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Need help completing my itinerary for Christmas in Germany

Cocoa Beach, Florida
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Need help completing my itinerary for Christmas in Germany

I am looking for suggestions for our first 6 nights in Germany in late December. This will be my 10th visit to Germany and I am looking for a new experience with enough to do over the holiday period to keep us occupied.

We have flights into Frankfurt on 22 December (the only city we can get to non stop from our home airport) and out of Berlin on 1 Jan. We have hotel reservations in Dresden for one night on 27 December which can be changed, and our only firm plans are to arrive in Berlin on 28 December.

I have 6 nights to organize and have been using the DB website, the internet and guide books to try and put together a trip that will allow us to experience some new areas while not requiring extensive train rides. But I am really struggling to come up with something appealing.

We are active, will be using only public transport and for the 6 nights would like to base in 2 places, max 3. I would love for at least one to be all about the outdoors so we could enjoy some mountain scenery, lots of walking and be in a place where there is enough to do to keep us busy. We will have time for museums and similar in Berlin, a city we really enjoy.

Ideally we would like to find two spots that are not too far off the route from Frankfurt to Berlin. We have spent time in Wurzurg, Nuremberg, Bamberg, Regensburg. Of those we enjoyed Regensburg and Wurzburg the most and Nuremberg he least. We have traveled quite a bit in Bavaria as well and love the area but would really like to do something new.

I have read about the Harz mountains but do not really know what cities/towns might work best for us. A few nights at a spa/wellness resort would be lovely at the beginning of the trip, as long as it offers access to a town where we can find restaurants and pubs and to plenty of outdoor daytime activities. We would be interested in snow mobiling, snow shoe hikes but not skiing.

I would like to keep our train rides to 3 hours or less if possible. We will head to our first stop by train upon arrival into Frankfurt.

One option I am considering is a train to Munich upon arrival and 2 nights there, followed by three nights in Salzburg and one in Dresden before heading to Berlin.

We have been to all of these before (more than once) so this is not ideal and I know the travel from Salzburg to Dresden will be long. I came up with this mostly because we can get in our scenery and mountain fix in Salzburg and Munich is a fairly easy journey from Frankfurt on arrival.

We have also spent time in GP, Fussen, Chiemsee and other areas nearby to Munich.

I looked at heading to Innsbruck for 2-3 nights and then making our way to Berlin, stopping somewhere along the way. It is that one place midpoint that is elusive for me to identify.

We have already been to Cologne and did not care for it very much. I do see that Hamburg is a possibility but not sure we will find it delivers what we are looking for based on the guidebook information.

We will have a Germany and Austria train pass with five days of travel so are covered to travel as needed.

If you can offer any ideas or suggestions, I would greatly appreciate it.

Edited: 06 August 2012, 10:45
Bautzen, Germany
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1. Re: Need help completing my itinerary for Christmas in Germany

There is really no need to think about Austria or Southern Germany. On the (more or less) direct route are Thuringia, Saxony or the Harz mountains. In Thuringia are several very beautiful towns, like Erfurt, Weimar or Schmalkalden, the Thuringian Forest is a popular winter destination and the Wartburg is one of Germanys most popular castles. Saxony offers equally nice towns, and the state is moreover one of the centres of Christmas in Germany. Many of the traditions come from there, and the people in the Ore mountains celebrate Christmas like no one else. Sadly you are a bit late to see it. And the Harz is equally nice, with many old towns full of half-timbered houses, Romanesque churches, the large steam train network and the mountains full of myths and legends.

Maybe these galleries will inspire you:

Thuringia

www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php…

Saxony (the second link is about Eastern Saxony)

www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php…

www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php…

Harz (just two towns though, but one of them is a World Heritage Site)

www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php…

Germany
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2. Re: Need help completing my itinerary for Christmas in Germany

I second the idea of visiting Erzgebirge or Saxon Switzerland. Why not heading from Frankfurt to the Erzgebirge right away?

Or what about some nights in the spa hotel Elbresidenz Bad Schandau prior to your visit of Dresden? Or in Kirschau, Upper Lausitz region, where one of the best spa hotels in Germany is located (Schumann's)? For Christmas Eve: attending the Christvesper in the Kreuzkirche in Dresden is very special. Or the Christmette in the early morning of Christmas Day.

Munich and Salzburg are really far out of the way between Frankfurt and Berlin.

Cocoa Beach, Florida
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3. Re: Need help completing my itinerary for Christmas in Germany

<Munich and Salzburg are really far out of the way between Frankfurt and Berlin.>

Agreed and that is why I am seeking more logical alternatives.

I will research all of these suggestions - thanks very much!

New York
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4. Re: Need help completing my itinerary for Christmas in Germany

How about considering leipzig ..not far from dresden ( we had a rental car)

Leipzig has a lovely Christmas Market................Dresden was awesome too.

No Christmas Markets in Berlin, we were disappointed.

Stuttgart & Freiburg for us had excellent Christmas Markets....Nurnburg was very commercialized..............

You may want to consider renting a Car....so easy driving in Germany, excellent highways..just rent a GPS with the car.

Hope this helps...spent 3 weeks in Dec 2011.

Cocoa Beach, Florida
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5. Re: Need help completing my itinerary for Christmas in Germany

<No Christmas Markets in Berlin, we were disappointed.>

Actually Berlin is our favorite city for the Christmas markets there. There are a number and our favorite is in Mitte. This will still be open when we arrive on 28 December.

We are definitely not renting a car.

Our primary interest is not the markets. We have been a half dozen times to Germany and Austria for the markets and really enjoy them but we are looking more for mountains, charm and scenery for this part of our trip.

I agree about Nuremberg - we found the history interesting but did not enjoy the over crowded markets nor the city itself.

We already have time planned in Dresden and if we did visit Leipzig, it would be on a day trip as opposed to a stay.

We are really looking for the perfect base towns for our specific interests. I have a picture in my head of snow, sleigh rides, fireplaces. We live in FL and are looking for a winter Christmas experience.

Thanks.

Bautzen, Germany
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6. Re: Need help completing my itinerary for Christmas in Germany

Snow isn't guaranteed in late December, not even in the Alps. With some luck the mountains between FF/M and Berlin will have some snow though. So, I would either recommend the Harz mountains, the Thuringian Forest or the Ore mountains. Although the Ore mountains are clearly the best destination (in Germany!) for Christmas, the mountains itself aren't that pretty. It's a huge tilted block, and the German side is a plateau without spectacular views.

The Thuringian Forest is pleasant, and a very popular winter destination. A week after you left there will be a biathlon world cup in Oberhof, which is hugely popular. The towns and villages however aren't that cozy and cute, and the main sights of Thuringia (Erfurt, Weimar) are a few kilometers away from the mountains.

The Harz are Germanys northernmost mountains, with a climate like in Scandinavia. The mountains aren't spectacular, but the often harsh weather conditions make a trip (with the steam train) to the Brocken (the highest peak) unforgetable. There are some towns and villages deep in the mountains, but without a car I wouldn't recommend to stay there. A popular base is Wenigerode, a preserved town full of colorful half-timbered houses. Chances for snow are rather low there, but it's a very cozy town with hotels in buildings which are often 200-400 years old. From there you can comfortably explore the area and see Quedlinburg and Goslar, two World Heritage Sites or use the steam train into the mountains.

If you want to stay at one place, don't want to see other towns and just want to explore the nearby mountains there is also Stolberg (Harz), a very small town deep in the mountains, with many beautiful buildings and a huge castle above the town.

…wikimedia.org/wiki/Stolberg_%28Harz%29

7. Re: Need help completing my itinerary for Christmas in Germany

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