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Christmas market river cruises in Europe

Make that white Christmas an exceptional one with a Christmas market river cruise.

Updated

The traditional Christmas Market on the historic Market Square of Goslar, Germany at dusk.

Imagine sailing down the Danube. There are riverside castles and silent townships around every bend and then, you spy a bridge. Soon you see bright lights and a city overflowing with Christmas cheer. You've arrived at your destination and within it, some of the most traditional Christmas markets on the continent.

It’s all part of the Christmas market river cruise experience and if it’s an enchanting Christmas you’re after, these are the Christmas market river cruises for you.

Top companies with Christmas market river cruises

  • Tauck
  • Scenic
  • A-Rosa
  • Croisi Europe

Top Christmas market river cruise itineraries 2020

christmas market river cruises

1. Festive Season in the Heart of Germany (Eastbound)

Take a festive journey through the heart of Germany, sampling the best of the Christmas markets as you go.

Step off the boat and enjoy a tour around towns steeped in rich history before warming up with a mug of mulled wine and a hearty bratwurst.

  • Cruise line: Avalon Waterways.
  • Cruise length: Six days.
  • Cities visited: Mainz, Wurzburg, Bamberg, Nuremberg.
Book now

christmas market river cruises

2. Rhine Christmas Markets

Start your cruise with a glass of bubbly in Amsterdam, before heading down the Rhine to discover the ancient cobbled lanes of Koblenz, a concert in the Baroque Palace in Heidelberg and the Roman spa baths of Baden-Baden.

Also included in the package is a guided tour around Strasbourg to explore one of Europe's largest Christmas markets.

  • Cruise line: Scenic Luxury Cruises.
  • Cruise length: Eight days.
  • Cities visited: Amsterdam, Cologne, Koblenz, Heidelberg, Baden-Baden, Strasbourg, Basel.
Book now

christmas market river cruises

3. Festive Season on the Romantic Rhine

Delight in a festive cruise through central Europe along the picturesque Rhine before spending a dreamy four days in London and Paris.

This 12-day cruise gives you ample time to soak up the best of Europe's Christmas spirit.

  • Cruise line: Avalon Waterways.
  • Cruise length: 12 days.
  • Cities visited: Basel, Breisach, Strasbourg, Heidelberg, Colmar, Mainz, Rudesheim, Cologne, Amsterdam, London, Paris.
Book now

christmas market river cruises

4. Christmas Wonderland

Experience a whirlwind tour from Paris to Budapest, stopping off at 15 European destinations along the way.

Join in the season's festivities at Cologne's Christmas markets, learn the art of gingerbread making in the Bavarian city of Nuremberg or watch Vienna's central square come to life at night with millions of sparkling Christmas lights.

  • Cruise line: Scenic Luxury Cruises.
  • Cruise length: 18 days.
  • Cities visited: Amsterdam, Cologne, Rudesheim, Miltenberg, Wurzburg, Bamberg, Nuremberg, Regensburg, Linz, Salzburg, Melk. Durnstein, Vienna, Budapest.
Book now

christmas market river cruises

5. Premium Rhine Christmas South

Make unforgettable memories this Christmas on a premium cruise down the Rhine.

Spend your days exploring the 2,000-year-old town of Mainz, French Strasbourg and Koblenz's Christmas market before retiring to your spacious cabin onboard a luxury cruise liner.

  • Cruise line: A-ROSA Cruises
  • Cruise length: Five days.
  • Cities visited: Cologne, Mainz, Strasbourg, Koblenz.
Book now

christmas market river cruises

6. Parisian Royal Holidays - Paris to Paris

See in the festive period in luxury aboard this lavish cruise liner, complete with spacious private balconies, a separate living room area and opulent marble bathroom.

Revel in Paris' Christmas festivities before a romantic cruise down the River Seine, visiting four exclusive chateaux and numerous historic hotspots on your way.

  • Cruise line: S.S. Joie De Vivre
  • Cruise length: 8 days
  • Cities visited: Paris, Versaille, Rouen, Vernon, La Roche Guyon, Mantes-la-Jolie.
Book now

christmas market river cruises

7. European Holiday Markets - From Nuremberg to Vienna

If you're in need of a little Christmas cheer, look no further than this festive cruise which highlights the best of German and Austrian Christmas traditions.

Wander around Germany's largest Christmas market in Nuremberg, discover the Old Town of Regensburg and sample the famous Linzer torte that has been a staple in Linz since 1929.

