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Christmas Cruises

Christmas Cruises

European Christmas markets river cruises 

Originating in Germany, dating back to the late Middle Ages, Christmas markets are popular in northern Europe.  

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Discover the Christmas markets of Europe on a luxury river cruise

Europe during winter is unlike anywhere else, with gingerbread stalls and twinkling fairy lights welcoming in the festive period. Discover the magic of a Christmas markets cruise, and celebrate Yuletide as the Germans, Austrians, and Hungarians do. 

Nuremberg Christmas markets

Christmas Market stall with hanging gingerbread

Cologne Christmas markets

 Famous Christmas markets in front of the Cathedral in Cologne, Germany

Budapest Christmas markets

Christmas market at Saint Stephen Basilica square in the centre of Budapest, Hungary

Breisach Christmas markets

Ornaments and decorations at a German Christmas market

Vienna Christmas markets 

Christmas markets located in front of the Vienna City Hall

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European Christmas Market River Cruises

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  • Hot food and drinks - prepared in traditional ways, this is one of the best times to get a taste of the true flavor of central Europe.
  • Handmade souvenirs, like ornaments, toys, and artisanal goods.
  • Singing, dancing, and cultural celebrations on every corner. 

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Christmas Market River Cruises

Embrace the magic of the holiday season aboard a Christmas market river cruise as you discover the Christmas markets in Germany and Austria and participate in age-old holiday traditions aboard your cruise along the Rhine and Danube rivers.

Christmas Markets


Welcome to Europe's Christmas Markets

This 700-year old holiday tradition gets right to the heart of what Christmas is truly all about. The old world feel comes into focus this time of year as you stroll through the cobblestone streets and enjoy the sparkle of holiday lights, handcrafted surprises found around every corner, and mulled red wine on offer to keep you warm... adding to the yuletide experience.

The river of kings – the danube, old world europe – rhine river cruises, aboard our christmas markets river cruises, a christmas markets river cruise... with your riverboat done up for the holidays.

So many of our river cruise guests tell us that it's often the little extras they enjoy aboard their Tauck riverboat that make every day of their cruise that much more memorable... and that's before they even step ashore for their first excursion! Your Christmas Markets cruise will be no exception. Along with unlimited complimentary beverages (including beer, wine and premium spirits, specialty coffee, tea, water and soft drinks) aboard ship, and snack baskets available from 10:00 AM to midnight... you'll enjoy special onboard holiday touches like a tree-trimming party, caroling and other festive gatherings... a traditional European Christmas dinner with all the fixings... special evenings of holiday-themed entertainment, and much more!

Experiencing Europe's Christmas Markets

Treasure the magic of europe's christmas markets along the rhine or danube.

In every stop on your Christmas Markets cruise along the Rhine or Danube, you'll enjoy all the magic of your destination's holiday markets, each of which has taken on a distinctive character of its own over the centuries. You'll discover those local traditions… like the hot mulled wine known as glühwein, served in collectible mugs unique to each market… that have caught on to become an indispensable part of the holiday celebration. And on our Rhine Christmas Markets cruise, you'll experience some special holiday magic on an exclusive visit to the Thurn und Taxis family's Palace of St. Emmeram in Regensburg. Tour this lavish Baroque family home – converted from a monastery in the 18th century – and browse its private Christmas Market.

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6 Magical Christmas Market River Cruises You Can Still Book For This Year

christmas river cruises europe 2022

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River cruises offer leisurely exploration and intimate adventures. Taking a river cruise around the holidays means you get to experience timeless traditions, like European Christmas markets. Our travel advisor, Carie Skerritt, says, “The best part about Christmas markets is immersing yourself in the culture of the community.”

Christmas tree at the famous Christmas Market in Strasbourg

European Christmas Market Magic

Warm up with a steamy mug of mulled wine as you wander the enchanting stalls of some of the largest and most famous Christmas markets in Europe. Shop handmade ornaments, toys, and gifts as you inhale the festive aroma of gingerbread and roasted chestnuts. Dazzling decorations and lights delight the eyes, while the sound of Christmas carolers and church bells fills the air.

Most European Christmas markets are open from the last week of November through December 22. Several of these Christmas market river cruises start in November, so you can still be home in plenty of time for the holidays.

