Christmas on the Rhine

Celebrating Christmas Time along the Rhine River

What could be more magical than visiting Europe during the most festive time of year? 

The charms of former Roman and medieval cities along one of the most iconic rivers of Europe. The enjoyment of cultures and traditions in the countries of Netherlands, Germany, France, and Switzerland. Now layer in the timeless traditions of the celebratory Christmas markets and you will have an unforgettable 7-day holiday experience.

Occurring annually during the Advent period, from the last weekend in November up to Christmas and sometimes beyond, you can join in a celebration of the season in a very local way. 

As you travel the Rhine river through the heart of Europe you will visit quaint towns and villages. Plus you have the added bonus of browsing the many holiday markets strewn with festive decorations and warm holiday lights. The festivities happen in colorful stalls called badens that are filled with handcrafted treasures, delightful holiday foods, and local entertainment filled with joyous holiday merriment. 

Every port on a Rhine holiday river cruise itinerary has its own personality and each will offer a unique experience to immerse you in both the local history and the holiday culture:

Amsterdam, Netherlands is already filled with the architectural wonders of its world-renowned canals, boasting over 50 art museums and many historical sites. When you sugarcoat it with the luminescent artwork of the Amsterdam Light Festival scattered throughout the city center, Amsterdam transforms into a magical holiday experience. 

Cologne, Germany a 2,000-year-old city is a home to an iconic Cathedral and traditional Kölsch beer taverns. Annually during the holidays, the Alstadt historic region surrounding the cathedral becomes a Christmas Market worthy of being its own city. An alley of artisans can be discovered selling toys, ornaments, and holiday treats for all ages to enjoy. This Christmas village also features an outdoor ice rink that will have you swirling in winter bliss. 

Rudesheim, Germany Rudesheim is a small wine village in the Upper Middle Rhine valley. The must see’s are enjoying the breathtaking views of the river and the wine vineyards as you float on decorated cable cars to the Niederwald monument. Here you will have an international holiday experience at the annual Christmas Markets of Nations representing the traditions and customs of 20 countries from six continents. 

Ludwigshafen, Germany – as your next porting stop in Germany, you can visit two historic and festive nearby towns. Heidelberg is home to a gothic church, impressive renaissance castle ruins, and a beautiful market square. Here in the Altstadt, you can enjoy touring this historic city or hiking along the nearby Neckar River and take in the festivities of the local Christmas Markets. As an alternative, visit the medieval town of Ladenburg, one of Germany’s oldest cities and home to the largest renaissance cathedral in Europe. After visiting the cathedral you will have time to enjoy the Christmas Market just beyond. 

Strasbourg, France is the original capital of Christmas as the location of the first Christkindelsmärik (Christmas market) over 500 years ago. Squares throughout the city offer unique themed areas filled with chalets featuring food and craft vendors. You will have a few options for visiting here on panoramic tours by motor coach, walking, or by bicycle. Due to Strasbourg’s French and German heritages, you will find local holiday foods throughout the markets that are influenced by both regions.

Breisach, Germany is the base location for a few excursion options.. From Breisach, you can cycle the German countryside before exploring their local holiday markets. Alternatively head to Freiburg to visit the most beautiful spires in Europe at the local gothic cathedral before scouring the nearby christkindlmarkt. Lastly, travel to the French wine village of Riquewihr in the Alsace region known for its fairytale-like architecture spruced up with holiday decorations. Stroll cobblestoned streets and explore the Riquewihr Christmas market of locally crafted items.

Basel, Switzerland at the border of Germany and France is centered around the medieval town square, Marketplatz. Climb to the top of the Basel Münster (cathedral) for fantastic views of the colorfully decorated old town. The Christmas Markets are distinguished by custom-designed wooden chalets created by local artists and feature holiday foods influenced by Basel’s Franco-German culture.

Already an amazing itinerary along the Rhine, Christmas Market cruising adds a truly special experience from late November through December.

With so many seasons of river cruising, Sandee at BucketList Travel Advisors will assist you with the details of planning a journey and exploring the holiday festivities with a river cruise experience. Contact Sandee for more information!

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