Celebrating Christmas In Germany And Austria

While Christmas at our beautiful home in New Hampshire is wonderful,  lately I been remembering Christmases past in Europe. My husband and I have found that there is no lovelier tradition than Celebrating Christmas In Germany and Austria…the Germanic regions of Europe where many of our own holiday traditions originated many hundreds of years ago and are still enjoyed there today.

I was too late in making plans to visit Europe this year but I thought I would share memories of our Christmas holidays spent in Germany and Austria. Bundling up for a sleigh ride, visiting the Christmas markets, listening to carols sung by a boy’s choir in a winter wonderland is like a dream come true.

Oh What Fun To Ride In An Open Sleigh Full Of Presents

Oh What Fun To Ride In An Open Sleigh Full Of Presents

The Christmas season starts on the Friday before Advent, which is four Sundays before Christmas Eve. Whether you visit the main square of a big city or one in a tiny village in either Germany or Austria during Advent, the town will probably have its own unique Christmas market known as a Christkindlmarkt or Weihnachtsmarkt. Small markets in rural villages are held only on the weekends but in the large cities they customarily go throughout the entire week.

Usually our holiday trips begin in Munich, Germany. With lots of different Christmas markets throughout the city, Munich feels like the Bavarian version of a movie set from “White Christmas“. Christmas trees everywhere, people wrapped up in their winter coats and scarves, holiday music, food and mulled wine…you begin to wonder if Munich might have been the place where Christmas was invented.

Munich's Christkindlmarkt At The Marienplatz

Munich’s Christkindlmarkt At The Marienplatz

We always stay at the Vier Jahreszeiten Munich, a five minute walk from the former residence of the kings of Bavaria. The beautifully decorated lobby is a popular meeting place for locals and Müncheners refer to it as the living room of Munich. After a cold day wandering the cobbled streets admiring the Christmas sights and sounds, it is a nice place to warm up with a cappuccino or hot chocolate and watch as guests come through the doors loaded with shopping bags full of presents from the beautiful shops nearby.

Warming Up With A Cappuccino In The Vier Jahreszeiten Beautifully Decorated Lobby

Warming Up With A Cappuccino In The Vier Jahreszeiten’s Beautifully Decorated Lobby

From the hotel, a leisurely 10 minute walk takes you to the Christkindlmarkt held at the Marienplatz, Munich’s most famous square, in the old center of town. You know you have reached the market when you see a glittering 100 foot tree in front of the New Town Hall and its famous Glockenspiel. Large crowds mingle in front of hundreds of small wooden stands, many elaborately decorated with fir branches and lights, where wooden toys and hand carved nativity sets, beautiful glass ornaments, candles and holiday novelties are sold. The aroma of sizzling sausages under piles of sautéed onions will lead you to stands selling crispy potato pancakes, gingerbread, stollen, roasted candied almonds, chestnuts, and large pretzels.

Click on any of the photos to enlarge and see a slide show.

When the cold and snow has made your fingers and toes go numb, it is time to head to one of the stalls that sells hot glühwein, a heavily spiced and mulled red wine. Here you are likely to see men dressed in traditional loden coats adorned with horn buttons and hats decorated with boar bristles sipping hot glühwein with their wives and friends.

Small children walk hand in hand with their parents across the Marienplatz to see the large window displays at one of the department stores. Their eyes grow big and they start to giggle as they look at hundreds of toys and stuffed animals in animated holiday scenes.

Stuffed Animals In Animated Holiday Scenes

Stuffed Animals In Animated Holiday Scenes

Not far from Marienplatz is the famous food market, the Viktualienmarkt, an excellent place for foodies to visit. Besides cheeses, meats, exotic mushrooms, vegetables, fruits and honey, a variety of stalls sell freshly cooked Bavarian specialties such as the plump white veal sausages known as weisswurst that are served with sweet mustard along with Bavarian beers and local wines. Besides selling food, venders also sell Christmas trees, seasonal flower arrangements and straw ornaments.

Viktualienmarkt, Munich's Famous Outdoor Food Market

Viktualienmarkt, Munich’s Famous Outdoor Food Market

Knowing the foodie that I am, our Christmas trip to Munich wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Dallmayr, a luxury food store that dates back to the 17th century. After visiting the delicatessen with its cheeses from everywhere in Europe, meats, sea food, special teas from around the world, breads and seasonal pastries, we usually have lunch or at least pastry in the store’s very good restaurant upstairs.

We pass the famous Hofbräuhaus on the way back to our hotel. Open even on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, the famous brewery should definitely be visited at least once. You might get lucky and see their beer wagon sitting outside just waiting to be pulled off by the Clydesdale team with their harnesses covered in jingle bells.

Hofbräuhaus Clydesdale Team With Harnesses Covered In Jingle Bells

Hofbräuhaus’ Clydesdale Horse Team With Harnesses Covered In Jingle Bells

Of course, Munich is more than just the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas. On each trip, we try to visit at least one of the city’s museum which are some of Europe’s finest. A full day can be spent touring the historic Munich Residenz or the modern BMW museum, either of which are a wonderful place to visit when you can’t take the cold anymore.

