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21 October 2013

Top 5 Reasons to go on a European Christmas Market River Cruise

The Annaberg-Buchholz Weihnachtsmarkt or Christmas market. Photo: Archers Tours UK.
The Annaberg-Buchholz Weihnachtsmarkt or Christmas market. Photo: Archers Tours UK.

I am thrilled to welcome my guest Saloni, a travel writer who specializes in luxury travel for a number of online publications. When Saloni asked if she could contribute an article about the top five reasons to take a Christmas market river cruise, what do you think my answer was? Of course my response was an emphatic, jump-up-and-down-in-excitement, yes! She pretty much nailed two of my top five experiences in the world! Without further ado, here's why you should embark on a European Christmas market cruise and you can read more about my guest at the end of the article.

Warm and inviting, your river cruise ship is donning its holiday best! Viking River Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Warm and inviting, your river cruise ship is donning its holiday best! Viking River Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

If you’re thinking of travelling over the holidays, there’s few better ways to see a variety of sights than with a Christmas market river cruise. River cruising really lets you get into the heart of a destination, especially when you're travelling down the major rivers in Europe—the Seine, Danube, Rhine or Rhone. Take in a variety of sights, sounds and smells from authentic medieval style buildings twinkling in lights to the sweet delicious aromas of mulled wine and cinnamon that surround you at Europe's traditional Christmas markets. Then sit back and relax in luxury as your river cruise ship sails on into the evening to your next exciting destination. You'll find there's something for everyone. Christmas market cruises are gaining in popularity and therefore sell out quickly, so book early to get the best ones!

Below is a list of my top five reasons to go on a Christmas cruise.


1. Experience a winter wonderland of holiday cheer


Christmas market chalets are brimming with Christmas decorations. Photo: Archer Tours UK.
Christmas market chalets are brimming with Christmas decorations. Photo: Archer Tours UK.  

With a majority of Europe blanketed in snow from November onward, you can truly feel the Christmas spirit in a real life winter wonderland. There’s no better to way to embrace holiday cheer than in a picturesque old town square or against the backdrop of an impressive cathedral draped in Christmas decor. Find yourself in a magical world full of decorations and stunning color. Christmas markets provide an exceptional experience, not only allowing you to do some shopping for loved ones, but also dousing your senses in the sights and smells of Christmas. The scent of mulled wine and gingerbread men are a sure way to get you in the mood. With the markets full of magnificent chalets selling all sorts of gifts, from hand blown glass baubles to decorative ornaments, there’s plenty to see and buy.

2. Explore but also sit back and relax


Christmas market in Colmar, Alsace, France. Photo: WikiMedia.org.
Christmas market in Colmar, Alsace, France. Photo: WikiMedia.org.

River cruises are a great way to see a vast amount whilst also travelling in style and luxury. You have the opportunity to visit multiple Christmas markets and scenes whilst also having the time to sit back and relax. For example, Avalon’s Christmas in the heart of Germany cruise allows you to see a variety of Christmastime events from Nuremburg’s famous 'Christkindl' with origins dating back to 1628 to Prague’s stunning market in the Old Town Square with a magnificent Christmas tree surrounded by festively decorated wooden chalets. However, even with all of the sights, you still have time to sit back and reflect on the festive atmosphere and soak up Christmas spirit.

3. Experience the culture of another country at Christmas


Christmas magic in Vienna, Austria. Photo: WikiMedia.org.
Christmas magic in Vienna, Austria. Photo: WikiMedia.org.

One of the best things about going away on any holiday is the chance to embrace another country’s culture and history; this is particularly exciting at Christmas. With so much to do and see, there are plenty of festivities to enjoy, from nativity scenes to traditional foods. Experience an authentic mug of glühwein or a frothy hot chocolate to warm yourself as you walk through a magical winter wonderland.

4. Shopping


The Christmas market in Rüdesheim, Germany. Photo: Archers Tours UK.
The Christmas market in Rüdesheim, Germany. Photo: Archers Tours UK.

There are plenty of chances to buy presents and gifts for loved ones (and yourself!) at the various European Christmas markets. They’re full of various stalls and stands, decorated in traditional Christmas scenes with extravagant displays of their hand made goods, beaming with woodwork, decorations, dolls, candles and everything in between.

5. European Street Food


Pastries, chocolates, gingerbread and more! Photo: MachtNicht.
Pastries, chocolates, gingerbread and more! Photo: MachtNicht.

Alongside the various pop-up stands selling their goods and gifts, there are plenty of stalls filled with European street food. Whether you’re looking for roasted chestnuts or traditional German bratwurst, there is plenty of traditional festive food ready for you to enjoy. There is a jovial atmosphere surrounding the food stalls with friends socializing after work, drinking mulled wine and a variety of local beers. The entire market smells sweet with Gluhwein and roasted chestnuts.

Delicious traditional food is ready for you to enjoy! Photo: Serigrapher.
Delicious traditional food is ready for you to enjoy! Photo: Serigrapher.

In Europe, the weather starts to turn wintry from the beginning of November, meaning many Christmas markets begin in mid-November and remain open until early January. Whether you’re looking to do some Christmas shopping as you cruise along the Rhine or immerse yourself in holiday spirit in Prague, the extended Christmas travel window means that you have plenty of opportunity to find what you’re looking for.

' ... I knew in a moment, it must be Saint Nick!' Photo: Archers Tours UK.
" ... I knew in a moment, it must be Saint Nick!" Photo: Archers Tours UK.

