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Advent in Austria, Maria Alm

Spend the days leading up to Christmas in a magnificent alpine setting where the advent customs of its regions, towns and villages are the perfect antidote to the pre-Christmas rush. Be part of authentic advent traditions whilst visiting Christmas markets in  picturesque villages.

Visit Oberndorf, learn the history of the famous carol Silent Night that originated here and visit the church of the composer Franz Xaver Gruber. Walk the Berchtesgaden Emmaus Trail and past the churches and chapels in the Berchtesgaden market and above the town and enjoy an afternoon horse-drawn sleigh ride.

With so many extras included you will be able to enjoy the sounds of church bells, traditional carols and festive brass band music with the smell of fresh cinnamon from Christmas treats and bubbling gluhwein as you wander the traditional Christmas markets. The emphasis is more on traditional clothing from local woolens, handicrafts, wood carvings and nativity scenes reflecting the true meaning of Christmas. We invite you to join us for our unspoiled celebration at this special time of the year.


  1. Travel to Salzburg, Austria (D)

    We fly from London to Salzburg Airport. Your tour manager will welcome you. Transfer to your Hotel Eder, located in the center of the idyllic village of Maria Alm. After dinner in the hotel,  you have the chance to witness one of the Advent traditions of Austria, the „Perchtenlauf“. The so-called „Perchten“ are half animal, half human and stroll and roar through the village, accompanied by the sounds of bells.

  2. Silent Night Tour (B, L, D)

    Today you are following the footsteps of the most famous Christmas song of the world: Silent Night. You drive to the village of Oberndorf  to see the Silent Night chapel with a guided tour. You will learn how the song came about and began its triumphal march around the world. Lunch is included today and will be served in a nearby restaurant.  Continue to Arnsdorf, where you will see the original house where Franz Xaver Gruber, the composer of Silent Night, used to live and teach. We visit the pilgrimage church of Maria im Mösl, which has been famous for pilgrimages since more than 800 years before returning to Maria Alm. After sunset you have the opportunity to explore the Maria Alm Advent market, which is set up directly in front of your hotel in the village center. Dinner at the hotel.

  3. Jakobskreuz & Zell Am See (B, D)

    After breakfast you drive to Lofer and over the Strub pass to Tyrol and continue to Jakobskreuz, the largest accessible summit cross in the world, perched on top of  Buchensteinwand Mountain. If the chairlift is operating, you may ascend to the summit cross. Inside the cross there are a small chapel and four viewing platforms. We then continue to Zell am See -situated at the foot of the Schmittenhöhe mountain and on the shores of Lake Zell.

    During a city tour you will get to know the city's sights like St Hippolyte’s Church, the town’s main square Stadtplatz, and the tranquil lakeside Elisabethpark. After lunch (at own cost) we board the “Sternenschiff” (star boat) for a 1-hour-lake cruise on lake Zell. After returning to the shore, you may wish to visit the city’s Christmas market, the “Sternenadvent”. Vibrant stars are reflected in the water of Lake Zell, the sweet smell of biscuits is in the air, and magical moments await. Return back to Maria Alm and enjoy dinner at the hotel.

  4. Maria Kirchental (B, L, D)

    Today Austrian Christians celebrate the  Feast of the Immaculate Conception and you may choose to join Mass at the Maria Alm Parish church. Later today we drive to St. Martin bei Lofer. Here you change to minibuses as no big buses are allowed on the narrow road to Maria Kirchental. This place is certainly one of the most-visited pilgrimage churches in the province of Salzburg. Pilgrims have been coming here for over 300 years. Enjoy an included lunch at Maria Kirchental before visiting the pilgrimage church with a guided tour. Today, you may also experience the „Mountain Christmas“  advent market offering a very special atmosphere in front of the impressive backdrop of the pilgrimage church. Return back to Maria Alm and enjoy dinner at the hotel.

  5. Maria Alm Village (B, D)

    Use this morning to sleep in and enjoy the facilities of your hotel. Later this morning take a leisurely stroll through the village of Maria Alm including a visit to the local parish church. Rich votive offerings testify to the supra-regional importance of this beautiful pilgrimage church. In the afternoon you take a horse-drawn sleigh ride to one of the snow-covered neighboring villages of Maria Alm.

    This afternoon we also enjoy home-made cookies and mulled wine or coffee and , if weather and snow permit, you can also take the cable car up to Natrun (1,253 m). Dinner at the hotel.

  6. Berchtesgaden (B, D)


    We drive to the Bavarian village of Berchtesgaden for an opportunity to discover the historic Rococo town center with its town houses, monastery church and royal palace. After time for lunch at own cost, we walk the Berchtesgaden Emmaus Trail. It takes about an hour and takes you past the churches and chapels in the Berchtesgaden market and above the town. During Advent, the Emmaus Trail becomes a lantern trail: 75 oversized lanterns, illuminate the path. We take a stroll through the beautiful advent market in the town center, before returning to our hotel for dinner.

  7. Salzburg (B, D)

    Today we drive to Salzburg, the city if Mozart and Sound of Music, overlooked by the famous medieval fortress Hohensalzburg. Visit the catheedral and enjoy an organ recital before experiencing the Christmas markets set in the so-called ‘Rome of the North’ due to its stunning baroque architecture. You may wish to visit the Mozart’s birth-house Museum or take the funicular (at own cost) to the fortress for views across the city and surrounding mountains. Today lunch is at own cost. We return to Maria Alm for the farewell dinner in the hotel.

  8. Flight home to UK (B)

    Transfer to Salzburg Airport for our flight back to London.

