German Christmas Market(s) Question

Old Jun 7th, 2008, 07:00 PM
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German Christmas Market(s) Question

Hi,

A friend and I are planning a trip to Germany for the Christmas Markets. We leave on Dec. 1 and return on Dec. 7 so initally we have (2) travel days and (5) fun days. We've both been to Germany in the past (Munich, Romantic Road towns, Freiburg, Cochem).

Our main interests for this short trip are Christmas Markets and shopping. We can fly into either Frankfurt or Munich (FF miles). Nurnberg is a must.

A few questions that we have are:

1. With only having (5) days, we were thinking Nurnberg and one other stop. We'd like to see other places but again, with only 5 days, I think 2 is all we can manage without running ragged. With this in mind, we were thinking either Nurnberg and Erfurt or Nurnberg and Augsburg. Has anyone been to Erfurt? Why would you pick one over the other?

2. We would be traveling by train - should we get a 7 day pass? In the past we've only ever rented cars, so traveling by train is a bit new to us. What would be the best ticket to get?

3. Any other suggestions as to our 5 days (keeping Nurnberg in as it is a must)??

We really wanted to stop in Seiffen - near Dresden, but I am afraid it is too far and not manageable this trip. We are lovers of Steinbach, Ulbricht and many of the other wooden Christmas treasures as well as wooden toys!

Thank you so much for your help and I look forward to hearing from you!


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Old Jun 7th, 2008, 11:21 PM
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I did this several years ago. If you are flying in to Munich, you might consider that one of the markets you visit, as the market near city hall is quite large and colorful. Nurenburg is the oldest, so yes, that is a must. Rottenberg is close by and quaint, so you might consider that as well. Those three should be manageable by train in the time you have, although I'll have to leave it to others to give you advice as to specific trains and schedules as we had a car for that trip.
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Old Jun 8th, 2008, 06:27 AM
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Oh, go to Regensburg! Our dates will overlap and we can meet for a glass of gulwein. Like you, I am traveling without a car. After much consideration, I decided on Regensburg as my home base for several reasons:

1. It has 3 Christmas markets, 2 in the old medieval center and one at the palace.

2. Perfectly located for day trips to Passau, Nuremburg, and Munich to view those markets. It is
1 to 1 1/2 hours by direct train to each.
You could stay a few nights in Nuremburg and the rest in Regensburg. I chose to stay in Regensburg the entire week and just visit Nuremburg's market. Hotels are less expensive, it won't be as crowded, and I think the city is more beautiful.

3. Regensburg is a UNESCO heritage city, with 1,000 historic buildings and a prime setting on the Danube.

4. There is affordable transfer service to and from the Munich airport direct to any hotel or address in town. I much prefer this to schlepping luggage on and off trains. If you plan to buy a lot, this would be a great option for traveling to the airport on your return. (I'm going mostly to experience the sights and ambiance).

Have you seen this website?:
www.germany-christmas-market.org.uk
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Old Jun 8th, 2008, 09:28 AM
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Thanks for the great link to the German Christmas markets - very nice indeed.

I also suggest Regensburg. We were there last Christmas. It is a delightful city with three nice markets. We had a great time.
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Old Jun 8th, 2008, 12:17 PM
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Munich has several markets the big one at Marienplatz and another a block away that is all creche figures. Nurenburg is a little older but a similar thing. You cna take the train there from Munich for the day. The Bavaria ticket for 27 euros will cover both of you. Another nice daytrip it the small Christmas market at Salzburg (also available on the Bavaria ticket as a daytrip.
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Old Jun 8th, 2008, 01:25 PM
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Thank you for all of your responses and suggestions! We will have to look into Rottenberg, Regensburg and Munich. We've both been to Munich a couple of times, but not to their Christmas Market. We are debating if we want to hit two big cities or one city and one or two smaller towns.

The one city we will definitely hit is Nurnberg. For those of you who have been to the Nurnberg market, could you please share your thoughts of the market - also your thoughts on Nurnberg - we are trying to decide on how many days we will need to get a good 'feel' of it. Also, any quaint places to stay? We were thinking of staying outside of Nurnberg (both of us prefer quaint towns rather than the big cities) as Barbara5353 is doing but thought it may be too much to make day trips for 2 or 3 days.

Another question - are there any markets that carry steinbach, ulbricht, Grimm toys, etc.? The last time I was in Germany, I noticed some of the Kathe Wolhfart (spelling?) ornaments were made in China - I'm looking for the German made christmas decorations and toys.

AisleSeat, I'm assuming the Bavaria ticket is for Bavaria only? If we did go to Erfurt, would our train be covered?

Barbara5353, thank you for the link .. yes I have been on it - there are so many charming markets that it becomes overwhelming after a bit. We chose Nurnberg because neither of us had been - we tend to like the smaller, quaint towns over the big cities. With only 5 days, we didn't want to hop town to town on a train and be traveling most of the time.

