Christmas Market Tours

Jan 8th, 2015, 05:02 PM
  #1  
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Christmas Market Tours

Hello, I'm in the beginning stages of the planning a December 2015 tour of Germany, Austria and Switzerland to see the Christmas Markets with my mom. Can you give me tips on any great touring companies. Seems like you're on a bus a lot going from place to place - would like to see if anyone took an organized tour and if it's worth it. We live in Florida so we know it's going to be cold - what type of boots do you suggest? Thanks for you help!
kathy123x is offline  
Jan 8th, 2015, 07:55 PM
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Do you really need a touring company?
First, here is a site listing most major ones. There are others not listed.
http://www.germany-christmas-market.org.uk/.

Most of these are large markets in large cities connected by trains. So if you do this on your own, you would mostly use trains. I presume your reference to the bus was with escorted tours. If you fancy small towns, realize that small towns come with small markets.

If markets are your main objectives, there is not much for the tour to offer you. Taking trains in Germany is straight forward while hotels can be booked at booking sites. If you select your own destinations, you get to pick which markets to visit and how much time.
greg is offline  
Jan 8th, 2015, 08:39 PM
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If you are interested in river cruise, be sure to read the comments at cruisecritic.com.
You are at mercy of the water level. Here is what can happen:

http://www.fodors.com/community/crui...er-cruises.cfm
http://www.cruisecritic.com/news/news.cfm?ID=4665
http://www.cruisecritic.com/news/news.cfm?ID=4676
greg is offline  
Jan 9th, 2015, 02:13 AM
  #5  
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Thank you for your comments. We prefer not to take a cruise and since we both have never been and she's a little older and nervous, we felt tours would keep us in a group. The tour I was looking at was with gocollette.com - they also give you sightseeing sites which will make it better because we wouldn't know what to look for. I'm just wondering if they are reputable - I've seen mixed reviews online (some good/some bad).
kathy123x is offline  
Jan 9th, 2015, 02:30 AM
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Kathy,

You may wish to reconsider a river cruise, There is nothing to be nervous about. You can get a tour from Budapest, where there were so many English speakers that my wife complained that she could not practice her native language, where there are several very nice markets, as far as Prague or even to Amsterdam if you can spend two weeks. You have the ability to need to unpack only once, and the included tours are always waited for, no matter how late they may be.

We took an AMA cruise last year, and the oldest person on board was 94 years old and she reported a wonderful time.We liked a great deal as well; so much that we are cruising with them again in April.

I think this would be far less stressful than a bus tour which will require repeated packing, checking in and checking out, as well as very rigid deadlines and possibly traveling in bad weather. The latter is far more comfortable on a river boat with its endless supply of coffee and snacks, as well as your own bathroom just down the hallway.
Jeff801 is offline  
Jan 9th, 2015, 03:09 AM
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Whoa, that comes to almost $4000 for 9 days. That is over $600 per day.

