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'Tis the season to explore Christmas markets!

Lately I’ve been booking some Christmas and New Year’s travel for people. Since the holiday spirit is in the air, I thought it would be fun to talk about some perfect Christmas Market cities in Europe. River cruising is a fantastic way to explore the enchanting European Christmas markets. What better way to celebrate the holidays than by visiting some of the most Christmasy locations in the world? Get ready to set sail on a magical experience!

Here are seven of the best Christmas market cities in the world, all accessible by river cruise.

Basel, Switzerland:

We'll start our Christmas market adventure in Basel, located on the Rhine River. You might know Switzerland as a land of stunning scenery, but the Christmas scenery here is equally breathtaking! This Swiss city transforms into a winter wonderland during the holiday season. Explore the market at Barfüsserplatz, where you can find everything from handmade ornaments to delectable Swiss chocolates. And as you re-board your ship and sail through Basel, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of this sparkling city.

Strasbourg, France:

Strasbourg is known as the "Capital of Christmas." This French city is situated along the Rhine River. Stroll through the picturesque streets of Petite France, adorned with twinkling lights and beautifully decorated stalls. The market in Strasbourg is one of the oldest and most enchanting in Europe. Don't forget to try the local delicacy, tarte flambée, and warm up with a cup of spicy mulled wine.

Bruges, Belgium:

We'll continue our cruise to the charming city of Bruges, located along the canals of Belgium. Often referred to as the "Venice of the North," Bruges is a Christmas gem during the festive season. Explore the Market Square, where the annual Christmas market takes place. Immerse yourself in the medieval atmosphere, shop for unique handmade gifts, and enjoy a cup of steaming hot mulled wine or cider.

Cologne, Germany:

Further up the Rhine River, we arrive in Cologne, Germany. This city is home to not one, not two, but seven Christmas markets. From the enchanting market at Cologne Cathedral to the fairy tale-like stalls at Alter Markt, you'll find unique gifts and delicious treats around every corner. Don't miss the opportunity to soak in the festive atmosphere and take in the majestic views of the Rhine River.

Nuremberg, Germany:

Continuing our journey along the rivers, we'll make our way to Nuremberg, Germany. This historic city is situated on the Pegnitz and Rhine-Main-Danube canals. Nuremberg's world-famous Christkindlesmarkt dates back to the 16th century and is one of the most traditional and authentic in Germany. As you wander through the festively decorated stalls, you'll find an array of wooden toys, spicy gingerbread, and tasty Nuremberg sausages.

Vienna, Austria:

Leaving the Rhine region behind, we'll sail east to Vienna, Austria, situated on the Danube River. The imperial city offers a magical Christmas market experience. The Christkindlmarkt at Rathausplatz is a must-visit, with its dazzling lights, aromatic punch, and handcrafted treasures. Don't forget to try some traditional Austrian delicacies like gingerbread cookies and roasted chestnuts.

Budapest, Hungary:

Our final destination takes us to Budapest, the capital of Hungary, located on the Danube River. Prepare to be mesmerized by the charm of Budapest's Christmas markets. From traditional folk music to ice skating rinks, this city has it all. Drop by Vörösmarty Square and explore the stalls filled with handmade crafts, mouth-watering pastries, and delightful mulled wine. While you're there, make sure to indulge in some chimney cake—a sweet treat you won't be able to resist.

From the charming streets of Basel to the enchanting sights of Budapest, each destination offers its own unique take on the holiday spirit. Immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere and create memories that will last a lifetime. Some of these destinations can even be reached on the same cruise. If you’re interested in booking for this year, I still have some availability, but for MUCH more selection, I’d advise planning now for next year!

'Tis the season to explore and make connections with beautiful Christmas markets!

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