FeatureImage.TheBestChristmasMarketRiverCruises

Christmas market river cruises in Europe

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

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

Top Christmas market river cruise itineraries 2018

1. Enchanting Christmas on the Danube via CruiseAway
Get ready to spend a short but luxurious trip down the Danube with sweeping views of the countryside… from the ship’s Finnish sauna.

We’re not joking. With the weather set to winter temperatures, feel free to relax and stay warm in its onboard sauna as the captain navigates you along the river toward your next Christmas market rest stop. (Image: A-Rosa)

  • Cruise line: A-Rosa
  • Cruise length: 4 nights
  • Cities visited: Passau, Durnstein, Vienna, Melk

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2. Christmas on the Danube via CruiseAway
You'll be having a merry Christmas when you sail across Austria and Slovakia for 6 days.

Brace yourself with the variety of exotic cuisine onboard and a special treat to have that merry Christmas.

  • Cruise line: A-ROSA Cruises
  • Cruise length: 5 nights
  • Cities visited: Engelhartszell, Vienna, Bratislava

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3. Christmas on the Seine Paris via CruiseAway
Have a wonderful Christmas with the festivities of the holidays in Paris and neighboring towns.

Don’t blink or you might miss what’s around the bend on this exciting river cruise.

  • Cruise line: A-ROSA Cruises
  • Cruise length: 4 nights
  • Cities visited: Paris, Rouen, Vernon

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4. Festive Christmas Cheer via CruiseAway
Give way to Germany as a country that’s no stranger to Christmas markets.

Offers a multi-generational, family-friendly program on select sailings that let you explore, celebrate and wander around the Christmas markets of Germany.

  • Cruise line: A-ROSA Cruises
  • Cruise length: 4 nights
  • Cities visited: Rüdesheim, Mainz, Frankfurt

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5. Christmas Markets on the Danube via CruiseAway
Board the ship as it sails Austria for an enchanting experience of Christmas.

Witness the beauty, spirit of holiday and discover the historic Christmas Markets in Austria plus a special treat for you onboard.

  • Cruise line: A-ROSA Cruises
  • Cruise length: 4 nights
  • Cities visited: Vienna, Linz

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6. A Merry Little Christmas cruise via U by Uniworld
Get a taste of the brightest Christmas markets in Europe in a 5-day cruise package.

  • Cruise line: The A
  • Cruise length: 5 days
  • Cities visited: Budapest, Vienna, Bratislava

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7. Dashing Through Danube via U by Uniworld
Feel the spirit of Christmas as you cruise down Danube's Christmas market.

  • Cruise line: The A
  • Cruise length: 8 days
  • Cities visited: Budapest, Vienna

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8. A Merry Little Christmas: Budapest to Budapest via Flight Centre
Cosy up for Christmas onboard a boutique cruise ship as you float along the Danube from Budapest to Bratislava, then across to Vienna before returning to Budapest.

Enjoy the sights and sounds of the cities as well as the luxury facilities onboard, including a restaurant, bars, nightclub, gym, yoga studio and sun deck.

  • Cruise length: Five days
  • Countries visited: Hungary, Slovakia, Austria
  • Cities visited: Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna

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9. Rhine Getaway - Amsterdam to Basel via Flight Centre
Relax and unwind as you journey down the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel, Switzerland. You’ll see Holland’s famous windmills and waterworks, the many castles along the river, the Black Forest, quaint villages and impressive cities.

  • Cruise length: Eight days
  • Countries visited: Holland, Germany, France, Switzerland
  • Cities visited: Amsterdam, Kinderdijk, Cologne, Koblenz, Rudesheim, Heidelberg, Strasbourg, Breisach, Basel

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10. Danube Waltz - Budapest to Passau via Flight Centre
Explore the imperial and Art Nouveau delights of Budapest, the baroque and Gothic streets of Bratislava, musical Vienna, quaint Dürnstein and ancient, Italianate Passau.

You’ll also enjoy a full-day excursion to Salzburg. All this with the comfort and convenience of a luxury cruise ship.

  • Cruise length: Eight days
  • Countries visited: Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia
  • Cities visited: Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna, Krems, Linz, Passau, Salzburg

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11. Festive Danube Discovery via Cruiseaway
Relax and enjoy the ride as you float along the Danube from Vienna to Nuremberg before disembarking for Prague, where you will spend two nights exploring this ancient, romantic city.

Get a taste for the land as it passes you by with regional wines and bee

  • Cruise length: Nine days
  • Countries visited: Austria, Germany, Czech Republic
  • Cities visited: Vienna, Melk, Grein, Passau, Regensburg, Nuremberg, Prague

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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 own speciality, 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.


Top deals on Christmas market cruises and other seasonal sailings

Fred. Olsen Fred. Olsen

Up to 30% off Christmas and New Year's cruises

Valid for travel from November - December 2018. Destinations include South Pacific, Caribbean and Australia. T&Cs apply.

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Groupon Groupon

11-day European Christmas market cruise from $2,298

Valid for cruise on 10 December 2019. Includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and more. T&Cs apply.

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Feature image: Avalon Waterways

Stephanie Yip

Stephanie is the travel editor at finder.com.au. On top of being an avid traveller, she's an all-round bargain hunter. If there's a deal on hotels or a sale on flights, she'll know about it. And she'll let you know about it, too. Though probably not before she buys her own ticket.

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