There are many river cruises across Europe to choose from but one of the most original ones are just about to start, mainly the Christmas markets river cruises. Christmas markets originated in Germany and Austria and that’s where the cruises or trips usually start. Here are the top three Christmas markets in Europe, which are visited by scores of tourists each year both by road and river.
Christkindlesmarkt is a Christmas market that is held annually in Nuremberg. It takes place during Advent in the Hauptmarkt, the central square in Nuremberg’s old town, and in adjoining squares and streets. With about two million visitors a year this Christmas event is one of the largest markets in German and one of the most famous in the world. Every year the Christmas market begins on Friday preceding the first Sunday in Advent and ends on December 24th, unless that day is a Sunday.
At the traditional Vienna Magic of Advent, the Rathauusplatz becomes a shining fairy tale land. The 150 or so sales stands offer Christmas gifts, Christmas tree decorations, sweets and warming drinks. The trees of the surrounding City Hall park are festively decorated and radiate in a sea of lights. There are lots of offers here for children in particular.
Other highlights in Vienna over the Christmas period include the festive illuminations of the historic Shoenbrunn Palace (a former home of Austrian Emperors) which provides a stunning backdrop to the Schoenbrunn Christmas Village which also has many market stalls as well as festive concerts to get you in the holiday mood. Possibly the most authentic Christmas Market of Vienna is the Spittelberg market in the historic quarter; specialities include local handicrafts. The markets typically begin from 17th November until Christmas Eve, and are open from 9am until 9pm, giving you plenty of time to explore.
Budapest Christmas markets are a great place to find quality folk trinkets, decorations and gifts. You can find there everything from gloves, woollen hats, candles, jewellery and decorative iron products. After browsing the stalls, refuel with local cuisine and Hungarian specialities such as sweet pastries, Kurtoskalacs, roast chestnuts, and warm mulled wine. Head to the front of Gerbeaudcafe to soak up the festive atmosphere, here you’ll find street entertainers and performers, dancers, brass bands, choirs and string orchestras all popular each winter.
The highlight of the Budapest Christmas market is the musical Advent calendar, where you can look into the Gerbeaud House windows to find contemporary works of art which at 5pm are opened and accompanied with beautiful lights, impressive fanfares and beautiful chimes. In the nearby square, a giant Christmas tree and advent wreath can also be found: the perfect photo opportunity. There’s plenty to do for young market goers too; children can enjoy puppet shows, play houses, Father Christmas games and other child friendly entertainment.