For the next stop on our Christmas trip, we head to city of Salzburg. On most visits, we stay on the outskirts at one of the well known spa hotels and take day trips into the city. Salzburg’s Christkindlmarkt, one of Europe’s oldest markets, is small compared to the ones in Munich. It has a lovely atmosphere with the huge medieval Hohensalzburg fortress perched high above the Cathedral of Salzburg. The square is decorated with garland and white lights hung from above and has stalls surrounding the large fountain covered in glass for the winter. The stalls sell some of the prettiest Christmas ornaments I’ve seen, wooden toys, hand knitted scarves and traditional clothing. Of course there is hot mulled wine to keep you warm along with sausages, roasted apples, chestnuts, candied almonds and spicy gingerbread.

Upon leaving the Salzburg area, we drive south to the Tyrol region and stay one day in Kitzbühel, known as one of the world’s best ski areas. While my husband and I don’t ski, we do enjoy the historic medieval center and its small Christmas market.  The town is especially pretty at night but it was snowing too hard to get photos of all the Christmas lights that makes it look like an old fashioned Christmas card when lit in the evening.

Shopping Street In Kitzbuhl

Shopping Street In Kitzbühel

We spend Christmas at one of our favorite hotels in the Tyrol, the Jagdhof Spa and Hotel, just twenty minutes outside of Innsbruck in Neustift. This area is stunning as it is surrounded by the spectacular peaks of the Stubai mountains. It feels like coming home when we walk into the beautifully decorated Tyrollean hotel and are greeted with a heartfelt hug from Christina Pfurtscheller, one member of the lovely family that owns and oversees this wonderful spa hotel.

Christmas Eve seems to be more important than Christmas day in Europe. During the day we stop by the parish church of Saint George, the second largest village church in the Tyrol region. From the outside it appears very plain but once inside you are surprised by its rococo design and magnificent frescos.

While Plain On the Outside, This Tyrollean Church Is Magnificent

While Plain On the Outside, The Tyrollean Church Of St. George Is Magnificent Inside

Back at the hotel, the evening starts with an outdoor gathering of all the families to hear the story of Christmas, then Santa arrives in a horse drawn sleigh to distribute packages to all the children. We then like to enjoy having a glass of Champagne in the bar before going into one of the lovely dining rooms.

After enjoying a gala multi course meal and perhaps an after dinner drink in the bar with newly met friends, we snuggle into our comfy feather bed for the night. The next morning, we awake to the sound of church bells announcing the arrival of Christmas.

Snow Covered Mountains

Snow Covered Mountains

Looking out the hotel window at the freshly fallen snow that covers everything in sight, you can’t help but admire the glory of nature and its winter wonderland. I dream of celebrating another white Christmas spent in Europe…perhaps next year.

 

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About Karen

I travel the back roads of New England and beyond, sharing great food and interesting places.
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182 Responses to Celebrating Christmas In Germany And Austria

  1. Karen your photos have gotten me into the Holiday mood for sure. I have spent a few Christmases with family in Amsterdam and Spain and it is truly another Christmas World. Especially if it snows!
    Thank you for sharing your lovely memories and images. Just lovely.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Teresa, I’m happy that my photos have getting you in the holiday spirit. Christmas in Europe seems more meaningful than it does here…it really is wonderful.

  2. A wonderful collection of beautiful photos, but I love the shopping street with all the colorful houses because that is something we definitely don’t enjoy here. Happy Holidays!

  3. Wonderful post, Karen. What great Christmases you’ve had in Europe and I hope you manage to make it back next December !

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kay, We really have enjoyed our Christmases spent in Europe…they were magical. I do hope we get a chance to return. 🙂

      • Mélanie says:

        you’re right about Germany & Austria, it’s almost the same in Alsace-Lorraine, the Eastern French-German border… 🙂 I do hope and wish you to return here asap… meanwhile: vive “old Europe”, the land of your ancestors! 🙂

      • Karen says:

        Hi Mélanie, You are right about Alsace-Lorraine…those regions are wonderful because you get both French and German Christmas traditions. I do hope we return to Europe soon, this is the first time in many years that we have not had a chance to visit. A busy life just got in the way this year. 😀

  4. Madonna says:

    Thanks for the mini virtual vacation. I love how you picked out the best for us. Any one of these photos would make a beautiful Christmas card.

    M.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Madonna, I’m glad you enjoyed the little tour. I do have lovely photos of Christmas in Europe, I’m happy you liked the ones I selected and appreciate you nice compliment. 🙂

  5. What a fabulous post and just what I needed to get me into the spirit. Many years ago we spent Christmas in Munich and well remember their Christkindlmarkt at the Marienplatz, It’s a magical place at Christmas and brings back wonderful memories. We went to a midnight mass on Christmas Eve and sang along in English and no one seemed to notice because the church was so crowded. We rung in the new year in Zurich. All of the bells in Europe are just amazing. Thank you very much for this Karen. I will share it with my husband and sister, who was also along on our trip.
    Sam

    • Karen says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Sam…I’m happy that you enjoyed the post and that it brought back nice memories of you Christmas spent in Munich. It is always lovely but really is magical at that time of the year. When all the bells start ringing…what a beautiful sound that is.