What To Expect On An AmaWaterway Luxury Christmas Market River Cruise

A large variety of activities, including tours and a choice of excursions, lets cruisers choose their own adventure. AmaWaterways’ Christmas market cruises are decked out in holiday cheer. Onboard experiences include “Shoes for St. Nick” where passengers set slippers out to be filled with treats just like European children do on St. Nicholas Day . Guests are invited to deck the halls during the ship’s Tree-Trimming Party. If you cruise on Christmas Eve, you can expect to find Christmas cookies in your stateroom. A holiday feast, complete with all the trimmings, tops it all off.

Our travel advisors Carie Skerritt and Bill Sharo with Dream Vacations can help you book any of these Christmas market river cruises via our Book A Trip page . “ AmaWaterways is considered a luxury item,” remarks Skerritt, who recommends the cruise line for everyone from foodies to multi-gen travelers. “There is something for everyone, so you don’t have to have a group leader responsible for everyone’s needs and wants — it’s all included,” she adds. “The ships are decorated and festive, so just being on the ships puts you in the holiday spirit,” according to the travel advisor. Here are some Christmas market river cruises you can book today !

Christkindlmarkt Hellbrunn Palace

1. Christmas Markets On The Danube

Budapest to vilshofen.

  • Length: 7 Nights
  • Starting Price Per Person: $3,499
  • Dates: December 4, 11–23

This route cruises along the second-longest river in Europe through Austria, Germany, Hungary, and Slovakia, stopping in the capital cities of Budapest , Bratislava, and Vienna , as well as Salzburg. Both Magna on the Danube and Christmas Markets on the Danube tours cruise through The Wachau Valley, where you can take a walking tour of Dürnstein.

This river cruise also gives you the opportunity to visit Linz, where you can find one of the most beautiful Austrian Christmas markets at Hellbrunn Palace . It also stops in Passau, where a walking tour brings you to St. Stephen’s Square and its baroque cathedral in the heart of Old Town. At Passau Christkindlmarkt , you can find cute little Bavarian-style model houses , cookie cutters, and olive wood products from Assisi.

Christmas market in Heidelberg

2. Christmas Markets On The Rhine

Amsterdam to basel (or reverse).

  • Dates: November 28–December 21

Cruise through France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland as the Rhine takes you to several European towns with cherished Christmas markets. In Cologne , visit Christmas Market at the Cathedral , one of the best German Christmas markets . Located in the heart of the city, the market takes place at the foot of a UNESCO-designated Gothic cathedral.

What’s better than shopping? Shopping while tipsy! Go wine tasting in the winemaking town of Rüdesheim then enjoy holiday traditions from around the world at the Rüdesheim Christmas Market of Nations . Other options include a gondola ride christmas market combo as well as a guided bike tour of the Rheingau German wine region and Christmas markets.

Known as the Capital of Noël, Strasbourg boasts the oldest and largest Christmas Market in France , Christkindelsmärik . Check out the world’s largest Advent calendar at the Heidelberg Christmas Market , where the town hall windows count down the days to Christmas, revealing the portrait of a world-famous artist each night.

heart shaped gingerbread cookies with white icing hanging for sale at the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt

3. Iconic Christmas Markets

Nuremberg to budapest (or reverse).

  • Starting Price Per Person: $3,399
  • Dates: November 26–December 23

As the name suggests, this cruise takes you through Austria, Germany, and Hungary to some of the most iconic Christmas markets on the Danube. Nuremberg’s historic Christkindlesmarkt is perhaps the best-known Christmas market in Germany . According to our expert tips on European Christmas markets , you should try the mulled wine from Vollrath’s Heidelbeergluhwein and Nuernberger Rostbratwürste (famous grilled sausage in a bun), and pick up a Zwetschgenmännlein, a unique figurine carved out of dried plums.

Step back in time at a Bavarian castle at Regensburg’s Romantic Christmas Market . Some craftsmen sell toys, such as dolls and marionettes, while others peddle their pottery and paintings at the Lucreziamarkt. While in Vienna, you’ll find a Christmas market seemingly around every corner. Finish the trip by exploring the beautiful markets of Budapest.

Visitors drink gluwein on a winter afternoon at the Christmas market,Rudisheim, Germany

4. Rhine Castles & Swiss Alps Christmas

  • Starting Price Per Person: $2,499
  • Dates: November 28–December 25

Encompassing the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Switzerland, this fantastic Rhine River cruise offers fairytale castles and historic vineyards in addition to Christmas markets. Starting in canal-laden Amsterdam, this cruise winds its way through the German city of Cologne, where you can browse the city’s most impressive Christmas markets.

