For us at Travel with Grace and Style a River Cruise Advisor, Christmas remains our favorite time of the year for traveling in Europe. Offering an equal mix of Old World charm and holiday cheer, eight days of holiday markets on the Rhine river, traveling throughout France and Germany, will keep the spirits merry. Covering the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Switzerland, the itinerary offers fairytale castles and historic vineyards alongside Christmas markets.
Christmas river cruising was once offered along just a few European rivers; today, almost all the leading river cruising lines offer trips spanning the Danube, Main, Rhine, and beyond. Over the last 20 years, the oldest European holiday markets have expanded greatly throughout Europe, and have in recent years become increasingly popular with river cruise lines, who generally offer festive cruises on the Danube, Main, and Rhine rivers. While the oldest Christmas markets in Europe might look like regular sailings on the Danube and Rhine, guests say that it has a completely different feel, considering they combine traditional day tours with visits to the Christmas markets at night, in late afternoon.
Usually held outside, the Christmas markets can offer incredible varieties of crafts and native products, and -- maybe best of all -- tasty, locally-made Christmas specialties. Of course, being able to experience some of the biggest cities in Europe in their snowy glory is yet another reason to embark on a river cruise around Christmas markets, though there is certainly no guarantee you will get any snow. Taking a river cruise during the holidays means that you will experience time-honored traditions, such as European Christmas markets
River cruises that sail along the Danube, Rhine, and Elbe rivers around the holidays bring you directly to several of the most iconic Christmas markets in the world. Holiday Market River Cruises usually start sailing at the end of November, with trips running through Thanksgiving, and through Christmas and New Years. Christmas and New Years Eve cruises are still very popular, often selling out far in advance.
One of the best ways to see multiple festive markets on one trip is on a cruise. If you want to get the full holiday market experience at every port of call, be sure that your sailing falls within a four-Sunday period leading up to Christmas (or within one week of it). While festive river cruises are offered up to Jan. 1, European ones usually open on Nov. 25 and remain open until Dec. 23 or 24. As a result, as well as the limited schedule time for holiday cruises, river cruises are filled quickly.
Now Winter Cruises are becoming very popular because river cruisers want to experience many European Christmas markets, most of which are located close to one of Europe's main rivers or tributaries. Most major luxury river cruise companies, Viking, AmaWaterways, Emerald Waterways, and Uniworld, bring curious visitors to the heart of many European Christmas markets, in order to experience the excitement of the arrival of Christmas with an experience in a European Christmas Market. U.S.-based river cruise company American Queen Steamboat Company has worked with port cities of Nottoway, Louisiana, and Greenville, Mississippi, in developing holiday markets throughout the Southern United States, where passengers can enjoy traditional levee-side musical performances and traditional Cajun/Creole holiday traditions.
You can skate at the Christmas World market in the city hall, watch the folks over glasses of mulligan gluhwein at the foot of St. Stephens Cathedral, or peruse beautiful, handmade items in a booth outside the Belvedere Palace. Save some space for fantastic excursions, including a guided tour of the Melk baroque abbey, the opportunity to explore the Thurn und Taxis palace and its private Christmas market in Regensburg, and a festive dinner and performance by the children's choir in Vienna's Pallavicini Palais. While on the Rhine, holiday experiences aboard the ship include sipping gluhwein (German mull wine), tree-trimming parties, and a lesson in the Strasbourg tradition of storytelling.
Held annually from late November to Dec. 31, Strasbourg's markets provide classic Christmas charm, featuring skating, carol singing and a shimmering, 100-foot-tall Christmas tree. The large Christmas tree is located at Place Kleber Market, which is widely considered the symbol of Strasbourg during the Christmas season. The eye is delighted by dazzling decorations and lights, and by the sounds of the carolers singing and church bells filling the air.
Start getting into the Christmas spirit as you join crew members and your fellow passengers to decorate a riverboat Christmas tree. If you are sailing on the Elbe in early December, you may want to time your trip so that you are there on St. Nicholas Day, which is celebrated almost two weeks before Christmas, on Dec. 5, when the man himself walks through town, accompanied by angels and a devil. If you are sailing on Christmas Eve, expect to find some holiday cookies in your stateroom.