Author bio: Saloni is a travel writer for a popular luxury travel blog as well as the digital marketing executive at Avalon Waterways, Archers Holidays and Cosmos Tours & Cruises.

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33 comments:

  1. I love Christmas markets too. Never fail to go to more than one when I'm in Germany for the holidays.

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    1. Hi there Marlys!! Germany is my first stop on my cruise! I cannot wait!! I wish I could spend a month touring all of them. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your experiences!!

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  2. A Christmas market cruise is one of my dream trips but I've been telling myself that it's going to have to wait until my kids are both finished school. I didn't know that some of the markets continued into January though - I could definitely make a New Year's cruise happen much sooner!

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    1. Hi there Lisa and thank you so much for stopping by. While 90% of the markets close on Christmas Eve, some remain open to January. Check out http://www.eurotravelogue.com/2012/11/Germany-Christmas-Market-Tour.html and http://www.germany-christmas-market.org.uk/ for more information.

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  3. I love the Christmas Markets in Germany and try to visit over the holidays. We also collect the mugs from each town after drinking the Gluhwein.

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    1. Hi there Michele! Love how you collect mugs from each of the markets. Actually, you're the second person that has told me that in the last few days! Once I get there, I will have to see these mugs, and taste from them too! ; ) Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. Saloni's post has me craving to get back to Europe for the Christmas markets this year. Some of my favorite travel experiences have been at the markets. The photo of Vienna really does look magical and brings back some great memories of being there last year.

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    1. Hi there Cathy!! I remember when you were there last year!! I can't wait until my cruise in ealy December ... Finally I will see and experience them myself!! thx so much for stopping by and sharing your stories!!!

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  5. Jeff, you're really working hard to get me thinking about Christmas!
    I'd never think of taking a Christmas river cruise, but then again, why not? It's got all the right ingredients - it's romantic, it's magical, it's got superb food and drink, and fabulous views. I probably wouldn't want it to be over.

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    1. That is precisely my mission my dear friend. ; ) I couldn't agree with you more ... plus you only unpack once and still see many sights of the world! I too fear that I am not going to want it to end. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!!

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    2. I love the decoration of whole market it looks like a light festival season. I am sure people are very excited to enjoy and doing some fun activities on cruise also. My wife always wish to travel through cruise only when if they provide some discount offers for couples but money doesn't matter for me in front of enjoyment and comfort. Thanks share this wonderful picture gallery here!!

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    3. Hi there my friend and thank you so much for your kind words! I sure hope you and your wife make the journey soon!

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    1. Thank you Charu!! Really appreciate you stopping by and your compliment!

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  7. These photos bring me already totally into the Christmas spirit. I love Christmas markets, a Christmas Market cruise sounds like a great idea.

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    1. Hi there Freya and thank you so much for stopping by. I too am in the Christmas spirit ... in just six weeks, I embark on my first journey to the markets with Viking Cruises! I can't wait!

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  8. I have always wanted to visit Europe's Christmas markets but a cruise makes it even more appealing. I may come back home with an extra suitcase and a bit heavier from all the food but I know will be worth it. These pictures make me want to start decorating for the holidays.

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    1. Hi there Mary and thank you so much for stopping by!! I too plan to bring a spare suitcase for all the extras as well!! I just love Christmas!!

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  9. I can't wait for the Christmas markets. All the food is delicious, and the drink even better!

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    1. HI there Simon and thanks so much for visiting! I too can't wait, this year will mark my first visit to the markets, a dream come true finally!!

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  10. Wow, that doesn't even look like a boat - especially a river boat! I'll have to share these tips with my mom - her and my Dad have always wanted to visit Europe during Christmas! They had mentioned that cities in Germany put on big festivals where the shops open & offer freebies. Definitely on my bucket list!

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    1. Hi there Chelsea and thank you for ALL of your comments!! Yes, you should tell your parents all about European river cruising! It's a great way to experience Europe without having to keep packing and unpacking as you move from city to city!

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  11. Seriously good timing as we are looking to see our first 'white' christmas next year, as I am sure many people would love to experience a hot,beach Australian christmas! This information is great and the photos magical. I want our whole family to go and this will help. Really nice

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    1. HI there Paula and thank you so much for stopping by and for your kind words! Having lived in Florida for last 17 years, I am really looking forward to a white Christmas in Europe this year. I set sail with Viking River on DEC 8 for a Christmas Market cruise and can't wait! Thank you again.

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  12. I have to agree, European river cruising is a must for the Xmas markets, not only so you get to to have maximum time as your moored in, no lengthy transfers on coaches, you get to see more than one and are transported in luxury.
    got to be thw way to go in my eyes.

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    1. Hi there Nadine and thank you so much for stopping by! Love your comment and will be living it soon enough. Be sure to stop back for all the updates from the cruise.

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  13. We traveled on the River Rhine for a Christmas cruise last year - visiting Dusseldorf and Cologne to name a view cities.
    The sights were breathtaking both in the city and whilst traversing the river - and the food on the ship was even better!

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by my friend! Rhine River is next for me! I really need to see all of Germany!!

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    2. We're already looking to go again this year - Maybe explore the other side of Germany this time.

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    3. Outstanding my friend. Be sure to stop back and let me know how it goes!! I want to live and travel vicariously!!

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  14. Definitely hit the nail on the head with number 5 for me!! LOVE Christmas market food!! The bratwursts, the sweets, the mulled wine...SO GOOD! Can't wait now :D

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    1. Dana, I am with you 100%!! I LOVED the food and wine and all that tasty morsels served up on those frigid evenings! Warmed me bones and filled me spirits with Christmas cheer! Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

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Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!