This trip takes you to a variety of Christmas markets across central Europe. Contrast the various traditions, cuisines and of course, mulled wine, in several amazing cities. Munich’s Christmas markets are probably the most famous of them all. Authentic Bavarian food, ale and music make this an unforgettable Christmas experience. Explore Salzburg’s markets and travel high above the rooftops of the Baroque historical district to the fully preserved castle, the Hohensalzburg Fortress. Vienna’s Christmas markets are as ornamental as its architecture. Austria’s capital provides a spectacular seasonal shopping affair, with tonnes of hand-crafted toys, candles and paintings on offer. Where better to pick up those last-minute gifts?
Indulge the senses by exploring the best of Central Europe’s festive market scene. Feel the bustling energy of Munich’s charismatic Christmas markets, savour the smell of spicy festive delights in Salzburg, see the sights of vibrant Vienna and take a therapeutic soak in the thermal baths of Budapest. Meander from stall to stall, discovering new sights, sounds, flavours and fashions.
Breakfast Included: 7 Lunches Included: Dinner Included: 1
Welcome to Munich, Germany. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader. If you're going to be late, please inform hotel reception. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. In the evening, head out for an included dinner with the rest of the group. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend the meeting. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
In the morning after breakfast, venture out with your leader for an orientation walk of Munich. This cosmopolitan metropolis houses an extraordinary array of sights for travellers more interested in art, architecture, history, music and, of course, Christmas markets. There are 20 different Christmas markets in Munich and you'll be introduced to the best of them. From the Kripperlmarkt, which has all you need to create an authentic manger, to the Tollwood Christmas Market, Munich's vibrant ethnic festival. Music lovers will be able to get into the festive spirit with a special alpine Christmas Market concert from the balcony of Munich's town hall, which takes places every day while the Christmas markets are on. Sip on a mug of gluehwein, grab a grilled sausage and browse the markets full of toys, wood carvings, candles etc.
Travel south-east into Austria by train to Salzburg today, which should take around one hour and forty five minutes. Built on the fortune of its famous salt mines, Salzburg is the birthplace of the Snow White and the Seven Dwarves legend, home to the hills from the Sound of Music and purveyor of absolutely everything Mozart. On arrival, check in to your hotel and then head out into the city for an orientation walk with your leader. The city will captivate with its history, as well as its cobblestone lanes, bubbling river and charmingly kitsch atmosphere. In the late afternoon, visit the atmospheric Christmas market in Cathedral Square. The smells of gluhwein, roasted chestnuts, toasted almonds and cinnamon brushed baked apples waft through the marketplace, while the sounds of traditional Salzburg choirs fill the air. Later on, jump in to a cable car and reach the Hohensalzburg Fortress, the city’s most visible landmark. This fully preserved castle hosts very small, intimate Christmas market and if you’re lucky, a Christmas themed live music.
Today is free to explore Salzburg and the surrounding areas. Perhaps make your way to the salt mine in Berchtesgaden, situated in the German Alps. Otherwise, you may want to experience the life of the von Trapp family from the Sound of Music and visit movie scenes of the Mirabell Gardens and Pegasus Fountain, Leopoldskron Palace and Hellbrunn Palace. In the evening, why not head back to the Christmas markets to soak up even more of the blissful atmosphere?
Board a train bound for Vienna today (approximately 2.5 hours). On arrival, embark on a leader-led walking tour of Vienna, passing grand buildings and parks. You'll see many monuments dedicated to famous composers and historical figures. In your free time, perhaps visit the striking Hofburg Palace, the Leopold Museum or seek out exceptional city views on the Prater Ferris Wheel. Later in the afternoon, head to the Christmas markets in front of the City Hall. Browse the markets, sip on Christmas punch and snack on some freshly baked cinnamon biscuits.
Your base for two nights in Vienna is Magdas Hotel – an accommodation that is unlike any other hotel you are likely to come across on your travels. Magdas Hotel is a social project bringing refugees from all over the world to work together in one place. Hotel is staffed with refugees so expect to hear different languages and different stories from all over the world. Also the building’s history is interesting – it’s a former old people’s home and homeless shelter which has been completely renovated. Most of the furniture is also re-cycled, renovated and re-purposed. The place is full of love, passion and unity. It’s full of colours and smiley faces. Magdas Hotel ‘brings together what belongs together’
You'll have the whole day to explore Vienna, so perhaps head to Schoenbrunn Palace, which was designed by Empress Maria Theresa herself. The gardens are free to all visitors but there is a charge for entrance and tours of the palace. Avoid long queues by pre-booking your tickets at schoenbrunn.at. Also, with over 12 Christmas markets to visit in the city, you'll be sure to find the perfect Christmas present.
Travel east from Vienna to Budapest on a train (approximately 3 hours). Known as the 'Pearl of the Danube', Budapest's grand architecture and boulevards evoke a time gone by. With so much to see and do, hiring a bicycle is a great way to move between sights and attractions. After a short guided walk around the city, it's time to visit the Christmas markets. With the main Christmas market being located in Vorosmarty Square, every street light, tree and market stall lit up it gives the area a real Christmas feel. There are plenty of stalls offering different Hungarian foods to try and buy. Experience these great markets of Budapest with a glass of mulled wine or shot of traditional Hungarian palinka. The combination of market cheer and Neo-Renaissance architecture is a charming one.
Your Christmas Market adventure comes to an end today. There are no more activities planned and you're free to depart the accommodation at any time after you check-out.