A Magical Christmas in Germany with Christmas Markets, Castles, Christmas Villages along with Christmas Eve and
Christmas Day in a Fairytale Palace.
December 12th - 27th, 2024
Join us on this amazing journey through Germany at Christmastime. We will visit the cities and towns of Magdeburg, Braunschweig, Leipzig, Hannover, Quedlinburg, Dresden, Erfurt, Eisenach, Cologne, Düsseldor, Aachen, Mechernich and the grounds of Burg Satzvey Castle, Cochem, Trier, Baden-Baden, Stuttgart, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bamberg, Nuremberg, Würzburg and the Old Town of Heidelburg
Our days will be spent sightseeing, visiting Christmas Markets and Casltes including Wernigerode Castle, Meissen Albrechtsburg Castle, Goseck Henge, Wewelsburg Castle, Hambach Castle, Lichtenberg Castle and we will even have a Heidelburg Old Town Beer Tour. Our final three days will be spent at the 5 Star Schlosshotel Kronberg where our fairytale Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dreams will come true. This Palace Hotel was built by Empress Friedrich who was also the Queen of Prussia and Queen Victoria's oldest child also named Victoria. She lived her until her death in 1901 at which time she left it to her youngest daughter Princess Margarethe who married Prince Friedrich Karl of Hesse. It next became a luxury hotel in 1954.
My great grandmother Eva Louisa Cecelia Schmallenberg came from Schmallenberg Germany in the North Rhine-Westphalia State. It was not until I was grown and traveling the World that I realized how many traditions and customs she brought to the McDonald family. I am especially pleased to be offering this tour of her homeland at Christmastime as it was her favourite time of the year! Along with the Christmas festivities we will need to try some of the local dishes that will include: Brot and Brötchen(bread and small crusty rolls) as bread is such a main staple of the German diet. Käsespätzle which is similar to macaroni and cheese but with much more flalvour. Currywurst which is a plate of chopped up sausages, chips and a spicy ketchup sauce. Kartoffelpuffer and Bratkartoffeln which are fried potato dishes often served at breakfast. Schnitzel. Eintopf, a one-pot stew that may include a wide variety of ingredients that typically include broth, vegetables, potatoes, and meat. Sauerbraten, a German pot roast. And Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, also known as a Black Forest Gateaux.
We hope to add some Christmas Programs and perhaps a Christmas Play to the itinerary at a later date once those have been listed to the public. As with any itinerary I put together I find that we cannot do it all, so I had to carefully pick and choose and we think the end result is amazing!
This tour includes 16 nights luxury hotel, small family hotel, guesthouse and boutique accommodation. We try to show as many different types of accommodation as possible on each tour. It also includes 11 dinners, 12 lunches and breakfast each morning, all activities, sightseeing and entrance fees as listed in itinerary, all taxes, fees and service charges. Guided minibus travel with luggage handling.
$9495 per person.
$1295 Single Supplement.
$500 deposit to book your spot.
Pre tour: December 11th - Arrive into Berlin International Airport and make your way to our airport accommodation where you will have the day to rest up and get adjusted to the time change if necessary.
Day 1 - December 12th - We will meet at our Berlin Airport accommodation this morning and after a brief orientation we start our journey west. Our first stop will be Magdaburg on the River Elbe and one of the oldest cities in Germany. We will immerse ourselves in a world of lights as every winter, with the start of the Christmas Market, the city center is transformed into a sparkling world. More than a million lights line the streets and squares. Around 60 illuminated sculptures trace Magdeburg's moving history. On a stroll through the city historical sights such as the Magdeburg Cathedral or the art museum Kloster Unser Lieben Frauen guarantee a fairy-tale setting. We will stop for a Festive Lunch and then continue on our way to Braunschweig. We will make a brief stop in Helmstedt on our way. From the first mention of Helmstedt in the year 952 this former university and Hanseatic town has a long and eventful past. The historic old town is full of enchanted ambience and many half-timbered houses dating back several centuries. As we walk around the old town we can admire the Juleum, the Palatial Renaissance and former University of Helmstedt along with the great monastic churches.Then we get settled into our accommodation in Braunschweig before our Welcoming Dinner. Dinner and Overnight Braunschweig. (B,L,D)
