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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