  6. Thank you Karen – I’ve been struggling to find any Christmas spirit this year, but your post has got me in the mood and I can’t wait to bring the tree in now! Hope you have a very happy Christmas, wherever you are celebrating the holiday.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sarah, Christmas is my favorite holiday and I’m truly happy that my post has gotten you in the mood to bring in and decorate your tree. Thank you for your lovely compliment and wish. 😀

  7. Beautiful! My husband has family in Vienna and we went several Decembers ago. The Christmas markets are wonderful. All those lights, and pastries, and mulled wine.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Misti, I appreciate your visit and your comment. I have not been to Vienna but knowing how beautiful the rest of Austria is, I can imagine how lovely Vienna is at Christmas. There is always a new place to dream of going to someday. 🙂

  8. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef says:

    Three of my favorite cities. We love Munich and Kitzbühel is a favorite but my ALL-TIME fave is Salzburg. I’ve gone in Spring and summer but never for Christmas. What a dream vacation!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maureen, Salzburg is a delight to visit. We been there in the spring, fall and winter but not summer. I’m glad you enjoyed the post…thank you.

  9. Thank you Karen for sharing one of your past Christmas’s spent in Germany, so beautiful. I can’t wait for my trip to Denmark. The day after I arrive I’m hoping to visit the Christmas market, very similar to the photos you have shown, but a little smaller. My 1st stop is always the stall with the ‘Gløgg & æble skiver a specialty cake like a small doughnut which is served with small dishes of icing sugar and warm cherry sauce. have a wonderful Christmas.

    • Karen says:

      Thank YOU Barbara, for your visits and nice compliments. I know you are looking forward to your trip to Denmark to visit your family. The Christmas treats at the food stalls are one of the lovely pleasures of the season. Enjoy!

  10. Agi says:

    It is a dream of mine to spend Christmas in Austria with my family. Thanks for a beautiful reminder to put that at the top of my list!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Agi, I do hope you get the opportunity to spend Christmas in Austria with your family there. It is an absolutely beautiful country that I love visiting…especially at Christmas.

  11. I have always wanted to visit other countries for the holidays and will keep this in mind as a destination! Just beautiful.

  12. I gained a few pounds just reading this post! Happy Holidays!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Diane, Would you believe that I never gain any weight when we travel to Germany and Austria at Christmas. It is all the walking out in the cold weather…it makes up for all the good food you are enjoying. 😀

  13. Wonderful post…thoroughly enjoyed the visit. I’ve never been to Munich but it does look lovely. I remember a business trip to Vienna at Christmas, many years ago, and the wonderful snowy Christmas market there.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Roger, I’m happy to know that you enjoyed the post and appreciate your lovely compliment. I believe that you would enjoy Munich…it is only a couple of hours by air away from you.

  14. Gerlinde says:

    Karen, I just got home from Europe, having celebrated Thanksgiving in Praque . Looking at your pictures makes me want to turn around and go again. I’m fom nothern Germany and we don’t always have snow during Christmas.

    • Karen says:

      Welcome back from your trip, Gerlinde. Prague is one of the cities that I would really like to visit. I know what you mean about not always snowing in northern Germany. We were on the Rhine one year during the Christmas holidays…no snow and very foggy. We have always had snow when visiting Bavaria and the Tyrol regions at Christmas. Snow or not, Europe is a lovely place to spend the holidays.

  15. What a lovely tradition. Hope you get to make the trip next year.

  16. wok with ray says:

    What a beautiful place to be and your photos definitely bring the Christmas spirits. Thank you for sharing these lovely experience, Karen and I hope you are enjoying the holiday season.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you for your nice compliment and wish Ray. I’m happy that you enjoyed the post and the Christmas spirit it brought…it is my favorite holiday. 🙂

  17. Amy says:

    Beautiful place for Christmas, Karen. Love these shops! 🙂

  18. A_Boleyn says:

    Whether at Christmas or year around, the locales you’ve shared have beautiful scenery to enjoy.

  19. Such beautiful photos!! The farthest I’ve ever spent Christmas from New England is Florida 🙂 But I love seeing the celebrations in Europe!

    Sues

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sues, Christmas in New England compared to that in Florida is about as opposite as it comes. I remember when we lived in Key Largo, Fla. that I told all my friends not to show up at my Christmas parties in shorts. 😀

  20. Karen, thanks so much for sharing! I had German in grade school and the lady who taught the class was from Germany. The way she described Christmas in Germany is exactly like the pictures you posted. Absolutely magical!

  21. That was amazing – thank you so much! Really makes me want to have a White Christmas 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Tanya, I’m glad that you enjoyed my memories of Christmas in Germany and Austria. We usually have a white Christmas here in New England, there has been snow on the ground for several weeks but rain is predicted for most of this week.

  22. cheri says:

    Hi Karen, I bet Christmas is such a wonderful time to visit with all those old buildings, history and snow. Beautiful pics!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cheri, You are right…the snow clinging to the beautiful old buildings is like icing on a cake. It adds to the beauty of Christmas. Thank you for your nice compliment, I’m glad you enjoyed the photos.