Day 2 - This morning we make our way to Hannover, capital of Lower Saxony Land of Northwestern Germany. It lies on the Leine River and the Mittelland Canal, where the spurs of the Harz Mountains meet the wide North German Plain. First mentioned in documents in 1100, Hannover was chartered in 1241 and joined the Hanseatic League in 1386. While here we will enjoy the magical Christmas atmosphere of the romantic Old Town streets and squares. We will visit the Finnish Christmas Village, the Wishing Well Forrest, the Old Town Christmas Market and the Central Station Christmas Market. We end our time in Hannover with a Festive Champagne Afternoon Tea in the city before we make our way back to Braunschweig with a stop in Hildesheim best known for its churches, particularly the two magnificent UNESCO-listed ones, Mariendom and St. Michael’s. After some exploration we continue on to Braunschweig where you can take in the Christmas Market at the squares around St. Blasii Cathedral which are transformed with elegant illuminations and a delightful atmosphere. 150 artisans and vendors will open their lovingly decorated stalls against an impressive historical backdrop. They offer a broad range of gifts such as wooden toys, jewellery creations, fur-lined leather goods and illuminated Christmas stars. Culinary delicacies from the region and around the world are always popular favourites during the holidays. With its 500-year tradition, the Braunschweig Christmas Market is amongst the most attractive and atmospheric Christmas markets in all of Germany. The evening is yours to enjoy and find some dinner on your own. Overnight Braunschweig. (B,L)
Day 3 - This morning we make our way to Quedlinburg with a stop first a Wernigerode Castle. The Castle was originally a medieval fort offering a stronghold for the German emperors of the middle ages during their hunting excursions in the Harz. The castle was rebuilt into a Renaissance fortress, in the 16th century. In the late 17th century after the devastation of the thirty year war, Count Ernest of Stolberg-Wernigerode began reconstructing the castle remains in the baroque style as a romantic castle residence for himself. Count Otto of Stolberg-Wernigerode carried out what is considered to be probably the most important modification in the history of the castle. Our tour will take us through more than 40 furnished (partly original) grand living quarters of the German nobility. After our tour we make our way to Quedlinburg which in December is transformed into a Christmas dream that is magical in every way. In the stage set by the Historical Market Square surrounded by old half-timbered houses, all of our childhood dreams about Christmas take place before our very eyes. The eyes are not the only sense awakened as the ears are treated throughout December to seasonal music- in the city hall, in the theater, in churches and in open, public spaces. You will be able to find some lunch in the market before you take in all of the delights of this magical stop. We then make our way to Leipzig where we find our accommodation and dinner waiting. Dinner and Overnight Leipzig. (B,L,D)
Day 4 - This morning we make our way to Dresden with a stop at Meissen Albrechtsburg Castle, Germany’s first castle complex oldest castle. The Castle was a trendsetter in its time of construction. Its overwhelming architectural solutions in the late-Gothic style have always been marveled at by contemporaries. In 929, King Henry I had a wooden fortress built on a rock towering above the Elbe. This made Meissen the center of the march of the same name bordering on the territories to the east that were still under Slavic control and our guided tour will expose all of its history and secrets! Then on to the Striezelmarkt in Dresden, considered the first genuine Christmas Market in the world. Founded as a one-day market in 1434, it will celebrate its 590th anniversary in 2024. This market in the central area is the largest in the eastern part of Germany and one of the most traditional in the country. First things first, so we will indulge in Festive Afternoon Tea Dresden style before we take in the market. The market included the almost 50 foot tall Ore Mountain Step Pyramid, the world’s largest walk-in candle arch, a daily programme of cultural Christmas events for young and old and the traditional Ferris wheel which provides fantastic aerial views of the Striezelmarkt’s meticulously adorned stalls which are just waiting to be explored! Dinner on your own once we are back in Leipzig. Overnight Leipzig. (B,L)
Day 5 - This morning our first stop is Goseck Circle or Goseck Henge, an early Neolithic Henge structure with entrances orientated to the rising and setting solstices. It is thought to be created by Europe's first civilization, long before the cultures of Mesopotamia and the pyramids of Egypt. Dubbed the German Stonehenge, the structure has been radiocarbon dated to 4900 BC. Hundreds of similar wooden circular ridges just like it were built during a 200 year period around the same time. We then make our way to Erfurt with its Christmas Pyramid, 65 Foot Tall Tree, 14th Century Bridge and a market serving mulled wine and drinking chocolate possibly making it Germany's most magical Christmas Town! You will see the tale of Snow White brought to life in a window along Erfurt's Krämerbrücke, or Merchant's Bridge—a medieval stone arch bridge that happens to be the lengthiest continuously inhabited bridge in Europe, and the only remaining inhabited bridge north of the Alps. Efurts city center is a maze of narrow cobbled streets, open squares and jubilant beer gardens, with a mix of Medieval, Baroque and Neoclassical architecture that's both colorfully painted and extremely well-kempt making it truly magical. We will stop for lunch before thoroughly exploring this delightful town. We then make our way to Eisenach to get checked into our accommodation. Dinner and Overnight Eisenach. (B,L,D)
