The Magic of Christmastime in Europe

Happy first Thursday in December!  Do you feel yourself getting into the holiday spirit yet?  This week’s newsletter will inspire you for the 2020 holiday season and beyond!  Experiencing the magic of Christmastime in Europe is a must-do experience for people who love the holidays and iconic European cities in other seasons. 

Before we dive into our topic for this week, I have a quick PSA. In case you missed last week’s newsletter, I’m honored to be participating in a virtual Holiday Sip & Shop event in December benefitting Circle of Care.  Circle of Care provides “emotional and financial assistance to children and families, from day of diagnosis through treatment and beyond, with programs and services that meet the unique and challenging needs of pediatric cancer treatment.”

How can you help support small businesses AND a worthy nonprofit? 

It couldn’t be easier!

I first experienced the magic of Christmastime in Europe when I lived in Copenhagen many years ago.  I clearly recall the Scandinavian-style sparkling lights, enticing smells, and unique gifts.  The Christmas decorations I purchased are still some of my favorites.  So, I’m making plans for December 2021, specifically for a river cruise through the Christmas markets of iconic European cities. 

Read on to learn which cities have the most magical Christmas markets and why this travel experience is a must-do for everyone (couples, families, friend groups, foodies) who loves the holidays.  And I welcome you to come with me on this adventure next year!

Why a River Cruise?

You may wonder why I’m choosing a river cruise for this experience.  The reason is that AmaWaterways has many intriguing itineraries for experiencing some of the best Christmas Markets in all of Europe. 

Also, I like the idea of:

> Unpacking once 😊

> The convenience and ease of travel. The rivers of Europe were once the highways, so you’re never far from shore. You dock right near the heart of many cities.  It’s very convenient and you don’t have to drive from one city to the next in winter weather. 

> Sleeping on a gorgeous boutique ship with only 100 other guests. 

> The feeling and experience of sailing on the river and seeing the countryside villages, farms, and castles from my stateroom.

Why AMAWaterways?

  1. Ama’s health and safety protocols are top-notch as well as their flexible booking policies.  For the nitty-gritty details, please contact me. 
  2. AmaWaterways is financially sound, family-owned, and a truly excellent company.  They were in operation this summer for European guests, and the only U.S.-based river cruise company to have a successful operating experience. 
  3. The value you receive and the quality of the experience for the price of the trip can’t be beaten!  And anyone who travels on an Ama trip is treated like part of the family, not just another head to count. 

Danube River Itineraries

AmaWaterways offers four (4) holiday market itineraries along the Danube River.  The cities visited have some of the oldest and most festive holiday markets in Europe!  Including:

*Budapest, Hungary – the gorgeous capital of Hungary offers the Vorosmarty Square Christmas Market.

*Vienna, Austria – Vienna alone has over twenty Christmas markets!  The Viennese Dream Christmas Market sits in front of the City Hall where you may hear international choirs sing carols. 

*Salzburg, Austria – see the home of the Sound of Music in all its festive, holiday glory. 

*Nuremberg, Germany – a 400-year-old Christmas market with live music, distinctive hand-crafted souvenirs, a nostalgic carousel, and a children’s steam train.

*Regensburg, Germany – a charming medieval Christmas market with fewer crowds.

In addition to seeing the Christmas markets, you will have choices of daytime biking or walking tours allowing you to experience each port city to its fullest.  In the evening, return to the city to catch a concert, visit more Christmas markets, or stroll the streets to shop or bar hop. 

Rhine River Itineraries

AmaWaterways offers three (3) holiday market itineraries along the Rhine River.  Cities include:

*Amsterdam, Netherlands – see the art-full Festival of Lights!

*Cologne, Germany – offers 8 markets including the Angel Market where angels dressed in sparkly white costumes mix among the shoppers.

*Heidelberg, Germany – also has a gorgeous ice rink.

*Gengenbach, Germany in the Black Forest – see the largest Advent calendar in the world! 

*Strasbourg, France – the oldest market in France next to the stunning Strasbourg Cathedral that dates to the Middle Ages.

*Basel, Switzerland – Basel is known as Switzerland’s most traditional Christmas city where you can take a coastal ride to see the lights on the Christmas ferry.

In addition to seeing the Christmas markets, you will have choices of daytime biking or walking tours allowing you to experience each port city to its fullest.  In the evening, return to the city to catch a concert, visit more Christmas markets, or stroll the streets to shop or bar hop. 

Add-on Cities Before or After

Depending upon the itinerary you chose, you can add on time before or after the cruise in an iconic city.  For example, AmaWaterways has packages for overnights in Amsterdam, Munich, Prague, Budapest, Zurich, and Lake Como.  These cities glow during the holidays and have many wonderful events to experience. 

Your time spent onboard the ship will similarly be infused with the holiday spirit!  Festive decorations, music, local foods, and visits from village carolers will bring local traditions to your time sailing the river. 

One night, guests are encouraged to leave slippers outside their stateroom door, just as children do throughout Europe on St. Nicholas Day. The next morning, they’ll find their shoes filled with treats by the AmaWaterways elves!

Three Top Tips

  1. Bring an extra bag (or under pack), some bubble wrap, and tape for all the wonderful souvenirs and holiday goodies you’ll purchase at the markets. 
  2. Make sure you always have plenty of local currency on hand to pay the vendors.
  3. Be prepared for chilly temperatures and snow – bring your woolies and boots to stay toasty while strolling. 

Bonus Tip:  Many Christmas markets sell a special mug for its “Gluhwein.” That’s German for hot mulled wine infused with spices like cinnamon and orange slices.  These mugs make excellent souvenirs from your trip!

Come With Me!

What better way to get into the holiday spirit?  If you love the holidays, you will adore this trip and be considered one of their best Christmas experiences of all time!  

If you are enchanted by European cities in other seasons, this trip is a new way to experience those beloved places.  Sailing on Europe’s rivers in early winter, touring its iconic cities during Christmastime, and learning about the various cultures and their holiday traditions is a unique and magical experience. 

This trip is ideal for couples, multi-generational families, friend groups, foodies, history buffs, and even solo travelers.  *NOTE – there are big perks for groups that reserve 5 or more staterooms, so if you have a group in mind let’s talk!

Departures run from late November through early January.  Many Christmas markets close shortly before Christmas Eve, but the holiday decorations stay up through New Year’s Day. 

Right now, there are big bonuses for people who reserve their 2021 or 2022 Christmas Market cruise on AmaWaterways by December 31st, 2020.  On select sailings, save $1,000 per person, plus receive a complimentary stateroom upgrade and $50 per person onboard credit (must book a BB Stateroom or higher). 

Want to know more?  Here’s a terrific webinar presented by the co-owners of AmaWaterways about their holiday river cruises – check it out

Finally, email me to schedule a call to discuss your holiday river cruise, and consider joining me in December 2021 to experience the magic of Christmastime in Europe!

💎 Hidden Gem TipIf you love the idea of taking a Christmas market river cruise next December, let’s talk before the end of 2020 for the best promotional rates, flexibility, and availability!  If the holiday timing doesn’t work for you, some other itineraries will entice you, including wine, golf, and wellness-focused options!

Wishing you and your family continued good health,


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Hi, I'm Susan Wilson

I’m the founder of Hidden Gem Travel Consulting. As your personal travel advisor, I craft custom worldwide itineraries that astound and inspire you.


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