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.
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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.
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Feature image: Avalon Waterways