Experience the wonder of a white Christmas on a cruise along the Rhine and Main Rivers. The scenery is some of Europe’s most picturesque, an enchanting postcard of snow-covered wintery landscapes and sparkling Christmas lights. And the European Christmas markets are truly enchanting.
European Christmas Markets
Delicious aromas of roasted almonds and chestnuts, gingerbread and smoked sausages waft through the air. The atmosphere is rich with carolling and yuletide cheer.
A Christmas-time cruise through the land where many Christmas traditions began is something cruise-lovers should try at least once, even if you’ve already been on a European river cruise at a different time of the year.
Cruising is an opportunity to lap up Europe’s Christmas atmosphere while exploring places where tree ornaments, Christmas toys, gingerbread men, nutcrackers and Saint Nicholas folklore were invented.
Some have beds draped with duvets and Egyptian-combed cotton sheets. Think cashmere and wool blankets and a choice of pillows. Bathrooms come with fluffy white bath robes and luxurious toiletries.
Your stateroom is likely to have a flat-screen TV, individually controlled air-conditioning and all the modcons you’d expect of a luxury hotel. The food often reflects the region you’re cruising through and chefs prepare a daily changing menu using fresh ingredients sourced from local markets.
Germany’s Christmas Markets
In every city and town, there are shops that sell unique hand-made Christmas gifts like pottery or whimsical metal sculptures. And specialist Christmas shops with a fantastic choice of high quality hand-made Christmas decorations. You’ll find delightful carousels and music boxes decorated with reindeer, miniature Santas and figures from biblical times.
One of the highlights of the cruise is the visits to Germany’s oldest and most famous Christmas markets in Nuremberg, Rothenburg and Frankfurt.
There’s no better way to end a walking tour of Nuremberg’s historic centre, which is encircled by mighty defensive walls and guarded by an imposing castle, than to indulge in tasty treats of gingerbread, sausages, and sweet-and-spicy hot-mulled wine at the city’s Christkindlesmrkt.
Located in the medieval city’s main square, this market is also famous for toys and angels; the first angel was sold here over 400 years ago by a local doll maker.
The UNESCO World Heritage city of Bamberg offers the opportunity to admire elaborate nativity scenes displayed in its churches, museums and squares.
The Bavarian fairytale city is also the Franconian centre for beer where the smoky flavoured Rauchbier is a local specialty.
An excursion along Germany’s picturesque Romantic Road through dreamy vistas of fairytale castles, rolling hills, lakes and medieval towns ends in Rothenburg.
Wandering through Rothenburg’s Christmas market located among gothic churches and medieval gabled houses is a magical experience. And the Christmas season here offers an extra special vibe with events like puppet shows and outdoor concerts.
The Christmas delights continue at Wertheim, where for centuries glass blowers have produced Christmas tree ornaments, and Frankfurt, which is a festive fairyland of glittering stalls dwarfed by a giant Christmas tree. Frankfurt is also home to some of Germany’s best museums.
Cologne’s six Christmas markets, including the Cologne Cathedral Market, are sure to impress. The cathedral itself is a must-see, a grand masterpiece of gothic art that took over 600 years to build.
A Christmas cruise is especially festive, with Christmas decorations and a celebratory atmosphere. It’s a Christmas present worth considering for this year’s stocking.