Cruise Europe’s Christmas Markets

Posted on November 1st, 2012, by iMinerva


Cruising the Danube River would be a delight any time but offers the promise of an especially magical pre-holiday celebration – one I’m hoping to plan for December 2013. Imagine leaving the traffic and malls behind and trading the hustle/bustle for a storybook adventure to the Christkindlmarkts along the Danube.  I’m sure I’m romaticizing this but mulled cider and a horsedrawn carriage ride in Salzburg sounds far more interesting than a trip to Macy’s – even in New York City.

Most of the major river cruise operators feature special tours during the Advent season when the markets are filled with holiday spirit.  Vienna, Salzburg, Budapest, Prague, and of course, Nuremburg which is one of the oldest and largest Christmas markets dating back to the early 1600s – large cities and small towns turn their town squares into a full-scale, Thomas Kinkade Christmas village with holiday decorations, Christmas trees, carolers, and a multitude of  celebrations.  

Shopper’s Delight

Santa’s list should be filled quickly with glass-blown ornaments, handcrafted toys, handknit sweaters and hats, herbs, soaps, lotions, candles, stuffed bears, porcelain dolls, authentic nutcrackers and an abundance of presents waiting to be wrapped. Each city has items unique to the area and traditions.  In Nuremburg, look for the gold foil angels and the whimsical “prune men,” similar to gingerbread men but made of dried figs, prunes and walnuts.  Salzurg and Vienna, should offer anything musical – music boxes and instruments – plus scrumptious chocolates and pastries.

Of course, when you’re tired of wandering the market, you’ll want to stop for some strudel and Viennese coffee or a glass of wine and some authentic German sausages, and then wander the narrow streets and be amazed at the shop windows and all of the treasures waiting inside.  The city cathedrals with their spires and stained glass are even more inspiring in their holiday glow.  Hopefully, timing will be perfect and present a Christmas concert at a cathedral or carolers in the square.

I’m not sure the holiday shopping experience could get any better.  Every day a new city with a new market, new places to explore, new foods and pastries.  At night, a warm gathering of new friends sharing dinner and a cocktail along with music and entertainment while the ship’s captain heads off for the next port and tomorrow’s adventure.

Bundle Up and Be Happy

As I said at the beginning of this post, I know I’m being a romantic.  Europe in December is cold and damp so if you’re thinking of going, bring warm clothes and a warm heart.  Even tho’ they’re not the “mall” that we know, the Christkindlmarkts are packed with shoppers and folks just shopping for some holiday spirit.  With luck, some snow will lightly fall, the carolers will be in good voice and the mulled wine will warm your hands and your innards.

Happy Holidays!


If you’re thinking of cruising Europe’s Christkindlmarkts, here are a few resources from Gal Pal and Travel Agent Extraordinaire Vicki E:


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