  23. Beautiful photos and memories! Thank you for sharing them. 🙂

  24. flavorsofthesun says:

    I’m a Tropical Girl at heart…except at Christmas. These photos are so enticing–really lovely.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Vicki, I know what you mean. I remember all the years living in Florida just wishing for it to be cold at Christmas so I could at least wear a sweater. 😀 I’m happy you enjoyed the photos, thank you!

  25. What a beautiful blog entry and photos! And would you believe my husband and I are thinking of spending Christmas in Germany next year and were thinking about Bavaria, as we were there in the summer and thought it would be just magical in winter. German Christmas markets are famous in England and I’ve been wanting to go for many years now. If I had any doubts, you have definitely dispelled them, so next year, it will be me writing a blog about this! Thank you so much! And Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Fatima, I appreciate your kind words about the post and thank you for your compliment and wish. I know that you will absolutely enjoy spending Christmas in Bavaria…it really is a magical place to spend the holiday. I’m already looking forward to your visit and post next year. 🙂

  26. I have been to Munich in the Fall but never over Christmas. I am sure it was lovely then 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Judi, Most of our trips to Europe have been in the fall. Once we moved from Florida to live in New England and have the proper clothes for the weather, Christmas has been a lovely traditions. I know you would love visiting Munich during the Christmas season…it is wonderful.

  27. Angie@Angie's Recipes says:

    Those photos are so Christmasy and beautiful, Karen. I love that photo of your standing next to the present sleigh.
    Have a happy holiday season!
    Angie

    • Karen says:

      Thank you for your nice compliment, Angie. I’m glad that you enjoyed the photos…I don’t like to be in my photos very often but loved the sleigh filled with presents. I appreciate your nice wish, I hope your holidays will be wonderful as well. 🙂

  28. kitchenriffs says:

    It’s so true that many of our Christmas traditions came from Germany/Austria — it must be heaven to be there during Christmas time! I’d love to go sometime — such a lovely part of the world. As your pictures reflect! They’re great! Very fun read — thanks.

    • Karen says:

      Hi John, I’m glad that you enjoyed the post and photos. The Christmases we have spent in Germany and Austria have truly been memorable. The natural beauty of the area is stunning and the people so warm and welcoming…it is special.

  29. savourytable says:

    What lovely Christmas memories. I was lucky enough to spend a girls’ weekend with a group of friends in Salzburg several years ago. It was magical touring the Christmas markets at night drinking gluhwein as a soft snow fell. Ahhhhh, I loved it. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

  30. Sue says:

    So sorry you didn’t make it there this year–but you have many beautiful memories of it and that helps!
    Now don’t forget to let me know EARLY next year so I can pack!! Heh Heh!!
    😀
    Have a wonderful week, Karen

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sue, Our life was so busy this year and when we decided that we would like to get away, everything was booked. Hopefully we will be able to head back to Europe next year…the back seat of our car is always empty. 😀

  31. Raymund says:

    That place totally looks different in Winter, been there last summer but this time that place looks magical. Merry Christmas to you!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Raymund, You are right, the Christmas season changes everything to a wonderful winter wonderland…it is magical. Wishing you a Merry Christmas as well…thank you!

  32. Thank you for taking me back to some of my most memorable times while we were stationed in Germany. So magical during Christmas and there is nothing like their festive markets in the States!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sandra, I’m so happy that my post has you remembering your wonderful Christmases in Germany. I think we would all agree that it is a magical experience…so special. You are right, there is nothing like it here in the States.

  33. I love the Christmas decorations in Europe, what lovely photos!

    • Karen says:

      I totally agree with you Laura. What I love are all the beautiful angles, the stars, the hand carved nativity sets, the handblown ornaments by so many talented craftspeople. I’m happy you enjoyed the post, thank you.

  34. Marigene says:

    I can’t imagine a more magical Christmas than one in Europe! Your photos are beautiful…the interior of Saint George has to be breathtaking. I would spend all my money on those delicious looking pastries, then would have to buy 2 seats to fly back home!
    Have a wonderful week, Karen.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marigene, I’m happy that you enjoyed the photos. Christmas is a magical season in Europe and one I’m so glad that I’ve gotten to experience. The church is beautiful but so cold during the daytime that the holy water in the font was frozen solid. Now about those pastries…the cold weather and all the walking keeps everything under control…you won’t need that second seat. 😀

  35. lizzygoodthings says:

    Oh my, Karen, what beautiful Christmas scenes in these gorgeous locations! Thank you for this… currently planning a trip overseas… I was up in the air about Salzburg, but perhaps I need to add it back to the list. Thanks again.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Liz, I’m happy that you enjoyed the post. Salzburg and the nearby lakes region are absolutely beautiful. I believe that you would enjoy visiting the area…we have been there quite a few times.

  36. Ginger says:

    Thank you for this wonderful trip down memory lane – we were in Salzburg last year over Christmas and I have been to München before. All those lovely foods … and the snow … I can almost smell the Glühwein!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ginger, I’m happy to know that my post brought back memories of your time spent in Salzburg and Munich. Your German recipes have brought back good memories of all the Christmas cookies I enjoyed while there. 🙂

  37. Misky says:

    Spectacular, Karen. We used to ski Kitzbuhel many times when we were younger. Beautiful area.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you for your nice compliment, Misky. Even though we don’t ski, I do know that Kitzbühel is considered one of the best ski areas in the world and it has fun après ski that we enjoyed.

