European Christmas Markets

Germany, Switzerland and the Alsace Region of France

December 1-8, 2018

Sat / Sat - 8 Days

Join host Sven Schumacher, German native and the Honorary Consul of the Federal Republic of Germany for Indiana, and Steve Schmidt, President of the Indianapolis-Cologne Sister City Committee to discover the magic of historical Christmas Markets in Germany, with day trips to Alsatian villages and to Basel, Switzerland. Since the Middle Ages, these authentic holiday markets have been held outdoors in cities, towns and villages throughout Europe. Locals and travelers alike enjoy the jovial atmospheres of these markets, celebrating the holiday season with shopping, food and drink. Each town specializes in its own local delicacies and traditional products. You’ll start in Cologne, Germany—sister city to Indianapolis, and continue by train to Freiburg. From here, day trip to Basel, Switzerland and Colmar, France along with two smaller, storybook villages in the Alsace region. Then top off the trip in Heidelberg, a city that will capture your heart with its charm and character, not to mention the mighty castle in the center of it all!

In these towns and cities, walk the stalls of local merchants with all kinds of Christmas merchandise and gifts, especially traditional figurines, toys, marionettes, wood carvings, holiday ornaments and decorations. And even more difficult to resist are the foods offered to help you keep warm during the crisp December days! The streets are full of the teasing aromas of delicious mulled wine, baked apples, strudels and pastries, hot chestnuts, grilled sausages and other tasty treats.

Itinerary

Sat, Dec 1: Fly overnight from Indianapolis to Dusseldorf, Germany.

Sun, Dec 2: Arrive in Dusseldorf and transfer to Cologne where a local guide will join you for a tour of this metropolis on the Rhine and sister city to Indianapolis. The magic of Christmas will be felt throughout the festively decorated streets. The aroma of baked apples, cinnamon biscuits and mulled wine will waft through the air as you pass by sights such as the Cologne Cathedral, the 4711 House, the Rathaus (historic city hall) and the Gurzenich. Stop for free time and lunch prior to checking in to your hotel. This evening, join the group for a Welcome Dinner with wine. (D)

Mon, Dec 3: This day is free to explore the various Christmas markets around town and for other personally scheduled meetings with the Sister City Committee. The larger Christmas markets are held downtown, where the booths near Cologne Cathedral are arranged around a huge Christmas tree, next to a stage for live music performances. Delight in maritime ambiance at the Harbour Christmas Market next to the Chocolate Museum. And don’t miss the Christmas market in the Stadtgarten, where you will find the more unusual handicrafts. (B)

Tue, Dec 4: Today, take the train from Cologne to Freiburg, where you will spend the next three nights. Upon arrival, a guide will show you around Freiburg, including a stop at a local winery for a tasting prior to hotel check in where you’ll be a short walk from the delightful Weinachtsmarket in the very heart of Freiburg’s old historical quarter. This evening, dinner is on your own. (B)

Wed, Dec 5: Depart on a day excursion to visit the Christmas markets in the nearby Alsace region of France. A local guide will take you to visit the wonderful villages of Riquewihr and Kayserberg, ending in beautiful Colmar, where you will spend the balance of the day. The Christmas market in Riquewihr is one of the most beautiful in Alsace due to an admirable fairytale setting of half-timbered houses, courtyards and narrow streets with over a hundred huts you can stroll through. Kayserberg is known to offer the most traditional and authentic market in the region with craftsmen of all sorts—from glass blowers and potters, to classic wooden toy makers. Colmar shines the brightest of all, known as the Land of Christmas Stars! Savor some of the finest products the region has to offer and have dinner on your own prior to returning to Freiburg in the evening. (B)

Thu, Dec 6: Travel a short distance by train to Basel, Switzerland. The Basel Christmas market at Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz is considered to be one of the prettiest and largest in Switzerland. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, many events and spectacular special exhibitions in the city's museums further enrich its cultural scene. Spend the bulk of the day exploring with plenty of free time to visit their many museums and the Swiss markets. Return in the late afternoon and have dinner on your own back in Freiburg. (B)

Fri, Dec 7: Depart for Heidelberg by motorcoach to spend the day. Heidelberg's Christmas market, a perfect blend of tradition and romance, is spread out across seven locations in the old quarter: in the pedestrian area and on Bismarckplatz, Anatomiegarten, Universitätsplatz, Marktplatz and Kornmarkt, the most beautiful square of all. The Winter Woods (Winterwäldchen) on the Kornmarkt are an oasis of peace and the romance of winter. The inner courtyard of Heidelberg's famous castle provides the picturesque setting for a Christmas market with an eye-catching Advent calendar. Beneath the castle, on Karlsplatz square, you can hear lively music on the “Christmas on Ice” ice rink. Enjoy free time to explore. Have dinner on your own prior to heading to Frankfurt this evening. Overnight near the Frankfurt airport. (B)

Sat, Dec 8: Enjoy breakfast in the hotel this morning before heading to the airport via the hotel shuttle. Fly home. (B)



European Christmas Markets Pricing

Per Person*

Package with Air

Land Only

Double P/P

$2,999

$1,949

Single

$3,569

$2,519


Ambassadair Trip #7504


Christmas Break

Highlights Include


  • Experience magical Christmas Markets in three countries
  • Full day adventure to beautiful Colmar and villages in Alsace
  • Wine tasting in Freiburg
  • Ample free time for strolling the markets
  • Welcome dinner in Cologne with wine

Package Includes


  • R/T commercial air from Indianapolis to Dusseldorf, Germany and from Frankfurt, Germany
  • 6 nights accommodations
  • Breakfast daily
  • 1 dinner
  • Sightseeing and admissions per itinerary
  • Deluxe motorcoach transportation
  • Train tickets per itinerary
  • Hotel baggage handling
  • Escorted from Indianapolis

Note:

This tour involves walking each day, sometimes on uneven and/or cobblestone streets, occasionally on an incline. Traveling by train in Europe will involve walking, standing, stepping on and off the train, as well as handling your own luggage.


 
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