The infamous European Christmas markets are right on our doorstep, and yet so many Brits are yet to see them. With cities like Cologne, Vienna, Strasbourg, and Copenhagen all offering some of the best options around, it can be difficult to decide just where to visit when you do finally make the decision to go! One way to remedy this, however, is to opt for a river cruise in December. This way it’s possible to see multiple destinations on one trip.
Which Christmas markets can I see?
Europe is not short of waterways by any means, and as such there are a number of strategically-positioned, important cities that can be accessed on a river cruise. In December, The Rhine, The Danube, The Rhone, and The Seine are just some of the most popular rivers that can transport you to some incredible winter wonderlands. The Rudesheim market, in The Rhine valley boasts over 100 stalls with gifts and treats from all over the world, Budapest on The Danube offers a traditional Hungarian feel, and of course in Paris on The Seine visitors will find delicious crepes, tartiflette, and all manner of keepsakes. These are just a handful of the top Christmas markets you could see.
Can I bring my children?
While most river cruise lines are designed for adults, in general children are also welcome onboard. Amawaterways have taken steps to make their ships more family-friendly, by introducing adjoining staterooms on both AmaViola and AmaStella. Tauck River Cruises and Uniworld River Cruises are also slightly more geared towards children than some other river cruise lines, offering excursions like scavenger hunts and family bike rides. Selected Uniworld ships also offer a games room for kids and activities like craft workshops and cookery lessons which can be especially fun at Christmas. It is worth keeping in mind however, that some Christmas market locations can get very busy, and can involve a considerable amount of walking, so it’s important to consider this if bringing children.
What’s it like for solo travellers?
River cruising can be a fantastic option for solo travellers, owing to the extremely relaxed and sociable atmosphere onboard. Generally, river cruise ships have multiple public lounges where entertainment such as live music and quizzes will take place. This makes it all the more easy to meet fellow cruisers and converse with new friends. Excursions on these cruises are also perfect for solo travellers. Take part in an organised group tour of a new city and, of course, its Christmas markets. River cruise lines like Scenic River Cruises and Avalon Waterways often do great deals for solo travellers too.
Are there other Christmassy things to do?
While river cruises in December do have a real focus on European Christmas markets, there are other festive things to do and see in these beautiful cities. When you’ve had your fill of gluwhein and pretty trinket stalls, take a look around and you will find all sorts of other activities. Why not show off your skills on the ice rink on the Champs-Elysees, sip on a hot chocolate while becoming enchanted by the twinkling lights and decorations in Vienna, or admire the magnificence of German Christmas trees – or Tannenbaum – in Cologne.
River cruises in December can be anything from a few days to a few weeks, depending on your preference and time limitations. Considering this, and the wide selection of destinations, dates, and types of cruise, it is usually possible to find a European Christmas market cruise to suit everyone.