We recently returned from an unforgettable cruise along the Rhine River to visit Christmas Markets in Germany, France and Switzerland. Our journey was even more memorable as we travelled with a group of close friends.
River cruising provides an up close and personal experience. The ships typically dock in the heart of town allowing easy and convenient access to the local sights and sounds. This is especially convenient for a Christmas Market Cruise. During the advent season, towns throughout Europe host wonderfully decorated markets for crafts, drink and food! Hop off the ship to go shopping all day and then back on in time for cocktail hour and a gourmet dinner before you set off for your next stop.
Advent has been ushered in since the late middle ages via traditional Christmas markets. Depending on where you are in Europe a Christmas market is also known as Christkindlmarkt, Marché de Noël, Christkindlesmarkt, and Weihnachtsmarkt. Christkindlesmarkt literally translates as “Christ child market”.
Generally held in town squares, the markets sell food, drink and seasonal crafts from open-air stalls accompanied by traditional singing and dancing. Popular attractions include a Nativity scene, nutcrackers, toasted almonds, traditional gingerbread cookies and hot mulled wine to help stave off the cold winter air. Many handmade items including toys, decorations and ornaments are found in the Market. Check out this photo – It’s truly a magical experience!
One of the most visited Christmas Markets is found in Cologne, Germany which in fact has 7 markets in total of which the 4 biggest are located near the amazing Cathedral. The Christmas Market at the Cologne Cathedral is the most impressive one in, due to the huge backdrop of the imposing Cathedral. Beneath the Cathedral and the largest Christmas tree in the Rhineland, you can find well over 160 festively designed wooden pavilions. Here you can watch artisans at work, enjoy original “Christmas Mulled Wine” out of festively decorated Christmas mugs or you can choose from an unlimited choice of sweets and local delicacies. The Alter Markt takes place in front of the old town hall only 200 meters from the cathedral. Shadowed by beautiful narrow-gabled houses and half-timbered stalls, this market conveys a very romantic and idyllic feel. The Neumarkt is Cologne’s oldest Christmas market located near St. Aspoteln’s (Basilica of the Holy Apostles) church. This market glows in splendor with charmingly designed chalets and a unique “stars at night” theme. The Christmas Market on the Rudolfplatz takes you to a world of brother’s Grimm fairy tales. Large fairy tale figures and festive illuminations provide a special eye-catcher, set against the historic backdrop of one of Cologne’s 3 standing medieval gate houses.
Prepare to be pampered and amazed on our special 7 day trip cruising along the legendary Rhine through Germany, France and Switzerland. Explore charming towns and discover treasures in some of Europe’s finest traditional Christmas markets. You’ll revel in the brilliant holiday decorations and in tasting the many treats and spiced wines of the season. This is truly the way to celebrate Christmas! Discover the roots of our Christmas traditions as you explore some of Europe’s most charming towns. Browse for unique ornaments in Basel’s Christmas Market. Sip vin chaud as you stroll to Place Kléber to behold the enormous, brilliantly lighted tree that Strasbourg offers modern celebrants. Find unexpected treasures in the red-roofed stalls clustered around Cologne’s magnificent cathedral.