Day 6 - Before we leave Eisenach behind and head further west to eventually wind up in Cologne, we will take in the Eisenach Christmas Market. The Christmas market tour starts in the centre of Eisenach at the Market Square. There you will find the classic Christmas market with various stalls, mulled wine stalls and a range of different culinary specialities. The Town Hall, the City Palace and the Georgen Church frame the market square and thus serve as a beautiful backdrop. Our next stop is Wewelsburg Castle, built between 1603 and 1609 in Weser Renaissance style as a supplementary residence for the Prince Bishops of Paderborn. The triangular castle, which is located in the village of Wewelsburg (Büren) in the district of Paderborn, stands high on a rock overlooking the Alme Valley. Before a tour of the castle we will have lunch in the castles cafe. Our Tour Guide will share the history of the Paderborner Land from the Stone Age to the abolition of the Prince Bishopric in 1802 and the origins of the Wewelsburg: a unique triangular castle. We will leanr fascinating historical structures such as the historical witch‘s cellar, an original piece of the old “Hellweg” and the unique sacred art treasures dating from the Baroque period which create a vivid impression of life in Paderborner Land during the past few centuries. We will get checked into our accommodation in Cologne upon our arrival into the city. Dinner and Overnight Cologne. (B,L,D)
Day 7 - This morning we make our way to Düsseldorf and to its Christmas Market where the air is filled with the scent of roasted almonds and hot mulled wine. Every year the city centre of Düsseldorf is transformed into a real Christmas winter wonderland, filled with festive music, handicrafts, food and more! Consisting of seven differently themed Christmas markets, all of which are within walking distance of each other, this is one festive village we don’t want to miss out on! In the heart of the Old Town, merry stands modelled on the old Düsseldorf burgher houses are erected, where vendors sell their Christmas wares to passersby. The traditional mulled wine pyramid opposite the department store attracts young and old, while the Ferris wheel on Burgplatz offers stunning views of the city. After exploring the city we make our way to Aachen where the squares and streets round the Cathedral and the Aachen Town Hall are transformed into a paradise of lights and colours, festive sounds and seductive smells. We must have sustenance first so we will stop for lunch before exploring around 120 stalls that sell Christmas-related wares ranging from freshly baked waffles to leatherware and wooden toys at the main market. Then we return to Cologne where you have the rest of the afternoon and evening free. Cologne has several large, lavishly decorated Christmas Markets in the city centre. Each market is devoted to a different theme and is well worth a visit. Arts and crafts from all over Europe, high-quality goods, culinary delights and captivating entertainment programmes for young and old will make you look forward to Christmas with even greater anticipation! Overnight Cologne. (B,L)
Day 8 - This morning we are off to Mechernich and the grounds of Burg Satzvey Castle where many traders and craftspeople offer their goods. From hand-made gifts such as wooden toys, Christmas tree decorations, Christmas cribs, soap and incense to culinary specialities from the region, visitors will find everything they need for a successful festive season and faces glowing with happiness. Thousands of twinkling lights illuminate the castle to put you in a festive mood as you arrive while actors in authentic medieval costumes tell the nativity story. Our next stop is Cochem with its historic half-timbered houses and the majestic imperial castle is an eye-catcher all year round, but at Christmastime it leaves nothing unturned to enchant this little town with an atmospheric winter fairy tale. Romantic corners of the old town have been integrated into the market and you can take a tour through the winding alleys, where many hidden details can be discovered. Instead of the usual central Christmas market all over the country, Cochem now presents itself as a lively little town in a Christmas mood. You can find some lunch on your own as you explore along the river promenade in where crackling fireplaces reinforce the medieval flair. You can warm themselves up with a cup of red or white mulled wine which is a specialty on the Moselle. We then make our way to Trier where we get checked into our accommodation before dinner. Trier Christmas Market is situated against the enchanting backdrop of Trier Cathedral where 95 little wooden huts on the Main Market Square offer typical Christmas goods, including wooden toys, candles, gift items and Christmas decorations. Sustenance is of course also provided with potato fritters, roasted almonds and mulled wine – which cannot be missing from any Christmas market. This can all be enjoyed on your own after dinner. Dinner and Overnight Trier. (B,D)