Then it’s on to the winemaking hamlet of Rüdesheim and the festive Christmas markets of Heidelberg. Forty hilltop castles and fortresses dot the banks of the historic Rhine Gorge, which is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site .

Cross the border into the majestic mountain landscapes of France’s Alsace region as sweeping Swiss Alps views await in Strasbourg.

Christmas market in front of the Cathedral of Cologne, Germany

5. Treasures Of The Main & Rhine

Nuremberg to amsterdam.

Length: 7 Nights Starting Price Per Person: $2,499 Dates: September 26–November 28

This 7-night cruise from Nuremberg to Amsterdam sets sail starting as early as September. Stop in Bamberg to taste the city’s famous smoked beer and visit its charming Christmas markets. A stop in Würzburg includes a walking tour of festive Christmas markets. In Wertheim, choose between taking a guided tour of the historic city center and local Christmas markets or learning the art of pretzel-making at a local bakery.

Then, meander from the Main River to the Rhine to get to the winemaking town of Rüdesheim. One of the excursions includes a wine tasting with a local vintner and a visit to the town’s fairytale Christmas markets. During your stop in Cologne, stroll through 160 wooden pavilions, watching artisans work as you sip mulled wine.

Christmas market at night

6. Magna On The Danube

Budapest to vilshofen (or reverse).

  • Starting Price Per Person: $3,040
  • Dates: November 26–December 17

Experience Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, and Germany (including the iconic capital cities of Budapest , Bratislava, and Vienna ). Peruse some of the best holiday markets in Europe, including Regensburg and Salzburg . Budapest Christmas Market is Hungary’s largest. Taking place on the cobblestone Vorosmarty Square, this handcrafts-only market is a great place to find one-of-a-kind gifts. With over 150 vendor stalls, Vienna’s Christkindlmarkt takes place in front of its 19th-century town hall.

Why You Should Book With Our Travel Advisors

Our travel advisors will ensure that you receive every AmaWaterways river cruise offer that you qualify for, including complimentary shore excursions and beverages. They offer up to $300 credit to spend onboard. Our travel advisors can also help you book hotel stays at ports on either side of your voyage.

Not only will you get exclusive bonus offers when you book through our travel advisors instead of directly with the cruise line, but you also rack up AmaWaterways Privilege Rewards benefits. Our travel advisors aren’t just concerned with offering the best deals — they’re also committed to offering the best experience.

Related Reading:

  • 6 Magical Christmas Market River Cruises You Can Still Book For This Year  
  • Our 18 Favorite Gifts From A Rhine River Christmas Markets Cruise  
  • 11 Amazing Foods To Try During A Rhine River Christmas Markets Cruise

Image of Laura Ray

Laura Ray has lived in Atlanta, the Bay Area, SoCal, and Austin. After moving from Texas, she and her husband rambled about the Midwest in a camper for a couple of years before finally settling on 35 acres in their home state of Kentucky. When she isn't clacking around on the keyboard (cat in lap), you can find her practicing yoga, gardening, or playing the ukulele. This travel-lover's favorite destinations include Italy, the Greek isles, and Kentucky Lake.

Christmas River Cruises

Christmas Market River Cruises

Festive river cruises.

River cruises are the perfect way to visit a handful of European cities (and countries) in one amazing voyage. At Christmas time, the picturesque cities along Europe’s rivers light up with festive cheer as they set up their classic European Christmas markets!

Sail from port to port and breathe in the Christmas spirit at every stop. World-famous Christmas markets pop up every year in the gorgeous European cities of Budapest , Cologne , Vienna and Strasbourg (to name but a few).

If you love the festive period you’ll fall head over heels for Europe’s extravagant and delightfully Christmassy market towns. You’ll find residents and visitors alike buzzing with excitement at the most wonderful time of the year.

2024 & 2025 Christmas Market River Cruises

Take a walk through the market stalls, where the air runs thick with the unmistakable smell of warm, spiced mulled wine. Treat yourself to the tasty treats on offer while you enjoy the fairy-tale surroundings. You’ll take home amazing souvenirs and even better memories from a Christmas river cruise and if you’re lucky, you could even explore a winter wonderland under a blanket of snow!

