EXPLORING EUROPE’S CHRISTMAS MARKETS
On a river cruise time slows down and the scenery envelops you rather than rushes by. River vessels provide a unique way of seeing a country’s interior, land is always in sight on a river cruise; the scenery is at eye level and passengers simply step on land once the boat is docked.
The rise in river cruises on the Rhine timed to visit fabled Christmas markets in Europe during Advent has been phenomenal in recent years. Little wonder as you can sail to legendary Strasbourg, considered the ‘Capital of Christmas’ and home to one of the oldest Christmas markets arrayed in front of the magnificent Cathedral. The River Main courses through Nuremberg, a stunning medieval town which has over 200 rustic stalls selling traditional decorations and festive gifts. A cruise along the Danube takes guests through the picturesque Wachau Valley to Vienna; where school choirs spread their festive cheer with atmospheric Advent concerts in local churches as well as the mighty St Stephen’s Cathedral.
Many of our Yuletide traditions can be traced back to Christkindlmarkts which sprang up in German-speaking towns during the Middle Ages. With the largest tree in Rhineland, Cologne is the mother-lode of Christmas markets. The city’s imposing gothic cathedral provides an impressive backdrop for the tastefully-decorated stalls draped with a huge canopy of sparkling lights. The Alter Markt has a Santa’s Grotto; while the market in Rudolfsplatz has a fairytale theme. These festive havens are the perfect place to sip a glass of warming Glühwein, sample traditional Bratwurst sausages or Weihnachtsstollen - made with candied and dried fruit, nuts and marzipan; before stocking up on unusual Christmas gifts and novel decorations. For the ultimate cool Yule, we recommend APT; Emerald Cruises; Riviera Travel; TUI River Cruises and Viking River Cruises.