Hellbrunn nr Salzburg Christmas market Schonbrunn Christmas Market Vienna christmas market detail

Essential Christmas Markets

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

Traveling during this time of year means that one can enjoy fewer crowds in the most popular museums and sites, revel in the festive atmosphere of the holiday season and, of course, sample delicious local specialties such as gingerbread, stollen and sausages! Shop for unusual hand-crafted gifts such as wooden toys and unique hand-blown glass.

It is said that Vienna had the first December market in 1296! The market was started so that people could stock up on practical goods for the Christmas holiday. Over time the markets evolved in Germany and the Holy Roman Empire and by the late Middle Ages, they had fully developed into the Christmas Markets as we know them today.

Please note that most Christmas markets open late in November and finish on either December 24 or 26. Some may stay open later in Vienna, but, for the most part, the markets are for the Advent season. They are often open all day and into the evening, but they look better and are most lively in the evenings, when the locals join in the festivities after work. Many markets have great food and some have wonderful concerts. We are happy to share a complete list of each city’s markets prior to your travels.

Download a PDF itinerary here.

Day 1
Arrival | Munich Munich Christmas market

Arrival into Munich, where you will be met by your driver for your transfer to your hotel in the center of the city.

After time to drop off your luggage, your guide will meet you at your hotel to take you on an overview walking tour of Munich’s Old Town.

Stroll through the gorgeous city center. See the historic Frauenkirche church. This site was originally occupied by a small chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary, before this new church with the distinctive copper onion domes was erected in the 15th Century. It is one of Germany’s largest Gothic buildings, able to accommodate a congregation of up to 20,000. You can take the elevator to the top of one of the over-300- feet-tall onion-domed towers for a good view of central Munich. You will also see the Marienplatz (Mary’s Square), which has been Munich’s focal point since it was first laid in the 1300s. Originally a marketplace, the square was later used for public events like fairs, proclamations, and executions. Don’t miss the Viktualienmarkt, the open-air food market frequented by locals and tourists alike. It’s a great place to pick up a fresh pretzel for a snack.

Your guide will also give you a brief introduction of the Munich Christmas markets, where to find them and what to expect at each.

Exeter Services: Arrival Transfer; Guide (3 Hours)

Hotel: Charles

Day 2
Nuremburg | Nuremburg Nuremburg Christmas Market

Walk to the train station today to meet your departing high-speed train to Nuremberg, just over an hour away.

Upon arrival, a local guide will meet you to introduce you to the city. With a past that goes all the way back to the Holy Roman Empire, Nuremberg is steeped in history. It was the cradle of the German Renaissance and was one of the main towns of the Third Reich.

Today you can pop in the Albrecht Dürer House to see the workshop of the greatest artist of the German Renaissance. You can see the historical exhibitions at the castle, once the seat of Holy Roman Emperors.

Your guide will take you to visit the Main Market Square with its elaborate Gothic fountain. All of this was totally destroyed during WWII and has been painstakingly rebuilt.

You will have ample time to explore Nuremberg’s Christmas market – it’s perhaps the most famous in all of Germany. If the weather cooperates, you can even take a stagecoach tour around the market.

First class return tickets are include to head back to Munich this evening.

Exeter Services: Guide (3 Hours)

Hotel: Charles

Day 3
Munich | Munich christmas market detail

Enjoy your day at leisure. You will have a list of all of the Christmas festivities as well as our favorite sites in an around Munich to explore on your own.

You may want to head a bit outside the center to the Tollwood Winter Festival. It’s a bit of a hybrid of Christmas Market, circus productions and more.

Exeter Services: None

Hotel: Charles

Day 4
Munich - Salzburg | Munich - Salzburg Salzburg Christmas market

Your driver will meet you today for the short journey to the station to meet your first class train to Salzburg. Upon arrival, Your driver will meet you and will transfer you to your hotel in the historical center of the city.

This afternoon, your guide will meet you in the hotel lobby for an overview walking tour of historic Salzburg. Salzburg’s Old Town with its world famous baroque architecture is one of the best-preserved city centers in Europe and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Hohensalzburg fortress, strategically located on a hill overlooking the old town, is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe. Originally built in the 11th century as a simple bailey with wooden walls, the structure was gradually expanded and strengthened in the following centuries. Because the fortress actually never came under a military siege and was surrendered without a fight to Napoleon’s army, this is one of the best-preserved castles in Europe.

