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8 days Skiing, City and Christmas Markets in Central Europe in late Nov

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Hi there - my fiancé and I are planning a trip to Central Europe leaving 11/20 and returning 11/29 (8 full days). We live in Phoenix and understand that the weather is going to be quite different but are originally from Chicago. The primary reasons for choosing central Europe is for the Christmas markets (they look so romantic), skiing in the alps (fiancé goals), and just general exploration/adventure (love getting lost in new places). We are both 30 and love a combination of sightseeing, adventure, and relaxation.

Questions/Input from the group:
1. Skiing: I've read some mixed reviews about skiing that 'early'. Found the articles below which mention a couple of good places relatively close to Innsbruck (eg: Hintertux, Kaprun, Soelden) and it looks like there is some skiing in Innsbruck (Nordkette, Patscherkofel, etc.) as well. My fiancé is pretty good at skiing and I'm decent. Decent = we'll both go down blacks (slowly for me - I prefer blues) in Colorado. Skiing in the Alps has always been a bucket list item, but I'm not sure we'll ever get a chance to go back so I want to make sure it's worth it this time of year. Recommendations to make this worthwhile in terms of place or even if it's worth it this time or year?

2. Christmas Markets - I know that alot of the Christmas market's don't open until the last week of November/first week of December so i'm trying to choose places that open earlier. It's not critical that every place we go have a Christmas market but i would like to see a few if possible - possibly one smaller and one larger. Due to skiing being a priority we are thinking about spending some time in Innsbruck whose market opens on 11/15. I've heard mixed reviews about Innsbruck as well - some people think it's really overrated, but it looks like a central location for skiing. Thoughts from the group?

I know there are a thousand articles out there on markets, but looking for recommendations on a good city/Christmas market for us to spend the rest of the time in a well. Vienna, Budapest, Munich, and Prague have all been on my list. I know Munich is closest in duration to Innsbruck, but wondering if that's really THE city we want to spend alot of time in. We may go back at another time for Oktoberfest (fingers crossed). We are open to flying into Munich as a means to get to Innsbruck/skiiing staying a day and then heading to the Alps, but I know there is alot to see there. Does anyone have any recomendations on a good city to visit during that time of year for the Christmas market? We are open to train or flight as well as doing a city at either the beginning or the end of the trip to better align with the Christmas markets (most look open the weekend of 11/25).

If Munich possiblity making a trip to Castle Neuschwanstein as well as the concentration camp up north.
If Prague possibly taking a trip to cesky krumlov.
not sure about Vienna or Budapest.

Overall, here are my initial thoughts. Looking to book flights in the next few days and am open the a open jaw ticket so would appreciate any insights!
Innsbruck 2 days
Skiing 2 days
Cities/Markets - 4 days

Thank you!!

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    I think you have to decide whether the primary aim of your trip is to visit cities and Christmas markets or skiing. From your post, it seems that skiing is the more important, but you are only devoting two days to it. I don't think that I would take all my skiing gear to Europe if I were only skiing for 2 days. Perhaps you should increase that to four or preferably 5.

    If visiting markets and cities is your priority, then forget about skiing and take the eight days visiting such cities are Munich, Salzburg, and Prague. Save your ski trip for another time when you can spend at least a week at a time when the snow conditions will be surer at all the resorts and not just the high altitude/glacier resorts you have mentioned.

    If you do want to compromise, perhaps you might think of Innsbruck as a place to stay and take a daily shuttle from the city to one of the nearby resorts. Some are probably too low to have guaranteed snow at that time, but you will certainly be able to ski at the Stubai glacier as a day trip. If that's the case, you might want to spend five nights in Innsbruck split between skiing and sightseeing and the rest in Munich.

    There will be plenty to do and see in these two locations. With only eight days you don't want to spend a lot of time on the train from city to city.

    If you are both only 30, I don't know why you think you will never get back to Europe.

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    Hi kestul2,

    I agree with laverendrye above -- I think your trip will be more satisfying if you dedicate it to either one or the other of skiing or Christmas markets. I think it'll be difficult to have a satisfying mix of both since they are not exactly co-located.

    If I wanted to ski that early, I would head to Switzerland for the really high Alps -- either Zermatt or the St Moritz area (including Celerina, Sils, Samedan). You can get great deals if you book a package including hotel, meals, and ski pass for one week. You can find these deals at the central website of each town.

    You may get to see a Christmas market or two as you exit Switzerland -- maybe in Zürich or Luzern.

    Have fun as you plan!


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    Hi everyone - thanks for the thoughts! I would say that Christmas markets are really the focus with a side of alps skiing if possible as my fiance enjoys skiing. The crappy thing is that not all of the Christmas markets are open @ this time, but its the week we have for vacation.

    We aren't really looking to do more than a day or two of skiing and we definitely wouldn't be bringing our own gear. I've hear so many people mention that skiing in the Alps is amazing and while I understand that is a super general statement i want to make sure we aren't going to ski destinations that'll be completely underwhelming and not 'worth' the trip - again understanding that it'll be early in the season hence the reason for my question. We too were thinking about staying in Innsbruck and taking a day trip to the glacier where snow is a certainty. Again that is if thats a 'worthwile Alps' skiing destination. Innsbruck looks like it has a great Christmas market that's open early as well.

    That said, reading about Prague and Vienna i think Prague fits us better in terms of it being more laid back, but Viennas Christmas markets open 11/15 and Prague's don't open until 11/29 I think we are leaning towards Vienna. Reading overall positive things about their Christmas markets. Neither my finance or I are really into museums which seems to be a big appeal there so i'm sure we'll go to one, but any other non-museum, etc. recomendations on Vienna would be awesome :) We really just enjoy trying good food and drink, meeting people, and seeing 'different' things. The opera seems to be a big attraction there so maybe we'll do that as neither of us have ever been before.

    On the other hand I've heard that Munich is a much more casual/fun city so we are thinking about heading there after Innsbruck given it's proximity. By then the Christmas market will be open in and so we can experience that as well as a couple of other big ticket items - definitely a beer hall or two :)

    So here is our updated plan. I'm definitely a person who doesn't mind jumping around from place to place, but my fiance likes things to be a little more relaxing. Hoping this doesn't look too ambitious.
    20 - Fly to Vienna
    21 - Vienna
    22 - Vienna
    23 - Vienna/Innsbruck (fly - it's $100 and worth it based on the short time we have).
    24 - Innsbruck
    25 - Innsbruck (ski)
    26 - Innsbruck (ski or maybe head to Munich early)
    27 - Munich
    28 - Munich
    29 - Travel to states


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