Ever wanted to go Christmas Market hopping in Europe? As someone who loves to walk amongst the twinkling lights, drink all the mulled wine, and mingle between the magical stalls selling cute holiday gifts, this is my ultimate 10-day Christmas Market itinerary! It hops between the cities of Zurich, Munich, and Salzburg (with a cool stop at Neuschwanstein Castle!).
Psst, this post contains affiliate links. Read our disclosure.
Without a doubt, Europe is a magical place to be during the holiday season.
Seeming as though every city, town, and village alike is filled with endless Christmas Markets featuring…
✓ Twinkling Christmas lights lighting up the cobblestone streets.
✓ Quaint little wooden huts selling adorable gifts like candles, woven hats and gloves, handmade decorations, and unique ornaments.
✓ Local delicacies such as flavor-packed pretzels, delicious cakes, lebkuchen (frosted heart-shaped cookies — every German Christmas Market has these!), spiced nuts, and sweet treats.
✓ And soul-warming mulled wine — which is my personal favorite part of all the Christmas Markets! (You’ll also find delicious hot cider and hot chocolate at the markets if you’re not into wine!)
Although many travelers say once you’ve seen one Christmas Market, you’ve seen them all, I’m a BIG fan of Christmas Market hopping because truth be told, I can’t get enough of them!
(Even if I do end up seeing the same treats and trinkets over and over again… or spending half my budget on mulled wine.)
That’s why I put together this super duper awesome Christmas Market hopping itinerary that hits 3 different cities in 3 different countries.
You get to tick a few countries off your bucket list, see the gorgeous countryside of central Europe, explore some vibrant cities, and — the whole point of the itinerary — see some crazy awesome Christkindlmarkts!
But let’s not forget… this itinerary also includes a cheeky stop at the wondrous Neuschwanstein Castle!
YES — that’s right! The most magical castle in Europe is an easy stop between Zurich and Munich.
So, with that said, keep reading below to find out how to do this cool Europe itinerary for yourself!
Table of Contents
- 1 10-DAY CHRISTMAS MARKET ITINERARY — ZURICH, MUNICH, & SALZBURG (WITH A NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE STOP!)
- 1.1 Zurich, Switzerland – 2 Days
- 1.2 Neuschwanstein Castle – Day Stopover
- 1.3 Munich, Germany – 3 Days
- 1.4 Salzburg, Austria – 3 Days
- 1.5 Day 10 – Returning Home
10-DAY CHRISTMAS MARKET ITINERARY — ZURICH, MUNICH, & SALZBURG (WITH A NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE STOP!)
Before we get deep into this awesome post, I was to make something super duper clear: this itinerary is PACKED!
It includes a good amount of train travel, a hefty list of incredible attractions, and lots of Christmas Market exploration.
Though you can modify this itinerary to suit your trip duration (such as cutting it short a few days or extending your time in a city), I highly recommend planning for the full 10 days if you can!
In this part of Europe, there is so much to see! So bring along a good pair of walking shoes and be prepared to tack on the miles. (Or kilometers, depending on where you’re from.)
Alright, let’s get on with it, shall we?!
First things first: you need to book some flights if you’re somewhere outside of Europe or far away from Zurich.
As a frequent traveler, I recommend using the Skyscanner widget below to book your flights.
I’ve already put in Zurich as the arrival airport and Munich as the departing airport but you can easily change that depending on your schedule!
(The widgets below are one-way flight bookings but you can click this link to bring up the Skyscanner website to search multi-city flights. This can often work out cheaper than booking two separate one-way tickets.)
Alternatively, consider downloading the Skyscanner app! I use their app ALL THE TIME to book all my flights. It’s great.
Zurich, Switzerland – 2 Days
With a nice, big international airport, Zurich is an easy city to fly into from wherever you’re coming from.
Plus, flights to here can be pretty affordable, since Zurich is the “Financial Capital” of Switzerland and the largest city in the country.
Getting from Zurich Airport to City Centre
Anyways, once you fly into the Zurich Airport, it’s super easy to get from the airport to the city centre via public transport, taxi, or Uber.
If you’re on a budget, I recommend grabbing the street car (i.e. city tram).