Thanks again for your help and please keep the suggestions coming.
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Old Jun 8th, 2008, 01:44 PM
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We've also been considering Bamberg or Augsburg. Has anyone been to these markets and if so, can you tell me your thoughts on them? Thanks!
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Old Jun 8th, 2008, 04:36 PM
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"We chose Nurnberg because neither of us had been - we tend to like the smaller, quaint towns over the big cities."


Riley, Nurnberg has a population of over half a million people. Not exactly small.

On another thread, I recommended the town of Amberg as a great daytrip from Regensburg. It might also serve as a convenient small town (40,000+ people) for you to stay a few days. It is only an hour by train to Nurnberg and Regensburg.


www.amberg.de
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Old Jun 8th, 2008, 06:01 PM
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Plan your Nuernberg experience so you are not there on the weekend! I would not miss that market but it is extremely crowded on weekends. There is an adjacent "international" market with items (glass ornaments and other handicrafts) from the Czech repub. and Poland. They are cheaper (lower labor costs and they are lovely.)
I would also not miss Munich. That market is one of my favorites and the people are so friendly. I agree completely with AisleSeat's comments. While there don't miss the Victualien (sp?) market, where the locals will be buying greens and other 'necessities.'
I love Seiffen and am going back there this year but it is not good for your itinerary.
Maybe another year you could go to Dresden and Seiffen. Seiffen is not easy to get to by public transportation. But you will see wooden products from the Erzgeberge, where Seiffen is.These are the 'real deal.' In english the area is also called the Ore Mts. Seiffen is an hour or two south of Dresden.
The glass ornaments are from Lauscha so if you see that you know they are also made in Germany and what you want. Have a great trip. It is indeed a magical experience. CJ
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Old Jun 8th, 2008, 06:38 PM
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bettyk, yes, I did contradict myself. I should have stated that although we prefer the smaller, quaint towns and villages of Germany, we decided to take a leap and do Nurnberg due to the christmas market and hopefully good store shopping!

Caroljean, you really are tempting me to pass on Nurnberg and instead go to Seiffen!! I've been wanting to go there for the 'real deal' when it comes to the wooden smokers, nutcrackers, ornaments, toys, etc. but realized that with 5 days, it probably wouldn't make sense to go. oh my We love to shop so we were also concerned (not sure why, maybe because we don't have any experience in Eastern Germany) that Eastern Germany wasn't as developed as Western Germany. I am probably way off base here ...

As you stated, I did research on transporation to Seiffen without a car and with our 5 days, it didn't seem feasible. We will have to save this for a future trip. Have you been before? If so, please give me details!

I've been reading the many posts on the Christmas markets and one that pops up is Stuttgart and Bamberg!
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Old Jun 8th, 2008, 07:35 PM
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Hi Riley
No, I wouldn't pass on Nurnberg. It is very good - but a lot like Munich. As I said, to go to Seiffen, you almost need to involve Dresden. Which I think is great. We have a resident expert here on Dresden - Ingo. He clued me in to the old - I called it medieval, he called it something else market, which is on the castle grounds. You walk down a ramp into the 'middle ages' with torches lighting everything and everything is handmade and from 'olden times.' It is very special.
I love the 'Eastern German experience' and have gone twice. To me, it is very special. I have been to Germany many times but not to the east. Now that I can go, it fascinates me. There are towns that I had never heard of but have amazing theaters and an amazing history of art and music (Meiningen, for instance.)
The first time I went to the markets (in 1989) I went with my husband and we spent the month of Dec. riding trains. Obviously he had had enough of the markets but 3 years ago I decided I wanted to go 'one more time.' I loved it and have gone the last 2 years with a wonderful small tour company. I think this will be my last year but they keep going places I want to go. Any question, fire away! I do know whereever you go, you will have a great time. CJ
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Old Jun 8th, 2008, 07:53 PM
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RileyBug, we've been to the Christmas markets in Munich, Regensburg, and Aschaffenburg. Regensburg is a great base, imo, and you can read Barbara's planning thread for more info.

You ask about Bamberg and Erfurt. I've stayed in both but not at Christmas time. Both are lovely towns, although I might give the edge to Bamberg for atmosphere. Erfurt is not far from Frankfurt by train.

It sounds like everyone is saying that the markets in Nurenburg and Munich are similar, so if I were you I'd skip Munich's (although I liked the markets there)- especially since you've been to Munich - and see Nurenburg and at least two smaller towns. I think you could easily manage day trips to various markets. Train travel is a breeze for day trips and most markets can be seen at a leisurely pace in a few hours (in the smaller towns).
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Old Jun 8th, 2008, 08:06 PM
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I took my mom and 2 teenage boys this past December. We had the best time and cannot wait to go back!

