The Most Magical Winter: Germany Travel Guide

This year, Mike and I knew that we needed to do something different for Christmas, because following our same traditions without our kids didn’t feel right. I spent weeks trying to figure out the right place for us to spend Christmas, spent hours researching top places around the world to spend the holiday, and hopped that I chose the right place! Mike wanted to spend Christmas on a tropical island, but I knew that I still wanted to feel the magic of Christmas… somewhere cold and charming and festive. One night, while he was sleeping, I booked our trip to Germany. When he woke up the next morning, I said, “Babe, we’re going to Germany!” Our relationship goes much this way… hahaha… At one point during our trip he looked at me and said, “You’re right. This is way better than being on an island right now.”

Christmas in Germany was the best travel decision we’ve ever made, and it exceeded all of the high expectations that I had for it. I highly recommend you to go through the dates of Nov 28-Dec 25 when the Christmas markets are in full swing. Here is our full itinerary that I spent hours and hours figuring out. I wouldn’t change one thing!

*We flew from Boston to Munich, and rented a car. I highly recommend renting a car!

Day 1: Arrive in Munich and drive 2 hours to Neuschwanstein Castle

The drive is so incredibly pretty along the way, you’ll be going through some little towns. The area around the castle is also beautiful. When you get there, you will park and walk up to the entrance you take to walk up the mountain to the castle. You can take a horse carriage up and down the castle, which we did. It was 12 euros up for the both of us, and 6 euros down. When you get up to the castle, make sure you take the trail to bridge Marienbrucke. This is the most beautiful view of the castle, and you can see the entire thing. When we went, it was closed due to ice… but we jumped all of the gates and went anyways, because we traveled way too far to not see the whole thing!

Where to eat: La Perla (Italian), Madame PlüschHirsch

We stayed Hotel Das Rübezahl, which has a view from below of the castle. It is a very nice and quaint hotel, and we loved it. They have a jacuzzi that has a view of the castle too… so you can take your suit if you want to!

Day 2: Drive to Rothenburg, about 2.5 hour drive

When we got to Rothenburg, I couldn’t believe how pretty it was. The town is very small and historic, and surrounded by an outer wall. It has one of the best Christmas markets in Germany. You can walk up the Town Hall Tower for a full view of the city, it is definitely worth it. At this market, schneeballs are a really popular treat to order. We both got one, but didn’t like them.. haha! BUT, I feel like you have to try it for the experience. Also, Gluwein is the most popular drink… it is a cider with alcohol in it. Since we don’t drink alcohol, I ordered Kinderpunch, which is the kid’s version 😉 It was so delicious… I ordered it at every market, but Rothenburg by far had the best. Also, spend time walking through the store Kathe Wohlfarht, it is a Christmas wonderland.

We stayed at Hotel Reichs-Kuchenmeister, which was close walking distance to the Christmas markets in the main town square, and was the cutest hotel ever. I highly recommend this hotel as well. There are many restaurants to eat at. I can’t remember where we ended up eating, but you’ll have several options! I went out of my normal eating habits and got meatloaf… IT WAS AMAZING. Try ordering something thats a Bavarian dish that you haven’t tried before… chances are that you’ll be highly impressed!

Day 3: Drive 1.5 hours to Nuremberg

Nuremberg is a bigger city (not huge, but is a city unlike the first two places). This is where we went to our favorite Christmas Markets of the trip. The Christkindlesmarkt is very large, and inside of that is the Children’s Christmas Market. This Children’s market was our favorite market of the entire trip! The candy floss (similar to cotton candy) was amazing, along with the pretzels. They are also famous for their gingerbread here, so make sure you try some from this particular market.

For dinner, we ate at an Indian food restaurant by our hotel. You’ll be able to find it from the hotel. It was very busy, and we had never had Indian food before… oh my gosh it was the most delicious meal ever!

We stayed at the Park Plaza Hotel. It is in a very convenient location, and you can walk to the markets and everything else that you need from it.

Day 4: Drive 3.5 hours to Salzburg, Austria(We stayed in Salzburg for 3 days)

We stayed at Hotel Amadeus. We loved this hotel, was in a great central location, walkable to everything, and had a really big room. Highly recommend it as well!

Our first day in Salzburg we walked up to the Monastery right when we got there. Its about a 5 minute walk from the hotel, until the road you take to get up to the Monastery. It takes you through a really cool part of the city, and also gives you a beautiful view once you’re at the top of it! After that, we went to the main Christmas Market that is at the Cathedral. Walking through the Cathedral is also something that you should do at the market, it is beautiful and has a lot of history. We ate dinner at the market… for dessert, make sure you get a Nutella and banana crepe, AND/or a waffle with vanilla cream and berries. The waffle was my favorite treat of the entire trip! Amazing!

Day 5: Day trip from Salzburg to Halstatt, Austria

Make sure you go to Halstatt. You can hike there, go to the skywalk, take a boat… there’s a lot of things to do in this little town. We explored the village, and then ate at the main hotel in the square. It overlooks the water and was really delicious. Halstatt has been a dream of ours to see, and was everything we imagined that it would be!

Day 6: Salzburg : This was Christmas Eve for us… if you are spending Christmas here, you must be here for Christmas Eve!

