang, Strobl, and St. Gilgen (all by boat, we'll park in St. Gilgen and cruise to the other villages/markets), and also Sterzing/Vipiteno and Brixen/Bressanone in Italy, within an hour or so of Innsbruck. For not too comercialized from our limited experiences, I say Rattenberg, Hall in Tirol and St. Gilgen. I also have to say the more "commercialized" ones, Salzburg and Innbsbruck in particular, were simply amazing. Paul
Early December is usually right before the ski season begins, so Mittenwald and Berchtesgaden might be on the sleepier side. But these towns have significant year-round populations, so they won't be completely dead like some of the more purely resort destinations in the Alps. "I am looking for unique to Germany things to see and buy. Not too commercialized." I'll let you in on a secret... most Christmas markets sell essentially the same merchandise, much of it fairly massed-produced. The main attraction of the markets isn't necessarily the merchandise, it's the outdoor party atmosphere. That being said, I've found the the Oberstdorf market usually attracts a lot of artisans, but it only lasts for a few days. The Lindau market seemed to offer a higher than normal proportion of hand-crafted goods, and the backdrop has to be one of the most stunning in all of Germany. Same problem with the Oberstdorf market though, it only lasts for a few days. Most of the larger city markets usually have a small Käthe Wohlfahrt store, so if you're looking for "Made in Germany" Gemütlicheit, there you go.
As previous posters have noted, some of the wares for sale may be the same, however, the ambiance of each market is different. I have gone to the markets for the past two years. If you would like to read my blogs and see my pictures on the markets, send me a personal message to get the addresses.
I love the Christmas markets in Munich.
I've gone on 3 Christmas market tours that included Munich and Salzburg. You are right. It is magical. It's very very cold outside and you walk around with a mug of hot mulled wine. The lights, the food, the churches, and traditions.... they are awesome at this time of year.
The Munich Christmas market is one of my favorites; some unique vendors there. Also, you can take the S-Bahn to the Schwabing district of Munich and there's a market that features more 'artsy' creations by area artisans. Very interesting. After a while, the Christmas markets tend to have the same things from town to town, so finding unique markets becomes a quest for me.
Depending on the weather you may want to reconsider traveling by car. It's just more convenient to take the train, S-bahns and even a taxi if you need.
We have visited that area a few Advent seasons in recent years. I agree with others that Munich has a nice selections of Christmas Markets. We especially like the Schwabbing Market, more arts and crafts.
We best liked our visits to Regensburg and Passau. Regensburg has a "Romantic Market" at the the Thurn and Taxis Schloss right at the edge of the pedestrian zone. Regensburg is a World Heritage Site for its old buildings. Passau was just beautiful for the season though not a great market.
Salzburg has a nice, well organized market. Some of the towns around it on the lakes also have markets. Rothenburg has a small one, Nuremburg has a large one (but when I went on a Wed. Aft, it was manageable).
I recommend that you look at several places you want to visit and then select those that have markets when you will be there. Markets are nice, but formed a small part of our Dec. trip.
A few good trip reports on Bavaria Ben's site - www.bensbauernhof.com