Day 9 - This morning our first stop is Lichtenberg Castle - the largest castle in the Palatinate and one of the largest in Germany. Its walls, which are more than 800 years old, have been a listed building since 1895. Today the castle with its diverse cultural and gastronomic offer a wonderful excursion. Lichtenberg Castle, as it is presented today, is the result of continuous change. Since the presumed start of construction around 1200, various builders have influenced the shape of the castle, had old structures changed or demolished and new structures erected. Lichtenberg Castle originally goes back to two separate castle complexes. For many years two self-contained castle complexes with walls and moats, own buildings and own keep existed side by side. Both complexes were gradually expanded until they finally grew together into a single castle. After our tour of the castle we will warm ourselves in the romantic dining room with mulled wine and punch before lunch. Next we visit Hambach Castle high above the Rhine on the Palatinate Wine Route, a well-fortified castle with a colourful past stands tall above the forest. It made its mark in the German history books by providing the setting for the Hambach Festival. From 1797 to 1815, the Palatinate belonged to France. The July Revolution in Paris in 1830 fuelled the desire for freedom in the Palatinate, with leading liberals and 30,000 citizens gathering at the castle for the Hamburg Festival. They demanded freedom of the press, assembly and speech as well as more civil rights, religious tolerance and national unity. It is on that basis that the Hambach Festival is now considered to be the cradle of German democracy. We then make our way to Baden-Baden where we find our accommodation and dinner waiting. Dinner and Overnight Baden-Baden. (B,L,D)
Day 10 - Before leaving the area behind we will explore Baden-Baden, the European capital of the art of living. Nestled in the mountains of the Black Forest, the traditional Christmas Market Baden-Baden with its numerous atmospheric attractions will whisk you away to a winter fairytale of a special kind. The scent of mulled wine and gingerbread accompanies you as you stroll past Christmas decorated huts at the beginning of the famous Lichtentaler Allee Park and Gardens. The market stretches from the Kurhaus Colonnades past the exclusive boutiques towards Baden-Baden’s impressive Kurhaus building. Our next stop is Stuttgart where we will stop for lunch before joining the Christmas festivities. The Stuttgart Christmas Market is among the oldest Christmas markets in Europe, with a document tracing it all the way back to 1692, but its roots however stretch back further in time. Daily live concerts, a large children’s fairy tale land with nostalgic carousels, a real mini steam engine and many activities like the children’s bakery or the candle workshop as well as the Antique Market on the Karlsplatz square all make the Stuttgart Christmas market something quite special. After taking in all of the delights we make our way to our accommodation in Rothenberg Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Dinner and Overnight Rothenburg ob der Tauber (B,L,D)
Day 11 - After a leisurely late breakfast today will be spent completely in Rothenberg ob der Tauber, Germany's best-preserved walled town. Rothenburg ob der Tauber is one of the oldest and most historic of the medieval towns along the Romantic Road. Although there had been settlements in the area and in the neighbouring Tauber valley for many centuries before, the official history of Rothenburg is generally thought to date from the 10th century with the construction of a castle in an easily-defensible position above the River Tauber. Rothenburg has a unique reputation as being the world’s only city with “365 days a year Christmas” atmosphere. This is because the Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas store company whose unparalleled, global reputation as “The Mother of all Christmas Stores,” is headquartered here. It is directly adjacent Market Place in the Herrengasse, in the heart of Rothenburg. And of course there is a Christmas Market. Holding true to traditions the narrowly winding streets and picturesque squares around the town hall and its archways are lined with wooden booths, appropriately decorated for the Christmas season. Everything your heart desires can be found at this charming market, may it be the traditional Christmas pastries or the mulled wine. Gadgets and treasures as well as lovingly crafted Christmas decoration can be found in a variety of booths and are sure to serve as a token of appreciation for loved ones at home as well as a welcomed reminder of your time spent in Rothenburg. The Town Hall’s 160 foot high tower can be seen from all over town and, if you’re prepared to climb the 220 narrow steps to the top, it offers the most spectacular views over the red rooftops of Rothenburg. Rothenburg’s fortified 12th-century city walls stretch right around the historic town centre you can walk along almost the whole 1 1/2 mile length. We will gather for lunch at about mid day and then you can find dinner on your own later in the evening. Overnight Rothenberg ob der Tauber. (B,L)