In the morning we went to church (they have a lot of Christmas Eve church services), and then went to brunch at Cafe Fingerlos. The brunch there is amazing, and highly recommend. Its also right next to Mirabell Palace, so after brunch we went and walked around, and then continued on the path that takes you over the bridge and up to the castle. Once up there, you can take many trails that take you to different castles, and has an amazing view of the city.

When I first booked the trip, and was trying to figure out where to stay on Christmas Eve, I randomly chose Salzburg. What I didn’t know until later, is that right outside of Salzburg is the Silent Night Chapel, which is where Silent night was first written and performed. Every Christmas Eve they have an amazing performance of the song, where people from all around the world gather to listen, and then join in to sing in their native language. It is an experience that you have to have. The program starts at 5, and I recommend getting there at 3:30 so you can walk around and then get a good spot because it gets very crowded since the area is so small.

We were very nervous we wouldn’t get dinner since everything closes for the holiday, but right across the street from the chapel is a little pizza place that stays open! After the performance we ran over there and had delicious pizza and calzones. You’ll see the pizza place on the Main Street.

Day 7: Christmas Day: Drive 1.5 hours from Salzburg to Munich

We stayed at Hotel Bayerhoff. It is a 5 star resort, so is a little more pricey than the other hotels, but it was completely worth it, plus we wanted to be somewhere very nice for Christmas. It is central to everything, so we walked around the city when we got there. I loved Munich SO much, and honestly didn’t have any expectations for it. As we were walking around we stumbled on an ice skating rink… make sure you do it! Its outside and so beautiful, and was the perfect thing to do together on Christmas Day.

We were really nervous nothing would be open for Christmas breakfast… but Mr. Pancake (a place I had been dying to try) was open!!! Its the best breakfast ever!

We ate Christmas dinner in the hotel. We didn’t make reservations, which led us to the only place in the hotel to eat that had any openings. On the bottom floor they have a Bavarian restaurant… it was the best meal not only of the trip, but top 5 I’ve had in my entire life! We ordered the steak filet, the goulash, and the goat cheese salad. Do yourself a favor and order this exact thing. It was so good my mouth is watering thinking about it!

Christmas was perfect for us, and the magic of Germany was so palpable this time of year!

On day 8 we flew back to Boston to end our trip.

I hope you’re able to experience this at some point in your life! This guide took me a lot of time to figure out and put together for our trip, and I’m so happy to share it with you. If you could do me a favor and pin it on Pinterest, I would so appreciate it! If you end up doing this trip, please share it with me!

18 thoughts on “The Most Magical Winter: Germany Travel Guide”

  1. Thank you sooooo much for sharing this Ashley. Your very first post of you and the Castle behind you made me fall in love with this place!!! I’m definitely putting this in my vision board for Christmas 2019! Thank you!!!!! Xo

  2. Ashley,

    This is amazing. I have been thinking over a winter trip, and on a whim after seeing your post, I booked tickets to Munich leaving on Tuesday. Our trips look very similar, and I wont lie, I took much of my inspiration from you!

    My only question is how tough was renting a car and the driving? Was it easy enough?

    Thank you for your positive outlook on life and beautiful optimism.

  3. We are blessed to live in Germany, close to Frankfurt, and I think next Christmas we need to head south! Your vacation sounded amazing and we haven’t been to Salzburg yet!

  4. Thank you for sharing your adventure and every amazing detail. I loved every minute of traveling through Germany for the Christmas season even if it was vicariously through reading your itinerary. What a memorable, once in a lifetime experience. A little different from the Ahwatukee foothills of Arizona!!

  5. Oh my goodness I’m so happy you and your husband were able to get away and experience this awesome trip. I’m already wanting to plan a trip one day…the photos were beautiful and there was a Christmas magic in your pics!! Thanks for sharing 😊

  6. This trip looked amazing!! I never thought Germany would be on my list of places to see but now it definitely is. How was traveling with the language barrier? Do many people speak English? Thanks so much for sharing your experience.

    1. English was NEVER an issue. We don’t speak a bit of German and nearly everyone we met spoke English. They grow up studying it. We even pulled into a McDonald’s (ha) Drive thru they started talking in German we ordered in English and they flipped to English immediately. (When it’s a long drive and you need a coke…you pull off to McDonald’s! But be warned – your soda will not have ice. )

  7. We sort of did the reverse trip. We flew into Munich and my husband and I really wanted to see Dacheau so we started in Munich at Marienplatz and then drove to dacheau and back to Munich that night. The next day we went to Nuremberg and it was everything – Carriage rides, the churches, everything. Stayed over in Nuremberg spent time at the castle, the modern city too, and again – history loving husband – the nazi documentation Center. We then drove to Rothenburg obder taber and stayed inside the walled city. Highly recommend the night watchman tour!!!!! I️ took my husband to Kathe wahlfort so he took me to the torture museum. We then headed toward fussin and neuschwanstein castle. (I don’t know anyone who has been in the last two years who has found the bridge open!!). We stayed at the hotel Sonne which was incredible. That was incredible – even just walking up to the sound of German police sirens with that distinctive European sound was dreamy! Heading Back to Munich (we were supposed to go to Salzburg but we lingered too long on all our stops) we stopped at the weis church and it was spectacular. Just this church in the middle of farmland that is a rococo masterpiece. One last night and then we had to go home. We had 5 nights. 7 would be ideal like you did! Next up – figure out how to take my kids.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing about your trip! I have just learned about the Christmas Markets in Germany. This trip is on my bucket list for sure!

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