DAY 1 - Start Frankfurt
Wilkommen to Frankfurt, often described as a big city with a friendly village feel. We'll start off with an orientation tour before cutting to the main event, Frankfurt’s Christmas Market. With a glittering 30m tree and a vintage carousel, the town is like a snow-globe come to life. Countless stalls sell grilled sausages, roasted nuts, honey, candles and pretty ornaments as well as local jewellery, art and sculpture. You’ll even find an LGBTQ market with bright pink Christmas trees, glitzy purple lights, a laid back atmosphere and all the usual goodies. Be sure to sample Bethmaennchen, traditional marzipan cookies found only in Frankfurt, and enjoy a glass of glühwein on us.
DAY 2 - Frankfurt to Cologne via Koblenz
We can’t visit the Rhine valley without taking to the water, so this morning we’ll relax with a sightseeing cruise, enjoying the pretty skyline vistas before heading to our next destination.
Where the Rhine meets the Moselle, we’ll stop off for some free time in historic Koblenz, a charming city with plenty of quiet squares, quirky fountains and pavement cafes. Wine has been cultivated near Koblenz since Roman times, and we’ll learn all about it as we raise a glass at an included wine tasting in St Goar.
Our final stop for the day is Cologne, where we’ll explore the breathtakingly huge cathedral, originally built to house the remains of the Three Wise Men! In its shadow we’ll gasp in delight at just one of the city’s celebrated Christmas Markets, with its glittering canopy of lights. A few steps further on we’ll find a spectacular ice skating rink and many, many more market areas promising Christmas paradise on earth. When we’ve shopped for gifts to our heart’s content let’s not forget to get a taste of all the local delicacies – Käsespätxle (tiny egg dumplings tossed in cheese) and Kaiserschmarrn (shredded pancakes with sugar), plus churros, crepes and plenty of German craft beer!
DAY 3 - Cologne to Stuttgart via Heidelberg
Another day, another bewitching market to visit. We leave Cologne after breakfast and head for Heidelberg.
Covering seven different locations in the Old Town, Heidelberg’s Christmas Market radiates festive magic – the perfect blend of tradition and winter wonderland. We’ll tear ourselves away to also take in the romantic ruins of Heidelberg castle before making tracks for Stuttgart.
Later today we’ll reach Stuttgart where, in the Christmas Garden, the magic begins after twilight falls. The Wilhelma (garden) is transformed into a fairy-tale landscape as ten million points of light illuminate a sparkling circular walk. Stuttgart Christmas market, one of Europe’s oldest and liveliest, will give us the chance to shop for wooden toys and antiques and to warm our bellies with mulled wine and fresh gingerbread – all to the festive sounds of local choir music.
DAY 4 - Stuttgart to Nuremberg via Rothenberg
See you later Stuttgart, after breakfast today we’ll set our sights for Rothenberg.
Here in Rothenburg, Germany’s best-preserved walled town, we’ll sip some seasonal hot chocolate before continuing on to Nuremberg.
Here we are in the heart of Bavaria for a walking tour that’ll fill us in on 1000 years of history, from emperors and Renaissance riches, to World Wars and Nazi trials. This evening we’ve another chance to thrill to enticing stalls, tinsel angels, wooden nutcrackers, coloured stars and lots more twinkling lights. Grab dinner on the move with the locals’ favourite grilled sausages, or maybe a crackling pork shoulder served with a dumpling.
DAY 5 - Nuremberg to Munich via Dachau
Nuremberg gingerbread is a centuries-old tradition – a delicious speciality made to carefully guarded family recipes. This morning we’ll get to see up close how the famous treat is made and pick up some tips and treats at an included gingerbread workshop, the perfect farewell before we make our way to Munich this afternoon, via Dachau.
Moving on from Nuremburg, we’ll head on to Munich. But first, an important and sobering visit to the Dachau concentration camp memorial, once the original working camp. You’ll be able to spend some time here to learn and reflect on a generation never to be forgotten.
Munich may be famous for Oktoberfest festivities, but the vibes live here all year round. A tour of the sights will introduce you to the history and sights of this dynamic city including the main square and the famous Glockenspiel with its 32 dancing figurines and 43 chiming bells. This evening you’re free to make the most of your time in the city; with so many bars, clubs and beerhalls you’ll be spoiled for choice.
DAY 6 - Munich
Today we begin with a visit to Neuschwanstein Castle, straight out of a storybook. Built by ‘mad King Ludwig’ it’s not only one of the most famous castles in Europe but said to be the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle too. Munich’s Christmas Markets are amongst the oldest in Germany. We’ll follow our noses as the tantalising scents of roasted almonds, doughnuts and mulled wine draw us to the old town for a final night of sparkly lights, traditional crafts and holiday cosiness. Dinner is included this evening, then get ready for a whirlwind of lederhosen, dirndls and steins as we continue the night at a traditional beerhall, where the oompah band will play and strangers will become friends. Prost!
DAY 7 - End Munich
We don’t want the festivities to end but today’s the day we say “Auf Wiedersehen”. We’ll go our separate ways with Christmas lights sparkling in our eyes and cheer in our hearts, until our next Contiki adventure comes around.