AmaWaterway’s Iconic Christmas Markets Cruise on the Danube
No one brings Holiday Magic to River Cruising like AmaWaterways
The Chirstmas holidays are over for 2019, but if you’ve ever wanted to experience the excitement, wonder and joy of Christmas markets in Europe, then you must see the highlights included in the itinerary for AmaWaterway’s Iconic Christmas Markets Cruise on the Danube.
In addition to luxury accommodation, superb service and exceptional regional cuisine on board and off, all of which AmaWaterways is known for, this cruise includes visits to many of Europe’s iconic Christmas Markets, as well as a wide selection of other included excursions and activities (including bicycles to ride – weather permitting). No one brings the holiday magic to river cruising like AmaWaterways, which is what makes this river cruise an excellent choice for anyone who has European Christmas markets on their wish list.
As your AmaWaterways Certified Advisor, I would love to help you plan everything for your trip including cruise, air, transfers and pre- and post- cruise stays.
Or read on to see why the Iconic Christmas Markets Cruise on the Danube is an ideal choice for your next Winter Vacation!
Iconic Christmas Markets Cruise on the Danube with AmaWateraways
This is a 7-night cruise taking you through three different European countries: Germany, Austria and Hungary with an optional pre-or post- cruise in Czech Republic depending which end of the Danube you embark.
You can choose to fly into Munich airport or travel from your pre-cruise stay in Prague and embark in Nuremberg, Germany, and disembark in Budapest, Hungary – or cruise the Danube in reverse starting in Budapest.
No matter which option you choose, you will be welcomed on board by the crew singing a selection of traditional carols from Germany, Hungary and Austria, as well as some of your own favourites from North America. On the first day of the cruise, you’ll also be invited to help decorate the Christmas tree and the ship.
Following are some of the itinerary highlights if you’re starting your Iconic Christmas Markets Cruise in Budapest, Hungary.
Christmas Markets in Budapest, Hungary
In Budapest where the Christmas markets open in November, you’ll get to visit one of the most famous markets in Europe at the Budapest Cathedral. There are many smaller markets, as well as bigger markets, to explore in Budapest. You can also choose a city tour by coach or go on a hiking tour to the castle district.
Sail to Vienna, Austria
After your visit to Budapest, your cruise ship will sail to Vienna, Austria, which has the most Christmas markets on offer –20 Christmas markets in total. The most beautiful one though is the one pictured, which is located in front of the city hall in Vienna’s old town, where you’ll see many wonderful buildings and historical architecture.
Although Christmas is celebrated on December 24th in Austria and most markets are closed on the 25th and 26th, closing around midday on the 24th, the Christmas markets stay open on the 25th and open later on the 24th. So even if you’re on the Christmas sailing, you’ll still get a chance to visit a Christmas market.
Not all tours are to Christmas Markets but there are also general city tours by motor coach, or if the weather is good and you’re feeling active, you can take a bike tour along the Danube or into the city as well as other areas close to the port stops. All excursions are small group tours, and you can choose a gentle or active walking tours or even a late-riser tour – because we know when the sun comes up later in the morning not everyone wants to jump out of bed early in the morning.
Stop in Melk, Austria
Next stop is Melk, where you can go on a tour of the 11th-century Melk Abbey, a huge monastery built high above the town. Or if the weather is good and you’re feeling active you can bike along the Wachau Valley.
Note: If you’re a wine lover, starting in 2020, the Magna on the Danube Christmas Cruise, which starts or ends in Vilhofen instead of Nuremberg, includes a stop at Spitz, a market town located on the left bank of the Danube and one of the most popular wine areas in Austria. Here you’ll be able to go on a wine tasting tour visiting wine cellars like the one pictured.
A wine tasting cellar in Spitz, Austria, which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage area of the Wachau Valley.
City of Three Rivers, Passau, Germany
Next stop is Passau, Germany, known as Dreiflüssestadt (the city of three Rivers or in English) as it’s located at the confluence of the Danube, the Inn and the Ilz. Here, you can choose to take a morning tour of the Christmas markets, explore the City of Three Rivers on foot, or if the weather is good, explore the town by bike.
