European Christmas Market Tour
November 29th - December 10th, 2019
"We are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime." - Laura Ingalls Wilder
Four cities in ten nights, with cultural, classical, and culinary gems sprinkled throughout, during the heart of the Christmas Market season and most importantly, during St. Nicholas Day... Read on!
Friday, November 29th
Travel day... and we'll help you book your flights, of course!
Saturday, November 30th
Arrive at Prague Airport and make your way to our hotel, where we'll be waiting for you to arrive. We'll be in a lovely, centralized location near plenty of shops and such... When everyone arrives, we'll head over to a great spot for a welcome dinner and a chance for everyone to meet up and exchange names and backgrounds... Due to the strong likelihood of jet lag, we won't plan much else. After an early dinner, you'll be free to retire - or go walk the streets of one of the most beautiful cities on the planet... spared by bombing and fighting in WWII - and mass commercialism during the Cold War, Prague is a real throwback to Europe's older days. You will fall in love with it...
Sunday, December 1st
We'll do a mid-morning orientation walk around some of Prague's most legendary sights... from the majestic Charles Bridge to the main square in Old Town Prague and its famous astronomical clock, before turning you loose to explore the city on your own to walk the Christmas Market stalls, visit one of Europe's only surviving synagogues (as majestic as any major European cathedral), shop, or take a tour of the palace and the towering cathedral of St. Vitus...
Monday, December 2nd
We'll check out of our hotel mid morning and head to the train station for our four-hour journey to the capital city of Austria - once capital to most of Central Europe. Once the crown jewel of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Vienna is full of sights, museums, and splendid architecture. It will give Paris every bit of a run for its money - and then some...
We'll check into our hotel, before heading out for an orientation walk to get everyone comfortable. Then we'll have a fantastic group meal, included in your price, at the famous restaurant, Figlmüller's - an iconic Viennese restaurant that dates back to 1905. "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!
Tuesday, December 3rd
Decisions, decisions, decisions... Free day to explore!
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.
Wednesday, December 4th
And late in the evening, we will meet up and head over to the cathedral in the city where Mozart died, to hear his final composition. 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...
Thursday, December 5th
After three nights in elegant Vienna and a late night concert, 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... There's an unforgettable walk along the bluff that towers over the old town, and when we get done with that hike, you'll be tucked away in our favorite beer hall in all of Europe... the Augustiner!
Friday, December 6th
One of the great orphaned traditions of Christmas is getting coal and switches in your stocking if you've been naughty. We'll go to a place where you get to see their proper origins in the little mountain city of Berchtesgaden, Germany. It is here that you'll experience a zany Christmas tradition you'll never forget: 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... And yes, you just might get coal rubbed on your face (they use shoe polish) or whipped by one of the demons, if you stand close enough to the front of the many processions into town.
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.
Saturday, December 7th
A day to explore: two favorites of our will be in the mix, for sure. Waiting on one notable choir to post their Christmas concert schedule (the oldest boychoir in the world) and possibly a sleigh ride, but that is very much weather dependent. Last year, this time, there were record snows that severely limited road travel. One year there was no snow. It will be a bit of a waiting game, but the Christmas markets and locations are solid... :)
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.
Sunday, 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.
Monday, 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.
Tuesday, 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.
We will fill this on a first-come, first-served basis. 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 $1000 (European hotels we are using on this trip do not have the American style large mattress for two... even in a double bed, there are two separate mattresses and blankets, so feel free to grab a roommate for this trip!)
The final payment of $2,000 will be due on November 1st, 2019. This total cost of $3,000 covers ten nights in four star hotels, all breakfasts, all ground transportation, four fantastic dinners at favorite places of ours, all listed events/admissions, and a 24 hour tour guide who intimately knows all five locations where we are going.
Payments can be made by check to GBC Tours or via PayPal - with an additional surcharge to offset their fee.
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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...