It’s a breeze to navigate and — hovering around ₣14 CHF ($14 USD) for a 24 hour ticket (which means you can use it all day) — it’s really affordable compared to the other options!
WANDERFUL TIP — If you’re going to be using public transportation often and visiting many of the Zurich attractions, I highly recommend grabbing yourself a Zurich City Travel Pass Card.
For either 24 hours ($28 USD) or 72 hours ($55), this City Travel Pass includes:
- Unlimited 2nd class travel by tram, bus, train, boat and cableway in the city of Zurich and surrounding region
- Limmat river cruise or boat trip on Lake Zurich
- Free or reduced admission to 40+ museums
- 50% discount on the Zurich Old Town Walking Tour
- And loads more experiences to help you best see the city
Sound good to you? Check out all the details or grab yourself a Zurich City Travel Pass HERE.
Where to Stay in Zurich?
Without a doubt, you’ll want to stay as close to the city centre as possible.
This is for two reasons:
- Easy access to the main Christmas Market and,
- To effortlessly visit all the city attractions.
Though it’ll be a bit more expensive to stay in the city centre, you’ll save money on transportation, which can be quite a bit if you’re staying in the city outskirts.
I recommend finding a place near the Altstadt (which is the Old Town and where all the main Christmas Markets are).
Here’s a list of some good accommodations near Zurich’s Altstadt:
Best Things to Do in Zurich
Not sure what to do with all the time you’re not at the Christmas Markets? Here’s a quick and dirty list of all the top things to do in Zurich, Switzerland!
- Explore the Altstadt (Old Town), strolling through its quaint cobbled streets, browsing the locals shops, and grabbing a meal or snack at one of the cute cafes.
- Visit a couple churches and cathedrals — Fraumünster Church and Grossmünster are beautiful.
- Check out the old Roman fortress, Lindenhof (it provides a great view of the city!).
- Relax on a Limmat River Cruise or Lake Zurich boat tour.
- Cough up some cash at Bahnhofstrasse, which is a prime shopping street in Zurich.
- Visit one of the many museums.
- Grab a meal at Hiltl, the world’s oldest vegetarian restaurant.
- Go up to Felsenegg lookout in a cable car to get some great views of Zurich and the surrounding area.
- Venture outside of the city and go on a day trip to nearby attractions. (Click here to see top Zurich day trip tours.)
Neuschwanstein Castle – Day Stopover
Though a quick stopover at Neuschwanstein Castle is totally optional (you could just go straight from Zurich to Munich), in my humble opinion, this is THE THING that makes this 10-day Christmas Market hopping itinerary stand out from all the rest.
Because who wouldn’t want to make a cheeky little stop at one of the most magical castles in Europe during the holiday season, eh?
As someone who has visited Neuschwanstein Castle 3 different times, you could say I’m a pretty big fan.
Sure, it might be a bit expensive, but hey, it’s 100% worth it.
The architecture, history, interior decoration and design, marvelous artistry, and more give you a sneak peak into what 19th-century high-end life what like. I love it! (And I’m sure you will, too.)
Anyways, if you book the right train tickets, it’s a piece of cake to get Neuschwanstein Castle when traveling between Zurich and Munich.
Heck, if me, my cousin, and her husband can do it, so can you. (Hint: we’re not the best train travelers out there. 🤪 😬 )
Booking Train Tickets from Zurich to Neuschwanstein Castle
Firstly, you’re going to want to use the Trainline.com to book your train tickets. I find them to be the most reliable for Europe and they seem to have the best prices.
When searching for tickets, you’re going to book from Zurich HB to Füssen, which is the main station nearest to the castle.
You can click this link to automatically search for tickets from Zurich to Füssen on TheTrainline.com.
Typically, this journey will take around 4.5-6 hours, depending on where you have a transfer and for how long.
Though that might seem lengthy, it goes through the gorgeous Bavaria countryside that features beautiful mountains, rolling green hills, quaint little German villages, and more!
Additionally, make sure to book an EARLY ticket, as you want to give yourself enough time to see the castle and get the last train to Munich from Füssen.
Booking Train Tickets from Neuschwanstein Castle to Munich
Next, you’re going to want to book tickets from the castle to Munich for the last leg of your Neuschwanstein stopover trip.