View our best Christmas Markets river cruise offers by using the search facility below! Our team of UK based river cruise experts are available from 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday, and 10am to 6pm on Sundays, to help plan your river cruise holiday! Recently awarded the UK & Ireland's NUMBER ONE River Cruise Agency, you can trust our 4th generation, family business to look after you! All of our holidays are protected by ABTA & ATOL for financial protection and 100% peace of mind. We are also proud to boast the 5* Platinum Feefo Trusted Service Award for our customer care, both before and after booking! Read more about our award-winning company here and we look forward to speaking with you soon!

Christmas Market River Cruise Itineraries

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These Holiday Cruises Will Take You to Christmas Markets Around Europe

christmas river cruises europe 2022

A Christmas market cruises can get you into the winter spirit, provide a relaxing getaway, and offer opportunities for getting one-of-a-kind gifts for friends and family.

These cruise itineraries give you the chance to explore holiday markets dating back to the Middle Ages, and to discover the villages with local treasures like traditional winemaking and artisan crafts.

From festive onboard activities — like tree trimmings and dessert making — to the mulled wine and fresh gingerbread that will welcome you at each stop, these Christmas market cruises give travelers plenty to be merry about.

Christmas Along the Danube (Abercrombie & Kent)

Spend your holidays traveling on this new cruise from Abercrombie & Kent. The nine-day cruise starts in Germany in Munich and travels down through Salzburg, Linz, and Vienna, in Austria, before heading to Slovakia.

With only 24 guests onboard, this cruise offers a more intimate experience. A resident tour director is on-hand to guide guests through a tour of Munich's old town and its Christmas market, the Christmas market in Austria's Domplatz, and a private linzer torte baking class in Linz.

On Christmas morning, guests will wake up in Vienna and have a chance to stroll through the city's sprawling Christmas market before attending a strudel-baking demonstration and an evening concert at the 19th-century Kursalon .

Dates: December 21 to 29, 2017

Rate: Starting at $4,495 per person

Magnificent Europe Christmas Cruise (AmaWaterways)

This 14-night cruise takes travelers through five different countries, through medieval towns and to Europe's countryside.

Starting in Budapest, the cruise heads to Vienna, where guests get a tour of the city and its Christmas markets. There are also Christmas market stops in Nuremberg and Regensburg, in Germany.

After sampling smoked beer in Bamberg, guests continue to the German town of Kitzingen for wine tastings, and to Cologne for walking tours. The cruise then makes its way to Amsterdam for a leisurely exploration of the canals.

Date: December 20, 2017

Rate: Starting at $4,099 per person

Parisian Royal Holiday (Uniworld)

This eight-day trip with Uniworld is on the cruise line's new S.S. Joie de Vivre, which launched earlier this year.

The trip begins and ends in Paris, traveling through Northern France with stops at Christmas markets in Rouen and at the Champs-Élysées. Each holiday season, the streets of Rouen come alive with holiday lights and street performers.

Guests will also be able to indulge in holiday treats at La Couronne, which is where Julia Child famously enjoyed her first lunch in France. There's also a chance to see the grand Christmas tree at Notre Dame.

Dates: Itineraries available December 6 to 27, 2017

Rate: Starting at $3,799 per person

Christmas Markets in Alsace (CroisiEurope Cruises)

The Christmas market in Strasbourg, France, is the oldest one in Europe , dating back to 1570, and this four-day cruise from CroisiEurope takes you into the heart of it. Stops along the way include tasting the bredeles — biscruits that are traditionally baked during the holidays — at the Maison du Pain d'Alsace.

In Strasbourg, guests will also be able to explore wine cellars that date back to 1472 and visit the Christmas market of Eguisheim.

Dates: December 3 to 17, 2017

Rate: Starting at $942 per person

Dashing Through the Danube (Contiki)

This eight-day river cruise through four different countries is geared towards travelers aged 18 to 35.

The cruise starts in Regensburg, Germany. After exploring Regensburg's Christmas markets, guests come back onboard for a mixology class and traditional Bavarian dinner. The cruise will continue to Christmas markets in Passau, Vienna, and Budapest.

Fun additions on the cruise include castle ice-skating lessons in Budapest and onboard lessons in making Viennese desserts.

