European Christmas Market Tour 2014
Departing the day after Black Friday, we'll head to Europe on Saturday, November 29th, returning on Monday, December 8th.
Days 1 and 2: Nov. 30th - Dec. 1st - Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is truly one of the most beautiful gems in all of Europe. Spared from the bombing which ravaged much of Germany and other cities in Europe, Prague was furthermore sheltered from much of the commercialization that has taken over many major Western European cities due to it being behind the Iron Curtain until the 1990s. This translates into an old world European feel that is truly unlike anything in Paris or London.
Arriving mid-morning, we will head from the airport to our hotel, where we will leave our bags and head out for a walking tour of the city to get everyone oriented. We'll have a welcome lunch in a charming restaurant on the main square, and then you'll be free to enjoy the afternoon before we meet back up for a classical music concert at one of Prague's magnificent churches. Enjoy dinner of your choice and head to bed or revel in the city's night-time beauty...
On our second day, we'll enjoy a group tour of the cathedral and palace grounds before leaving you free to explore the city and various markets for the afternoon and evening. And for those who wish to stay with the guides, we've got some great little experiences and secrets up our sleeves.
Days 3 and 4: Dec. 2nd - 3rd - Vienna, Austria
Vienna, also described as Europe's cultural capital, is a jewel of a city with unique charm, vibrancy, and flair. It boasts a broad array of arts, history, cuisine, and architectural beauty. At Christmas, the mood is especially magical...
We'll take the train to Vienna on the morning of the 2nd, arriving mid-afternoon. From there we'll head over to the hotel and drop off bags and get checked in. Next we'll head out for our orientation tour. Our day will conclude with an incredible tour of St. Stephen's Cathedral in the heart of the old city, and we'll have a group dinner at the culinary landmark restaurant, Figlmüller's... THE home of Wiener Schnitzel!
On the following free day, we will head over to enjoy the splendor of the great royal palace of Schönbrunn. We'll then head back into the city, where you'll be free to explore a host of options: from the opera house to the famous stallions at the Spanish Riding School to a host of cathedrals, restaurants, shops, and markets, you'll be well pleased!
We'll have a nice little surprise for you on the second night, before we leave Vienna the following morning, too!
Days 5 and 6: Dec. 4th - 5th - Salzburg, Austria
On the morning of the 4th, we'll board the train for Salzburg, Austria, home to one of Europe's most beloved Christmas markets. This charming palace city is the ideal place to get in the mood for a White Christmas, nestled on the edge of the Alps and rich with history, culture, and cuisine. Upon arriving, we'll do our orientation tour by carriage, with a local guide. Enjoy the great array of ornaments, hand-knit clothing, crafts, and delicious foods of the market or take a stroll among the shops and restaurants of one of the greatest walking streets on the planet.
That evening, prepare for a musical experience like none other: Mozart's Requiem Mass, his mass for the dead, on the day and hour of his death. Our location? The very church of his childhood baptism, built in the late 1600s, across the square from the home of his birth. This is something you will never forget.
The following morning we'll head over to enjoy one of the most well-loved locations in Germany: Berchtesgaden. We'll be in a setting surrounded by snow white peaks, and we will experience a St. Nicholas parade like nothing you have ever seen. You will truly understand the tradition of coal and switches in the stockings after you experience Krampus!
Days 7 and 8: Dec. 6th - 7th - Passau, Germany
As our tour winds to a close, we'll truly step into the beauty and reflection of the season. Leaving on Saturday morning, we'll make a stop at the very chapel where "Silent Night" was first performed, in the little village of Oberndorf bei Salzburg to pay homage to the world's most well-known Christmas song. We'll then into Passau, Germany, a once famous city and bastion of Christendom during the great years of trade on the Danube River. Passau is home to St. Stephen's Cathedral, containing the world's largest pipe organ with over 17,000 pipes. We'll marvel at the majesty and power of this incredible instrument in one of Europe's most beautiful Baroque churches. Enjoy the rest of the day walking the enchanting, tidy, and storied streets of a quintessential Bavarian city.
Our final full day in Europe will include an option to visit the fortress town of Burghausen... or head with us to the Waldweihnachtsmarkt - a Christmas market in the snow and woods outside a nearby village. Or simply take the day to relax and enjoy Passau. That afternoon, we'll come together for a final Christmas farewell as we hear the unmatched sounds of the world's first established boy choir and Germany's finest, the Regensburger Domspatzen (Cathedral Swallows). We'll then head over to a great local restaurant for a final farewell meal.
Early the next morning, we'll make the drive to the Munich airport and fly home... You'll be safely home late that afternoon!
Tour companies generally do not include air fare, and many travelers prefer to gain/redeem frequent flyer points and can be arriving from different locations. Thus we will assist with all airline bookings to ensure that all arrivals are within the same window the following day. This is a standard, simple procedure we have done repeatedly without issue.
Group size will be no more than 16. Mode of transport will be trains and vans... We don't do bus tours, and we believe in intimate, small group travel that is authentic and highly enjoyable. The itinerary shows that we believe in free time - not to abandon our roles as guides and travel companions but rather to allow people to explore and adventure at their own speed. We will always invite others to join us for further activities, but a packed, rigid schedule kills the opportunity for spontaneity and personal choice which is vital to the travel experience. We've received a great deal of positive feedback and appreciation for this policy of ours. We naturally will help with any choices or wishes as you research and plan whatever you might want to do on your time off and are always available to the group for escort, directions, and suggestions. This is the foundation of our business!
All listed meals are included in the price and will be in a group setting, but we have limited that to three special meals. Breakfasts are included in the cost, but in our surroundings and with all of the culinary choices available, we have found that travelers much prefer eating as they wish, according to their tastes and budget.
Included in the cost are all listed group events/tours at each location: orientation tours, palace/cathedral tour of Prague; full tour of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna - including its towers, crypts, and interior; Salzburg carriage ride; Mozart Requiem Mass concert; Passau organ concert; and the Christmas Choral Concert of the Regensburger Domspatzen.