  38. Love the photo album…The joyful color and festivities really puts you in the mood for Christmas.

    • Karen says:

      I appreciate your nice compliment, Charlie. I’m happy to know that you enjoyed the photos and that they put you in the Christmas spirit. Christmas is my favorite holiday.

  39. Cecile says:

    Karen – I enjoyed this post so much! It’s beautifully written and photographed & I felt (almost) as if I had visited those Christmas markets etc. myself I would think one feels much more ‘Christmasy’ in Germany or Austria than almost anywhere else in the world. (We spent once spent Christmas and New Year’s Eve in India…. now THAT was different!)

    • Karen says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Cecile. I’m happy to know that you enjoyed the post and photos. Yes…Germany and Austria are more “Christmasy” than here and I that is what I love. Christmas and New Year’s eve in India must have indeed been a different experience. Traveling offers us a chance to experience so many new things. 🙂

  40. Monique says:

    Our German friends have enticed us for certain and now you..If only I could bring our whole family:)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Monique, Perhaps you could do like we did one year when we spent time experiencing the Christmas season in Europe but came home on Christmas day. That way you could then have Christmas with your family. 🙂

  41. Eha says:

    When I saw the heading I thought we all would be off again: as you say: hopefully next year. I have not been back to the area mid-winter since leaving Europe but would love to see the markets again and go to the opera and theatre. Love ‘Vier Jahreszeiten’ also and I believe you took the Salzburg walking street pic very close to another favourite ‘Goldener Hirsch’ . . . Have not been to the Church of St George but the tiny Wieskirche in southern Bavaria seems to have the same ambience. . . . oh, it is lovely dreaming and remembering . . .all the best to you . . .

    • Karen says:

      Hi Eha, I wish we were off again. This year was very busy and once we thought we could get away everything was booked up. I agree with you…my husband and I love Vier Jahreszeiten. It is nice when you can go back to a hotel and staff remembers you. We have stayed at the Goldener Hirsch but it is not my husband’s favorite. The Wieskirche is absolutely stunning…whiter and more golden than St George I think. I love the rococo splendor of them both. It just shows that you can’t tell a book by its cover as they are both plain on the outside but their interiors are magnificent.

      • Eha says:

        ‘Goldener Hirsch’ – to us ‘fun’!! Small rooms with floors ‘doing their own thing’ 🙂 ! Bit dark and certainly offbeat!! Very good service and wonderful central location. Liked the restaurant ’cause so many locals most lunchtimes. The food: well. always lucky!! In Australia dogs and cats not allowed in restaurants: that place generally two-storey with animals 😀 !! When the girls began coming with us we switched to Schloss Sighartstein [now ‘gone’] about 15kms out town and used a local driver . . . well, the little ones loved playing ‘princesses’ . . . 🙂 !!

      • Karen says:

        I’m glad you had good memories of the hotel. The location couldn’t be any better but we were made not to feel welcomed and you know the saying about “one bad apple”. I’ve always believed that if you don’t have something nice to say then don’t say anything at all so I’ll leave it at that where the hotel is concerned. 🙂

  42. Oh, all those Christmas markets! They are truly joyful and really get you in the spirit of the season. I am missing them this year as well, Karen, but so eager to get going again in January-February!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ksenia…my traveling friend. I think you spend more time crossing the pond than anyone I know. 😀 Each Christmas brings back wonderful memories of Europe and I yearn to be there again.

  43. MamaD1xx4xy says:

    Having lived in both Germany and Austria I agree with you completely, Christmas is fantastic there. I love visiting all the different markets and sampling the fantastic street food there. Ah, now I’m missing it again!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Gretchen, How lovely to have had the opportunity to live in both beautiful countries. Christmas really is a special time of the year there. I’m happy that you enjoyed the post, thank you.

  44. Sophie33 says:

    Such a beautiful capture of Christmas through the eyes of you, our famous & well-loved traveller! 🙂
    I love, love this beautiful post! I love Christmas in Switserland but everywhere is nice! Since we bought our house 3 years ago, I love to celebrate it over here with the whole family, cooking, baking, laughing & giving presents & singing all together! xxx

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Sophie for your sweet and kind words. I’m happy that you enjoyed the post. 😀 I do know that Switzerland has the same wonderful traditions…unfortunately we haven’t spent any time during the Christmas season there other than when we fly out of Zurich. Christmas certainly is the time to share and enjoy all the wonderful traditions of family, food and gift giving. I’m sure your celebrations are very special.

  45. Eva Taylor says:

    What gorgeous photos Karen, with the city all dolled up like that, who wouldn’t wonder if Christmas had been invented there. We’ve been to Europe many times but never around Christmas, thanks for the peek, it’s even more beautiful than I would have imagined. BTW, Christmas Eve is indeed the more celebrated day in Europe.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Eva, for your nice compliment. I’m happy that you enjoyed the photos. Yes, Christmas Eve is the important day that is much celebrated in Europe.

