Christmas Markets of Germany & Italy
Bad Tӧlz – Vipiteno – Bamberg – Rothenburg – Wiesbaden
Join us on our 30th annual Christmas trip as we return to many of our favorite markets. The German Christkindlmarkt (Christmas Market) dates back hundreds of years and today the markets still work their magic, turning town squares and narrow lanes into a wonderland for all. Brightening the short winter days, the markets are a magical blend of the edible and decorative symbols of the season. Join the carolers at the giant lighted tree in front of the town hall. Savor traditional delicacies of gingerbread and fruitcake, roasted almonds, and grilled sausage. Visit the many special Christmas exhibitions and nativity scenes in the museums, galleries, and shops. Take home gifts of beautifully hand-crafted ornaments, wooden nutcrackers, tinsel angels, and brightly painted boxes.
Our hotels have been chosen for their individual character, central location, ambiance, hospitality, service, and value. We know that the ideal hotel can make you feel comfortable and at home. All hotels will be within short walking distance of the Christmas Markets, shops, museums, and other local attractions. Dinners are assured to be fresh and savory, reflective of the region, and served in a comfortable setting that allows you to share the day's events with your fellow travelers.
I will share with you the places I have been to many times and have grown to love -- quaint villages, ancient castles and fortresses, beautiful countryside, and interesting museums. We'll forget the hurried, worried world and set our own comfortable pace as we learn the culture and meet the people. The tour's focus will be on quality and service and I will be there to take care of every detail.
DAILY ITINERARY – November 28th to December 9th, 2017
Tuesday, November 28th – Bad Tӧlz
You will be met at the Munich Airport for transfer to our hotel in this small town at the edge of the Alps. Older than Munich, it offers fine examples of medieval and baroque art and architecture. The Bad Tölz Christkindlmarkt transforms the historical town center into a Christmas fairytale. There are more than 50 stalls offering a variety of goods, many made by local artisans. Included are woodcarvings and a variety of ornaments. Every day at 5 p.m. you can hum along to well-known carols performed by local choirs and bands. Our hotel dates to 1664 and is located next to the market. "Get Acquainted" reception and dinner in the evening.
Wednesday, November 29th – Vipiteno (Italy)
Our local guide will introduce us to Hall in Tirol, with its 15th century Rathaus. Arriving in Innsbruck you will see all the most important sights, including the well-known Goldenes Dachl and the Hofburg with fine Rococo decoration. In the afternoon, there is free time to explore the Christmas market surrounded by beautifully preserved medieval facades. Traditional dishes such as Kiachln (hot doughnuts laced with Sauerkraut), and a mug of Glühwein will keep you toasty warm. Our hotel in Vipiteno is in the center of the pedestrian zone.
Thursday, November 30th – Vipiteno
Morning walking tour of Vipiteno, a town that traces its roots to 14 B.C., when the Romans founded a military camp along the road between what is now Italy and Germany. The region was once part of Austria’s Tirol and today there is an overlapping of German and Latin cultures. This small alpine town is rich in ancient art, and features numerous wonderful bay windows and elegant boutiques. The Christmas Market opens today and you can experience the living advent calendar of Vipiteno. A small group of angels and shepherds moves through town to open the advent window every day at 5pm.
Friday, December 1st – Vipiteno
We pass through Italy’s most beautiful mountains and the most impressive of the European Alps – the Dolomites. Bolzano is the Italian Capital of Christmas. Our morning walking tour introduces us to this beautiful town of piazzas and museums. The Cathedral is a blend of Romanesque and Gothic architecture and was completed in 1400. We’ll visit the archeological museum, home to Otzi, the Copper Age alpine iceman. Leisure time to explore the main Christmas market, filled with delightfully decorated huts selling local handmade crafts and seasonal treats.
Saturday, December 2nd – Bamberg
The Brenner Pass takes us over the mountain peaks and back into Germany. The route offers some of the most spectacular scenery in the Alps. Bamberg is a World Cultural Heritage City (UNESCO) and one of the gems of Franconia, set in rolling hills where the Regnitz River flows into the River Main. It is loaded with attractions, including numerous architectural treasures. Our hotel has been known for the high quality Franconian gastronomy for the past 182 years and features a selection of regional dishes.
Sunday, December 3rd – Bamberg
Today we drive through the hilly countryside of Franconia and Thuringia. We’ll stop at the Krebs Glass Factory in Lauscha. Also, a visit to the Ino Schaller Paper Mache factory, started in 1894, and still operated by the same family today. We stop in Coburg, a historic town with fine half-timbered houses, a colorful market square, and the rococo Rathaus. Free time to linger in a café and enjoy the Christmas market. Option of taking a train to nearby Nürnberg.
Monday, December 4th – Bamberg
Our local guide will introduce us to the grand Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture highlighted in the towers, gables, squares, and courtyards of 1,000-year-old Bamberg. The afternoon is free to visit the Christmas market and the 32 unique nativity scenes on display in the town churches and chapels -- 400 different Christmas Cribs. Sample the popular and renowned holiday foods, fruit bread, and hot glühwein. You will also want to explore the specialty markets displaying regional arts and crafts.
