This is one of the coolest and craziest trips we ever designed! If this enchanting adventure doesn’t envelope you with the Christmas Spirit, nothing will Mr. Grinch. Germany’s Christmas Markets are a delight for everyone’s senses; the festive glow, tempting aromas, amazing handicrafts, yuletide music and treats. No country does it with more passion then Germany. Every year, since the 14th century, elaborate open-air markets come to life with unforgettable festivities. Now - Imagine laying beachside getting a tan as you sip a Mai-Tai and photograph flamingos stroll through a rainforest in December! Seriously. We’ll stay in the world’s largest indoor tropical resort for a total one-of-a-kind experience. Inside the gigantic 6 sq. km glass dome is Europe’s largest Spa complex, an enchanting village, sandy beach, Amazon waterpark, sports venues, restaurants, bars, lagoons and more. (You’ll love your Balinese villa in this resort for all seasons).
Our fun begins in historic Munich, heart of Bavaria, with its countless treasures and temptations. Onto medieval Nuremburg which draws 2 million visitors to its Christkindlmarkt. Finally, on to the Tropical Islands outside of Berlin for three glorious nights you’ll never forget. Uber-cool Berlin is my favorite EU city for its endless enticements. You’ll get educated on our historic city tours but the greatest delight is found at the markets.
Imagine beautifully decorated stalls offering thousands of handmade crafts you’ll treasure forever. There’s sizzling sausages, spiced mulled wines, fresh gingerbreads, twinkling lights, brass bands, children’s choirs, live nativity’s and more all set in grand European squares. Our past groups loved it!
Come with AFS to bring out your Inner-Elf. “Yule” all have a magical time – Merry Christmas one and all.
Easy air details - see trip tips after booking.
(You may want to go early to explore wonderful Munich. We love the breweries and foodie tours here. Just google all things Munich.)
On arrival you will be met by your local tour guide and transferred to your 4-Star Hotel Maritim. We will drop our bags and head out for a Group Lunch at the world famous Hofbraeuhaus Munchen! Get to know your fellow AFSers over a Bavarian inspired lunch and German beer. This place, that seats 1,300, will never be forgotten - complete with oompa-pa music as we toast in half-gallon beer steins! http://www.hofbraeuhaus.de/en/index_en.html
Known today as the city of laptops and lederhosen, modern Munich is a cosmopolitan city with old-world royal Bavarian charm, cutting-edge high-tech industry and an entire suburb of Olympic legacy. It is consistently at the top of quality-of-life-rankings world cities and even named World's Most Livable City in 2013.
Wander one of the many free museums, monuments and art galleries to dig deep into the rich history or shop the ultra-cool Euro fashions in Stachus Passagen, world’s largest underground shopping center. In the evenings, mingle with the German thigh-slappers and Dirndl wearing Fräuleins as you sing-a-long at the Bavarian heritage beer halls, or sample some of the award winning restaurants.
Our hotel, the 4-Star Hotel Maritim, in the heart of the city, walking distance to most everything with a panorama rooftop indoor swimming pool, free WIFI, 2 restaurants, a piano bar and heated biergarten (beer garden!) makes this a perfect springboard to explore Munich.
Afternoon free to explore.
Overnight: Hotel Maritime L
After breakfast, we take a half-day tour of the city by coach where our local guide will show us a variety of eclectic sites, from the glory days of kings and queens to the darkness of World War II and the Munich we see today. See St. Peter’s Church, Opera House, National Theatre, Viktualen food market, Royal Palace and more. Onto Olympic Park to see the stadium and beautiful Olympic Tower.
Afternoon free to explore.
Munich has the most traditional Christmas Market set in the stunning square of Marienplatz with its gothic town hall and crowned with a 100-foot twinkling Christmas tree. Among the candle-lit wooden huts, you can get anything your heart desires in the Advent spirit. Fresh Bavarian specialties include giant pretzels, baked apple strudel, schnitzels, fruit breads, chocolate waffles, potato pancakes, a hundred types of smoked sausages & the famous frosted ‘Snow Balls’.
There are 20 different markets here such as: Medieval market, Pink market for LGBT, Bohemian market for funky gifts, an English Green market, a Nativity market and Germany’s biggest “Kripperlmarkt” where you are immersed in the holiday spirit when the live music and choirs ring out daily from the town hall’s balcony. In the Himmelswerkstadt market, children don shimmering robes and golden wings to become little angels. You might bump into Bishop Nicholas with his companion “Krampus” in the Budengassen, giving life to a five-hundred-year-old Alpine tradition.
What to buy? The most unique gifts you can imagine. From hand crafted ornaments, bells, candles, paintings, dolls, lamb skin, shoes, knitwear – your choices are endless. (Leave extra room in your suitcase. (I treasure my collections purchased here over the years.) Finish off with a round of ice skating at Eiszauber am Stachus. If you love contrast, you will certainly get your fill in Munich.
Overnight: Hotel Maritime B
After breakfast we head north to Nuremburg (1.5 hour) and check into our hotel.
Medieval Old Town Walking Tour - Enjoy a 3-hour walking tour into the charming center which was the cradle of the German Renaissance. See historic sites where kings were crowned, saints were buried and where Germany’s most esteemed artists lived. See the castle, gothic churches and half-timbered houses on cobbled streets. The 700 year-old Hauptmarkt is the stage for Germany's largest and most famous Christmas market. It is said to have originated when Martin Luther began giving his children Christmas presents.