For cultural nerds, there is no better time to really embrace the local's culture than during the holidays. Immerse yourself in Europe's winter wonderland. Whether it is the Danube, Rhine, or the Canals of History, or a land-based exclusive experience, you are going to have the time of your life with the best river cruise Christmas tour for you -- holiday-lovers, family-friendly holidaymakers, or experienced travelers will all enjoy a river cruise for a European Christmas experience.
Everyone should experience a European Christmas River Cruise once. Has it been on your bucket list? Reach out and we would love to help you plan your own European Christmas Experience River Cruising. So you too can sip Gluhwine gliding past castles as you soak up the holiday season on your own luxury river cruise.
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Dating back to 1400s Germany, Christmas markets are a popular festive tradition that brings holiday cheer and some of the worlds most unique shopping experiences to those who visit the markets in this jolly season. There are many famous Christmas markets, which open on Mondays prior to the First Advent (the Advent Season is the 4 Sundays leading up to Christmas).
My own initial Christmas Markets River Cruise Plan was a seven-night journey along the Rhine from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Basel, Switzerland, traveling with AmaWaterways.
Onboard an Amawaterways Rhine River Cruise you will experience river cruising in luxury in one Amawaterways beautiful riverboats. Make sure to secure the French Balcony cabin if you want to wake up to the river going by each day. Your Experience on a European River cruise will take you through various towns and cities along the way. Your European River Cruise experience will include cities such as Koblenz, Rudesheim, Mainz, and Strasbourg, for a look at the many famous Christmas markets you will stop at as you visit these iconic Christmas destinations.
Upon arrival, you are free to go out and enjoy some of the charming Christmas lights and decorations and explore some of the Christmas markets that are set up around Cologne. Expect wood toys, arts and crafts, colorful Christmas decorations, and cheerful Christmas music while exploring the markets.
There are handmade toys, gorgeous Christmas decorations, and seasonal gifts. Tiny Christmas villages are scattered throughout the town, with traders retreating into small booths, offering hand-made toys, decorations, and dishes commemorating the season
The Cologne Christmas market is made up of six markets in one and the best part the four largest are located right next to the UNESCO World Heritage Cologne Cathedral. If you get a chance try and book a tour that will take you to the top of the Cathedral. You will be able to see the city with an amazing vantage point.
Christmas comes to life in German cities like Cologne almost in a magical way. Whether seeking out Christmas spirit in Germany, or beneath the stars in Switzerland, revelry is unavoidable. While no snow is guaranteed, however, you can expect to experience a setting right out of a Christmas card, complete with traditional hand-made decorations that are wonderfully lit up at night
After your Cologne stop your next journey will be a scenic cruise along the breathtaking Rhine George.
This part of your Rhine River cruise will have you sailing along the Rhine river at its most popular and photographed section, the Rhine Gorge. It is truly stunning as you glide past castles and listen to the stories and history of the castles and fortresses. This is know as Castle Day!
Your afternoon stop is the wine town of Rudesheirm and delightful village known and famous for it’s Riesling, taverns and Siegfried’s Musical Cabinet museum.
The next stop on your journey is Heidelberg or Speyer and we have done both. I don’t know which I enjoy more. On our last trip though we decide don Speyer as it is one of Germany’s oldest cities founded by the Romans. It is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Jewish courtyard dating back to 1104 and you can still experience one of the earliest documented Mikvah’s in Europe. You can actually walk down into the subterranean bath house whose components have been nearly unmodified for centuries.
Next stop one of my favorites Strasbourg. The entire town center has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Filled with rich history, incredible cuisine and it’s unique Alsatian atmosphere The cities main site the Cathedral Notre Dame de Strasbourg where you will find its famous astronomical clock. The
The Christmas Market in Strasbourg “Christkindelmarik whose origin dates back to 1570 and is one of the oldest France.
Then on to Riquewihr France or Freiburg Germany. For this we chose Riquewihr and I could not have been happier. It is listed as officially one of the beautiful villages in France and just northwest of Colmar and it is in the heart of the Alsace. It is like stepping back in time to a world that no longer exist. Thankfully it mostly escaped WW11. It is delightful just to stroll through the town.
