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Holiday Season in Europe – 2 Weeks

Guest post by karenj

Map tips: each color represents a different day. Click a marker to learn more about the spot, and click the star in the map header to save the entire map under Your Places in Google Maps.

Traveling to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland in November was a phenomenal experience. We went with a tour company called Go Ahead Tours. The Christmas markets were just opening for the season, so we got to experience the sites and sounds and smells of the markets without the large crowds.

Day 1: Arrival in Frankfurt

  • Weinheim

We arrived in Frankfurt and were transferred to our hotel in Weinheim. There was nothing within walking distance of the hotel so we mostly stuck to the hotel.

Day 2: Heidelberg

  • Heidelberg Castle
  • Marktplatz

Our first day trip was to Heidelberg. We got to see the red castle, the river, and the town square. We also got to enjoy our first real German meal! I loved Heidelberg because it felt like a typical college town.

Day 3: Germany

  • Black Forest
  • Rhine Falls

Day 3 took us on a bus tour of the Black Forest and Rhine Falls. The Black Forest was beautiful and terrifying all at the same time. I liked our lunch time stop at a cuckoo clock factory. We arrived in Lucerne, Switzerland later in the day.

Black Forest Cuckoo Clock

Day 4: Lucerne, Switzerland

  • Kapellbrücke
  • Jesuit Church
  • Lion Monument
  • Richard Wagner Museum Lucerne

Lucerne exceeded my expectations. I loved the bridge and the Jesuit church. The Lion Monument is certainly a site to see! We took a long walk to the Wagner House, but only saw it from the outside.

The Jesuit Church across the water

Day 5: Liechtenstein and Innsbruck

Our next day started with a brief stop in Liechtenstein. Nice stop, but not much time needed. It was then off to Innsbruck, Austria. I highly recommend Innsbruck. Everything is easily walkable and the river and main town square (with the Golden Roof) are gorgeous. Innsbruck was our first stop where the Christmas markets were open, and we all had some hot wine and delicious treats.

First Christmas market!

Day 6: Neuschwanstein Castle

The next day we drove to the castle of Neuschwanstein. While it was definitely impressive, seeing it in the winter was a bit of a disappointment. It was so foggy you couldn’t see the castle until you were right up under. Not sure if I would make a return trip in the winter.

Day 7: Munich

  • Nymphenburg Palace
  • Munich Residenz
  • Marienplatz

Next on the itinerary was Munich. I can’t recall much of the Nymphenburg Palace, so obviously it was not particularly memorable. I did love seeing the Marienplatz with the glockenspiel. The Residence was also worth the time. And, of course, not trip to Munich is complete without a stop at the Hofbrauhaus!

Day 8: Salzburg

  • House of Mozart
  • Getreidegasse
  • Mirabell Palace

Salzburg ended up being one of my favorite cities on the trip. The Getridegasse with its iron signs was quite a treat. I loved all the Sound of Music paraphernalia around, like the Mirabell Gardens. The Mozart House is a must-do as well.

Day 9: Fortress Hohensalzburg

We took the funicular to the top of the hill in Salzburg to see the Fortress. Worth it just for the views! We spent much of the day at the Christmas markets.

View from the fortress

Day 10: Melk Abbey

We visited Melk Monastery on our way to Vienna. The library was my favorite part!

Day 11: Vienna

  • Schönbrunn Palace
  • St. Stephen’s Cathedral
  • Hofburg Palace

Our first day in Vienna started with the Schonbrunn Palace. I think it would have been a better place to visit in warmer weather, when the gardens would have been accessible. I really enjoyed St. Stephen’s Cathedral!

Day 12: Vienna

  • Vienna Opera House
  • MuseumsQuartier
  • Austrian National Library

On our next day in Vienna we went to the Museum Quarter and saw the blue hippo (look it up, it’s cute). We also went to on a tour of the Opera House and saw the Austrian National Library. Both beyond impressive! The Christmas market at the Town Hall was among the best we saw on the trip.

Day 13: Prague

  • Old Town Square
  • Prague Astronomical Clock

Our guided tour ended in Vienna, but we took the train to Prague to finish the trip. In Prague on our first day we saw the Old Town Square and the Astronomical Clock. They also had their Christmas market up and running.

Day 14: Prague

  • Prague Castle
  • St. Vitus Cathedral
  • Charles Bridge
  • St. Nicholas Church

Our second day in Prague we walked over the Charles Bridge and up to the Prague Castle. Two must-see sites in Prague.

Charles Bridge and Prague Castle

Flew home the next day.

Traveled in November 2015

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