We loved riding the trains and found that we could pack a lot in during the day and then rest up on the train. We flew into Munich and purchased the Bavaria tickets. What an amazing bargain. We went to Salzburg for one night and toured the Christmas Markets their as well as a Sound of Music tour. We went to Neuschwanstein Castle one day - we purchased our tickets in advance online. We went to Nuremburg and visited the Christmas Markets...love the little chocolate store on the corner and the sausages! YUMMY! We went on to Rothenburg ob der Tauber and spent the night inside the walled city...we enjoyed the Christmas markets, the crepes, Kathe Wolfarte shops and the Night Watchman tour would have been fantastic if we would have stayed...my son had to use the restroom and my mom was freezing...so we missed out. Loved the Radler (beer with Sprite) If you have the merchants ship your goodies home, you sort of break even on the tax scheme. Rothenburg really was our favorite, if we had to pick...we could have just stayed there forever...it is just so cute! This was my first trip, so I am not familiar with the other cities you mentioned, but we were very happy with our itinerary, and only wished we had one more day to see Dachau in Munich. We went back to Munich late in the day and wrapped up our trip at the Hard Rock Cafe and then a whirl around the markets in Munich...an amazing trip!! I wrote a few reviews on trip advisors...you can see the hotels where we stayed and just a few photos.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/members-reviews/abasketcase

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Old Jun 9th, 2008, 11:14 AM
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CarolJean, you can call the historic Christmas Market in Dresden whatever you want to! ;-) As long as you enjoy it ...

RileyBug - unfortunately with only 5 days it doesn't make sense to go to Seiffen and Dresden. Save it for a future trip. There are so many traditions, local customs and woodcarvers, manufactures etc. in that region that are worth to see that it takes even longer than 5 days to do justice to all that. And I haven't started with Dresden itself ... LOL
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Old Jun 9th, 2008, 01:07 PM
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I've been to the ones in Augsburg and Munich. We were there later in the season, so the Augsburg market was so packed you could barely move. You shouldn't have that problem with your dates. DH, who was born and raised in Bavaria, says that Nürnberg is the best. (so that's where we're going this year, although we might also try Regensburg). I think your idea of choosing one large and one small makes sense. Unfortunately, you are seeing fewer and fewer German-made goods at these markets.

I must also note that I have found better deals on Steinbach and Ulbricht German-made wooden items at my local "Tuesday Morning" stores, especially now with the $/€ exchange being what it is.

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Old Jun 9th, 2008, 02:58 PM
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I've been to the Augsburg market and found it lacking - it's big, but not very pleasant, and mostly a lot of junk. I wasn't really charmed by Augsburg in general, actually.

I spent the last three winters in Stuttgart and visited perhaps a dozen Christmas markets in southern Germany and IMHO, Stuttgart has the best market in terms of ambience, food, and quality of goods. It's also HUGE, spilling out from Schillerplatz into the Schlossplatz, Rathausplatz, Koenigstrasse, and nearby Calwerstrasse. I know I'm not the only one who thinks so, as I've seen it mentioned in other places. Stuttgart's just not on the usual list of tourist destinations, so I suppose it is a well-kept secret.

RileyBug, I know what you mean about "made in China". I hate the Kaethe Wohlfahrt stores for that reason. Unfortunately it seems harder and harder to find locally-made wooden ornaments.
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Old Jun 9th, 2008, 04:13 PM
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Thank you all for the helpful responses! Much to my dismay, I will leave Dresden, Seiffen and the Erz. Mountains for another trip

So we've decided Nurnberg is definitely in. We are now debating between the following cities/towns:
1. Regensberg: neither of us has been
2. Stuttgart: neither of us has been but wondering if we want two big cities.
3. Bad Wimpfen

We can fly into either Frankfurt or Munich and I'm thinking with the above places, Munich would be our pick.

How many days would you say it takes to get through the Nurnberg X-mas markets?

If we decide to do the Nurnberg/Regensburg combo - we may stay outside of Nurnberg, although it is nice to be right there in the middle of it all!
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Old Jun 9th, 2008, 04:26 PM
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In looking at a large map of Germany, I've come up with this draft itin...

Fly into Munich. Visit Nurnberg (2 days), Stuttgart, Freiburg and Strasbourg. Is this a good mix of small and big? Thoughts from anyone on these places? Or other suggestions along these lines?
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Old Jun 9th, 2008, 06:00 PM
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We were in Freiburg in March for 2 nights and really enjoyed it. (This was the same trip where we visited Bamberg and Erfurt - along with a week in Berlin and some time near Frankfurt.) We stayed right on the main square overlooking the cathedral (which is where I'm guessing the Chrismtas market would be) and it's a lovely city. There was a farmers market on the square every morning and we found some nice crafts there.
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Old Jun 9th, 2008, 06:31 PM
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Can someone please tell me the main train station in Nurnberg. I'm trying to figure out train times from Frankfurt to Nuremberg and Munich to Nuremberg and on www.bahn.de there about 18 choices of train stops in Nurnberg .. I don't see Hauptbahnhof in the choices. Thanks!!

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