Updated: Sep 6, 2021
Europe seems to shine a little brighter around the holidays. Dazzling lights, shimmery blankets of white snow, and the sweet smell of cinnamon and cloves lingering in the air are just a few of the reasons to visit Europe in the winter. The squares that were once filled with outdoor dining and colorful umbrellas in the summer are replaced by cheerful holiday markets with local artisans selling handmade goods. All over Europe, there are hundreds of holiday markets, both large and small, that will have your Christmas shopping done in no time!
If you are looking for the best way to shop in as many markets as possible while soaking up the holiday spirit, then a European Christmas market river cruise is just what you need! Whether you are sailing down the Rhine River or the Danube River, here are a few things to expect on a Christmas market river cruise.
When To Go
As you might expect, the Christmas markets take place right around the holiday season. Markets in many cities follow the Advent calendar with most markets open in mid to late November and will stay open until just before Christmas. Some will continue through to the New Year’s holiday. This is perfect for travelers who want to visit the markets but still spend the holiday at home with friends and family, although there are special cruises for the holidays themselves with some wonderful and unique inclusions.
Where Are The Most Famous Markets?
Some of the largest and most famous European Christmas Markets are located in cities that sit right along the banks of the Rhine and Danube Rivers. On the Rhine River, you will find excellent markets in Strasbourg. On the Danube River, you’ll stop in Nuremberg, which is home to what is arguably one of the most famous Christmas markets in Europe. However, the Vienna markets are favored by many as well.
How To Shop
Most of what you will see at each market is local and handmade, which means if you want something, you should get it! You truly won’t find it anywhere else in the world. It is also best to shop with cash. While some vendors will accept most major credit cards, there are still a few who only take cash.
What To Eat
Shopping can work up an appetite, and luckily food vendors make up a good portion of the Christmas Markets. You can sample the local cuisine, which will include everything from bratwurst, potato pancakes, and roasted almonds to potatoes covered in cheese, hot chocolate, and raclette. One of the must-try items at any market is Glühwein, or mulled wine. This warm, sweet concoction is the perfect pick-me-up on a chilly December day.
It's not too early to plan a special Christmas market river cruise with family or friends: cruises for 2022 and 2023 are already available to reserve with special benefits for booking early.