You could so easily do this trip on your own, with trains, hotels and lovely dinners. Pick out a region that you would enjoy visiting, like Munich, Salzburg, and Garmisch, or the Rhine region with Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Mainz, Wiesbaden, or Strausburg, Colmar, Stuttgart, & Esslingen. Once you know your dates, there are many smaller markets in near by towns held only on the weekends.
Mainhattengirl is offline  
Jan 9th, 2015, 04:46 AM
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Some trip reports on Christmas market trips that might give you confidence at www.bensbauernhof.com
bigtyke is online now  
Jan 9th, 2015, 05:54 AM
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We have done Christmas Market trips both on our own and twice on AMA cruises. I recommend both ways- for different reasons.
Cruises are convenient, you only unpack once, have meals accounted for and they include sightseeing besides the market visits. They are also give you limited time in the markets and it's hard to go off the beaten path of the group because of transportation, etc. they are fun, but they are also limiting if you are a do it yourself traveler.
Train trips are ideal if you do your research and know which markets you want to hit and have the freedom to explore on your own and experience the areas.. You are able to get to more far off markets in the mountains, etc. if you choose this route, by all means try to get to Seiffen, Germany, it is truly an experience for shoppers. The most obvious con of train trips is constantly changing hotels and schlepping your bags around.
We love both methods and will probably do another train trip this winter, visiting Berlin, Dresden, Prague, and going back
Poconolady is offline  
Jan 9th, 2015, 06:07 AM
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Oops
and going back to some of the smaller markets we missed previously in the aerie erg mountain region. While planning train trips look at basing yourself in a larger city and then doing day trips to other market cities to avoid moving your hotel too much. Munich, Dresden, Vienna and Cologne are good options to consider, but not all on one trip!
For ease of getting around the cruises are optimal as they cater to people with needs. Watch for sales and also be aware that market cruises are generally lower priced than peak season cruises. We did one in 2014 that cost us far less than the 6000 mentioned in another post. Look at booking in "aquarium class" on a newer ship. Due to the weather a balcony is not necessary, but a cabin with a large window is ideal. The ships only carry about 165 guests so it so it is ideal for meeting new friends and having diner companions.
Look at your travel habits and preferences and then see what appeals to you. market trips are fantastic and it is a wonderful time of year to visit and experience a little European atmosphere. We have never done a bus trip and probably wouldn't consider it because of the strict schedules and constanty moving hotels, etc. I'm not saying they are bad, but that it is just not our preferred means of travel.
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Jan 9th, 2015, 06:10 AM
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Aerie erg-- should be Erzeberg,area. This is where you find wonderful wooden items.
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Jan 9th, 2015, 06:53 AM
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Most of the information for the group tours does not come out until late summer, then they come out with a fall,winter catalog.
I have done Christmas market tours with Insight Vacations and really liked them. The groups at that time of year usually have fewer people and yes there is bus travel between cities but you have to get places somehow.
I have heard bad things about Collette so I would hesitate to use them.
I also live in Florida and it took me years to build a winter wardrobe but I travel to Europe in winter every couple of years so it has been worth it. I don't have boots so can't help you with that.
MarthaT is offline  
Jan 9th, 2015, 08:48 AM
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> Aerie erg-- should be Erzeberg,area. This is where you find wonderful wooden items.

Try again ;-) It's Erzgebirge mountains. And not really close to a river cruise
Ingo is online now  
Jan 9th, 2015, 11:50 AM
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No Erxgebirge is not close to a river, , that is why I suggested including it as part of a train trip. I never would have known about this area if it wasn't for you, Ingo. It's still my favorite are of Germany at Christmastime. Thanks for your suggestions.
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Jan 10th, 2015, 11:05 AM
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I am leaning towards Insight (will be booking in a month). Do the vendors at the Christmas markets only accept Euros or do they accept cash? When I get my itinerary, I may be seeking recommendations on some restaurants (some nights we are on our own for dinners). That would be a great help!
kathy123x is offline  
Jan 10th, 2015, 11:06 AM
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>Do the vendors at the Christmas markets only accept Euros or do they accept cash?
???
They accept Euros. Usually cash only.
quokka is online now  
Jan 10th, 2015, 11:22 AM
  #17  
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I guess I meant to say Euros or US dollars
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Jan 10th, 2015, 11:26 AM
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No one will take US dollars - why should they? Would market vendors in the US take Euros?
quokka is online now  
Jan 10th, 2015, 12:31 PM
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Well, when you put it that way, it was a silly question! lol
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Jan 10th, 2015, 04:10 PM
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I have gone five times with a small tour company from Portland Oregon. most of the guests have gone many times, which gives you an idea of satisfaction quotient. they do go to the Erzgebirge Mts and Lauscha , where the glass ornaments began. they also visit small workshops with beautiful special ornaments. The hotels are lovely and always close to the center of old town (where the markets are.) Their tours for next year will come out in Feb. and will sell out within a week. The website is www.christmastrips.com It is run by Gerhard Meng and his wife and the trips are so much fun. Have a great time.
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