You can click here to automatically search for tickets from Füssen to Munich on TheTrainline.com.
This train journey takes around 2 hours and you can easily find a route with zero changes, making the journey a breeze!
MONEY-SAVING TIP — When booking this journey, buy the ticket called “Bayern Ticket” for €26 through the Deutsche Bahn site.
It’s really affordable and gives you unlimited rides within the Bavaria region until 3pm the next day (which means you can use it all over Munich when you’re there!).
Not to mention, if you’re traveling with multiple people (like I was), it’s only €8 more per ticket for additional passengers when booking with Trainline!
Visiting to Neuschwanstein Castle
Okay, now onto the best part of your day — visiting the wondrous castle that is Neuschwanstein!
Once you arrive in Füssen, simply make your way outside where you can easily grab either Bus 73 or 78 from the station to Hohenschwangau, which is where Neuschwanstein Castle is.
This bus departs from Füssen station twice an hour and only costs a few euros. Although, if you get a Bayern Ticket (mentioned above), the bus is included in the price! Win.
Once in Hohenschwangau, you’ll want to head to the Neuschwanstein Ticket Office to buy your entry ticket. Since this is a Christmas Market itinerary, you’re not likely to experience super duper long ticket lines (which is great!). Thus, I don’t think there’s really any need to buy tickets in advance. Though, you totally can if you’re worried about it!
After your ticket is in hand and your tour time is all set, begin making your way up to the castle.
Since we’re all very much against animal cruelty and exploitation, skip the horse drawn carriage and either get in some steps by walking up the hill (which is free) or hop on the shuttle bus (€1.80 uphill; €1.00 downhill).
Once you’re up there, give yourself a pat on the back — you’ve made it! Now prepare to be WOWED.
Neuschwanstein to Munich
Now, I’ll be honest, getting from Zurich to Neuschwanstein can be a bit of a hastle (even though it’s totally worth it). That said, getting from the castle to Munich is a freakin’ breeze compared to the first half of your journey!
Just keep in mind the last regional train — which is covered by the Bayern Ticket — back to Munich leaves Füssen at 6:05pm, so make sure you’re back to the station before then.
Anyways, you’ll simply retrace your steps by grabbing the bus from Hohenschwangau to Füssen station and then get your train to Munich from there.
If you have time, I recommend exploring Füssen, which is a highly underrated and very picturesque town!
Munich, Germany – 3 Days
As someone who has visited 4 different times, I have a lot of a love for Munich. One of the more gorgeous cities in Germany, you’ll find there is SO MUCH to do here!
Not to mention, the Munich Christmas Markets are outta this freakin’ world.
Literally spanning across the city, you’ll find at least 5-6 markets just waiting to be explored — and they are all pretty much ginormous!
My favorite is definitely the Marienplatz Christmas Market because the lit up Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) is absolutely gorgeous.
WANDERUL TIP: Make sure to go up St. Peter’s Church at night for a stunning view of all the lit up Christmas huts and town hall tower! It’s truly magical.
Where to Stay in Munich?
Similar to Zurich, you’re going to want to stay somewhere near the city center.
Although, one great thing about Munich is there are Christmas Markets spread throughout the city so you can easily find one close to your accommodations (even if you aren’t smack dab in the centre).
Personally, my group and I stayed at MEININGER Hotel München City Center — good location, pretty affordable, nice food options nearby, and conveniently located near the main train station and public transport.
But here are some other great options for Munich accommodations:
Best Things to Do in Munich
If you don’t want to spend all your time wandering about the Christmas Markets, I have a great guide on how to spend one day in Munich seeing all the best sites and attractions.
Munich is a beautiful city and there are a ton of great things to do that’ll easily fill up your time between Christmas Markets!
Getting from Munich to Salzburg
With only 93 miles (150 km) between the two vibrant cities, getting from Munich to Salzburg is an easy breezy journey! Not to mention, you have SO many transportation options — train, bus, private car, etc.
Personally, I think the best way is by train. The views on this route are stunning and it’s only a short ride at around 1 hour 30 mins!
You can click here to automatically search for train tickets from Munich to Salzburg on TheTrainline.com.
Otherwise, hopping on a bus is another really cheap option (just know you’ll be on an unattractive motorway the entire time).
