Christmas Markets of Europe

15 Days
Amsterdam to Budapest
From (AUD)
$ 6,345
Dates & Pricing

2024 Amsterdam > Budapest

Discover Europe’s most popular river cruises

A classic journey on the Rhine, Main, and Danube rivers promises spectacular landscapes, rich culture, and fascinating history, where world-class cities are complemented by romantic towns.
Immerse yourself in the pageantry of Christmas the European way. An extra special treat awaits you on our Christmas Markets Cruise. Celebrate the festive season in style cruising from Amsterdam to Budapest, stopping in Cologne, Wurzburg, Nuremberg, Vienna and Bratislava for visits to some of the most iconic Christmas markets.
Tour Map
Tour Code:
EWXS
Duration:
15 days
Departure City:
Amsterdam
Return City:
Budapest

15 Day Itinerary

  1. Day 1 - Amsterdam

    Welcome to Amsterdam, a 700-year-old city that has seen legends form and prospered from the Dutch Golden Age, a time at which Dutch art was among the world’s most acclaimed. Here, a number of old masters found their inspiration, and modern galleries showcase the work that they created. When you arrive to Amsterdam, you’ll be met at the airport and transferred to your contemporary Star-Ship, where you’ll enjoy some time to explore the city at leisure after boarding.

    Meals Included: Dinner

  2. Day 2 - Amsterdam

    Amsterdam is a wonderful destination all year-round, but during the Christmas period, the entire city sparkles with fairy lights and Christmas cheer. Snow blankets the narrow-cobbled streets, and the Dutch indulge in oliebollen and appelbeignets, deep fried sweets that can be purchased from stalls that look like the traditional alpine huts in one of Amsterdam’s many Christmas markets.

    Today, you’ll have the opportunity to take to Amsterdam’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed canal system during a glass-top canal boat cruise, passing areas that are covered in white powdered snow and watching people relax with drinking warm cups of traditional hot chocolademelk.

    Included Excursion

    A canal cruise

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  3. Day 3 - Cologne

    The wafting aroma of freshly roasted chestnuts and mulled wine welcomes you in Cologne, where the largest Christmas tree in the Rhineland can be found during the holiday season. Today, enjoy a walking tour of Cologne and visit the colourful Christmas market that sits underneath the shadows of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Cologne Cathedral, a Gothic masterpiece that effortlessly creates a striking backdrop to the nativity-like scene below. More than a hundred half-timbered stalls are swathed in light, streaming down from the twinkling canopy of bulbs that criss-crosses above.

    In Cologne’s many Christmas markets, you’ll find glittering ornaments, artisans creating handcrafted goods and freshly baked produce, including lebkuchen, a beloved round or heart-shaped type of gingerbread that usually includes honey, cardamom, or candied fruit. Enjoy drinking mulled wine from a festive mug as you soak in the views of what is arguably one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.

    Included Excursion

    Guided tour of Cologne's Old Town

    Christmas traditions in Europe lecture (on board)

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  4. Day 4 - Rüdesheim

    Today, take a step into the UNESCO World Heritage-listed historical landscape of the Rhine Gorge, where the beams of Rüdesheim’s half-timbered houses are covered in fairy lights. Rüdesheim hosts the ‘Christmas Market of Nations’, where more than a hundred stalls effortlessly represent more than a dozen nations, each showcasing their own Christmas specialities, customs, and celebrations.

    Whilst in Rüdesheim, enjoy an excursion to Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet, and perhaps indulge in some Rüdesheim coffee, a famous drink made with locally distilled Asbach Uralt brandy, served with whipped cream, and sprinkled with vanilla sugar and chocolate flakes. This festive drink is certain to warm you on a frosty winter’s day. Later, return to the plush surrounds of your Star-Ship for a special on-board performance.

    Included Excursion

    A visit to Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet Museum

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  5. Day 5 - Miltenberg - Wertheim

    Welcome to Miltenberg. This postcard-worthy town can be found set against the lush backdrop of the Odenwald forest. Christmastime swathes the area with festive cheer, and decorations and colourful window displays as far as the eye can see are all illuminated at dusk by twinkling fairy lights. Miltenberg is home to one of the oldest pubs in Germany, and its delightful boutique market features stalls full of local arts, crafts, and delightful treats. Perhaps try an apple streusel kuchen during your time here, a type of apple crumb cake that the area is famous for.

