Germany Christmas Markets
Berlin – Wittenberg – Leipzig – Seiffen – Annaberg – Bamberg – Lauscha – Munich
A day trip into the Czech Republic – Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad)
Join us on our 35th annual Christmas trip as we return to many of our all-time favorite markets. The German Christkindlmarkt (Christmas Market) dates back hundreds of years and the markets still work their magic today, turning town squares and narrow lanes into a wonderland for all. Brightening the short winter days, the markets are an enchanting blend of the season’s edible and decorative symbols. Join the carolers at the giant lighted tree in front of the town hall. Savor traditional delicacies of Lebkuchen (gingerbread) and fruitcake, roasted chestnuts, mulled wine, and grilled sausage. Marvel at the many special Christmas exhibitions and nativity scenes in the museums, galleries, and shops. Take home gifts of beautifully hand-crafted treasures, 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, cheerful, 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 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 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.
Director, Gerhard’s Odysseys
DAILY ITINERARY – December 1st to December 13th, 2022
Thursday, December 1st – Berlin
We will meet you at the new Berlin airport (BER) for transfer to our hotel found in the heart of the city. There will be time to stroll through the Christmas Markets before our get-acquainted evening reception. You have the option of arriving a day or two early and visiting several of the exciting markets, as well as some of the famous nearby museums. Our hotel is located next to the Gendarmenmarkt, the city’s most beautiful square with a market that has seasonal decorations, crafts & gourmet goodies. The culinary offerings range from unusual snacks to gourmet menus and traditional Christmas delicacies.
Hilton Hotel Berlin
Friday, December 2nd – Lutherstadt Wittenberg
We pass over the Glienicke Bridge, famous as the “Spy Bridge.” Built in 1905, it marked the frontier between East and West during the Cold War. It was used when spies from both sides were being exchanged. In Potsdam we visit Schloss Celienhof, where Churchill, Truman and Stalin met in 1945 to decide Germany’s future. Our tour will highlight the grand summer palace of Frederick the Great in Park Sanssouci . Potsdam’s market offers lunch opportunities, a historic carousel, and a train ride through a magical forest. In the afternoon we continue a pleasant drive through villages and pastures to Wittenberg.
Saturday, December 3rd – Lutherstadt Wittenberg
Our local guide will tell us about the history and architecture of this UNESCO world heritage site. It is here that Martin Luther launched the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century and posted the 95 Theses on the door of the Schlosskirche where he preached for 30 years. The festively decorated huts at the Christmas market offer culinary specialties that you will want to try. Let yourself be enchanted by Christmas fragrances, lights, and sounds as you stroll past glittering Christmas trees, pyramids, and carousels.
Sunday, December 4th – Lutherstadt Wittenberg
Our day’s excursion takes us to Quedlinburg with narrow winding streets that are a living museum of more than a thousand half-timbered houses. They are all classified as historical monuments. Friedrich Klopstock composed the religious epic, The Messiah here. Unique this weekend is that over twenty of the town’s most beautiful inner courtyards display what is otherwise hidden behind their closed doors. In these intimate, historical settings, they offer rarities and small treasures that have been sought out and collected or fabricated especially for this weekend. We will also see the largest Advent calendar in Germany.
Monday, December 5th – Annaberg
Stop in Torgau, on the banks of the Elbe River. The historic town center has a monument for the WWII meeting of the US Army and the Soviet Union forces. After a short sightseeing walk, we will visit the nearby Villeroy & Boch factory outlet store. We then travel to Leipzig, ranked by the New York Times as one of the top places to visit. Its Christmas market dates to 1767 and is one of the largest in Germany. You will have time to visit the stylish boutiques and prestigious department stores. Most of the city’s sights are found within walking distance – the Old Town Hall, St. Thomas Church, St. Nicholas Church, museums, and galleries.
Hotel Wilder Mann
Tuesday, December 6th – Annaberg
Annaberg has one of the prettiest markets in the region and it is only a few steps from our hotel entrance. A guided tour includes a visit to St. Anne’s Church, dating back to 1499. We will be entertained with a short organ concert. Afternoon at leisure to visit the museums and enjoy the large market, making sure to take a time out for coffee and the tasty local Stollen. Option of joining us on the local bus, to visit nearby Schwarzenberg and its old-fashioned Christmas market. At dusk, you will marvel at the lights or Schwibbogen in every house window and the exquisitely decorated streets, reveling in the coming of Christmas.
