9 Best Christmas Markets You Can Cruise To
November 4, 2015
Well, it’s that time of the year again when we’re all beginning to be bombarded by Christmas adverts, the coffee shops are bringing out their seasonal flavourings (mostly cinnamon and gingerbread if we’re honest) and shopping centres everywhere have started putting up their magical displays.
Have you ever wanted to just get away from it all and spend a weekend abroad around Christmas time?
Well… you can’t really!
Any cruise you take over the Christmas period will invariably call at a Christmas market or three and visiting them is a great way to experience some real Christmas cheer (that isn’t of the massed produced kind) whilst doing some shopping, drinking copious amounts of mulled wine and generally being festive whilst you relax properly!
So read on for our top nine cities you have to visit for an authentic Christmas market experience whilst on your cruise.
(Important Notice: We recommend you put on A Fairy Tale of New York in the background so you feel appropriately Christmassy whilst reading this article!)
Let’s be honest, nothing beats an authentic German Christmas Market in terms of atmosphere. With plentiful local beer, festive lights, foods and crafts, you’ll be set for a magical and traditional Christmas experience. This year Berlin will be hosting sixty (yes sixty) Christmas markets so whether you want a quiet exploration of gifts and trinkets or a lively beer tent, there’s sure to be a market on offer for you to enjoy.
Some of the best markets include Weihnachtszauber at the Gendarmenmarkt which sells local specialities such as white chocolate milk, origami and cheese or the Berliner Weihnachtszeit at Roten Rathaus which has a fifty metre high Ferris wheel, ice rink track and scheduled visits from Santa Claus.
Nearby Potsdamer Pkatz market even has a toboggan shoot along the snow which will give you a great view of the surrounding city when you reach the top.
Find out more about cruising in Germany here.
Held over the space of two squares, the Christmas markets in Prague are a maze of brightly decorated huts selling ceramics, candles, ornaments and dolls. As you walk around you’ll be tempted by the smell of hams on spits, the smell of fresh spicy pastries and the aroma of mulled wine. The Old Town Square even has a stable with animals such as sheep, goats and a donkey that children can enjoy petting and Wenceslas Square has afternoon performances from local choirs to get you in the mood.
Cologne has one of the largest Christmas Markets in the world with just one of their four markets having over a hundred and sixty stalls! The larger of these markets are all held in downtown Cologne and set around an enormous Christmas tree located near the Cathedral. Three of the markets are very near the river Rhine, so even if you don’t leave your river ship to visit the city, you’ll be able to appreciate the twinkling lights from afar!
For cruises to Cologne, click here.
The historic city centre of Antwerp glitters in winter – and not just because of their diamonds! There are roughly a hundred stalls in the market which has been running since 1989 and is spread over four squares dotted closely together around this historic city. Other markets may be quieter and the Harbour Christmas market is conveniently located right next to the Chocolate Museum!
The Christmas market in Brussels is set in a sprawling circle around a large ice skating rink. The small stalls and huts sell thick hot chocolate, a variety of local food as well as gloves and scarfs to keep you warm. This market is unique in that it also has a Green Policy, meaning that the market uses as little energy as possible and has a recycling scheme on site so that you can shop and explore with a free conscience!
Have you thought about visiting Brussels? Click here to find out more!
In Budapest the Christmas market sets up around St Pauls Basilica and is handily located in the centre of the Pest side of the river. It’s very close to the cruise ship docking stations – so a mulled wine or a taste of the local paprika dishes is only a short walk away. You can watch light shows, visit a local concert or puppet shows and there are a selection of good restaurants nearby.
For river cruises to Budapest, click here.
Medieval Bruges always puts on a good offering for Christmas. Why not buy Christmas gifts for your friends and family, take a ride on a horse drawn carriage or visit the Snow and Ice Sculpture festival. Wandering around the fairy-light-lit stalls as you pass vendors selling Christmas decorations is sure to get you in the festive spirit!
Cruise to Bruges here!
Set against the backdrop of the beautiful Vienna City Hall, the main Christmas market in Vienna sends the aroma of roasting chestnuts across the city. There are actually twenty five different markets hosted in Vienna but the December Market holds over a hundred and fifty stands and sells everything from warming drinks to hand drawn portraits. There’s also lots of activities for children such as concerts and nativity plays nearby.
Interested in cruising to Vienna? Click here!
This small Christmas market is well worth a morning spent pottering round the stalls looking at local produce, speaking to friendly locals and trying good food such as local pastries. The nearby castle adds to the pretty surroundings and other festive highlights include the ice skating rink and a 1950’s style carousel ride.
Our cruise consultant Marie Turner has some great tips and advice about Christmas markets and other mini breaks here!
Would you visit any of these cities for their Christmas market? Have you done so in the past?
Let us know in the comments below!
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