Our Christmas Market River Cruise final stop is Basel Switzerland. It is here we are scheduled to depart home. We had some time to explore the city of Basel, and took advantage to fill in Barfusserplatz and Munsterplatz Christmas markets, known to be Switzerland’s largest. Just one last little bit of European Christmas Markets before we caught our train to Zurich.
We really enjoyed this itinerary, and I can’t wait to experience it again. Maybe next year.
If this itinerary interest you we could even make a cruise a part of an extended vacation.... Touring some parts of Germany before you start the cruise in Amsterdam... Go skiing in Switzerland when your cruise is done. If you can budget time and money, book back-to-back River Cruises.
We opted for a pre-cruise stay in Paris on one of our European River Cruises on the Rhine. We then simply took the train to Amsterdam to catch our River Cruise.
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Nestled deep within the south region of Puglia, Italy, is the tiny city of Alberobello. It truly gives a feeling of the location in the south of Puglia, Italy, with its authentic, small-town feel, yet it is also ancient and gorgeous. Alberobello best known for it's Truli's the white washed conical style buildings that are scattered throughout the village. This is Puglia Southern Italy's lesser traveled region that many tourist never see or visit. This is Puglia Southern Italy's Authentic Small Towns.
Puglia also has about 500 miles of breathtaking coastline, lapped by both the Ionian and Adriatic Seas; plenty of seafood, as well as endless groves of olive trees and rock-walled orchards (Puglia is Italy's breadbasket, producing more olive oil, wine, and durum wheat than any other region).
Perfectly situated in the Mediterranean, with more than 500 miles of coastline, and the longest region of Italy's mainland, Puglia is squeezed between the Adriatic and Ionian Seas.
The heel of Italy's shoe, Puglia is known for its hilltop towns with white walls, its long, hot summers, its amazing beaches, and it is considered to be one of Europe's best summer destinations for travelers.
One popular city is located at the heel of Italy's boot. Its the small city of Polignano a Mare and it is nestled along the Adriatic coast, one of Italy's prettiest little towns. Built into the cliffs, Polignano a Mare is one of the most scenic towns on the coast, and below Polignano a Mare is a beautiful sandy beach.
Beyond the Baroque town of Lecce is the Salento peninsula, known for its good beaches and scenic towns.
The setting alone is enough to make Ostuni one of the most amazing cities of Southern Italy. The parade of hillforts, castles, and huge cathedrals; the amazing people, so welcoming, charming, and helpful; and, of course, the amazing cuisine (some have gone as far as saying that Puglia has Italy's best food, which is an impressive claim in a country that is internationally celebrated for its cooking).
Italy's eastern coastline has plenty of resort towns, but also many cool places to see and hidden gems. While I only shared some of the prettiest towns in Italy's Southern Region of Puglia, there are many more towns that you should check out that we have yet to visit, but are hoping to.
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You are finally ready to take that vacation. You have decided you want to travel to Jamaica and you want to experience an All Inclusive Vacation where everything is taken care of for you. You have even narrowed it down to Sandals Resorts. You have read the updates and find Jamaica is home to an endless supply of great all-inclusive resorts. The mix of safety, amenities, and entertainment makes the all-inclusive experience a uniquely efficient way to enjoy Jamaica.. There are many to choose from, but we are starting with
Sandals Resorts first. Let’s review some of Jamaica's best all inclusive resorts for romance, adventure, and relaxation.
There are six luxurious Sandals Resorts waiting for a romance in Jamaica, each offering their own specialties for you
to choose from.
Sandals Ochi is the best resort if you are looking for scale but if you use Sandals pay at one and play at the other Sandals Royal Caribbean and Sandals Montego Bay become very big too. If you want to stay near the city, then Sandals Montego Bay Jamaica resort is where you should go. This Sandals property is located in Jamaica, along the gorgeous exclusive White Sand Beach, is also an ideal choice for honeymooners. They have a waterside chapel to hold your on-site wedding and a newly renovated non-denominational on site chapel. They have 12 restaurants that are all included with your package price, so you are never short on food options!. Of course, private transfers are included for guest occupying club elite and butler categories.
