Imagine a festive Christmas in an ancient village nestled in the foot of the Bavarian Alps. Visit traditional Christmas Markets, take the Tegelberg Cable Car high up in the mountains, relax on a horse drawn carriage ride and explore King Ludwig’s extravagant castles.
Your tour commences this evening in wonderful Frankfurt: a city of contrasts – from modern skyscrapers to beautifully maintained old buildings. There is so much to see and do in the city centre. Dinner tonight is included in your hotel but first, enjoy a welcome drink. This is an ideal opportunity to meet your fellow travellers.
We soon reach the baroque city of Würzburg, starting point of the ‘Romantic Road’, where we explore the Altstadt (old town) with its Christmas markets scattered amongst the historic buildings. We then continue to nearby Rothenburg, possibly the finest medieval city in all of Europe, where we stay two nights. Your afternoon is free to enjoy the delightful cobblestoned streets, ramparts and turrets of picture perfect Rothenburg. A ‘must do’ is a visit to the famous ‘Christmas Shop’ known for its stunning displays. The Christmas Markets, set in the narrow alleys, 50 yards from your hotel, are perhaps the quaintest you will ever see. This evening, after dinner in your hotel, we have included a special treat – a torchlight tour with the Night Watchman through the beautifully preserved ramparts and winding streets.
We have included a full day excursion. First stop is the nearby UNESCO World Heritage listed city of Bamberg, which boasts hundreds of buildings, mansions and palaces displaying the various stages of architecture dating back 1,000 years. Famous for its unique ‘smoked’ beer and antique shops – Bamberg is one of Germany’s best kept secrets. In the afternoon we continue to the massive stone towers and gates of medieval Nürnberg. Once the setting for enormous Nazi rallies and the War Crimes trials, Nürnberg now boasts extensive pedestrian walkways and the most splendid Christmas Markets in Europe. This huge market has a unique law that only traditional Christmas artefacts are allowed for sale. As dusk approaches, the music and singing, Christmas lights and smell of mulled wine, roasting sausages, chestnuts and sweets fill the air. We return to Rothenburg early evening.
Travelling south we reach Munich, capital of Bavaria, late morning. Rebuilt since the war, the central walking precinct is a mass of people and activity. The shopping is excellent. Perhaps take lunch in one of the numerous cafés or a giant Beer Hall? A perfect place for some final Christmas shopping (and yes there are Christmas Markets all around the old Town Hall).
Mid afternoon we continue to the picturesque town of Füssen where we stay the next five nights. Füssen is delightful! Stretches of the original Roman defensive walls are still in place, and the town’s historic character is particularly evident along the cobbled Reichenstrasse. High above, the old castle of the Prince-Bishops of Augsburg dominates the town. All dinners, including traditional Christmas Eve dinner, Farewell to Bavaria’ dinner, and two lunches are included over the next five nights.
What better way to start the day than a visit to the ‘fairytale’ Neuschwanstein Castle! After a brisk walk uphill you will enjoy a guided tour inside the King’s apartments, staterooms, halls and throne room all reminiscent of a Wagner operatic saga. This afternoon we will also visit the neo-Gothic Hohenschwangau Castle. Rich in history, you will find the interior typical of the Castles of the Knights of the Middle Ages, with its ‘Hall of Heroes’, paintings and suits of armour.
Your morning is at leisure in delightful Füssen. Take time to walk through the very picturesque and historic part of the town with its Christmas decorations and shops. (Shops open until lunchtime). Later, we visit the pretty town of Hopfen, on Lake Hopfensee, where we have included lunch in a lakeside restaurant. Perhaps take a walk along the lakeside, the views of the mountains are excellent. Tonight enjoy a traditional Christmas Eve dinner in a local restaurant.
Christmas as it should be - relaxing, eating and drinking! A highlight today will be a ride in a horse drawn carriage through the local countryside. Enjoy a Christmas Day lunch at your hotel and later in the afternoon we will take a cable car ride up to Tegelberg to take in the breath-taking views down onto the majestic Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles far below. Time to take those ‘perfect’ photos.
A day in the mountains with Rococo! Our first stop this morning is at the richly decorated Wieskirche (Church in the Meadows) with its incredible painted ceilings. Later we drive through the ‘Passion Play’ village of Oberammergau and stop at Kloster Ettal. This monastery in a lovely shaded valley dates back over 700 years and is one of the finest examples of Rococo architecture in existence. In the afternoon we return via nearby Linderhof, an extravagant French Rococo Palace – yet another of King Ludwig’s amazing creations. Tonight, back at our hotel, we enjoy our ‘Farewell to Bavaria’ dinner.
Driving across the mountains and valleys of Western Austria we soon reach the city of Vaduz, capital of the Principality of Liechtenstein, a tiny country on the border of Switzerland. Soon afterwards we head into Switzerland and spend the afternoon in the lovely lakeside town of Luzern with its covered wooden bridges. Your farewell dinner tonight promises to be an unforgettable experience as we dine in a local Swiss Restaurant. Relax and soak up the unique atmosphere as you enjoy traditional Swiss fare and a Folklore show.
Sadly your Christmas tour is now complete, and it is time to bid farewell.