  • Cruise line:S. S. Beatrice.
  • Cruise length: 8 days
  • Cities visited: Nuremberg, Roth, Regensburg, Deggendorf, Theresienthal, Passau, Linz, Dumstein, Vienna.
Book now

christmas market river cruises

8. Rhine Holiday Markets - From Basel to Cologne

Treat yourself to a no-hassle getaway with this all-inclusive luxury cruise along the Rhine.

Foodies will love this cruise as it takes you on a culinary journey through the Swiss and German Christmas markets, sampling homemade gingerbread, bratwurst sausage and plenty of mulled wine along the way.

  • Cruise line: S.S. Antionette.
  • Cruise length: Eight days.
  • Cities visited: Basel, Strasbourg, Kehl, Heidelberg, Manheim, Mainz, Rudensheim, Koblenz, Cologne.
Book now

christmas market river cruises

9. Classic Christmas Markets - From Frankfurt to Nuremberg

Embrace the holiday spirit on board this luxury cruise liner and enjoy the celebrations at Germany's traditional Christmas markets.

Extend your trip with a four-day stopover in Prague, visiting the Old Town and Prague Castle with an English speaking tour guide.

  • Cruise line: River Queen.
  • Cruise length: Eight days.
  • Cities visited: Frankfurt, Wertheim, Wurzburg, Kitzingen, Rothenburg, Bamburg, Nuremburg.
Book now

christmas market river cruises

10. Grand Christmas and New Years Eve Cruise - From Nuremberg to Budapest

Spend the whole of the festive period on board this luxury cruise liner as it sails through Germany, Austria and Hungary.

Ring in the new year a little differently this year at a private dinner and dance in a grand Viennese Palace.

  • Cruise line: S.S. Beatrice.
  • Cruise length: 13 days.
  • Cities visited: Nuremberg, Regensburg, Theresential, Deggendorf, Passau, Linz, Saltzburg, Durnstein, Vienna, Budapest.
Book now

christmas market river cruises

11. Enchanting Christmas and New Year’s Cruise - From Passau to Budapest

Make it a Christmas to remember with this luxury cruise through some of Europe's oldest and grandest cities.

Enjoy the Christmas and New Years festivities in four different countries as you cruise down the Danube, stopping to celebrate Christmas Eve in Passau and New Year's Eve in Budapest.

  • Cruise line: S.S. Maria Theresa.
  • Cruise length: 11 days.
  • Cities visited: Munich, Passau, Linz, Saltzburg, Oberndorf, Grein, Melk, Durnstein, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest.
Book now

Top cities to visit during Christmas market river cruises

Budapest. The two main Christmas markets in Budapest are in Vorosmarty Square and beside the Basilica, and attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Hungarian delicacies and unique handicrafts are must-sees.

Vienna. Christmas markets fill almost every square in central Vienna. Each has its specialty, from the huge Rathausplatz market with its ice rink, park paths and Children’s World to the traditional handicrafts and choirs of the Christmas Village on Maria-Theresien-Platz.

Nuremberg. Germany's most famous Christmas market, the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt, dates back at least as far as 1628. The market fills the main market square with 180 stalls selling delicious food, hot mulled wine, traditional, regional crafts and unique gifts.

Mainz. The market in Mainz’s historic town square is a spectacle of lights, food, merriment and music, not to mention the eleven-metre high Christmas Pyramid and the life-sized, hand-carved crib figurines standing in front of the thousand-year-old St. Martin’s Cathedral.

Popular Christmas market river cruises routes

The Rhine. The Rhine stretches all the way from the Swiss Alps to the Netherlands, where it flows into the North Sea. You’ll pass cities including Strasbourg, Basel and Cologne, as well as countless villages and castles, Rhine Gorge and endless stunning views.

The Danube: Austria and Germany. From the Danube’s beginnings in Germany's Black Forest all the way to Vienna in Austria, history flows as deep as the river. Travel through Bavaria and pass the remnants of the Habsburg Empire while sampling regional cuisine and beers.

The Danube: Hungary, Slovakia and Austria. This section of the Danube flows from Eastern Europe to Western Europe, and the transition is a fascinating one. From beautiful Budapest to artistic Vienna, you will see a huge variety of landscapes, cultures, architecture and historical sites.

Explore Danube and Rhine river cruises here.


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Feature image: Avalon Waterways

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