  46. Liz says:

    love this! Am going to share it with my 12-year-old who is in her second year of German in school. You’ve written a great “lesson” for her 🙂 How lucky you are to have seen so much!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liz, I’m glad to know that you enjoyed the post and want to share it with your daughter…I hope she likes it. We have indeed been lucky to have experienced this lovely season during our travels to Europe.Thank you for your nice compliment.

  47. David says:

    I remember my first Christkindlmarkt – it was in Heidelberg, soon followed by one in Würzburg. Ever since then – I was about 22 – I have had real candles on my Christmas tree. I bought my first candle holders at the market in Heidelberg, and then more in Würzburg. The music, the food, the aromas – all intoxicating! Thanks for bringing back all these wonderful memories, Karen!

    • Karen says:

      Hi David, We were in Heidelberg and along the Rhine one year during the Christmas season…cold, foggy, and no snow but still a wonderful experience. I can just imagine how lovely your Christmas tree is each year all lit with candles. I’m happy that I brought back nice memories of your time spent in Germany and appreciate your nice compliment.

  48. Larry says:

    Looks like a grand way to spend Christmas and I see why you’ve enjoyed it.

  49. I am sitting here dreaming through your photos. I am also loving that Christmas tree. Such a wonderful visit to Germany.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kay, I’m happy to know that you enjoyed the post and photos. Germany as well as Austria are both beautiful anytime of the year but Christmas really is special. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  50. Well, there were so many people talking about this post I could barely get a word in! I remember your posts of this lovely hotel and have yearned to return to Munchen since! What marvelous photographs you have shared. We have often spoken of spending the Christmas season in Germany and Austria and you have made it an absolute necessity! How very lovely!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tin Man, There is always a place reserved for you. I feel very fortunate that I have so many loyal and wonderful readers such as yourself. I absolutely can guarantee that the two of you would love spending Christmas in Germany and Austria. It is like being in the middle of a magical rendition of a story book…perhaps imagining Oz at Christmas. 😀

  51. flippenblog says:

    Oh how this brings back memories! The Germans certainly know how to do atmosphere and their Easter decorations are just as spectacular. Thank you for the trip down memory lane.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Flippen, I’m happy to know that you enjoyed the post and that it brought back lovely memories of your time spent in Germany. I can just imagine how special Easter would be as well…I’ve missed that holiday in Europe by just a couple of weeks. Now you are giving me new thoughts on travel. 🙂

  52. chrisscheuer says:

    How fun Karen, I feel like I’ve been to Europe. I leave a part of my heart there each time I leave so it’s really wonderful to see all your lovely pictures!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Chris, I’m glad you enjoyed the post and appreciate your lovely compliment. I know what you mean, I always enjoy your travels to London when you visit your family.

  53. There’s something so charming about these picturesque scenes, so postcard perfect and perfectly European which is half the charm. I dream about having a proper white Christmas one day. I’m not quite sure (where it will be,) but drinking mulled wine, egg nog and baking a hot ham in 35C+ summers, just doesn’t have the same feel to it! Nonetheless, I do it anyway!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Alli, I know what you mean about warm weather at Christmas after having lived in the Florida Keys for years. There is something about being bundled up and walking through the snow that is so very Christmasy…especially in Bavaria and the Tyrol region of Austria where there is usually always snow. As you say it is very charming and I do hope you get to experience it.

  54. aFrankAngle says:

    Simply Oh Wow!!!! Many thanks for sharing!!!

    • Karen says:

      You are very welcome, Frank. I’m happy to know that you enjoyed the post…it brought back lots of nice memories.

      • aFrankAngle says:

        … and your memories gives us travel ideas! … plus, I invite to may Holiday Party this weekend … starts in the wee-hours of Saturday for those time zones ahead of us.

      • Karen says:

        I’m glad you like the travel ideas. I don’t know if I’ll be able to hope over…I’m getting ready for my annual Christmas party but have fun. 🙂

      • aFrankAngle says:

        No problem … but if you get the chance … after all, it starts at 3 AM Saturday for those ahead of us … and continues through Sunday evening. …. But hey … there are gifts!

  55. Such beautiful photos Karen! Is it just because we don’t live there, but does Christmas in Europe seem more romantic & authentic than here? It just doesn’t seem to be quite as commercial but then again, maybe it’s because they aren’t wall to wall chain stores.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Diane, You described it perfectly…Christmas is definitely more authentic and romantic in Europe. Everyone enjoys the season for what it is…a wonderful religious holiday to be celebrated with family and friends. It seems we have lost the true meaning and spirit of Christmas here and I’m sorry for that.

  56. oh it would be so much fun to be in germany or austria for christmas. I can only imagine how beautiful and serene it is. The pictures are gorgeous

    • Karen says:

      Thank you for your nice compliment, Jessica. I’m happy to know that you liked the photos. We have enjoyed being able to experience the Christmas season while visiting Germany and Austria…it is lovely. Perhaps you will get a chance to visit someday.

  57. hotlyspiced says:

    I can just imagine how much you must miss these European Christmases. I have always wanted to experience a white Christmas and this looks like the perfect destination – either Germany or Austria would do! I love how the towns and their people really get into the spirit of Christmas xx

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charlie, I hope one day you get to enjoy a snowy Christmas in Germany and Austria, I believe you would think it was special as they really to celebrate Christmas in a memorable way.

