Christmas Market Port Highlights
Nuremberg: Arguably one of the most famous Christmas markets in Europe, Nuremburg is the first or last stop on several Christmas market itineraries along the Danube you might have to plan an extra day here to take full advantage. This holiday marketplace runs through Christmas Eve and is known for its authentic feel . Vendors sell plenty of the city’s famous gingerbread and gluhwein as you browse the striped stalls for “plum people” and shuffle past the Frauenkirche . For good luck to begin or end your cruise, rub the brass rings embedded in the fence surrounding the stunning Schoner Brunnen, a gilded 14th-century fountain resembling a Gothic spire.
Strasbourg: A popular stop on Rhine Christmas market cruises, Strasbourg is right on the border of France and Germany. The market at Strasbourg has everything you would expect from a European holiday market, and it’s been going since 1570. Held each year from late November through December 31, the Strasbourg market offers classic Christmas charm with ice skating, caroling and a sparkling, Christmas tree that’s nearly 100 feet tall. Popular souvenirs include Alsatian beer steins or plush white storks — a local symbol of good luck.
Strasbourg On Christmas Day
This morning we cruise gently upstream, passing through two spectacular locks, whose elaborate engineering never ceases to fascinate. After breakfast why not find a comfortable chair in the lounge and enjoy a relaxing morning the perfect start to Christmas Day. For this special day, were on our way to Strasbourg, hailed the capital of Christmas. You are sure to be captivated by the unique atmosphere of this captivating French city at Christmas time its centre a mosaic of winding alleys and lanes lined with quirkily crooked, half-timbered houses largely unchanged since the 14th century. During its history, Strasbourg has been both German and French, and you see the influences of both in its language, cuisine and appearance, creating a truly individual ambience. With Strasbourg locals spending time with loved ones today, the markets, shops, cafés and attractions may not be open. Take this time to appreciate this spellbinding capital of the Alsace region and its wonderful architecture in the gentle calm of Christmas Day.
Which Rivers Have Christmas Markets On Them
With the listing above, the popular rivers to experience the Christmas markets along include the Rhine, Danube, Moselle and Elbe rivers – each of which offers fantastic markets teeming with wooden chalets and Christmas decorations. These visit the regions of France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Hungary – each of which offers their own slice of Christmas heaven!
Enjoy mulled wine and gingerbread as you browse handicrafts made by locals, each hut adorned with beautiful Christmas decorations making them the ideal festive destination for friends and family.
Suggested read: River cruising during the winter months
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What To Consider Before Choosing Your European Christmas Market Cruise
Even though a Christmas market cruise is a very laid-back way to enjoy the festive season, you should ask yourself a few questions before booking. Indeed, there are plenty of Christmas cruises to choose from and it might be hard to decide for one.
Choosing the best one will assure you that your family is happy and that you can enjoy a worry-free Christmas in Europe, on the water!
- How many days for a European Christmas cruise?
European Christmas market cruises can last everything between 4-15 days. Its all a question of your budget and available time. I recommend at least 7 days in order to absorb the enchanting Christmas vibes of that time in Europe.
Always calculate enough time before the departure and after the arrival of the cruise. I recommend Skyscanner or Kayak to find the best flights to European airports.
Rhine Gorge & Rdesheim
To really get in the Christmas mood, nothing beats waking up on board to find youre already cruising through an entrancing winter wonderland. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast this morning and relax on board while a kaleidoscope of riverside views drifts by in all their seasonal glory. Wrap up warm and take to the deck for an invigorating breath of frosty air as we pass through the outstandingly beautiful Rhine Gorge, where the river flows a little faster, the vineyard-covered valley sides are steeper and ruined castles sit atop rocky crags. Tales of mysterious happenings here have been passed down over the generations, most famously of all the legend of the Lorelei the maiden said to have enticed sailors onto the rocks with her irresistible songs.
The festive period is a magical time to visit this picturesque part of Germany, and no country does it better. The historic Yuletide markets here are the ideal places to soak up the spellbinding atmosphere while seeking out unusual presents for friends and family back home.
As the evening light fades, amble back on board to enjoy a sumptuous dinner in the ships excellent restaurant.
*Due to event cancellation, Rüdesheim Christmas Market is unavailable for 2021 departures.
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A Winter Walking Tour Of Cologne Germany
Pastel-colored buildings enhance the snowy scene when AmaWaterways Amacello pulls into her spot along the banks of the Rhine River in Cologne, Germany. Cologne in December can be snowy, as it is on our visit. But Alan and I arent going to let a little snow on the ground keep us from exploring Germanys 4th
Castles Of The Middle Rhine
While not an excursion, seeing 21 castles in just a few hours is what draws guests to this cruise. The sailing through the Middle Rhine is an unforgettable experience. The crew shares details of each castle over the ships intercom while you are able to just excitedly watch each go by. I feel the top deck is the best place for this, but it can really be enjoyed from anywhere, which is pretty special.
