17164
Austria/Germany
Christmas Traditions in Austria and Germany: A Feast for the Senses
Immerse yourself in the flavors and traditions of a European Christmas, celebrating timeless customs, music and local delicacies perfected over generations.
Rating (5)
Program No. 17164RJ
Length
12 days
Starts at
3,159
Flights start at
875
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12 days
11 nights
23 meals
10 B 4 L 9 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrival and Introduction to Vienna
Vienna
D
Austria Trend Hotel Lassalle

Activity note: Check-in available from 2:00 PM.

Afternoon: Our first acquaintance with the Austrian capital is on an expert-led excursion by bus along the Vienna Ring Boulevard. It was back in the 19th century that Emperor Franz Joseph decreed the demolition of Vienna's medieval fortifications and ramparts to make room for the city's expansion. This "Boulevard of Splendor" is lined with many of the most important political and cultural institutions such as Parliament and Town Hall, Royal Palace, the prestigious State Opera and Burgtheater, University and museums. We will stop at the classic Christmas market on the Rathausplatz, with the cathedral-like City Hall, Burgtheater and Parliament serving as a most stunning backdrop.

Dinner: In the hotel dining room. Unless otherwise noted, dinners on this program are typically a set menu. Please note that water is included in the program cost at all meals.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Cultural Vienna, Spittelberg Christmas Market
Vienna
B,L,D
Austria Trend Hotel Lassalle

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room. On this program, breakfasts will offer a typical European style breakfast buffet with breads, cheeses, cold-cuts, yogurt, fruit, cereals, juice, milk, coffee, tea and water.

Morning: A morning lecture introduces us to Cultural Vienna. Next, we will visit the Museum of Fine Art. The Museum houses one of the greatest art collections in the world, revealing the royal taste of the members of the House of Habsburg. Throughout the centuries, they brought together some of the most precious and important paintings of the celebrated "Old Masters." From KHM, we cross the Museum square to the Spittelberg quarter.

Lunch: We will enjoy a delicious Austrian dish in one of the Spittelberg cafes. Unless otherwise noted, lunches on this program are typically a set menu.

Afternoon: We continue on to the delightful Spittelberg Christmas market. Spittelberg, a former suburb of Vienna, is a lovely quarter with a bit of Biedermeier flair and has the most authentic Christmas market of the capital. Among the vendors' stands that line the narrow granite paved alleyways, niches and courtyards, you'll find both traditional and original handcrafts.

Dinner: In the hotel dining room.

Evening: Advent evening: We will gather around the Adventkranz (Advent wreath) to hear about Christmas traditions and customs in Central Europe.

DAY
4
Vienna Woods, Cafe Central
Vienna
B,D
Austria Trend Hotel Lassalle

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room.

Morning: Attend mass in the Baroque Jesuit Church with the Church Choir St. Augustine. Music is played in many of Vienna's churches on Sundays and church holidays. The best performances of the classic Viennese masses - Haydn, Mozart, Schubert and Bruckner - are given in the Jesuit Church, a Baroque gem. Seldom is a tourist found there, and the Viennese come half an hour early to get a seat in front, where the orchestra and choir sound best.

Lunch: Explore local fare on your own at one of the famous Viennese cafes such as Schwarzenberg, Mozart, Landtmann, and many others.

Afternoon: This afternoon an excursion will take us to the Vienna Woods along the romantic valley Helenental. We will visit the Heiligenkreuz Monastery, one of the most impressive abbeys in Austria, and Baden, an elegant spa town with the Beethoven House; Mozart composed his masterpiece Ave Verum Corpus here.

Dinner: In the hotel dining room.

Evening: Enjoy a concert at Anna Church.

DAY
5
Great Viennese Composers
Vienna
B,D
Austria Trend Hotel Lassalle

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room.

Morning: Music is the beating heart of Vienna. Therefore, our morning lecture will enlighten us on the great Viennese composers and musicians. This lecture concert will explore the very diverse lives of three of Vienna's most famous composers - Mozart, Schubert and Strauss. While Mozart initially enjoyed great success as a freelance composer, then struggled, Franz Schubert led a rather introverted life, only known for his renowned "Lieder" to his contemporaries. Johann Strauss however was one of the first global superstars of music. The lecture will be completed by a delightful selection of works by these composers, all three being contributors to the most Viennese of musical forms, the Viennese waltz.

Lunch: Explore local fare on your own at one of the famous Viennese cafes such as Schwarzenberg, Mozart, Landtmann, and many others.

Afternoon: After lunch you are free to explore Vienna on your own. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities, which can be found in the first Information Packet. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. We also think that this is the perfect time to wander Vienna's Christmas markets in the center and along the ring road!

Dinner: We conclude our stay in Vienna with at Cafe Central. It is part of the Palais Ferstel, located in one of the oldest parts of Vienna. Inspired by a journey to Italy, a young architect named Heinrich von Ferstel created one of the city's most interesting 19th century edifices between 1856 and 1860. Palais Ferstel was hailed as the most modern building in Vienna, and for a short time housed the Vienna Stock Exchange and the Austro-Hungarian central bank. It boasted stylish rooms and a glass-covered inner courtyard (the perfect spot for Cafe Central), which became the focal point of Vienna and Europe's intellectual elite at the close of the19th century. Such prominent figures as Arthur Schnitzler, Sigmund Freud, Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Leo Trotzki frequented Cafe Central.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Transfer to Salzburg, Bruckner Organ Concert
Salzburg
B,L,D
Hotel Elefant

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room.