You will also see the Salzburg Cathedral, a 17th-century Baroque building which was the site of Mozart’s baptism. You can also see the Benedictine St. Peter’s abbey, the oldest monastery in Austria. The Romanesque abbey church, still in use today, was dedicated in the 12th Century. Its interiors were refurbished in the Rococo style in the 18th Century. The abbey also houses the oldest library in Austria including 800 ancient manuscripts and some 100,000 volumes, focusing on medieval church history, art history, and items relating to the local history of Salzburg,

Salzburg’s most famous son is of course Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and you will get a chance to visit his birthplace. His family lived here for 27 years and today you can see items from Mozart’s childhood.

All throughout your sightseeing today, you’ll also be noticing sites from The Sound of Music, including Mirabel Gardens (“Do-Re-Mi”), the abbey, and the cemetery where the family hid from the Nazis. Your guide will also show you around the Christmas market in the center of Old Town.

Exeter Services: Station Transfers; Guide (4 Hours)

Hotel: Sacher Salzburg

Day 5
Salzburg | Salzburg St Wolfgang nr Salzburg

Enjoy a morning at leisure.

This afternoon your guide and driver will take you through Salzkammergut, the Lake District. This gorgeous region is dotted with picturesque towns, lakes and mountains and gives you a glimpse into the stunning landscape that has made this region so famous.

St. Wolfgang is one of the most beautiful towns in the area and the Christmas market here and in St. Gilgen are truly local and authentic. As time allows, you can also stop in the lakeside village of Strobl, which is also decorated for the season.

Finally, if you’re interested, stop by Mondsee to see its colorful market square and stop at the cloister church used as the wedding church in The Sound of Music.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide (4 Hours)

Hotel: Sacher Salzburg

Day 6
Salzburg - Vienna | Salzburg - Vienna Hofburg

Your driver will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the train station for your departing train. First class tickets are included for this three hour train and you will have your choice of times.

Arrival into Vienna, where your private driver will welcome you for your transfer to your deluxe hotel in the center of the city. It’s located in the Spittelberg neighborhood – site of one of our favorite local Christmas markets – right outside your door!

This afternoon your guide will meet you in your hotel lobby. Vienna is a wonderful city to see on foot, as most major sights are located very close together. During your walk this morning with your guide, you will see the soaring St. Stephens Cathedral with its unusual colored ceramic tile roof. Your guide will take you through the interior of the cathedral and, if you have the energy, you can climb to the top of the steeple for a spectacular view over central Vienna!

Afterwards, you can continue on your walking tour of the Hofburg Palace complex. Your guide will take you into the lavish private living quarters of Empress Elizabeth and Emperor Franz Joseph from the 18th and 19th centuries. Empress Elizabeth (Sisi) was the Austrians’ Princess Di and prior to entering the Imperial Apartments, there is an exhibition of her life, which is quite interesting.

When you exit the Hofburg, your guide will show you some of the most famous coffeehouses of Vienna and will give you an introduction to the many Christmas markets in Vienna.

Exeter Services: Station Transfers; Guide (4 Hours)

Hotel: Sans Souci

Day 7
Vienna | Vienna Schonbrunn Christmas Market Vienna

This morning your private driver and guide will meet you and will take you to the famous Schönbrunn Palace, the summer home of the Hapsburgs. The design of Schönbrunn is bound largely with the personality of Maria Theresa, one of the Hapsburg’s greatest Empresses. Originally designed by Johann Bernhard Fischer Von Erlach, Maria Theresa gave Nikolaus Pacassi the contract to expand the summer palace. The palace stands today as a combination of Austrian Rococo and Classic Baroque symmetry.

Today you will tour the highlights of the Imperial staterooms and then have time to explore the wonderful Christmas market located right in the palace courtyard.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide (4 Hours)

Hotel: Sans Souci

Day 8
Vienna | Vienna Christmas Market - Vienna, Austria

Today, meet your guide and board the local tram to head to the nearby Belvedere Palace and Gardens. This palace, built as the summer residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy, is situated on a gently sloping hill. The two main palaces (upper and lower) are linked by formal French gardens and both now house wonderful art collections. Upper Belvedere holds a wonderful collection of 19th- and 20th-century art, while the lower palace houses a fine collection of art and sculpture from Vienna’s Golden Age (approximately 1683 to 1780).

This is one of the most amazing collections of Klimt in the world and you will have ample time to explore the exhibition.

This is also the site of another favorite Christmas market, and you have time to explore here as you wish.

As time allows, on the way back your guide will take you to the Naschmarkt, not far from your hotel, for a glimpse into one of the best markets in Vienna. This market dates to the 16th century and now features a huge array of food, from fresh fruits and vegetables, to spices, bread, and pastries. There are also several small restaurants featuring different cuisines—the perfect place to stop for an afternoon respite.

Exeter Services: Guide (4 Hours)

Hotel: Sans Souci

Day 9
Departure | Vienna

Your driver will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the airport for your onward flight.

Exeter Services: Departure Transfer

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