Nearby Sandals Royal Caribbean is slightly farther away from the airport, so the noise of jets is not as bad, but you are still easily within range (a few minutes) of Sandals Montego Bay and the airport there. It’s here you will discover Jamaica’s only resort with a Private offshore Island all it’s own and it’s romantic authentic outdoor Thai Restaurant. Sandals Royal Caribbean is also home to Incredible Over the Water Private Butler Villas with Infinity Pools. Yes, Maldives and Tahiti style without having to travel hours to get to.
Sandals Montego Bay, Sandals first ever all-inclusive resort, now has even more ways for you to indulge in luxury, all the while reveling in a romantic, fun-filled Jamaican coastal vibe. Travelers who crave the amenities that come with an all-inclusive Sandals property are probably going to have an easy time here Horseback riding and other adventure tours like this are also available at Montego Bay, while snorkeling trips and tours are easy to book and very enjoyable.
These Jamaican resorts are located along some of the best beaches and have a lot of water sports and activities. If you are in more of a mood for a day of relaxing shopping, you can check out the nearby Montego Bay Craft Market for some souvenirs to remember your Jamaican adventures by.
Something quieter Sandals Negril does offer a quieter vibe and better beaches. Being on the famous Negril 7-mile white sand beach. The Millionaire Luxurious One -bedroom suite with a private plunge pool cannot be ignored.
Sandals Negril is located on Negril’s famous Seven Mile beach on the Northwest Coast of Jamaica. Approximately hour and 15 minutes from Sangster International Airport, Montego Bay.Sandals Negril is the ultimate serenely secluded property on the most amazing beach Jamaica has. The Aquamarine calm Caribbean Sea is a high point of avid Scuba and Snorkel fans.
For a stay around Ochi the Sandals Royal Plantation Split Stay, you can stay at any one of Sandals in the area and you will get the chance to experience all four resorts, including all their restaurants and amenities.
Sandals Ochi is situated on over 100 acres of lush hillside gardens, and it overlooks the Caribbean Sea. With its 519 villas, 105 pools, and 22 whirlpools it is definitely one of the largest of Jamaica’s Sandals resorts. From complimentary green fees to two luxurious spas, and the Caribbean’s largest rock-climbing wall there is something for everyone.
Sandals Royal Plantation is the All Suite, All Butler, All Oceanview and Sandals Boutique property in Jamaica. Boasting two private beaches and luxurious like Afternoon Tea on the Terrace. All suites are serviced by Butlers who are trained by The Guild of Professional English Butlers. Full exchange privilege's make it the best resort in the region being you can stay at one and play at the others. Its reputation is it is one of Jamaica's most exquisite resorts perched on a bluff overlooking the Caribbean Sea.
Not to be missed is Sandals White Coast who boast "Jamaica’s first resort to feature one of the most unique suites in the Caribbean, our signature luxury Rondoval Swim-up Suites nestled at the heart of Sandals South Coast’s newest village featuring zero-entry swim up access and outdoor Tranquility Soaking Tub™ for two." Their motto is " Inspired by water, Surrounded by beauty". It's roughly 75 minutes from the Sangster Airport and of course comes with Sandals transfers which make it a pleasurable experience to arrive and depart.
You could divide your time up between different resorts, or even split it across both islands. No matter which Sandals Resort you are staying at in Jamaica, choose an All-Inclusive Package which will include fine dining in up to 16 restaurants at each resort, plus all meals and snacks, premium liquors, and wines at up to 11 bars in each resort, as well as an included bar in each room. There is not just one Sandals Jamaica All-Inclusive Resort that is going to work best for you and your needs.
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If you are ready to book a stay at Sandals Please reach out I would love to share my expertise. I am a Sandals certified specialist.
As a Travel Advisor I have been to some pretty spectacular places in the world. I get to learn about so many different regions. All of them have their own beauty and appeal. The Italian Lakes region has been on my list for some time. I have been wanting to visit to discover for myself everything I have been hearing about the region. I am sure most of you feel the same, yet it is hard to travel everywhere. There just doesn't seem to be enough time. So, if you are planning your visit to Italy consider the Italian Lakes region where you just might discover a Foodies paradise.