    EmeraldPLUS

    Exclusive visit to the Glass Art Museum in Wertheim with presentation

    Included Excursion

    A guided tour of Miltenberg

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  6. Day 6 - Würzburg

    Today, enjoy a guided tour of Würzburg and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Würzburg Residence. Nestled in the heart of the Old Town, you’ll find an enchanting Christmas market. Steeped in 19th-century beginnings, more than 100 wooden stalls showcase seasonal decorations and delectable treats, all coated by the soft glow of Christmas lights. A traditional mug of Glühwein, a hot red wine infused with spices, is the best way to fight off the chill of a cold day.

    The Würzburg Residence is a true icon, built by the prince bishops centuries ago, And the opulence that it displays is truly breathtaking. Enjoy a guided tour of what is quite possibly one of the most beautiful Baroque palaces in Europe, as its gardens are blanketed by fresh snow.

    Included Excursion

    A walking tour of Würzburg and visit to the Bishops Residence

    DiscoverMORE

    Excursion to Rothenburg (extra expense)

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  7. Day 7 - Bamberg

    The UNESCO World Heritage-listed town of Bamberg is home to not just one, but four delightful Christmas markets, each acting as sparkling gems set amongst half-timbered surrounds in this quaint little town. Here, you’ll be able to find some of the loveliest Baroque nativity scenes that Germany has to offer.

    While you enjoy a guided tour of all of Bamberg’s main highlights, make sure to stop and try a glass of Bamberg’s famous beer. Nine breweries call the town their home, and several of their world-famous products are still made using traditional Franconian brewing methods.

    Included Excursion

    A guided tour of Bamberg

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  8. Day 8 - Nuremberg

    Your included excursion today is a sightseeing tour of the historic city of Nuremberg, touching on the architectural wonders that have inspired famous artists for centuries and exploring the effects that the war years had here. You’ll also have time to explore the wonderful Christmas market located in the city centre.

    Included Excursion

    A guided tour of Nuremberg

    DiscoverMORE

    Gingerbread cooking demonstration (extra expense)

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  9. Day 9 - Kelheim - Regensburg

    This morning, cruise along the final stretch of the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal, admiring the views as you pass over a number of aqueducts. Regensburg’s delightful past is yours to discover today, as your local guide introduces you to the treasures of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town.

    After your tour, your EmeraldPLUS experience will take you right into the heart of the Thurn and Taxis Palace Christmas market, one of the loveliest in the country where traditional stalls are illuminated by twinkling lights.

    EmeraldPLUS

    A traditional Bavarian band on board

    EmeraldPLUS

    A visit to the Christmas market in the Thurn and Taxis Palace grounds

    Included Excursion

    A guided tour of Regensburg

    DiscoverMORE

    Sausage-making workshop (extra expense)

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  10. Day 10 - Passau – Linz

    Welcome to Passau, a town where three of Europe’s main rivers converge underneath the castle. On this afternoon’s walking tour, stroll down old narrow alleys and look up to see the hilltop Oberhaus Fortress overlooking the town. Your tour will conclude at the green-domed façade of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, where Passau’s annual Christkindlmarkt can be found. Here, perhaps sample some delicious warm Glühwein and freshly baked goods.

    Included Excursion

    A guided tour of Passau

    DiscoverMORE

    Excursion to Salzburg (extra expense)

    DiscoverMORE

    Excursion to Ceský Krumlov (extra expense)

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  11. Day 11 - Melk – Dürnstein

    History is yours to discover and enjoy during a river cruise through Europe, and the quaint village of Melk offers a wonderful introduction of some of the historic architecture that can be found on the continent. Your included excursion today is a tour of the Benedictine Melk Abbey, an ancient Baroque monastery that is known for its monumental beauty and the treasures that are kept inside its historic library.

    Later, your Star-Ship will sail through the Rhine Gorge, a landscape steeped in fairy tales where the winter months only add an ethereal layer to your surroundings.

