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The Golden Eagle - Christmas Markets of Central Europe

8 days From $9,995 per person

Experience the holiday traditions of Hungary, Austria, and Germany while exploring festive Christmas markets and sightseeing in remarkable cities on this Christmastime expedition through Central Europe featuring the grand Golden Eagle Danube Express.

Travel among a group of like-minded travelers led by a professional tour manager

2024 Tour code: GE-CMCW-24

About the tour

The distinct ambiance of the Christmas season is felt globally, and its impact in Central Europe is genuinely magical. Destinations filled with centuries of history and breathtaking architecture shine under twinkling lights, and colorful Christmas markets overtake plazas, filling entire cities with their warm, spiced scents and joyous sounds. All of this is yours to behold on this memorable train vacation featuring travel on the one and only Golden Eagle Danube Express. This train is in a category all its own, with its timeless interiors and high standard of service, making it a memorable way to traverse the wintry landscapes that lie between Hungary, Austria, and Germany.

Your journey commences in Budapest with a guided tour featuring many of the city's highlights and time to visit as many Christmas markets as your heart desires. Continue to Vienna and Salzburg in Austria and Munich in Germany. Each destination has a unique essence, and as you tour the cities on guided excursions and wander through the distinctive Advent markets, you will discover it for yourself. Embrace the beauty of a European Christmas this year while exploring places you will never forget.


What’s included


Day 1 - Budapest

Called the Queen of the Danube and the Heart of Europe, Budapest is a beautiful city whose allures extend to its history, scenery, and undeniable culture. As you arrive in this capital city, enjoy an included transfer to the opulent Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace overlooking the Danube. Enjoy some time to get acquainted with this beautiful city ahead of tonight's welcome reception dinner at the hotel. Meet your fellow travelers, and enjoy a delicious, chef-prepared meal while looking over the hotel's impressive art nouveau architecture. Overnight Budapest. 

  • Dinner
Day 2 - Sightseeing in Budapest

Budapest's medieval ambiance and cornucopia of Neoclassical, Gothic, Renaissance, and Romanesque architecture are incredible at any time of year, but the holiday season is particularly special. All these remarkable buildings are dressed in their winter finest, with festive lights, wreaths, and greenery. Experience it firsthand while touring the city's landmarks today. Your guided excursion takes you to places like the Royal Palace, St. Matthias Church, the Citadel, the famous Hungarian State Opera House, Heroes Square, and more. We also have the opportunity to look over the cityscape from Gellert Hill.

Spend the remainder of the day wandering through the city at leisure. The season brings an abundance of Christmas markets on both sides of the Danube, the most popular of which is located in Vörösmarty Square. This expansive market features around 100 stalls, and because it is located in one of the city's most famous squares, there is plenty to see while you stroll. Alternatively, you may wish to sample the local flavors at Great Market Hall or go ice skating at City Park. When it is time to warm up, there is no better place than Budapest's thermal baths. Overnight Budapest.

Day 3 - Golden Eagle Danube Express to Vienna

Revel in a leisurely morning to have a traditional Hungarian breakfast at a local eatery, relax at the hotel, or continue exploring the atmospheric city. Later this morning, we are transferred to Nyugati station to await boarding the famous Golden Eagle Danube Express. A drinks reception in the Royal Waiting Room, an impressively furnished room fit for Habsburg Royalty, is the perfect way to kick off this one-in-a-lifetime expedition.

Uniformed staff escorts you to your private en-suite cabin, and as the route sets underway, the train's brass band holds a short performance. Settle in, then join your fellow travelers in one of the train's dining cars for your first meal aboard. Each lunch course is meticulously prepared in the onboard kitchen, creating mouthwatering dishes introducing regional flavors and established favorites. A superb wine selection complements the meal - as does the scenery, which showcases the beautiful Hungarian countryside dusted with winter white as you approach Vienna, Austria.

Stationing in Vienna, you are given a grand introduction to the city on a panoramic tour. The excursion takes to the Ringstrasse, where Imperial glory shines through grand buildings like the Vienna Opera House, the Parliament Building, and a number of historic structures. After, immerse yourself in Austrian culture while riding a traditional horse-drawn carriage through the city to St. Stephen's Cathedral, where we are treated to a Pirker gingerbread tasting. A decadent dinner awaits as you reboard the train. Overnight train.

  • Lunch, Dinner
Day 4 - The Best of Vienna

Twinkling lights and warm window displays mark Vienna with a merry ambiance during the festive season; however, this is just the beginning. Today, we explore vibrant Christmas markets while also visiting the city's most impressive sites, including the Museum of Fine Arts, home to an impressive collection of artwork from the Habsburg dynasty, and 13th-century Hofburg Palace. A private choir concert of traditional Viennese Christmas songs concludes our tour of this grandiose building. The morning also includes time to wander through the Christmas market on Maria-Theresian Platz.

