European Christmas Market Tour
December 2nd - 10th, 2017
"We are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime." - Laura Ingalls Wilder
This year's tour is going to be rather simple and to the point...
Three cities in seven nights, with cultural, classical, and culinary gems sprinkled throughout. The price of the tour is tremendously simple, too: $2,000 (+$500 for single supplement). What it covers is this:
-all ground transportation
-all listed events in the following itinerary
-24 hour guide
Here's how it will unfold:
Saturday, December 2nd
This is the one complicated part of the entire trip... So let's get this out of the way.
You'll book a round trip into Munich, and then we'll help you book a one way to Vienna for the start of the tour. Train travel from Munich to Vienna is a very cheap option as well. Another option is booking a "multi-city" flight that lands in Vienna and then departing home from Munich at the end of the tour.
Either way, this is completely feasible. We've done this many times, for several tours.
Sunday, December 3rd
Arrival into Europe... and making your connection over to Vienna. It will be a low-key day after an overnight on the plane. We'll have a central location for our lodgings, where you can walk out and explore and enjoy a magical city. Vienna has Christmas markets in various locations throughout the old quarter of the city, and we'll have an orientation walk to get everyone completely comfortable. This is always a day of balance - not overdoing it, but having fun while staying awake so that by tomorrow morning your internal clock is set on European time. :)
And we'll have a fantastic group meal, included in your price, to welcome you on the trip and get everyone acquainted. The location of such a feast is none other than the famous Figlmüller's - an iconic Viennese restaurant that dates back to 1905. The Wiener Schnitzel literally means "Viennese cutlet." This is the epicenter of one of the most loved dishes in all of Europe - and they also offer the freshest salads, with great local beer and wine.
We'll get you back to your hotel with a full belly and a giant smile on your face. It will be a great way to start the tour!
Monday, December 4th
Decisions, decisions, decisions...
A hallmark of what we do at GBC Tours - and why many continue to travel with us is this: we don't overfill our itineraries and rush you around like a herd of trapped animals. You have come this far... you should be free to choose.
The choices in Vienna are astounding: whether it be walking and exploring more of the markets, the giant walking boulevard that runs from the stately opera house past the beautiful St. Stephen's Cathedral, delving into the colorful sights and delicious smells of the famous Naschmarkt - an amazing food market, or heading out with us via tram to the splendid palace of Schönbrunn and it's own lovely market and grounds... it is up to you. We will help you choose.
There's also the Spanish Riding School and its world-famous stallions, a museum dedicated to the equally famous Vienna Philharmonic, as well as a host of other museums and galleries to explore.
And late in the evening, we will meet up and head over to St. Stephen's Cathedral, a storied house of worship which is an iconic centerpiece of the Vienna skyline. And here, as midnight approaches, we will sit in silence and bask and reflect in the sounds of one of the greatest works of classical music ever: Mozart's Requiem - his death mass.
This concert will be done on the hour of Mozart's death - in the very city where he died... It is an experience that words cannot do justice, suffice to say that travelers of ours who have witnessed this still talk about it to this day...
Tuesday, December 5th
After two nights in elegant Vienna, we'll pack up and check out of our hotel late morning, giving you some final hours to explore and shop, and we'll head to the train station. Next stop: Salzburg, Austria. The train ride lasts around two and a half hours, and you can enjoy free Wi-Fi and an on-board café.
Upon arriving into Salzburg, we'll head out of the train station and be taken to our hotel for the next three nights in a charming Alpine city. Salzburg has the perfect mix for an excellent destination, too. It has plenty of history and splendid architecture, as well as one of Europe's best walking/shopping streets. It has the backdrop of the Alps and the best chance of a "white Christmas" of our trip. It is also not crowded or industrialized...
It's like climbing inside the scene in a snow globe...
Once we get settled into our hotel, mid-afternoon, we'll head out for a walking tour of the "Altstadt" - the old quarter of this lovely, regal city. It has three main sections of Christmas market stalls, selling everything from ornaments to hand-made wool sweaters, delicious sweets and savory sausages, and several varieties of hot, spicy mulled wines to keep you warm and full of good cheer... It will be no secret why we've chosen Salzburg to spend the longest portion of our tour, soaking up the holiday cheer, sights, and sounds. And there's much in store nearby...
Wednesday, December 6th
Have you been naughty... or nice? Well the option for this day - and not for the faint of heart - is to take a short trip over the border into Berchtesgaden, Germany. It is here that you'll experience a zany Christmas tradition: Krampus.
This is a centuries-old tradition: Young men in town dress up as the mythical creature and parade through the streets in an ancient pagan ritual meant to disperse winter's ghosts - which more than likely originated to keep kids from wandering off into the snow and getting lost... They march dressed in fur suits and carved wooden masks and carrying cowbells, the leaders among the group armed with small whips. It's a bit like a harmless enough (you can get hit if you stand up front) running of the bulls... and it is hysterical and quite the adrenaline rush.
And there is no pressure to join... You can go at your own pace and explore Salzburg's markets and shops instead.
Berchtesgaden is home to some lovely shops, majestic mountain scenery, and a vibrant Christmas market full of local crafts, food, and such. It has a stone-wood carving school here and offers a chance for you to bring home a manger scene to last a lifetime in your family home. You'll have the chance to explore some churches and one of the most beautiful cemeteries, full of hand carved stone and wooden grave markings. It is a true cultural gem...
There are also some lovely walks in the area to enjoy, as well as a reflective, peaceful boat trip out onto Lake Königssee to soak up a view like you've never seen before... and we'll all meet back up in the early evening to head back to Salzburg.
Thursday, December 7th
A day to explore: from the scenic town of Hallstatt, located on a giant lake...
To the postcard-perfect "Silent Night" chapel in nearby Oberndorf...
And an evening trip over to the palace Christmas market in Hellbrunn...
We'll make the most of our last day in one of our favorite corners of Planet Earth.
Friday, December 8th
For our last stop on the journey, we'll check out of our hotel in the Alps and board the train in Salzburg for the capital city of Bavaria, Germany: Munich. After our two and a half hour train ride, we'll again head over and check into our final hotel of the trip, before heading out for a customary orientation tour of the old city.
Of all of the major German cities, Munich remains our favorite.... and it has a Christmas market scene that is vast and varied. Explore the main walking street that begins at the Marienplatz and the world-famous Glockenspiel... or head over to the heated tents of the Tollwood Christmas market, situated on the grounds where Oktoberfest is held.
You will have a plethora of choices and things to see, taste, and purchase.
Saturday, December 9th
Final day of the tour... no travel scheduled. Eat, drink, explore... and be merry. Your guide will also take those interested on a walkabout to see some of Munich's most beautiful churches and some of our favorite shops and haunts. Make no mistake, you are free to go on your own, but you will not be left alone or with nothing to do. Your guide will always have something to do - or will lead those interested to their consensus choice on such free times.
Sunday, December 10th
As your flight schedule demands, we'll get you to the main train station, where you'll take the S-Bahn out to the airport, where you'll arrive in the terminal and go through your check-in and security clearance and head home.
Flights and hotels are at a critical stage. We will fill this on a first-come, first-served basis. Cut-off will be November 1st for full payment of $2,000. A deposit of $1,000 will be required to secure hotels, rail tickets, and the Requiem concert ticket. Single occupancy will require an additional payment of $500, as stated previously. Payments can be made by check or PayPal - with an additional surcharge to offset their fee.
Our telephone number: 504-722-4000
As a final reminder, we will work with each traveler to secure the best possible flights. We do this all the time.
Reach out with any questions you have...