Dates: December 9 to 27, 2017

Rate: Starting at $1,839

Christmastime on the Danube (Westbound)—Avalon Waterways

Though most of Avalon Waterways' Christmas-themed cruises for the year have sold out, travelers can still snag a room on this nine-day river cruise from Vienne to Prague on the Danube.

Guided sightseeing tours take guests to Christmas markets in Vienna, Regensburg, Nuremburg, and Prague. The tour through Vienna's Christmas markets will be a culinary one, offering a chance to sample some of the country's most beloved holiday goodies. The cruise also includes several wine tastings, and a tour of Nuremberg's Old Town, which becomes illuminated with festive lights and bustling stalls during the holidays.

Dates: December 3 to 11 and 15 to 23, 2017

Rate: Starting at $2,290 per person

Christmas Markets Along the Rhine (Tauck River Cruising)

Rooms are filling up fast on this eight-day cruise from Tauck , which takes guests along the Rhine River . Onboard, holiday touches include tree-trimming parties and seasonal décor. The itinerary has several market visits, including Aachen, Rudesheim, Heidelberg, Baden-Baden, Strasbourg, Colmar, and Riquewihr.

From exploring living nativity sets in Baden-Baden to sampling crepes, sausages, baguettes, and chocolates in Colmar, this cruise promises an itinerary filled with festive cheer.

Dates: Launching December 2 and December 10, 2017

Rate: Starting at $3,780 per person

Bruges Short Break (Cunard)

For a shorter option, consider exploring the quaint Christmas markets of Bruges on this three-night cruise from Cunard.

After a day at sea, guests will head to Bruges to explore the city's famous Christmas market. The market is filled with festive ice sculptures, horse-drawn carriage rides, and an array of wooden chalets offering dainty ornaments, toys, and more.

While you're there, be sure to sample the chocolate and waffles that the area is famous for.

Dates: December 8 to 11, 2017

Rate: Starting at $697 per person

Grand Europe Christmas Markets (Crystal Cruises)

Hit all the top spots on Crystal Cruises' Grand European Christmas Markets cruise , which takes travelers through Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands during a 16-day trip.

Christmas market stops include Nuremberg, where travelers can taste bratwurst and dark beers. The itinerary also offers time to explore medieval towns like Miltenberg, in Germany, and enjoy wines in Austria.

Dates: December 19, 2017 to January 4, 2018

Rate: Starting at $6,245 per person

Classic Christmas Markets (Uniworld)

This eight-day cruise takes travelers from Nuremberg to Frankfurt, starting with one of the biggest and oldest Christmas markets in Nuremberg, before heading to Bamberg, where the city's noted Nativity Walk includes some 40 churches, museums, and public installations of scenes of the nativity.

After sampling gingerbread beer in Wurzburg, guests will make their way to Wertheim to explore the glasswork and wines that line the stalls of its Market Square. There's also a stop at the Christmas market in Frankfurt.

Dates: December 1, 2017

Rate: Starting at $3,449 per person

Rhine River Cruise: Holiday (Adventures by Disney)

This cruise , onboard the AmaKristina , takes travelers through four countries. Holiday activities include the Amsterdam Light Festival, a macaron baking class, and the Christmas market in Strasbourg, France.

As the cruise sails along the Rhine Gorge, passengers will be able to see up to 30 castles.

Dates: December 23 to 30, 2017

Rate: Starting at $4,849

Bonus: Memphis to New Orleans Holiday Christmas Markets Cruise (American Queen Steamboat Company)

Want a taste of Christmas on this side of the Atlantic? The American Queen Steamboat Company offers a Christmas-market itinerary with a nine-day cruise from Memphis to New Orleans .

The American Queen has Victorian-era features, including antique furnishings and intricate woodwork. Starting in Memphis, the cruise takes guests through towns like Greenville, where the authors of the Muppets grew up, and cities like Vicksburg, with festive holiday shops and décor.

Guests will also find holiday shops set up in Natchez, Mississippi, where craftsmen will have holiday goodies as carolers set the mood. The cruise also runs through stops like St. Fracisville in Louisiana, where small-town holiday festivities can be seen throughout, and Nottoway, Louisiana, with vibrant gardens and Antebellum mansions.

Dates: December 17 to 26, 2017

Rate: Starting at $1,799 per person

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