After time to grab lunch, the adventure continues with a tour of Schönbrunn Palace, a complex whose Baroque buildings, impeccable furnishings, vast gardens, and historical significance have earned it UNESCO World Heritage Site status. While we will not have time to see all of the 1,441 rooms within the palace, the rooms we do see are sure to leave an impression. This palace also hosts one of Vienna's most classic Christmas markets in its forecourt. Enjoy the smells and sounds of the season as you peruse the booths, and make sure to stop at the famous Café Residenz booth for a cup of Christmas punch. Dinner is served as you return to the train this evening. Overnight train.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5 - Salzburg

Relax in luxury aboard the Golden Eagle Danube Express as the train winds through Austria in pursuit of Salzburg near the German border. Views of the snowy Eastern Alps paint a beautiful winter backdrop for the city, whose fairytale-esque Old Town is made all the more magical by the holiday season. As we arrive this afternoon, we dive right into Salzburg's offerings with a tour of the historic city center. We begin at Mirabell Palace, a 17th-century Baroque palace whose immaculate interiors and extensive gardens have led to its UNESCO World Heritage status. As we explore, you may even recognize some of the palace's features from its appearance in "The Sound of Music."

Our tour continues into Market Square to Mozart's former residence, across the Makartsteg Bridge, and into historic Old Town, where we venture along one of Salzburg's most famous streets, Getreidegasse. We conclude our sightseeing at Salzburger Christkindlmarkt, one of the oldest Christmas markets in the world. This market is spread across Domplatz and Residenzplatz in the heart of UNESCO World Heritage Old Town and offers a quintessential advent experience in the most incredible setting. Spend time exploring the festive stalls, with scents of traditional Austrian treats in the air, the sounds of bells ringing, and tons of lights and decorations draping the streets to create an unrivaled ambiance. Return to the train after shopping for another incredible meal. Overnight train.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6 - Salzburg’s DomQuartier/Munich

Whether you prefer a buffet breakfast composed of fruits, cereal, cold dishes, and fresh juice or a hearty hot meal to begin your day, both options are available to you this morning on the train. Take time to sip your coffee and look out over the city before heading into Salzburg once more to visit the DomQuartier. Over 400 years of history encompass this UNESCO World Heritage complex, and it is yours to explore while touring. Four distinct areas of the complex are included in the tour, beginning with the Residenz, the former home of the prince-archbishops. Visit the impressive Residenz Gallery and head up to the terrace above the Cathedral Arches for a breathtaking view over Salzburg and the surrounding Alps. Other highlights include the Benedictine Monastery of St. Peter, Cathedral Museum, and St. Peter's Museum.

Returning to the train, we settle in for lunch and an afternoon of extraordinary vistas as we cross the border into Germany and venture through beautiful Bavaria to Munich, the region's capital. Disembark the train, and transfer to your hotel for check-in. Afterward, a shining beacon - a large Christmas tree adorned with over 2,500 lights - directs us to Marienplatz in the city's heart. It is here that we find a centuries-old Christmas market that speaks of Bavarian traditions while embracing modern life. Sip mulled wine, and sample gingerbread, Pfeffernüsse cookies, roasted nuts, and bratwurst. The stalls feature an array of goods, ranging from wooden wares to nativity scenes and beautiful ornaments. It is the perfect place to end your day. Overnight Munich.

  • Breakfast, Lunch
Day 7 - Sightseeing in Munich

A distinct French ambiance and a unique combination of restored inns and residences greet us in one of Munich's most intriguing neighborhoods, Haidhausen. We set out on foot, strolling through the narrow streets. Look upon buildings and cottages from the 18th and 19th centuries and pretty courtyards ornamented for the season. A tour highlight comes as we experience the season's merriment at the Christmas market at Weißenburger Platz. Throughout the tour, we learn about this district's importance in Germany's beer production, and this comes to a head as we stop at one of the historic inns for a tasting of traditional beers, Bavarian white sausages, and pretzels at one of the historic inns. You have the remainder of the day to continue exploring Munich at leisure following the tour. There are eight other Christmas markets in the city, in addition to those you have already visited, as well as several significant palaces, cathedrals, and structures. The city's museums are also top-notch.

This evening, toast to a memorable holiday adventure on one of the world's most distinctive and luxurious trains during your farewell dinner with your newfound friends. Overnight Munich.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 8 - Tour Conclusion

Your Christmastime journey through Hungary, Austria, and Germany concludes this morning after breakfast at your hotel. A transfer to Munich's international airport is included, allowing you to head home or onto your next adventure. 

  • Breakfast

Additional information

Departure times

Departure times vary based on selected rail vacation. This information will be provided in your final documents. For more information please speak with your rail specialist.


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