From Passau, you can also choose to go on a bus tour to Salzburg, Austria to visit the Christmas Markets there. Salzburg is not located on the Danube but is on the Salzach River which is about an hour and a half away from Passau by bus. You can even choose to go to the Austrian Lake District which is located between Passau and Salzburg.
Salzburg, Austria, a UNESCO-designated old town, with a magnificent cathedral, Christmas Markets and the eastern Alps as its stunning backdrop, is located on the border with Germany.
Sidenote: Did you know?
Salzburg is famous for being Mozart’s birthplace and the Mozartkugel (Mozart Ball in English), a small, round sugar confection made of pistachio marzipan and nougat covered in dark chocolate! Yum!
How the Sun Deck looks on board an AmaWaterways River Cruise ship on a snowy winter day in Europe. But don’t worry, the cruise crew will clear it for you so you can still play chess with a view.
Medieval Regensburg, Germany
Next stop is Regensburg, Germany, one of Germany’s best preserved medieval cities, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located on the Danube, this pretty city is also home to one of Bavaria’s most beautiful and romantic Christmas Markets at Thurn and Taxis Castle, where you can watch artisans make their unique arts and crafts. At this Medieval Market, you will discover how Germany used to be during the medieval times of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. In Regensburg you will find two other Christmas Markets.
Sidenote: Did you know?
Regensburg is also located on the Main-Danube Canal. The canal, which was built in 1993 makes it possible to go from the Black Sea to Amsterdam, or from Budapest. The canal does sometimes freeze in winter, but the Danube itself doesn’t freeze due to the river’s current.
Some of the Christmas decorations and gifts you can purchase at the Christmas Markets in Regensburg, Germany.
Next stop is Nuremberg, Germany, where you will disembark from your Iconic Christmas Markets Cruise.
Nuremberg, is not just a Christmas market, but every street is converted into a Christmas market during the run up to Christmas. Sometimes 25 ships are docked at the port in Nuremberg, which is 10 minutes outside of city. You’ll be taken by deluxe motor coach into town during the day to explore the market, or during the evening you can take a taxi back to town to enjoy the evening market (for around 10 Euro).
There are so many Christmas markets to choose from on this cruise, that they may all start to look alike by the end of cruise, so you may not wish to visit them all.
However, they all have their own personality, you’ll hear different carols at each one (depending on the country), and the food and drinks will be different between Budapest in Hungary and Nuremberg in Germany, so you’ll want to sample the different flavours.
Post Cruise in Prague, Czech
Once you disembark from the Iconic Christmas Markets Cruise, don’t forget you can choose a post-cruise stay in Prague, Czech Republic.
You’ll be taken by motor coach to Prague, a journey of around four and a half hours with stops along the way to explore different areas (and for bathroom breaks, of course). At Prague’s Cathedral, which will be decorated and lit up, you’ll see/hear carol singers, and other Christmas celebrations as well as a stunning fireworks display.
The Christmas market in Prague is open up to and including New Year’s Eve.
Danube Christmas Market Dates
The Christmas markets in Germany close before Christmas Day, while Austria’s Christmas Markets are open on December 25th. However, the market at Schonbrunn Palace in Budapest, Hungary and the markets in the Czech Republic are open into the first week of January, so even if you take the New Year Cruise instead of the Christmas Cruise, you’ll still be able to visit a beautiful Christmas market.
The Christmas market dates above are based on the 2019 calendar. The dates change each year, so you’ll need to check the calendar for the 2020 or 2021 Christmas market schedule before booking your cruise.
What's stopping you from going on a Christmas Markets Cruise in 2020 or 2021?
Christmas 2019 is over and done with, but what is stopping you from going on a spectacular Christmas Markets Cruise in 2020? Or if you need longer to save for your trip, how about 2021?
The Iconic Christmas Markets Cruise on the Danube is just one unique river cruise by AmaWaterways that will take you on a journey through three countries—four if you opt for a pre- or post-cruise stay in Prague—so you can enjoy the wonder and excitement of Christmas in Europe.
As your AmaWaterways Certified Advisor, I would love to help you plan your 2020 or 2021 European Christmas Markets River Cruise.