  58. reggiorif says:

    My turn to say thanks for bringing back memories (I lived one months in Munich) and making me feel the Christmas mood! Your post falls on a perfect timing since finally winter has come here too (no snow yet but at least the thermometer shows more appropriate temperatures for the season). Even if it’s not immediately I hope you’ll be able to travel to EU soon 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Didi, I’m happy that you enjoyed the post and that it brought back nice memories of Munich…it is a wonderful city. I noticed on your post about the Via dei Presepi in your village that there was no snow on the ground. I’m hoping that next year we will be able to make a trip back to Europe. Thank you for your sweet comment. 🙂

      • reggiorif says:

        When I was there I thought the exact same thing: no snow… it actually takes a little of the winter/Christmas spirit away. Hopefully soon we’ll feel the white gold under our shoes. 😉

  59. Thank you for the arm chair trip to Germany and Austria, Karen! What a magical time to visit. Such beautiful cities and towns. I love the stuffed bear display 🙂

    By the way, I saw your comment about having difficulty leaving comments. I have the same trouble with WordPress blogs when I visit using Firefox, which is my default browser. But with Google Chrome I don’t have the same issue. Maybe installing another browser could help you also?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Susan, I’m happy you enjoyed my little trip down memory lane of Christmas in Germany and Austria. I think I may have solved the problem of comments not going through…I’m using Google + and so far so good. If I have problems again, I’ll try your suggestion. Thank you!

  60. Amanda says:

    So interesting. These photos are amazing. It looks like a fake place. So festive and beautiful!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Amanda, I’m glad that you found the post interesting and enjoyed the photos. That area of Europe is indeed as beautiful as it looks. I appreciate your nice compliment, thank you.

  61. Christmas SEEMS like Christmas in these countries, as opposed to the more materialistic christmas we see here – beautiful and traditional, with the snow lightly falling. One day I hope to see if but thank you for sharing my friend 🙂

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    • Karen says:

      Your comment made me smile, Uru. You are right, the true spirit of Christmas is found in the areas of Germany and Austria that we have visited. It is not as materialistic as it is here in the States or where you live. Hopefully you will get to see for yourself one day. I’m happy that you enjoyed the post, thank you.

  62. Your images are beautiful, and the way you have grouped them in sets that tell a story is masterful. I hope you have a joyous holiday season.

  63. What magical memories you have, Karen! Thanks for sharing with us stunning pictures and a very informative article about Xmas in Europe, especially in Germany. I hope I can experience it one day too. The treats from that bakery are show stoppers… Yes, I am drooling!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Denise, I appreciate your lovely compliment, thank you. I do hope you will get the opportunity to experience for yourself one day. I know you will enjoy all the delicious pastries…Dallymar is an amazing food store. 🙂

  64. Juliana says:

    Thank you so much for sharing all this pretty Christmases pictures…indeed I can see the spirit of the season and I wish one day I can experience Christmas in Europe…
    Hope you are having a fantastic week Karen 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Thank YOU Juliana, for your nice compliment and wish. I’m am having a good but busy week…our annual Christmas party is this weekend. I too hope that you get to visit Europe during Christmas sometime in the future…I know you would enjoy the festivities.

  65. I have only been in Europe once over December, and we spent the week leading up to Christmas in Zurich with all the Germanic traditions, and then Christmas itself in Rome. Wishing you a blessed Christmas Karen 🙂

  66. I’ve never visited Germany but I was lucky enough to see the Austrian Christmas Markets and they were spectacular! 😀 As it is so warm at Christmas here it’s so lovely to see snow at Christmas and it is also quite a novelty!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lorraine, I think it is nice that you have been to the Austrian Christmas Markets, they really are a delight to see. I know what you mean about the snow, we usually have a white Christmas here in New Hampshire…so very different from when we lived in Florida. 🙂

  67. Lury Budde says:

    Thanks for bringing back a flood of memories! My husband and I lived there for three years and loved Christmas time in the little villages and cities alike. I couldn’t agree more Europe is a fresh breath of air at Christmas time. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lury, Thank you for stopping by for a visit. I’m happy to know that you enjoyed my post and that it brought back nice memories. Christmas in Europe is truly a lovely season and you are right…a breath of fresh air compared to our very commercial version here in the States. Thank you for your nice comment and wish.

  68. Penny says:

    What delightful pictures to put one in the Christmas spirit. Somehow it is lovely to see such traditional ways to celebrate the holidays. Shopping malls and blow-up Santas don’t quite do it for me. Thanks for sharing these traditions Karen. Happy holidays.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Penny, Your point is perfect…there is no comparing the experience we had in Germany and Austria compared to the commercialized version of Christmas in our crowded malls. 🙂 I’m glad that you enjoyed the post and appreciate your nice compliment and wish.