Tuesday, December 5th – Rothenburg
We follow the Main River lined with a series of picturesque medieval villages. We’ll stop in Volkach to visit the lovely Marktplatz and take time for Kaffee and Kuchen, or taste the local wines. In the afternoon, we explore Würzburg’s center with the old river bridge dating to 1473 and the 18th century Residenz, one of the largest Baroque palaces in Germany. The historic market square provides a scenic backdrop for the Christmas market. Choose from handmade holiday decorations ranging from hand-painted glass balls, straw, pewter and pottery to wooden toys. Taste the delicious Franconian Christmas cookies.
Wednesday, December 6th – Rothenburg
Rothenburg is one of the most well preserved medieval towns in Germany. After breakfast, our local guide will take us on a tour through the narrow cobbled streets with the town hall tower, high gabled houses, old churches, ramparts, and town gates. The remainder of the day is free to visit the museums and explore the many shops and boutiques. Browse the popular Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas shops located next door to our hotel. The Eisenhut has been world-famous for its cuisine and hospitality since 1890.
Thursday, December 7th – Rothenburg
This morning we travel to Ulm, birthplace of Albert Einstein, and home to the towering Münster on the skyline. Its steeple is the tallest of any cathedral in the world. Next to it you will find more than 120 beautifully decorated market stalls. In Giengen we’ll visit the Steiff teddy-bear factory with its unique, dreamlike museum. Our route back to Rothenburg follows the Romantische Straße (Romantic Road) through numerous medieval villages. We stop in Dinkelsbühl one of the most beautiful Christmas towns in the area. Especially worth seeing is the Christmas market at the „Spitalhof “, the Minster St. George, and the crèche.
Friday, December 8th – Wiesbaden
We’ll make a stop in the town of Speyer for Kaffee & Kuchen. At the heart of its Christmas market are stalls hosted by the eight sister cities of Speyer, from as far away as Rwanda. In Wiesbaden, you have time to walk to Schlossplatz square, the setting for the “Twinkling Star” Christmas Market. The 138 stalls are home to art and craft treasures, many of which are produced on site. Included are ceramics, felt, wood, hay figures, wool products, leather goods, glassware, jewelry, and paintings. "Farewell" dinner in the evening.
Saturday, December 9th – return to USA
Depart from Frankfurt airport. Farewell to Europe and jet back to North America.
PRICE PER PERSON: $3,095 land cost ($495 single room surcharge)
TOUR COST INCLUDES:
• 11 Nights in outstanding, deluxe and first-class hotels in central locations.
• 21 meals – buffet breakfast daily and ten taste-tempting specialty dinners and two lunches unique to the region, including the Welcome and Farewell dinners.
• Get acquainted reception at the beginning of the tour.
• Transport by private luxury motorcoach with Florian, our driver.
• Personalized tours of most towns visited with local guide and entrance fees.
• All gratuities, taxes and service charges to restaurants, hotel staff and local guides.
• Porterage and handling of luggage at all hotels.
• Laminated luggage tags and tour information packet.
• Other additional features mentioned in the itinerary.
• A careful balance of free time to pursue your own interests.
• Hosted by Gerhard & Darlene.
• Special feature: A brisk pre-breakfast or after dinner walk for those who would like to start or finish the day with a bit of exercise.
GROUP SIZE IS LIMITED TO 28 GUESTS MAXIMUM
RESERVATIONS: Notify us that you wish to join the tour. Your space will be reserved and a sign-up packet will be forwarded with registration form and an invoice for deposit. Upon receipt of your deposit, an information packet will be forwarded with further confirmation of your reservation and details to help prepare for the tour. Full and final payment is due 95 days prior to departure.
AIR TRANSPORTATION: Airfare is not included in the tour price. We suggest arriving a day prior to the tour start and enjoy an extra day or two in Bad Tӧlz or Munich. Contact us for additional information.
EXTRA NIGHTS: If you have time you may wish to stay an additional night and enjoy an entire day in Wiesbaden. On our morning walking tour, you'll see the palace of the dukes of Nassau, as well as the city center’s earliest surviving building, the Old Town Hall, dating back to 1610. Running along the eastern edge of this historical quarter is elegant Wilhelmstrasse, a paradise of shopping and culture. Alongside exclusive boutiques, galleries and cafés, the street is also home to two internationally acclaimed museums.
Special rates are available at the hotels used at the start and conclusion of the tour. If you wish to arrive a day early or extend your return by a day, the rate of $185 per double room ($145 single) will apply at the hotels in Bad Tӧlz and Wiesbaden. Included in the price is transport from the airport to the hotel (or to the airport), a buffet breakfast, taxes, and service charges. Additional nights are confirmed on a space-available basis.
View the Tourist Office Web sites for some of the destinations we visit. http://www.christmastrips.com/pages/travelresources.php