Christmas might seem like a distant memory as we arrive in the middle of spring, but for all those who love the magic of the festive season, now is the perfect time to start planning your Christmas river cruise to explore the colourful Christmas markets of Europe.
Europe’s world-renowned Christmas markets offer the perfect place to soak up a little Yuletide spirit, offering a wealth of traditional gifts and handicrafts as well as plenty of scrumptious festive cuisine to savour. The continent is brimming with these stunning marketplaces at Christmastime, so take a look at some of the best cities in which appreciate the festive charm of the Europe at the most wonderful time of the year.
Sitting on the banks of the Rhine in Germany, historic Cologne is home to a wide range of magnificent Christmas markets both large and small. The city’s biggest Christmas markets are located in downtown Cologne, overlooked by the dramatic Cologne Cathedral. Here not only will you find an abundance of quaint stalls and brightly-lit shops, but also a magnificent ice-skating rink, so you can glide gracefully (or stumble hilariously) on the ice as you enjoy the lingering aroma of cinnamon and mulled wine.
Nuremberg’s beautiful Christmas markets provide an unforgettable festive experience, offering everything from Yuletide dishes and soothing drinks to local crafts and traditional decorations. Be sure to try some of Nuremberg’s famous sausages, followed by a tasty gingerbread, all washed down with a warm mug of mulled wine. For a unique way to explore the city at Christmastime, you could even enjoy a nostalgic stagecoach tour, passing by Nuremberg’s most famous sights in a traditional horse-drawn carriage.
Strasbourg has held its annual Christmas markets – or Christkindelsmärik – each December since 1570, which makes the city’s Yuletide celebrations amongst the oldest in France. With a wealth of arts, crafts, gifts, decorations and Christmas treats to peruse, you could spend hours and hours browsing Strasbourg’s magical markets at Christmastime, and you’re sure to come away with plenty of festive cheer. It is the Christmas tree however, which takes centre stage at Christkindelsmärik, towering high above the markets at over 30 metres tall, covered with colourful lights and stunning decorations.
Bruges in Belgium is an enchanting destination throughout the year, but at Christmastime, the city comes alive with Christmas spirit, as festive markets voted amongst the best in Europe begin to spring up. Bruges is well-known for its delicious chocolate, and during the festive season, the city is unrivalled when it comes to Christmas sweets and treats for people of all ages to enjoy. A river cruise through Bruges may also offer the chance to visit nearby Brussels – Belgium’s bustling capital – where the Winter Wonders festival has become one of the nation’s most spectacular annual events.
A Christmas river cruise provides the ideal way to experience these and many other of Europe’s most incredible Christmas markets, but demand for places on-board is always high, so book now to make sure you don’t miss out on the festive escape of a lifetime.