Visiting the Italian Lakes regions of Northern Italy you will discover it has a charm all it's own. It's where you can immerse yourself in one-of-a-kind experiences and gorgeous accommodations. I am thrilled to share what I have learned with you.
Lake Como marries Italian Hospitality and unparalleled natural beauty. It's also conveniently located --just a 90 minute car ride from Milan. Surrounded by green valleys.
Lake Como is also a food lover's paradise. On Lake Como, you can eat risotto by a waterfront ristorante or enjoy a private tasting with a family of cheesemakers! Many food artisans here preach a "zero kilometer" philosophy --using ONLY ingredients cultivated within the surrounding 1 kilometer! Como glistens. Como enchants. Como makes the mouth water.
I'm delighted to share with you 3 Must-Try Foods on Lake Como:
While most Americans associate Italy with pasta, it's actually more common to find risotto in much of Northern Italy. Treat yourself to a creamy bowl of risotto --typically topped in healthy perch filets or decadent white truffles!
2.Taleggio & Gorgonzola.
Italy's northern regions are famed for creamy, ripened cheeses --like, gorgonzola (a blue cheese) and taleggio (a semisoft cheese). Travelers can experience a private tasting with the locals that produce them --nibbling in the cellars where the cheese is aged!
Framed by green valleys and snow-capped Alps, the land around Lake Como nourishes numerous farms. Near the town of Lecco, you can taste prosciutto at a family-run farm. In business for over 60 years, the farm prides itself on traditional Slow Food techniques. You'll get to hear family stories and tour the caves where the prosciutto is crafted!
Now that your appetite is wet let’s discover some experiences you can have while you are in the Lakes Regions
With its rich culinary culture, you can experience Como’s cuisine firsthand with a perfect food and wine experience on one of the lake’s northern reaches. It is here you will enjoy an exquisite lunch featuring local dishes. After your wonderful lunch head to a nearby farm, to sample artisanal cheese and ice cream. Finish your day with a delightful wine and charcuterie tasting at a local cellar.
With your Lake Como food and Wine Tour you will
Now let’s journey beyond tourist fare that most tourist experience and reach out and explore authentic local cuisine with this food tour. Stopping at favorite eateries hidden in Como’s old town with this Lake Como Food Tour- You will sample a variety of northern Italian delectable and learn about traditional local wine and food from a local guide. You will have to opportunity to stroll past the cathedral and experience walking through the historic center, as you sample plates of charcuterie, “polenta unicia”, “sciatt”, and other regional specialties-. Let’s not forget the wine. Your samples will be paired with excellent Italian Wines.
With your Lake Como Food Tour you will
For a completely unique experience that is definitely hands on a cooking class quite possibly might be in order. You are in Lake Como so not any cooking class will be suitable. In order to experience Lake Como it must be a Luxury Cooking Class with a Chef in Bellagio. Nothing less will suffice.
With you very own cooking class you will join others to discover the secrets of authentic Italian cuisine. It is here you will visit a traditional villa on the banks of Lake Como for this home cooking experience. Your in Lake Como so of course it is in a Villa. Get hands-on as you prepare a variety of appetizers, pastas, and meat dishes. Of course after you prepare your dishes you will experience everything you have just created with the accompaniment of a local wine and dessert.
With your Luxury Lake Como Cooking Class with a Chef in Bellagio you will
Now that you have not only learned about the three must try foods of Lake Como and you have delved into some of the experiences you can have on your visit, isn’t it time to plan your own amazing trip to Lake Como? Where you can enjoy all the region has to offer from its beautiful scenery to exquisite foods you will not be dissapointed.
Who's hungry for Italy? email me Teresa@travelwithgraceandstyle for your own delicious Italy adventure. Or just go HERE and let me know what experience you would like to curate for your very own Italy vacation experience.
The menu of authentic travel options is endless! I'd love to share with you the Europe few tourists ever experience. Let me reach out to my Italy contacts and let us curate your Italian Lakes experience.
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