  69. Karen, I’m just sitting here showing these photos to my son and we’re both saying we should spend Christmas in Germany next year. It’s just so completely “Christmasy” I can’t help but long to go. I can just imagine walking down the street and strolling in to sample some of those desserts. No wonder you love it there!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barbara, I would definitely recommend spending Christmas in Germany to anyone…it is wonderful. You are right about it feeling “Christmasy”, simple and beautiful. If you decide that you want to go, I’d be very happy to share more of our experience with you. Thank you for your nice compliment, I’m happy you enjoyed the post. 🙂

  70. rozpaige says:

    Oh Karen, I am so thankful for this wonderful post about Germany! As you may recall, I am a full-blooded American-Italian . . . but what you may not know is that my husband is proudly of 50% German descent. We are currently in the midst of planning for a Germany-Northern Italy trip for May, 2016 and I am doing all of the research (my hubs doesn’t do any of this, but simply trusts me to create a ‘perfect’ cultural experiential itinerary . . . and I happily oblige since I love this process). Your post has hit me in the heart of what I need to plan for our upcoming trip that begins with landing in Munich and Bavaria. Thank you so much for your recommendations in this post! If my husband could tolerate snow and colder temperatures (which he won’t), I’d love to visit for Christmas . . . oh such a beautiful time in Europe, it must be!! If you have the time (I realize how busy it is this time of year) now or later, please contact me and let me know of any additional recommendations that we MUST experience in the Munich, Germany area, during this ‘once in a lifetime’ visit.
    Grazie and Buon Natale e tu!
    Roz

    • Karen says:

      Hi Roz, I’m so happy that you enjoyed the post. I’d be very happy to share my recommendations on where to stay, things to see and places that we have loved eating. I have quite a few posts that I have done in the last few years. If you use my search button and put in Germany or Italy, my old posts will come up. If you let me know how long your trip is, I’ll email you right after the holidays and give you some suggestions as there is lots that I didn’t mention in my posts about our trips. Thank you for your lovely comment and wish, all the best to you and yours in this Christmas season and the New Year.

  71. Wow, Karen! Thank you for sharing such beautiful, bright photos with us. It feels like you have taken us along. It must be very cold there, nevertheless, I wish you and yours the Happiest of Holidays in Europe! ❤

    • Karen says:

      Hi Fae, I’m happy to know that you enjoyed the post and photos. Sadly, we are not in Europe…it is the first year that we have not gone in a long time. This post was about my memories of past Christmases spent in Germany and Austria. Thank you for your lovely wish, I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday as well.

  72. These photos have put me in the Christmas spirit! I’d love to visit Germany or Austria at Christmastime. Some day!

  73. Sissi says:

    Thank you so much, Karen, for sharing your wonderful Christmas memories! You have made me crave cappuccino so much! Don’t you think they do the best cappuccino in Germany??? I think Germans are big cappuccino fans and they really make it always so well…. (Sorry, it’s got nothing to do with Christmas 😉 )

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sissi, I have to agree with you, the Germans indeed do know how to make a good cappuccino and the ones at the Vier Jahreszeiten were great. I’m happy you enjoyed my trip down memory lane and appreciate your nice compliment. 🙂

  74. I guess I never really knew how beautiful Munich is. So gorgeous and especially so at this time of year!

  75. ramblingtart says:

    I’m smiling as I come to the end of your post, reveling in the good memories you brought back. 🙂 I was able to celebrate Christmas in Germany in 2010 and it was so beautiful. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Krista, I’m so glad to have brought back good memories of your Christmas spent in Germany. Thank you for your nice compliment, I’m happy that the post gave you a smile.

  76. Barbara says:

    Karen, your post was a complete delight! Anyone who wasn’t in a Christmas mood before, certainly would be after reading this! Charming photos and I thank you so much for taking me with on your journey of holiday remembrances!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Barbara. I’m happy to know that you enjoyed my little journey back in time to Germany where we spent several Christmases.

  77. Good heavens! This is so incredibly beautiful – I’m so glad I kept this in my email box and waited until I had lots of time to pour over the pictures and relive the trip with you!

  78. These are wonderful memories indeed. As much as I love tradition and family get togethers, I’m very intrigued about others’ traditions. My sister has spent Christmas in Dublin several times. Me? I’d love an Italian Christmas holiday. I can only imagine the food. I’d love an authentic seven fishes dinner.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rosemary, We have certainly enjoyed our Christmases in Europe. I’m like you, it would be wonderful to visit Italy during Christmas. I appreciate your nice comment, thank you.

  79. Louise says:

    Spectacular pictures Karen. You sure have lifted my Christmas spirits sharing these wonderful pictures. When you think of all the holiday traditions that have migrated from Germany, it really must be the place to feel the pulse of the season.

    Thank you so much for sharing, Karen…

  80. This is AMAZING! I just got back from a trip to Germany this fall and now I’m dying to go back. it was absolutely amazing then. I can only dream of how wonderful it would be covered in snow and light 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ashley, I appreciate your visit and nice compliment. Fall is a wonderful time to visit Germany…we were there last year in October. You are right, Christmas…especially in Bavaria, is wonderful with snow usually on the ground.

  81. There is something extra special about celebrating the holidays in Europe. Maybe it is because you are in the place where gingerbread is the BEST or maybe it is all of the decorations and blue skies and cheer in the air. May yours be bright and cheery. Take Care, BAM

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bobbie, Christmas here in the States has become so commercial of late whereas in Europe the true meaning has not been forgotten for the most part. Thank you for your wish, I hope you had a wonderful holiday as well.

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