Psst, have you looked at my Europe winter packing list for your upcoming Christmas Market hopping adventure? Click here to check it out!
Salzburg, Austria – 3 Days
Out of all the cities on this list, Salzburg is hands down my favorite!
As someone who lived and studied abroad in this magical little city, it holds a rather large chunk of my heart. I mean, come on! The Sound of Music, Mozart, rolling green hills, marvelous architecture, quaint local shops… it has so much to offer!
Not to mention, Salzburg is a fantastic base for exploring other cool destinations, such as the southern region of Bavaria, the beautiful mountain town of Innsbruck, the most photographed village in the world (aka Hallstatt), and even Vienna if you’re up for it.
Thus, I recommend spending at least 3 full days in Salzburg if you can.
A couple days can be dedicated to exploring the city and Christmas Markets, and another can be for venturing outside the city on a day trip somewhere (Hallstatt or Innsbruck are highly recommended!).
Where to Stay in Salzburg?
Again, you’ll want to stay directly in the city center to have close access to all the best sites, attractions, and Christmas Markets!
Although, since Salzburg is a relatively small city, it’ll be easy to find somewhere that suits your needs and budget.
Personally, my group and I stayed at St. Sebastian Institut, which is like one big hostel with multiple private rooms (with their own bathroom) that are pretty affordable.
St. Sebastian is in a really awesome location — tons of food options nearby, the city centre is only a 10 minute walk away, it’s also a church with a beautiful cemetery, and it’s set along Linzer Gasse, which a walking-only street.
Otherwise, here are some other accommodation recommendations for Salzburg:
BUDGET: Stadtalm Naturfreundehaus /// YoHo – International Youth Hostel
MID-RANGE: Gästehaus im Priesterseminar Salzburg /// Altstadthotel Weisse Taube
HIGH-END: Hotel Goldener Hirsch /// Hotel Sacher Salzburg
Best Things to Do in Salzburg
As a sort of Salzburg expert who’s genuinely lived here, I have a massive list of the top things to do in this magical city!
You can check that post out here.
Salzburg Day Trip Options
Since Salzburg is pretty small, you can easily fit in a cheeky day trip after you’ve explored the city itself.
As mentioned above, I highly recommend either visiting Hallstatt or Innsbruck.
Though both are easy to get to from Salzburg, Innsbruck is a bit more simple with the option to book a direct regional train. Hallstatt, on the other hand, requires a mix of at least 2 buses, a train, and a ferry. (Unless you book a tour with included transportation, that is.)
A few other day trip options include:
- Exploring Austria’s Lake District.
- Visiting the Eagle’s Nest, aka Hitler’s historic mountain retreat.
- Checking out Werfen Ice Caves, the largest ice caves in the world. (Can personally say this place is amazing!)
- Going deep underground into Austria’s historic salt mines.
To make things super simple, here are a few highly-rated Salzburg Day Trip Tours that take the guesswork out of planning (and leaves you with less stress!).
Psst, have you looked at my Europe winter packing list for your upcoming Christmas Market hopping adventure? Click here to check it out!
Day 10 – Returning Home
So, if you’re flying out to return back home, you have a few options for departure:
- Fly directly out of Salzburg (as it is the last stop on this 10-day Christmas Market itinerary).
- Take the short train ride back to Munich and fly out of there.
- Grab a train from Salzburg to Vienna and fly out there.
My group and I found it was cheapest to fly out of Munich.
Thus, the day before our last in Europe, we took a late train from Salzburg to Munich, grabbed a city train to a hotel near the airport, and flew out the next morning.
To find the cheapest option for yourself, play around with flights and destinations on Skyscanner.
(I’m positive you could also find good flights from Vienna, but this city is further away from Salzburg than Munich, so keep that in mind.)
With this 10-day Christmas Market hopping itinerary, you can hit 3 different countries, mingle under twinkling lights and sip delicious glühwein at the markets, wander about gorgeous cities, and see the best of what Central Europe has to offer!
I’m absolutely in love with Europe this time of year and without a doubt, you will fall head over heels for it, too!
Are you currently planning a holiday season trip to Europe to visit the Christmas Markets? Let me know in the comments below!
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