Pro Tip: After booking your Viking Cruise, make sure to read 5 Important Things To Do To Prepare For Your Viking Cruise. There are detailed tips on how to research shore excursions and when to book.
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When Should I Book
With the Christmas markets running on selected dates, and festive sailings even more so, it’s best to book as soon as possible to ensure you secure your place on-board. Christmas markets river cruises always sell out fast so ensure you have booked your sailings as soon as you know where you would want to visit.
Take a look at our latest sailings below and find your perfect Christmas markets river cruise for you. If you cant find exactly what you are looking for, dont hesitate to give our Cruise Concierge team a call and they will help you handpick your perfect Christmas Markets voyage.
Other Excursions Guests Enjoyed
I made a point of chatting with the guests, learning which excursions they were going to experience and following up to see what they thought. A few that stood out were: the Black Forest E-bike tour, Mercedes-Benz Factory visit, Wine tasting and Dinner at Eberbach Monastery, and Moselle Wine Tasting.
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When Can I Sail
Christmas markets in Europe tend to start mid-November and stay open until the end of December, with some closing just before Christmas day. Popular Christmas markets include*:
- Strasbourg, France – Rhine River – 22 November to 30 December
- Budapest, Hungary – Danube River – 23 November to 6 January
- Vienna, Austria – Danube River – 16 November to 24 December
- Metz, France – Moselle River – 20 November to 29 December
- Dresden, Germany – Elbe River – 27 November to 24 December
- Basel, Switzerland – Rhine River – 28 November to 23 December
- Cologne, Germany – Rhine River – 26 November to 23 December
*Dates are provisional
Christmas Market River Cruises
A festive vacation is a great way to celebrate the winter season. Walking around the beautifully decorated markets with family, friends, or as a solo traveler, and trying all the delicious treats on offer is perfect for those wanting something different to your average vacation. We currently offer two Christmas Market cruises, which give the chance to see exciting cities and towns along the Rhine or the Danube, while you explore and shop for that perfect yuletide souvenir.
Walking amongst the unique market stalls with a chimney cake and a hot chocolate really make an evening special, and bringing home unique gifts can make Christmas morning more magical. During your festive celebrations at home, you’ll also be able to relive the marvelous memories by telling friends and family about your travels, and the amazing things you saw in the many towns and cities you visited.
Brand new for 2020 are four river cruises covering the Christmas and New Year periods. Try the Rhine or Danube rivers at Christmas and enjoy each location on-board your five-star ship. Or perhaps New Years on the Rhine or Danube rivers are more your style.
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Speyer On Christmas Eve
Unwind after breakfast this morning as the ship gently cruises to Speyer. As you lounge back and enjoy a relaxing Christmas Eve, the landscape becomes much wider and flatter, with gently rolling hills and vineyards that are home to the Liebfraumilch wines. Take to the deck and enjoy the bracing as we continue our Christmas journey upstream. We berth in historic Speyer, founded by the Celts and one of Germanys oldest cities, celebrated for its illustrious past, for an afternoon walking tour. The breathtaking Imperial Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is among the largest Romanesque churches in the world its also one of the finest. Its beautiful four-roomed crypt is the resting place of many Holy Roman emperors and German kings.
Another landmark is the magnificent neo-Gothic Gedächtniskirche, built at the turn of the 20th-century to commemorate the 1529 Protestation at Speyer, a significant event when a group of Martin Luthers followers protested against his imperial ban henceforth Luthers religious followers were known as Protestants. Speyers delightful Christmas market is held on the bustling Maximilanstrasse, in front of the Old Mint. The alluring aromas of hot Glühwein and roasted almonds fill the air and local choirs and music groups provide a festive programme. Theres free time to explore the numerous stalls decorated with twinkling lights before stepping back on board for another splendid dinner.
The Best Christmas Market Cruises On The Danube
When it comes to river competitions, the Danube is probably the biggest rival of the Rhine when it comes to European Christmas market cruises.
Its not only one of the biggest rivers in Europe, but it also passes through some of the most important Christmas market cities. Be ready to explore one of the oldest Christmas markets in Germany: Nürnberg and the Regensburg.
In most cases, the Christmas market cruises on the Danube take you to Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary as well. Its thus a very convenient way of exploring the world famous Christmas Markets of Vienna and/or Budapest. And visiting several countries as well!
Generally speaking, Christmas market cruises on the Danube last longer than its Rhine counterpart. Often a minimum of 7 days are required.
Insider tip: Id recommend looking out for a Danube Christmas market cruise that includes Passau, a smaller sized but gorgeous town on the Danube. Its known for its Italian inspired architecture. I also recommend looking for Christmas cruises that include Budapest which is absolutely beautiful during the festive season.
The best Christmas market cruises on the Danube:
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Book Before March 1 2022 To Save $500 Per Cabin
Riviera River Cruises is offering readers of our site savings on a Christmas Markets cruise that I will be hosting.