Day 12 - This morning we start our day off with a journey to Bamberg with crooked half timber houses, picturesque canals, and an elegant palace, Bamberg is an underrated gem in northern Bavaria. Dubbed the “city of seven hills,” Bamberg brims with authentic charm, medieval architecture, and fairytale feel that dates from the 11th to the 19th centuries. Bamberg Christmas Market will take place on Maximiliansplatz, a large square in the heart of Bamberg old town. It’s a lively, pedestrian-only area that features traditional Christmas stalls selling toys, decorations, gifts and Christmas food like bratwurst, roasted nuts and gingerbread. The highlight is the nativity scene that changes from week to week throughout Advent. After exploring Bamberg you can find some lunch on your own before we visit Nuremberg. Impressive, exciting, colourful, mighty and tragic: Nuremberg has reflected German history since the Middle Ages. Protected by the castle, a new spirit enlivened the city at a time when few other places could offer such a quality of life. And the same is still true today. The Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt is one of Germany's oldest Christmas fairs dating back to the mid 16th century. Gingerbread, or Lebkuchen as it’s called in German, was invented in Franconia in the 13th century and Nuremberg became the most famous exporter of what is now known today as Nürnberger Lebkuchen. You can take a yellow mail coaches for a charming ride around the cobbled streets of the old town surrounding the Christkindlesmarkt and have a Blueberry Glühwein or an “Original Nuremberger” sausage. We will have dinner here before making our way back home. Overnight Rothenberg ob der Tauber. (B,D)
Day 13 - Christmas Eve Day - This morning we make our way to Schlosshotel Kronberg, a fairytale palace that was once the home of the Empress Freidrich, the Queen of Prussia for an amazing 3 night Christmas celebration. On our way we will stop in Würzburg, a 1300 year old city steeped in history and culture sitting on the banks of the Main River in northern Bavaria. The tradition of Würzburg's highly scenic Christmas Market dates back to the early 19th century. Here you can stroll through 100 wooden stalls, sampling delicious Christmas cookies and roasted almonds while sipping the traditional “Gluehwein”, a famous hot spiced red wine. Products for sale at the Christmas market include wooden toys, jewelry, teas and spices, traditional Christmas decorations, scented candles, pottery, embroideries, and hand-knit socks and gloves. The focus here is on handcrafted items that are hard to find elsewhere in this historical market square with its Gothic Chapel and abundance of baroque architecture provide a charming Christmas Card Scene. We will stop for lunch before we continue on to get checked into our hotel near Frankfort. This evening we will get together in a private dining room for a 5 Course Festive Christmas Eve Dinner. After dinner we will exchange our name gifts from the name drawing that was held earlier in the tour. We will make merry until we retire with visions of sugar plums in our heads. Christmas Eve Dinner and Overnight Kronberg near Frankfort in the Taunus mountains. (B,L,D)
Day 14 - This morning we will gather again together in our private dining room to see if Santa has filled our stockings overnight and then indulge in a late brunch. You will then have a leisurely day until mid afternoon when we gather for the Hotel's Christmas Day Afternoon Tea for which they are famous. As Empress Frederick was the daughter of Queen Victoria it is no wonder that afternoon tea is special here as it would have been a Balmoral. The grounds here are spectacular and you can enjoy them to your hearts delight. Jimmy’s Bar, the American bar at the Schlosshotel Kronberg, is the place to be seen, to relax and to have conversation – and for night owls. In addition to the cocktail classics and own creations, guests will find a choice of drinks with more than 50 kinds of whisky. Live music is played, with the pianist giving his best so come and enjoy. You can also find some light bites here, but I don't think you will be too hungry after todays meals! Overnight Kronberg near Frankfurt in the Taunus mountains. (B,D)
Day 15 - This morning we will make and excursion to Heidelberg with its dreamy, romantic setting around the Old Bridge and the Castle. It has an unparalleled choice of culture and entertainment wherever you go and hearty yet heavenly cuisine, all nestled between the Neckar River and the foothills of the Odenwald forest. While here we will visit the World Famous Ruins of Heidelberg Palace set against the deep green forests on the north flank of Königstuhl hill, the red sandstone ruins tower majestically over the Neckar valley. From its lofty position, the palace’s silhouette dominates the old town centre of Heidelberg. The rich and eventful history of Heidelberg Palace began when the counts palatine of the Rhine, – later prince electors – established their residence at Heidelberg. First mentioned in 1225, this was destined to become one of the grandest palaces of the Renaissance. After a tour of the palace we make our way into the city for lunch before a Beer Tour walking through the Old Town. With over 100 bars in Heidelberg our guide will show us the best places to have the best beers. Ranging from bigger bars with their own brewing on site to smaller cost bars on sidestreets, this tour ensures that you get the most out of our afternoon outing. Heidelberg, because of it's Old University, also has lots of traditional students Lokals(bars) which are well worth experiencing too. We then make our way back to Schlosshotel Kronberg for our last night together at our Farewell Dinner. Dinner and Overnight Kronberg near Frankfurt. (B,L,D)
Day 16 - December 27th - This morning we make our way to Frankfurt International Airport for the journey home.