    Included Excursion

    A tour of Melk Abbey

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  12. Day 12 - Vienna

    Welcome to the ‘City of Dreams’, Vienna. This ornate cityscape was home to famous musicians, composers and the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. Today, you can explore the capital with a drive around the magnificent Ringstrasse, where opulent buildings can be seen peppering the area.

    After your guided tour, enjoy some time to explore at leisure, perhaps sampling some delicious hot chocolate and baked goods in one of Vienna’s many Christmas markets.

    Included Excursion

    A guided tour of Vienna

    DiscoverMORE

    Viennese evening concert (extra expense)

    DiscoverMORE

    Visit of Schönbrunn Palace (extra expense)

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  13. Day 13 - Bratislava

    Gothic architecture and tales of a communist past welcome you to Bratislava, a capital that has seen much in the way of turbulence over the past century. Today, you’ll discover that this turbulence is now nowhere to be seen, as you stroll down peaceful streets and soak in the neo-Renaissance glory of ancient theatres and the sheer opulence of the Episcopal Summer Palace.

    The Christmas season adds an extra layer to the city, where a blend of distinctive cultures comes together to showcase their handcrafted ornaments and delicious treats.

    EmeraldPLUS

    Home-hosted coffee and cake with a local Slovakian family

    Included Excursion

    A walking tour of Bratislava

    DiscoverMORE

    Skoda tour of post-Communist Bratislava (extra expense)

    DiscoverMORE

    Carpathian wine route (extra expense)

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  14. Day 14 - Budapest

    Budapest is a place of striking contrasts, with Buda on one side housing a generous scattering of the city’s elegant landmarks, and Pest on the other encapsulating its fascinating past. Separated by the mighty Danube, you can explore them both by crossing the Chain Bridge, one of the most symbolic structures in the capital.
    Today, you will have the opportunity to discover the city’s history during a guided tour covering some of the highlights of Budapest and learn more about its stunning landscape and architecture. The history of the Hungarian capital shows a unique blend of cultures, cuisine and vibrant lifestyle. There is so much to take in while you pass through the bustling city, which is an attractive destination for visitors from all over the world. Enjoy, some free to continue exploring some of beautiful Christmas Market in Budapest.

    This evening, a traditional Hungarian farewell dinner is certain to delight the senses.

    EmeraldPLUS

    A traditional Hungarian folklore show

    Included Excursion

    A guided coach tour of Budapest

    DiscoverMORE

    Excursion to Szentendre (extra expense)

    DiscoverMORE

    Jewish heritage tour (extra expense)

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  15. Day 15 - Budapest

    After breakfast, it’s time to say farewell to your fellow guests and disembark your Star-Ship for your transfer to the airport, taking memories of open squares adorned with Christmas stalls and crisp winter mornings with you.

    This itinerary is a guide only and may be amended for operational reasons such as high and low water. As such, the cruise may operate altered from that stated above. Please refer to our terms and conditions for further information.

    Meals Included: Breakfast

Tour inclusions

YOUR CRUISE INCLUDES
  • 14 nights on board an Emerald Cruises Star-Ship
  • Airport transfers to and from your Star-Ship
  • The services of an Emerald Cruises cruise director
  • Port taxes and charges
  • All tipping and gratuities

INCLUDED EXCURSIONS
  • Canal cruise in Amsterdam
  • Guided tour of Cologne's Old Town
  • Visit to Siegfried's Mechanical Music Cabinet Museum
  • Guided tour of Miltenberg
  • Walking tour of Wurzburg & Visit to UNESCO World Heritage-listed Bishop Residence
  • Guided tour of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Bamberg
  • Guided tour of Nuremberg
  • Guided tour of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Regensburg
  • Guided tour of Passau
  • Tour of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Melk Abbey
  • Guided tour of Vienna
  • Walking tour of Bratislava
  • Guided tour of Budapest

EmeraldPLUS
  • Traditional Bavarian band performance on board
  • A visit to the Christmas market in the Thurn and Taxis Palace grounds
  • Home-hosted coffee and cake with a Slovakian family
  • Hungarian folklore show performance on board

DINING HIGHLIGHTS
  • 41 delectable meals including 14 breakfasts (B), 13 lunches (L), 14 dinners (D)
  • Including a Welcome and Farewell Reception & Dinner
  • Complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks served with lunch and dinner on board

Pricing & Availability