I am intrigued with the idea of a Christmas Village. I would love to see and experience the Alps in winter. Is there a Rick Steves tour for that? Maybe there isn't enough diversity to warrant a tour? Has anyone been to a Christmas market? Thoughts? Suggestions? Any info would be helpful.
Some departures of our Munich, Salzburg & Vienna tour are timed appropriately.
I have been to dozens of Christmas markets throughout Eastern France, Germany, and Austria. Everything from small village markets that are only open for 1 weekend to large cities.
Vienna is one of my favorite cities during the holidays. There are several markets spread out around the city, all by sites and places to visit. The market in front of the Rathaus (city hall) has an ice skating area. Vienna has a market right in between the fine arts museum and the natural history museum as well as one by Schoenbrunn Palace.
Strasburg and Colmar in the Alsace region in Eastern France also has nice markets. Almost any town or city in Germany and Austria will have some type of Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market) and all are worth the trip.
That said, don't let the markets be the reason for your trip. Rather, pick an itinerary of somewhere you want to visit and let the markets be your bonus for traveling in the winter. Rick Steve's Munich, Salzburg, Vienna tour would do the trick. See the sites, and enjoy a cup (or many cups) of Gluhwein!!!
I’m signed up for the Munich Salzburg Vienna tour December 1 - 8. Will have free time for Christmas markets and other sightseeing. I arrive 2 days early and will stay 1 day after then fly home.
This will be my 7th RS tour and each tour group has been comprised of friendly welcoming people. You will have a fantastic time!
Hi. I am on the same tour Judy B is. And, I have taken this tour before. You will have plenty of time to visit the different markets in Munich, Salzburg, and Vienna. I believe some of the Prague dates also fall during Christmas market season. Hope you decide to explore these options. For me, the last time around, there was snow - just enough to add to the magic!
There was a note in the late November and December dates for the "Best of Munich, Salzburg & Vienna in 8 Days Tour" (https://www.ricksteves.com/tours/austria/munich-salzburg-vienna-tour) that there is an opportunity to enjoy the Christmas markets. I've been on two Rhine and one Danube cruises during the markets and in some of the same cities/towns from the cruise, as well as Bruges, Prague and Budapest during markets. I absolutely would do it every year if I could. By far, my favorite markets are in Cologne where they have 7 or 8 different markets (https://www.cologne.de/events/christmas-markets), and Strasbourg which has 9 markets, I think (https://noel.strasbourg.eu/en/accueil). But they are all great! The smaller towns are really charming, too, and my favorite among those markets is Rüdesheim.
Since I started going, the surge in river cruises has definitely created crowds during the day at the Christmas markets. Some of the markets (I noticed in Salzburg particularly last time) are carrying mass merchandise from China, but many markets (Cologne for certain) still carry handcrafts and great high quality items.
I don't know if the links will work, but here are some photos from three of those trips (the older trips were pre-digital camera):
Each market has it's own flavor. It's easy to do on your own, too. A rental car starting/ending in Strasbourg and the gorgeous villages along the Route Du Vin (https://www.alsace-wine-route.com/en/) to Cologne and Heidelberg and ending in Munich would be amazing. Or just do a river cruise and add time before/after.
Thank you so much for your responses. I have never taken a RS tour, although I have used his books for years. But now you all have me thinking. Thank You!
Hi Dianne...I just booked my first RS Tour for Nov 22 2020 Munich, Salzburg, Vienna for that very reason! I'm also traveling alone this year to Christmas markets in Nuremberg and Cologne over Thanksgiving! I'm so excited! Hope you get the chance to go!!
I took the RS Munich, Salzburg, Vienna tour in 2018, and thought it was a perfect way to combine the markets with other sightseeing.
Note that most of the markets start at the very end of November--on my tour the Munich market hadn't really gotten up and running when the tour was there.
I did an independent trip to visit Christmas markets and didn't include the Alps, so I don't know what places have markets. The Alps will probably be very busy with holiday skiers.
You'll have lots of sightseeing hours in the mornings and early afternoons. Most markets don't get started until lunchtime. Choose a route that includes both interesting markets and places you would want to see with or without markets.
My daughter and I are taking the Munich, Salzburg, Vienna tour the week before Christmas, and plan to visit the Christmas markets in our free time! This will be my 4th RS tour, and I'm certain that there will be plenty of afternoon/evening time to enjoy the markets. We plan to spend two days in Zurich, before the tour, and then take the train from Zurich to Munich. The excitement is building!