Christmas Markets - Nov./Dec. 2024

Old Jul 27th, 2022, 09:58 AM
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Christmas Markets - Nov./Dec. 2024

The hundred degree weeks here in Arkansas have me planning winter trips! The wife and I are preliminarily looking at a Christmas Markets trip between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2024. Our young kids will have just turned 8 and 3, and we'll likely have my in-laws (67/64 years old) with us to help wrangle the littles. Over the last year I've reviewed dozens of websites, blogs and forum posts about the markets as well as taking kids there. We've been to Europe several times before on our own but never in cold weather and barely in Germany. We'll likely have no more than 8 days as we'll have our daughter out of school for a week. We'd prefer not to rent a car and simply use trains for all travel unless we need to hire a car service for a particular special trip. I'd anticipate arriving into our inbound city on a Saturday morning and flying home on the following Sunday.

Ideally, I'd center the trip on Germany but include Strasbourg and, possibly, Salzburg. I was thinking flying into Frankfurt, then train to Strasbourg. Possibly seeing a couple of Alsace villages (Colmar & ??) from Strasbourg. Train to Stuttgart for a couple of days. Finally train to Munich as a final home base, flying home from there. We could day trip by train to several markets I've seen recommended - - Augsburg, Ludwigsburg, Regensburg. I've seen the Nuremburg hype but several veterans have said to visit Stuttgart instead if given the chance, so that's why I included it here. This plan really doesn't leave time for Frankfurt itself.

A second option under consideration - - Do the above, skipping Stuttgart, which would give a little more time in the Strasbourg/Alsace part, and in Munich. That leaves Strasbourg and Munich as the only two primary bases.

A third option - - round trip flight into/out of Munich, skipping the Alsace and Stuttgart stops altogether and, instead, doing day trips from Munich (possibly hiring a driver to visit the mad king's fairytale castle). Would consider spending a couple days in Salzburg if using this option. It was beautiful in summer many years ago, have heard raves about it at Christmas.

I suppose a fourth option might be round trip into/out of Frankfurt, doing there and Alsace (Stuttgart as a day trip from Strasbourg?), and simply dropping Bavaria and Salzburg. I've only been to Bavaria, though, and would love the fam to see it at Christmas.

My primary concern is trying to keep from having to move all the time with the kids. Day trips on short train rides aren't problems (i.e., half hour train Munich to Augsburg) for the most part but I hate to drag luggage to three or four base cities in the winter when we have 8 days. That leaves too little time IMO. I know the 3 year old will need naps and need to eat on a schedule so we can be flexible where needed in that regard. I've seen that visiting the markets 3-5 in the afternoons would get us some daylight time and darkness time with all the lights while leaving meal time open after that.

If we skipped Stuttgart, just basing in Strasbourg and Munich, perhaps we could simply train to Stuttgart as a day trip from one of those bases?

Please note that my wife hates cold weather so this might be the only time I get her to these markets! =)

Would appreciate any and all insights. Absolutely no set plans yet and this is the fun part of the planning. Suggest away!

Last edited by TravelinArkansan; Jul 27th, 2022 at 10:01 AM.
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Old Jul 27th, 2022, 01:23 PM
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possibly hiring a driver to visit the mad king's fairytale castle

No need to hire a driver. Easy enough to take a bus tour or do on your own via train and bus.

I like your third option, which I've done myself many times - the logistics are so very easy. Munich to Salzburg is easy by train and both are a lot of fun at the holidays. And the countryside at Christmas is quite special when covered in snow (not a guarantee of course).


Munich and Salzburg both make great bases with lots of day trip opportunities - Mittenwald, Garmisch, Fussen from Munich, the Salzkammergut and Berchtesgaden from Salzburg. Your eight days will vaporize.
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Old Jul 27th, 2022, 02:34 PM
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I would opt for fewer destinations and if you get bored and the kids are cooperative, more day trips. So I will go for option 3 also. Moving around less will be better with kids. Plus I think the Munich - Salzburg combination is very worthwhile. It's a shame about Alsace but I would worry less about missing Stuttgart, just my opinion. If you must go in that direction, I think Esslingen has a medieval market that is much admired, although I haven't been there myself. However, Melnq8 gives some good day trip ideas. If you only have 8 days fly into Munich directly.

Plus Munich has indoor options (such as the Deutsches Museum) if the weather gets too bad.

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Old Jul 27th, 2022, 02:51 PM
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I agree with sticking to fewer places as the 8 days will go by in a flash. We are headed there this year for 8 days and only doing Munich and Salzburg. We have been to both, so know the routine, and even with that I wished we had more time and we won't have children with us. The trains are super easy to use between the two cities.
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Old Jul 27th, 2022, 04:27 PM
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I love, love, love Christmas Markets. I generally travel to Europe in November as I love the cooler weather. I research intensely, diligently and actually a year before as the dates of Christmas Markets vary greatly. Some can start around the 19th of Nov or as late as the 6th of Dec. Some go to Christmas Eve, some to the Epiphany. We did the Markets in Prague and Vienna and the temp was 16 degrees warmer than normal that year.

