Travelers to Europe during advent can save by booking riverboat cruises as accommodation and transportation option when visiting some of the most famous and romantic Christmas markets in Germany and Austria. The Rhine (Rhein) and Danube (Donau) are the most popular rivers for cruising but the Main and Mosel are also included in some tours. The best Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmärkte) are arguably in Frankfurt, Nuremberg (Nürnberg), Cologne (Köln), and Vienna (Wien) but almost every town where a boat anchors will have a Christmas market of some sort in action.
Timing of Riverboat Cruises to European Christmas Markets
German and Austrian Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmärkte) are generally held during the advent period leading up to Christmas. Larger cities usually have markets daily while smaller towns may restrict the hours to weekends or often just one or two weekends. The exact dates vary from market to market but are usually from the last week of November to a few days before Christmas.
German Christmas markets functioning on Christmas Day itself or on December 24 are extremely rare.
Christmas market riverboat cruises are therefore also mostly scheduled from end November to a just before Christmas. Cruises that include spending Christmas itself on a boat are fairly uncommon. However, it is worth noting that cruises including Christmas Day are usually significantly cheaper than similar cruises where New Year’s Day is spent onboard.
Hotel accommodation in luxury hotels aiming at the business market can be exceptionally cheap over Christmas (and very expensive over New Year) to make for a budget extension to a pre-Christmas cruise. However, do check restaurant availability in advance, especially for the night of December 24.