My wife and I and 3 sons (the twins are age 20 and the youngest is 12) will be spending Christmas in Bavaria with my one son who is studying in Europe for a year. My research indicates that much of Germany shuts down December 24-26. Does anyone have any suggestions of what we might do those days besides sit in our hotel room? Any suggestions of a good city or town in Bavaria in which to stay?
I think it depends on what you mean by "shut down" nor where you are getting your research. The 25th should be the only some what limited day. Most of the Christmas market will start shutting down in the pm of the 24th. In the bigger cities the beer halls will be open on the 25th because that is where a lot of the German families gather. And the 26th will be another day. When in Bavaria? That is an area and not a city.
What sort of stuff do you want to see and do? Ski? Walk around cities? Where is your son based out of?
Most markets in Germany shut down on the 22nd or 23rd, so that by the 24th, you never knew the market was there and the people are all back home.
All of the stores and restaurants will either close by 1400 on Christmas Eve, or they might just be closed the whole day if it is a family run business. The 25th and 26th are official German holidays, so stores will all be closed, and museums may or may not be open, or they will share the day off, open one day and closed the next. Best is to check the websites.
Recommend you stay in a larger city so that you have something to do, and make reservations for dinner on the 24th in a nice hotel that is doing dinner. This may cost you a bit of money, but will probably be worth it. There should be lots of concerts as well as services on all 3 days in the various churches. Movie theaters, ice-skating rinks, etc. should all be open on both holiday days.
Thank you for all this helpful input. My son is based in Heidelberg, which I am eager to see, but he wants to travel elsewhere since he has been living in Heidelberg since September.
One idea we had was to go to Rothenberg on December 23 (the day we arrive in Germany) and spend the day at the Christmas Market there. Then, go to Nuremberg's Christmas Market on December 24 and spend that evening there. Then, go to Munich on December 25 because, as one person mentioned, there may be more options for activities in a larger city like that.
Any other input will be greatly appreciated!
The Salt Mines in Hallein (just across the border near Salzburg) are open on the 26th.
Our family is heading to Europe for the last part of December. We chose Salzburg for December 23-26. Some of the Christmas markets are open on these days. Tour operators are running tours even on the 25th. We have booked a sleigh ride for the older part of our group for Christmas day and the younger family members are going to go skiing.
Frank, have you been in Southern Germany over the 24th - 26th? The 25th isn't "somewhat limited" it's pretty much shut down. Ditto for the 24th after 14:00, and for many things on the 26th. Please be accurate in your advice.
I'd do your proposed itinerary of Nurnberg then Munich over the 24-26th. You may be able to take a walking tour or something similar on the 25th, although according to the brochure I just picked up, Radius Tours is not running on the 24th or 25th. Maybe you can look into booking a private tour guide? Museums will all be closed on the 25th as will be the Christmas markets. But at least in Munich if you get too bored, you'll be able to go see a movie in English or something. Some traditional restaurants will be serving Christmas dinner on the 25th, I'd advise you to make a reservation soon, though. Or you could go non-traditional and eat ethnic food.