So since your date is 2024, I would look this year as I find that they don't really have information until Sept/Oct and that is too late for me to plan/resevie apts and buy airfare.
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Old Jul 27th, 2022, 08:36 PM
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Another vote for Munich and Salzburg. Hubby and I did that in 2019. We flew to Munich and immediately took a train to Salzburg. Three nights there and then trained to Munich for 3 nights. We took one day trip out of each city and had a blast. Weather was wonderful, with snow only in the higher elevations. We loved it so much, we are booked to visit the Christmas markets in several Swiss towns this Nov/Dec. We had booked for the Christmas markets in 2020, but had to cancel due to Covid. Book hotels/apartments early to get the location and accommodation you want. Trains are quick and easy to navigate. We bought the tickets at the Munich airport.
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Old Jul 28th, 2022, 08:21 AM
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After two years of Christmas markets being cancelled cross Europe, I do not dare make any prediction for December 2024.

This said, today it was announced that Notre Dame in Paris will reopen on December 8, 2024. (The original plan was Easter 2024.)
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Old Jul 28th, 2022, 04:40 PM
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I dare not think about adding Paris to this itinerary or we may need the entire month of December.

Looks like Munich and Salzburg is a consensus opinion so far. Would any of you take a day to visit Neuschwanstein or not worry about it?
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Old Jul 29th, 2022, 06:00 AM
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As far as Neuschwanstein, it depends on your interests. I've visited a few times, so no, not a priority for me, but to a first time visitor, it might be a must see. It's purely a personal decision - do you want to see it? The kiddos might enjoy taking the horse drawn carriage to the top, but not sure they'd enjoy the actual tour of the castle - it's a lot of steps and moves pretty quickly. And it's a steep walk to get to the castle if you choose to walk.

It's a long day, no matter how you go about it - there's a long bus trip from Munich, or you can DIY using trains and buses. I've done both and much prefer the DIY, but the bus tours also stop in Obergammergau for a mid morning break and at Linderhof.

But with a three year old? Hmmm....
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Old Jul 29th, 2022, 07:17 AM
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If we did Neuschwanstein, we probably wouldn't go tour inside the castle but rather just view the outside and grounds and try to get some good pics. Does the carriage ride operate in winter? The kids and, frankly, their mother, would probably appreciate the ride up.

Appreciate all the input.
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Old Jul 29th, 2022, 08:23 AM
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Yes, the carriage operates in winter as long as conditions allow. When I was last there in December 2017, the line for the carriage was long and slow. Three of us chose to walk up, the fourth wanted to ride. She managed to miss her entry time by waiting for the carriage.

https://www.hohenschwangau.de/en/vis...ch-the-castles

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Old Jul 30th, 2022, 10:55 AM
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Strasbourg calls itself the capital of Christmas. It is probably not wrong.

Christkindelsmärik of Strasbourg (Christmas Market) - by K2 | Any Port in a Storm (proboards.com)

Naturally, there are plenty of other cities in Europe which have wonderful Christmas markets, too.
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Old Jul 30th, 2022, 02:20 PM
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I've done the Christmas markets in Munich at Thanksgiving a few times. I love going there and do all my own planning and traveling. It is very easy to base yourself in both Munich and Salzburg by using the train. Everytime I also went to Neuschwanstein but I did tours as the timed ticket entrance thing had me nervous but my cousins did it themselves without issue.

If going to Neuschwanstein and the carriage is needed, be aware it might only go up. That happened when I took my Mom who has difficulty walking. She was ok to walk down dodging the horse poop and we didn't miss our bus back to Munich. If taking a tour just make sure to get in line for the carriage as soon as possible. Its better to wait at the top then the bottom. If you do decide to go in and miss your timed entrance, just ask and they will let in at the next time slot. They let us in when I missed going in with my group and were able to catch up.
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Old Jul 31st, 2022, 04:27 PM
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I've read travel blogs that advise against actually going inside Neuschwanstein, but just touring the grounds. Seems a little anti-climactic to go that far and see it but not go inside when you have the chance. My in-laws would never make it back there again and it would be their first castle (wife and I toured two in the Loire valley many years ago), so perhaps we'd spend the 45 minutes or so inside.

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Old Aug 1st, 2022, 07:26 AM
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Are you aware that Neuschwanstein is a fake castle? It's not much older than the Eiffel Tower in Paris. In reality it's a palace built after the ideas of a (half) mad Bavarian king during the second half of the nineteenth century. It has nothing to do with medieval castles at all that were built half a millenium before Neuschwanstein for defensive purposes.
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