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Christmas trip to Germany, Austria and Czech Republic

Christmas trip to Germany, Austria and Czech Republic

Old Oct 6th, 2014, 07:49 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2007
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Christmas trip to Germany, Austria and Czech Republic

We are starting to plan our 2 week vacation for this Christmas and New Years and would welcome any input.
Flying into Munich on Dec 20 out of either Munich or Berlin on Jan 5. Thinking of staying in Munich, Vienna, Prague and Berlin. Should we drive? Are we going too many places? Is there a better route?
trommom is offline  
Old Oct 6th, 2014, 11:31 PM
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For your itinerary I think 2 two weeks is a nice sampler. Is there a way you can fly into Vienna or Berlin and out of the other?

Of course, a car is unnecessary in any of those cities, so the decision to drive between them really should consider the cost of driving versus the train (is "we" 2 persons or more?; petrol costs; parking and highway toll costs); how much luggage will "we" be tugging along; how comfortable you are driving in Europe (and in winter), what kind of day trips you might want to do and how best to do them (public transportation versus rental car). and so forth.

Road signs are easily comprehendible by non-German speakers, and barring a major weather event, the roads will be clear. The drive from Munich to Vienna is only truly scenic (from the main roads) up to around Salzburg; after that it's boring highway straight on to Vienna.

Happy Planning!
fourfortravel is online now  
Old Oct 6th, 2014, 11:43 PM
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Hi trommom,

Some other factors to consider for driving vs. rails:

Most of Europe will be on the roads for the Christmas holidays, so you may find yourself facing some traffic jams (Staus), especially around Munich.

If you are from the U.S., you may never have experienced a working rail system before, so using it would add a layer of "European Adventure" to your European adventure. You can take a road trip practically anywhere in the world, but using a good rail system is rare.

When you take the train, everyone can enjoy the scenery -- no one will be watching the road or following on a map. In addition to enjoying the scenery, you can read, nap, listen to music, enjoy a snack (including wine), walk the aisles, play cards, or strike up a conversation with your seat-mate. It's great people-watching time.

If you take the train, you won't have to worry about inner city traffic or roadways -- remember that most European cities were not designed for auto traffic.

Finally, taking the train is more green (yaaay!). When you get the schedules for your trip using the German rail site


it will also how you a comparison of carbon emissions for the journey by car and by rail. You may be really happy to help preserve the beauty you came over to see!

Have fun as you plan!

swandav2000 is offline  
Old Oct 7th, 2014, 11:01 AM
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How many days do you actually have on the ground. Two weeks can mean 12 or 13 days (13 or 14 nights) or 15/16 days.

If the latter you can easily have a quick look at all 4 cities. If the former I think I would limit yourself to only 3 cities. Remember that many things will be closed late 12/24, all 12/25 and also 1/1 - plus it gets dark early so days are short.

As for car versus train - who and how many are "we" and are you trying to see other towns in between the major cities.
nytraveler is offline  
Old Oct 7th, 2014, 02:02 PM
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Flying into München and departing from Berlin is a good plan. In winter time, taking the train is always a better idea than driving a car.

Be aware that it will be high season. Book your accomodation well in advance. For hotels, use www.hrs.de. Also, book your train tickets early. Exactly 90 days before travelling, you will get the best rates. Use www.bahn.de.
traveller1959 is offline  
Old Oct 7th, 2014, 09:56 PM
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It looks like we will arrive in Munich on Dec 21 and leave Berlin on Jan 6.
We is 3 - my husband, me and my 26 year old daughter. We have traveled quite a bit and are familiar with train travel and are certainly considering it considering that we are visiting large cities in the winter. However we are comfortable driving as well. The weather could be a concern though. Are there any smaller towns we should see/stay? Would it be better for us to be in Munich or Vienna for Christmas? How about Prague for New Years?
trommom is offline  
Old Oct 8th, 2014, 11:01 AM
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I dotnt think you are going to too many places, but it will give you a good feel for all of them. Last year we drove from Rothenburg, Germany to Prague, Salzburg, Munich and Points in between for 14 days. Driving between all of these places was beautiful and very easy with a GPS. We highly recommend CZESKY Krumlov a few hours South of Prague and a Unesco World Heriatge site. (A beautiful town). Personally, if you are driving I would fly into Munich and out of Berlin to maximize your time.
kawilliams is offline  
Old Oct 8th, 2014, 12:44 PM
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That area is colder than much of western Europe so driving could be dicey - maybe not but always possible. If going to cities mainly take the train - if wanting to explore the countryside also drive but the countryside at that time of year is not that great and the weather could be funky.

cars are more and more useless in cities - wide areas in the center may be all pedestrianized or off limits to private vehicles.

Anyway trains are great - for a good low down on trains in those countries check out these IMO superb sites: www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com - the latter have great info on discounted tickets that if bought far enough in advance to guarantee as they are sold in limited numbers can yield deep discounts over just showing up at the station.

If you want full flexibility to just show up and hop the next train then consider the Germany-Austria Railpass that lets you do just that and which compared to full-fare tickets can be a bargain.
PalenQ is offline  
Old Oct 8th, 2014, 09:35 PM
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Living in Vienna, I can say that the days leading up to Christmas are magical; there is much less commercialization of the holiday than in the U.S., and the focus seems to be on preparing to enjoy the days with family and friends. That said, unless you are planning to rent an apartment while in Vienna (and can thus prepare meals), you would do well to plan ahead with reservations for meals on 24 and 25 December. 26 December is also a holiday in Austria, though in Vienna most of the museums and restaurants will be open.
fourfortravel is online now  
Old Oct 12th, 2014, 07:22 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
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I agree that the days before Christmas are nice in Vienna. The City Hall will be illuminated and decorated.

Dresden is also magical over Christmas. Its Christmas Market is one of the best at all (because much of the Christmas decorations are crafted in the area).

For Christmas Eve and Christmas Day you may want to stay in a romantic hotel on the countryside. Many hotels offer special arrangements for Christmas, e.g. with singings, concerts, masses, carriage rides etc. It may be a more memorable experience than staying in a city hotel with a decorated tree in the lobby and just going out for dinner (as said, many restaurants will be closed and the few which are open will be booked early).
traveller1959 is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2014, 12:47 PM
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I'll never forget on Christmas Eve in Munich at the cathedral the choir lovingly singing Silent Night - in German of course but it was so so moving ... especially in that unique setting - Christmas Eve is often the night of celebration in Catholic countries - go to church!
PalenQ is offline  
Old Nov 14th, 2014, 06:18 PM
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If you are planning this around Christmas markets keep in mind that most of the ones in Germany close down about 2 pm on Dec 24 and the one in Prague stays open through New Years.
AisleSeat is offline  
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