Europe’s Christmas Markets


Munich Christmas
Munich Christmas market can be enjoyed on a Tauck cruise to the German city.


There’s no more magical a time to visit Central Europe than in November and December, when the medieval streets glow with candles and the smell of holiday treats are in the air. Christmas market season is one of our favorite times to head across the pond. If your VIPs are looking for a last-minute getaway, or are ready to prepare for the 2013 holiday season, here is a look at some of our favorite Christmas markets. 

For historically minded A-listers, nothing beats the thrill of immersing oneself in fairytale Old World Europe. Destinations like Vienna or Rudesheim, Germany, exude that feeling year-round with their historical architecture. But late in the year, they’re even more appealing as they’re decked out in garland and holiday lighting displays. Strolling among hundreds of Christmas markets across Europe, buying handcrafted gifts or holiday ornaments, and savoring the tastes of traditional European food, such as sausages, baked apples or roasted almonds is the perfect way to kick off the holiday season. Don’t forget to sample the hot mulled cider, gluhwein or hot chocolate.

Travelers visiting German Christmas markets might try the cinnamon-infused gluhwein or the Stollen breads, as Germans have enjoyed for hundreds of years. Let your VIPs know that in Vienna, the city’s “Christkindlmarkt” is distinguished by rows of wooden huts leading to the Town Hall; it’s a tradition that’s continued for more than seven centuries. Travelers heading to Salzburg, Austria, might hop onboard a horse-drawn Christmas carriage. 

Shoppers will find holiday décor and plenty of traditional crafts and ornaments. They may also find unique gifts for sale, including hand-carved puppets, jewelry, honey liquor, handblown glassware, candles, wooden figures and ornate ceramic dishes and mugs.

Some of the Christmas markets have multiple sections, some cover specialties in certain sections, and some cities have multiple types of markets. In Germany, for example, the Nuremberg Christmas market boasts nearly 200 stalls, while Cologne has a number of different markets; one is the Domplatz market near the Cologne Cathedral and another is a medieval Christmas market.

We say the best way to see Christmas markets is on a European river cruise. Look into Tauck, Viking River Cruises; Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection and AMA Waterways, which all have sailings in 2013.

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