Morning: Transfer to Salzburg by bus. On the way, we have an expert-led excursion through the Augustinian St. Florian's Abbey, renowned for its Baroque architecture and for its close association with the composer Anton Bruckner. Attend a special concert performed on the Bruckner organ.

Lunch: We will have lunch at the Abbey's restaurant.

Afternoon: Arrival in Salzburg. Time to settle in and relax.

Dinner: In the hotel dining room.

Evening: Salzburg's Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997, represents one of the best examples of Baroque town planning anywhere in Europe. Nestled among stunning mountain landscapes, Salzburg is an homage to both Baroque architecture and Mozart, its famous son. Church spires, palaces and concert halls, narrow cobbled streets, passages and spacious squares, small shops and historic restaurants and cafés such as famous Tomaselli and Kaffee Furst - together they create a very romantic ensemble. Take a short stroll through your surroundings.

DAY
7
Salzburg's Old Town, Oberndorf, Advent at a Farmhouse
Salzburg
B,L,D
Hotel Elefant

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room.

Morning: This morning take an expert-led field trip through the city center of Salzburg, home to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Pass Hagenauer Haus, Mozart's birthplace, and visit the Salzburg Cathedral and the festival area. Back at the hotel, hear a lecture about Salzburg's history and its most famous son, W.A. Mozart.

Lunch: In the hotel dining room.

Afternoon: Half an hour from Salzburg lies the small village of Oberndorf, where on Christmas night of 1818, the song "Silent Night" was performed for the very first time. We will visit the Memorial Church to hear the story of the most popular song ever composed. Silent Night has been translated into roughly 300 different languages. We will pay a visit also to close-by Arnsdorf, where the composer Franz Gruber lived and worked as a school teacher. He taught there for 21 years in the oldest school house in Austria, which is still in use today.

Dinner: Conclude the day at a private farmhouse in the Salzburg countryside with traditional delicacies and music.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Mozart's Birthplace, Advent Concert & Dinner
Salzburg
B,D
Hotel Elefant

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room.

Morning: This morning we will visit the Hagenauer Haus, Mozart's birthplace, followed by a coffee break at "Kaffee Furst," where in 1890, the cafe's founder Paul Furst created the famous Mozart chocolate balls.

Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.

Afternoon: Enjoy a few hours of free time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities, which can be found in the first Information Packet. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. You also might consider browsing around the Christmas market in the historical center near the cathedral. In the late afternoon, attend an Advent Concert at St. Peter's Abbey.

Dinner: We will have dinner in the restaurant at St. Peter's Abbey, which dates back to the year 803.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Hohensalzburg Fortress, Transfer to Munich
Munich
B,D
Carat Hotel Munich

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room.

Morning: On our last morning in Salzburg, we ascend by funicular to the Hohensalzburg Fortress - the city's chief landmark that majestically dominates the cityscape. The 900-year-old fortress is one of the biggest and most well preserved fortifications in Europe.

Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.

Afternoon: Transfer to Munich. Arrival at the hotel and take time to settle. In the late afternoon, hear a lecture on "Munich - Capital of the Free State Bavaria," where cosmopolitan spirit goes together with the famous Bavarian "Gemutlichkeit" - a special sense of informality and coziness that characterizes the city.

Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Introduction to Munich
Munich
B,L
Carat Hotel Munich

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room.

Morning: Take an expert-led excursion by bus along the most important landmarks outside of the old town. Then a guided field trip through the city center of Munich will show you its historic sites, great museums, architectural treasures and world-class shops. The unmistakable landmark of Munich is the Gothic Church of Our Lady - the Frauenkirche with its two onion-domed towers. A few steps farther stands the Marienplatz (central square) with its Gothic New City Hall (Rathaus), where you can find the largest Christmas market of the region. This market's roots go back to the 14th century.

Lunch: We will have lunch in a typical beer hall in the Old Town.

Afternoon: Free time to explore on your own. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities, which can be found in the first Information Packet. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Alte Pinakothek, Farewell Christmas Dinner
Munich
B,D
Carat Hotel Munich

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room.

Morning: This morning we will have an expert-led excursion through the cabinet gallery works at the Alte Pinakothek, Munich's most important art museum. A special architectural feature of the Alte Pinakothek is the parallel succession of large galleries and smaller cabinet galleries. We will be introduced to the "cabinet gallery works," small, yet fine, important masterpieces from artists such as Giotto, Fra Angelico, Brueghel, van Dyck, Rubens, Rembrandt, Ruysdael, and Hals.

Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.

Afternoon: This afternoon we will be introduced to Advent traditions of the Bavarian region as a local expert takes us "off the beaten path" in Munich's Old Town. We will learn about age-old Christmas customs and taste some typical holiday delicacies.

Dinner: We end our stay in Munich with a farewell Christmas dinner at a traditional restaurant in the heart of the city and enjoy the region's traditional holiday specialties.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Departures
Munich
B

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room.