Hotel Wilder Mann
Wednesday, December 7th – Annaberg
This morning we travel through the snow-covered Erzgebirge Mountains. In Seiffen, the wooden toy-making center of Germany, you will find an assortment of wooden ornaments, including horsemen, light angels, and Christmas pyramids. The first nutcrackers were made in this region, and you will find a wide variety of the smoking men (incense burners). In the afternoon we visit the town of Marienberg, and also stop at the workshop of Horatzscheck Kunsthandwerk. You have the choice of staying behind in Seiffen, and our coach will transfer you back to our hotel later in the day.
Hotel Wilder Mann
Thursday, December 8th – Bamberg
This morning we venture into the Czech Republic and explore Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad), an incredibly beautiful spa city noted for its thirteen thermal springs. In the 19th century the resort was the place to be and be seen. After our sightseeing tour we’ll enjoy a traditional Czech lunch and the famous Krušovice beer. Bamberg is a World Cultural Heritage City (UNESCO) and one of the gems of Franconia. 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.
Friday, December 9th – 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 thirty-two 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.
Saturday, December 10th – Bamberg
Today we travel to the glass-making center of Lauscha and learn about the development and production of the famous glass ornaments. Christmas tree ornaments and glass art will be available at factory prices. The toy museum in Sonnenberg opened in 1901 in the town that was considered Germany’s “Santa’s Workshop”. Included in the exhibits are not only the local toys, but also antique balls, marbles and spinning tops produced by craftsmen in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. On our return trip to Bamberg, we stop at the Ino Schaller Papier Mache factory. It was founded in 1894 and is still run by the same family.
Sunday, December 11th – Munich
In Regensburg we’ll wander the courtyard of Thurn und Taxis Palace with a special market of seasonal Bavarian delicacies, crafts, jewelry, and various cultural events. In Kelheim the Altmuehl and the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal, flow into the Danube River. A stop at Weltenburg Monastery’s brewery to taste its beer. Having been in operation since 1050 it is thought to be “the oldest monastic brewery in the world”. After arrival Munich city center, enjoy Christmas carol singing on the Marienplatz with the Cathedral and the neo-gothic town hall serving as a backdrop. All hotel rooms have been upgraded to “Deluxe” category.
Munich City Hilton
Monday, December 12th – Munich
A day to enjoy this world-famous city. Downtown Munich is only a mile square and is easily explored on foot. Almost all the major attractions in the city center are on the interlinking web of pedestrian streets. The site of Germany’s oldest Christmas market is on the Marienplatz. Hear the town hall’s clock chime the “Glockenspiel” daily at 11 a.m. with the Cathedral and the neo-gothic town hall serving as a backdrop. Lunch at the market is an opportunity to try a traditional dish, such as Kartoffelsuppe, Weisswurst or Schweinshaxn. At the end of the day, we will celebrate the end of our adventures with a special farewell dinner.
Munich City Hilton
Tuesday, December 13th – return to USA
Pack up your happy memories. The journey ends as we regretfully bid farewell to Europe and jet back to North America from Munich International Airport (MUC), arriving home the same day.
If you have time you may wish to stay in Munich an extra night or two.
PRICE PER PERSON: $3,895 land cost ($595 single room surcharge)
TOUR COST INCLUDES:
- 12 nights in outstanding, traditional, and first-class hotels in central locations.
- 23 meals – buffet breakfast daily, eight taste-tempting specialty dinners, including the Welcome and Farewell dinners, and three lunches unique to the region.
- A glass of wine, beer, or a soft drink with dinner.
- Get acquainted reception at the beginning of the tour.
- Transport by private luxury motor coach with Florian, our skilled driver.
- Daily complimentary beverage on the coach. Water, beer or soft drink.
- 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.
- 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 exercise.
GROUP SIZE IS LIMITED TO 24 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 or two prior to the tour start to enjoy extra time in Berlin. We recommend a minimum of one hour and 30 minutes connecting time (time between flights) at all airports. Contact us for additional information.
EXTRA NIGHTS: Special rates are available at our hotels in Berlin and Munich – $255 per double room ($220 single). Cost includes buffet breakfast, taxes and service charges, and airport to hotel transfer. All additional nights are confirmed on a space-available basis.
SPECIAL NOTE: When traveling in December you should anticipate seasonal ice and snow. Some of the sites we visit will require walking some distance on uneven cobblestone sidewalks and stairs. You should be able to walk two or three blocks from the coach parking into the town center at a pace that is comfortable for most of the group – or plan on taking a taxi (at your cost). Our coach is not equipped to accommodate wheelchairs or walkers.
View the Tourist Office Web sites for some of the destinations we visit. Travel Resources