Dates of the sailing are December 21, 2022 through December 28, 2022.
Well cruise roundtrip Cologne. Along the way, well visit Koblenz, Rudesheim, Speyer, Strasbourg and Boppard. On Christmas Day well be in beautiful Strasbourg.
You can view the full itinerary on Rivieras website, but return here for special pricing and to join our group.
If youre not familiar with the company, check out my post, Seven Ways That Riviera Seeks To Stand Out.
Riviera is providing incentives for booking, including a limited selection of solo cabins with no single supplement and $250 off the published rates below for anyone who books and deposits by March 1, 2022.
- $3,419 solo rate for standard lower deck stateroom
- $3,629 to $3,929 per person for middle and upper deck staterooms. Includes $500 per cabin discount.
A $400 per person non-refundable deposit is required within eight weeks of reserving space. Final balance is due 91 days before the start of the cruise.
If you are at all interested in this trip, please complete the form below.
Take A Christmas Market Cruise Along The Rhine River
For the past several years the holiday Scrooge had been visiting my house. There has been no smell of pine needles, cookies left for Santa or even a cup of eggnog.
The crotchety miser who invaded my home has been me.
I was not in the Christmas spirit, by a long shot. There was alway too much to do. Between writing a holiday gift giving post for this blog to planning a holiday feast to preparing the seasons bonuses for the employees at my restaurant there was no more jolly left, not even a Ho, Ho, Ho.
This year was going to be different, Viking River Cruises and my traveling friend Cacinda of Points and Travel invited me to cruise along the Rhine River to visit festive European cities and almost a dozen Christmas markets throughout Germany, France and the Netherlands. Plus, wed have time to sneak one special market in before our embarkation in the town of Basel, Switzerland.
If this didnt break my Scrooge trend, than nothing would.
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Another Option: Colognes Beer Culture & Dinner
This excursion was a ton of fun. We learned a little and laughed a lot! If you like beer and want to try authentic German fare, which was delicious, this is a great experience. The only problem was that it had to end, but guests on the ship were dancing the night away when we returned and you only need to know one thing: there was a conga line which always signals a great time.
Pro Tip: I ended up wearing my comfortable, exercise-type clothes much more than I thought I would on this trip. Theres no need to overpack, but just dont forget to pack a few things you would normally wear when out for a good walk or bike ride.
Christmas Markets River Cruises 2022 2023
The best way to enjoy and experience the Christmas Markets River Cruises of Germany & Austria is by any one of the Christmas Markets River Cruises we offer below. 2022 and 2023 Christmas Markets River Cruises have already been selling out space since this past summer, but we can still find you some space on any of the reputable river cruise vessels offered by AMA, Avalon, Tauck, Uniworld or Viking.
Cruising aboard any of the vessels included in the Christmas Markets River Cruises we represent, you enjoy special holiday meals and seasonal drinks. Meals and sightseeing are included in the price, making 2022 and 2023 Europe Christmas Market River Cruises a great value.
Rivers were once the highways of Europe, and as such the Christmas Market Villages are right there near the shoreline. This eliminates the need for busses and trains! Take a Christmas Market River Cruise for 2022 and 2023 and Explore the Europe Christmas market traditions through the Danube and Rhine Rivers. Enjoy an immersive experience celebrating the varied cultures of five Central European countries.
Join both locals and visitors as they prepare for the holidays during this late-season cruise along the Danube. Sail aboard a ship designed for viewing the enchanting riverside vistas, through panoramic windows, from the sun deck, or from the comfort of your private, river-view cabin. Onboard meals, prepared by European chefs, include a choice of regional specialties and traditional favorites.
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Discovering Siegfried’s Whimsical Musical Legacy In Rdesheim
Housed in a centuries-old castle in the charming Rhine Valley wine town of Rüdesheim, Siegfried’s Mechanisches Musikkabinett really must be seen and heard to be believed. It’s the legacy of the late Siegfried Wendel, who founded his first museum dedicated to antique self-playing musical instruments in the 1970s. The current Musikkabinett in the 14th-century Brömserhof display’s Siegfried’s mesmerizing collection of mechanized musical clocks, player pianos, fairground organs, self-playing violins and many more… including the world’s largest automated doll orchestra!
Kinderdijk Windmills By Bicycle
Viking really puts you in the middle of the action on this stop. The windmills are basically across the road from the ship just begging you to come visit. Viking offered a walking, barge, and bicycle tour of the windmills. After having such a great time on the Cologne bicycle tour, I decided to join this one as well.
What made this unique was being able to really see the windmills from various perspectives, as well as riding along the village that adjoins them, which wasnt accessible on the walking or barge tours. I will say, our guide was just OK. He wasnt very engaging, nice enough, but the competition was still with the many other fabulous guides we experienced throughout the week.
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