Spend the rest of the day and evening wandering this storybook town. Although there are several contenders for the title of Germany’s best Christmas market. Nuremburgs “Christkindlmarkt” makes a strong claim to be the most famous. Dating back to 1628, it epitomizes the medieval and romantic atmosphere of the season. 2 million visitors come each year to soak up the beauty, and “gemutlekite”. Held in the main market square of Hauptmarkt, heart of the old quarter, Santa is omnipresent. It hums with visitors enjoying the sights, sounds, and quality crafts here. (Mass produced goods are strictly verboten). Visit the delightful toy museum, enjoy a carriage ride, see the lamp parade, attend a church concert or see the beautiful carousal complete with reindeer figures and Santa’s sleigh. The air is filled with delicious aromas of cinnamon, bratwurst, roasted almonds and ‘Gluhwein’.
Afternoon and lunch on own.
4-Star Hotel Maritim Nurnberg - indoor swimming pool, sauna, gym, great restaurant and free WIFI.
Overnight: Hotel Maritim, Nuremburg B
In the morning we transfer by private coach to Krausnick (4.5 hour). Welcome to Tropical Islands, world’s largest indoor tropics with 60 themed lodges under a four square mile glass dome (FYI, I discovered this new place at a recent travel show. Keep it secret. No Americans know about it yet.)
When darkness falls over the lagoons, you’ll love your stylish villa room with flat screen TV and large in suite bathroom. Breakfast buffet, fitness club, huge tropical sauna and water slides are included. Enjoy the 10,000 sq. meter Spa Complex, tennis, aerobic classes, mini-golf, curling, volleyball and more. There’s even a shopping boulevard. You can always hop on a bus into downtown Berlin, they run hourly.
Enjoy your surroundings, sleep well.
Overnight: Tropical Island B
Breakfast Buffet included (in adult area)
Welcome to Berlin! Winter entertainment awaits you in this metropolis of 3.5 million. Vibrant Berlin is nothing short of addictive with its iconic sites, fab food scene and intense night life. Too much to write here. Go to www.visitberlin.com for a gazillion ideas. Get a 72-hour Berlin Welcome Card there for free travel pass and discounts to 200 sites including the 5 museums on museum island (Ladies, shop and dine at Ka De We!)
This afternoon we are transferred into Berlin for a half-day city tour, portions by foot. See how this city bounced back as Germany's capital city after the wall came down over 25 years ago. We'll take some time to reflect on its turbulent past, while at the same time experiencing its urban and social transformation into one of Europe's most exciting cities. See the Reichstag Building (long lines to get in, so maybe an exterior photo-op is best) built in 1894 in the Renaissance style. It was nearly destroyed in WWII, but today sports a fabulous glass dome with an observation deck.
Onto Brandenburg Gate this 18th-century neoclassical triumphal arch in Berlin is one of the best-known landmarks of Germany. It has often been the unofficial gathering place for Berliners, especially during the 1989 falling of the Berlin Wall. The Room of Silence in one of the guardhouses is a special place of remembrance. See the Berlin Wall Memorial which stands as a reminder of the recent past when in 1961 the wall went up and 1989 it came down. You'll have a chance to peer through slits in the wall to the other side, see newspaper clippings and photos from the era and listen to eyewitness testimonies of people's personal experiences. Time permitting: Checkpoint Charlie and many other sites.
After the tour, you’ll be dropped at the main Christmas Markets for time to explore before we are transferred back to our hotel. (Of course, if you want to stay longer, you can take a bus or UBER it back later.)
There are 60 different markets here, from traditional to urbane. The main market ranks in Germany’s top 8 located at the historic Memorial Church. Named ‘Gednachtniskirche’ you’ll find culinary temptations from the country’s top chefs as well as acrobats, jugglers, choirs & bands. A half-hour walk to ‘Potsdamer Platz’ market features an ice rink and a fun toboggan run. Spandau market has a live nativity scene. Lucia market is Scandanavia themed with a romantic atmosphere. But if you want totally traditional, Openpalais market has horse-drawn carriage rides through old-town Berlin.
Overnight: Tropical Island B
Whatever the season, there’s tons of things to do in Berlin! Museum Island, Checkpoint Charlie, Reischstag building, Anne Frank Center, art galleries, hop-on-hop-off bus, Madame Tussauds, Bode Museum, Berlin Dungeons, Sea Life Berlin, KaDeWe, foodie tours, Jewish Memorial and more. See TimeOutBerlin.com, get a travel card for great value on metro transport and free entrances. (www.berlinpass.com)
Overnight: Tropical Island B
Say ‘Auf Wiedersehen!’ to Germany. Transfer to airport for flight home.
2. I have no trouble walking and if necessary, can walk for 3+ miles. Uneven surfaces are not a problem. I do not need a cane or walking device.
Don’t miss this unique holiday adventure. Limited to 40 participants.
A $400 deposit will secure your space on a first come basis, don’t delay!
Land price: $1595
Air: No group air due to most wanting to fly there on own. Fly into Munich landing December 7 and departing Burlin December 13.
Includes: Transfers, first class accommodations, meals as stated, daily guided tours, AFS GTL.
This 'option' is a required additional charge for this trip.
Please review AFS Terms and Conditions as well as Heading Abroad with AFS. Group air - Airlines may add surcharges to offset fuel inflation or taxes. The total ticket cost is not final until we receive your final payment and are ticketed. If doing own air, airport transfer may or may not be included depending on your air schedule. Do not buy air until we either group air is set or we advise - dates can change! Itineraries are prepared often a year in advance. Though not likely, AFS and our suppliers reserve the right to change or modify such to meet local conditions. Although rare, hotels can change – all hotel rooms are run of the house. Our prices are based on current taxation structures. In case any revision in taxes, sudden fluctuation in currency levels, change in Visa fees or increase in fuel charges, we will amend our prices and inform you accordingly. Land price is based on minimum number of trip participants.