Christmas Market River Cruises Under $1,000 Per Person



Christmas markets in Europe have long been a favorite of visitors. You’ll find quite a few options for Christmas Market river cruises ranging from about $500 per person to more than $5,000 per person. The average cruise length is 8 days; however, you’ll find itineraries that are less than 4 days and some that are more than 13 days in length. 

The cruises we’re going to look at are shorter in duration – 4 to 5 days, and they’re not as inclusive in terms of how far you’ll travel or how many cities you’ll visit. These are actually the types of cruises that could be combined with a land cruise to extend your stay in Europe during the Christmas holiday season. Or, if you want to just sample a river cruise, this is also a good option.

1. Christmas Markets in Alsace

Christkindelsmärik on Place Broglie in Strasbourg, France

Christkindelsmärik on Place Broglie in Strasbourg, France

By Tristan Schmurr from Luxembourg, Luxembourg (Christmas Market gate  Uploaded by Edelseider) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


River: Rhine

Cities Visited: Strasbourg and Colmar

Trip Duration: 4 days

From $495 per person

Alsace is a region in northeastern France. During your trip, you will spend time in Strasbourg and Colmar enjoying the festivities of the Christmas season. Most of your time will be spent in Strasbourg, which is the capital of Alsace. The city’s historic city centre is known as the Grande Île and named appropriately since it is an actual island in the Ill River. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.

Colmar is located about 47 miles south of Strasbourg along the Alsatian Wine Route. During your visit to Colmar, you’ll have a chance to sample some of the Alsatian wines as well as stroll though the Christmas Market.


2. Christmas in Alsace: Potter Villages and Revue at the Royal Palace

Place Kléber in Strasbourg, France

By Jonathan M (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


River: Rhine

Cities Visited: Strasbourg, Betschdorf and Kirrwiller

Trip Duration: 4 days

From: $533 per person 

In Strasbourg you will have an entire day to explore the city and visit one of Europe’s best Christmas Markets.  

Your trip will include a visit to the Potter Villages in Betschdorf and the Royal Palace in Kirrwiller in northern Alsace. Betschdorf is about 28 miles north of Strasbourg. The city is known for its production of pottery and salt-glazed stoneware, which was first introduced to the city in the early 18th century.


3. Christmas Magic in Belgium

Christmas market in Brussels

By Guillaume Richer [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


Rivers: Dutch & Belgian Waterways

Cities Visited: Brussels and Antwerp

Trip Duration: 4 days

From $646 per person

Most of your time will be spent in Brussels, which is the city in which it will begin. You’ll take a guided tour of Brussels; and later that day, you’ll visit the Christmas Market.

Your ship will cruise to Antwerp where you will spend the day touring the city before heading toward Bruges to visit its Christmas Market. in both Bruges and Brussels an ice rink is a featured part of the festive atmosphere. And in Bruges, there is a Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival at Station Square during the Christmas Market season. 


4. A Bountiful Christmas in Alsace and the Black Forest

Christmas Market in Colmar, France

By Office de Tourisme de Colmar (Colmar - Christmas Markets 2010) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


River: Rhine

Cities Visited: Strasbourg, Breisach, Colmar, Wolfach and Freiburg

Trip Duration: 4 days

From $716

After departing Strasbourg, you will travel southward on the Rhine River to Breisach, Germany where your ship will dock for a couple of days. You’ll spend some time in France on the west side of the Rhine and some time in Germany on the east side of the river.

In France you’ll visit the Christmas Market in Colmar and sample some Alsatian wines along the wine route. And, in Friebug, Germany, you’ll have a chance to stroll through the Christmas Market as well as visit a a shop where cuckoo clocks are made. 

Also in the Black Forest, you will travel to Wolfach, which is about 35 miles northeast of Frieburg. The highlight of this city is a tour of the Dorotheenhütte Glass Factory, which is a glassblowing workshop and museum.

After departing Breisach, your cruise ship will return to Strasbourg for the remainder of your trip.


5. Christmas Markets Cruise

Old Town Nuremberg in Winter

By Castle_Old_Town_Nuremberg_Germany.jpg: Johannes Kerstiens (unland) derivative work: Pirkheimer (Castle_Old_Town_Nuremberg_Germany.jpg) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


Rivers: Main and Rhine

Cities Visited: Strasbourg, St. Goarshausen, Rudesheim, Mainz and Nuremberg

Trip Duration: 4 days

From $809 per person

For this cruise package, you will have the opportunity to travel along three different waterways and visit Christmas Markets in three different cities – Strasbourg and Rudesheim on the Rhine River and Nuremberg on the Main-Danube Canal.

The Christmas Market in Nuremberg is considered to be one of the largest in the world and also one of the most beautiful. It takes place in the Hauptmarkt or central square of Nuremberg’s old town.

Rüdesheim is located on the Rhine Gorge, which is a very picturesque part of the Rhine River landscape and also included in UNESCO’s Upper Middle Rhine Valley. The annual Weihnachtsmarkt der Nationen or Christmas Market of the Nations has 120 stalls featuring 12 different countries.


6. Visit 3 Different Countries on a Majestic Danube Cruise

Christmas Market in Vienna, Austria

By Manfred Werner - User:Tsui (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons


River: Danube

Cities Visited: Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava

Trip Duration: 5 days

From $955 per person

This river cruise takes place on the Danube River from Vienna to Budapest with a stop in Bratislava, Slovakia. An optional guided tour is available in all three cities.

Experience the ambiance of the Christmas season with the customs and traditions unique to each city. While visiting the Christmas Market in Bratislava, enjoy the gastronomic specialties, such as lokše,  kapustnica, Bratislavské rožky and pagáče.

In Vienna the magic of the Christmas season permeates the city’s atmosphere through its Christmas village on Maria-Theresien-Platz and its Christmas Markets.  One of the markets is located in front of Vienna's City Hall and another is set up in front of the beautuful Schönbrunn Palace.


This list is only a small portion of Christmas Market river cruises that are available and includes only those that are less than $1,000 per person. There are many options available for all budgets and preferences. 


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Lauri Wakefield is a travel writer who specializes in  river cruises in Europe and the U.S. Connect with her on Twitter and Google+.

[This page may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.]


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