Essential Information


Included extras

  • Hotel Porterage
  • Personal audio guiding system
  • Krampuslauf (two horned devil parade) and a visit from St. Nicholas
  • Services of our resident and knowledgeable Tour Manager
  • Optional worship from our accompanying faith leader

Included meals & drinks

Meals: a full buffet breakfast each morning, two lunches and all evening meals. Five three-course dinners and a traditional Austrian buffet evening in the hotel. On one evening you will take a horse-drawn carriage ride to an alpine hut for a traditional dinner. On one afternoon we also include traditional Christmas stollen with bubbling gluhwein.

Our team in Austria

Our dedicated and knowledgeable McCabe Tour Manager is there solely for our guests. They will escort all excursions and be available in the hotel for any queries and offer local advice, hints and tips for you to get maximum enjoyment of your time with us. A faith leader will also escort this experience and offer optional worship on some occasions, for those who wish.

Your journey

The flight is direct to Salzburg with British Airways from London Gatwick. Regional flights to Gatwick from some UK airports can be arranged at a supplement. An overnight stop at Gatwick may be required which we can assist you with. Please enquire at time of booking.

Outbound Flight

Flight departs Gatwick : 12:40               Arrives Salzburg: 15:35

Return Flight

Flight departs Salzburg : 14:05               Arrives Gatwick: 15:10

Length of flight to Salzburg: two hours

Flight times maybe subject to change and are confirmed with your final paperwork.

A note about twin Austrian beds:  the distinction between double bedded and twin-bedded rooms in Austria is sometimes not clear. A traditional twin-bedded room consists of one bed frame with two separate mattresses and separate duvets and the beds will not necessarily be separated.

Single rooms available (limited availability)

Single rooms (one single bed) for a supplement of £175



Practical information

Entry requirements

British Citizen and EU Citizen Passport holders can currently enter Austria freely with no restrictions or other documentation required. Stays within the EU can be up to 90 days (can be spread over multiple visits) within any 180-day period.

Please note your passport must be valid for six months after your return from Austria.

Full details of entry requirements and any required vaccinations will be detailed in your final paperwork 14 days before departure.

For the latest and most up to date travel advice including entry requirements please consult the Foreign & Commonwealth Development Office travel advice website.

Health & wellbeing

For travel within the EU you should ensure that you have the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) which is free of charge.  You can apply for the GHIC card by calling 0191 218 1999 or applying on line at…

The level of cover offered by the GHIC card varies by country visited and is only applicable in state-run health facilities. In some countries coverage may just be a partial contribution.

Adequate insurance cover will be required for all hospital emergencies and doctors’ visits.


In Austria the average temperature during your stay should be around -5 to +4 degrees centigrade. It is advisable to bring some warm clothes and layers for the days as well as a winter hat, gloves and a scarf. In the mountains weather can change rapidly for worse or better and a misty start often leads to a glorious afternoon. We never can see what is the other side of the mountain and the weather is often difficult to predict so please be prepared.


Dress is casual throughout the holiday. You may wish to take one or two smarter items for the evenings. Warm casual clothing is recommended in the day time with evenings being smart/casual. As the sightseeing visits require a certain amount of walking, we suggest you take a pair of warm lined shoes or boots with decent grip to walk in the snow or the occasional icy surface are a must. Austrians often wear real fur which are family heirlooms handed down from generation to generation and not seen as taboo as they are in the U.K.

Please bring a hat, scarf and gloves to keep warm as well as a pair of sunglasses as the glare of sunshine (hopefully) on snow can be quite strong.


There is a certain amount of walking (and stairs) involved on a daily basis on this holiday so please make sure you pack comfy footwear for this so that you are prepared. Your Tour Manager will keep you updated on a daily basis with what to expect the following day. If you are finding it difficult to keep up then please make sure you tell your Tour Manager who can help you to find places to rest and relax and then you can re-join the group at a later stage.

Some streets in towns and villages that you will visit will be cobbled. We suggest you take a pair of comfortable shoes with good grips or trainers. For your guided walking tours in Salzburg and Oberndorf you must be prepared to be on your feet for up to 90 minutes.

The McCabe Educational Trust

The McCabe Educational Trust is an independent registered charity with the aim of helping inspiring people we meet on some of our pilgrimages. As ‘the haves’ encounter the ‘have nots’ the Trust has become a practical tool for one to help the other.

McCabe Pilgrimages invite all travellers to become partners in this work. A £20 voluntary donation to the Trust’s work is added to every pilgrim’s invoice and all money raised in this way is given in full to the projects the Trust supports. This scheme is voluntary and confidential with nobody put under any pressure to participate.

Travel insurance

Ensuring that your holidays are appropriately protected is one of our main priorities. That’s why we have specifically chosen Holiday Extras as our *preferred travel insurance provider to ensure that you are protected before and whilst you are travelling. Holiday Extras offer McCabe Travel guests favourable rates for single trip, multi-trip and annual policies.

For more information or to obtain a quote click below for their website

Or call them on 0800 083 3551 to speak to a friendly advisor.

Please quote AG628 upon calling to receive the best rates

Full financial security

All money paid to McCabe is fully secure. Holidays including flights are covered by our ATOL license from the Civil Aviation Authority, and holidays without flights are protected by our membership of the ABTOT bonding scheme. If a pilgrimage is cancelled, for instance through lack of numbers or for political considerations, McCabe will promptly refund all monies paid.

AITO Quality Statement

McCabe Pilgrimages is a member of the Association of Independent Tour Operators. The Association represents Britain’s leading independent tour operators and encourages high standards of quality and service. McCabe abides by the Association’s Code of Conduct and adheres to the AITO Quality Charter.

You can read McCabe reviews on the AITO website here


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