Why Plan a Christmas Vacation Now?
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Happy New Year! While today marks the second day of 2024, it’s also the ninth day of Christmas; did you get your “Nine Ladies Dancing?” Don’t worry, me neither, and all for the best, because who knows what to do with Nine Ladies Dancing, anyway (I’d have taken those Five Golden Rings, though!)!
Mostly I’m just grateful that the Christmas Season isn’t over just yet; although some people do find relief in taking down their tree before New Year’s Eve hits, there are still a few more days left in those Twelve Days of Christmas so many of us sing about, and if there’s still Christmas Magic to be felt and celebrated, I’m so here for it!
And while those Post-Christmas Blues are always a struggle, the best way through them is to look ahead to next Christmas, and plan some Christmas Vacations to look forward to! Even though it seems so far away, we all know the Holiday Travel Season is the busiest Travel Season of the year, so if you want the most options when it comes to Holiday Vacations, whether you want to take a Disney Trip to experience Holidays in the Parks, or you’re looking for a festive Holiday cruise, booking now is the best time to secure your top choices.
Plus, if you read our blog about What Vacations to Book When, you might remember that there are certain types of vacations that should always be booked about a year (or more) in advance, and that includes cruises, especially those with limited sailings, such as the highly sought after Christmas Market River Cruises, speaking of which…
Why Take a Christmas Market River Cruise?
As Disney enthusiasts, we appreciate any experience that brings some extra Magic into our lives, whether it’s spotting the elusive Northern Lights as you gaze up at the Winter Night Sky, or standing beneath a double rainbow in Hawaii, or wandering through the twinkling lights of traditional European Christmas Markets as you sip hot cider (or mulled wine), and listen to carolers sing their way through the market stalls.
The Magic of these moments is undeniable, and while it’s tough to predict the appearance of Natural Wonders, such as rainbows and the Northern Lights, planning to visit the iconic Christmas Markets of Europe is wonderfully reliable, since their existence is, after all, rooted in hundreds of years of tradition.
Exploring Christmas Markets where they originated, in countries such as Germany and Austria, illuminates the Magic of yesteryear, when hand-carved gifts were treasured above technology, and spirits were made bright by children’s choirs singing carols in the square, as the sweet scents of roasted chestnuts and chocolate wafted through the crisp winter air. The gifts you find at Christmas Markets aren’t just the ones that can be bought, but the ones you experience, too; essentially, they are like portals back in time, and Magical in every way you can imagine.
Just as they’ve been for hundreds of years, Christmas Markets are scattered throughout Europe, in big, bustling cities and quaint, storybook towns, each unique in its own way, and each worth visiting. Luckily, with the lengthy rivers running from country to country throughout Europe, it’s never been easier to experience all the different Christmas Markets in one cohesive way: on a River Cruise, of course!
Imagine unpacking just once, settling into your “floating hotel” as you travel from country to country, experiencing the best Christmas Markets of each. You never have to worry about getting from one destination to the next, since everything is seamlessly taken care of for you, with an expertly crafted itinerary bringing you into the heart of the most iconic Christmas Markets in Europe.
So, keep those Santa hats and Christmas sweaters on, friends, the season isn’t over yet, and with a Christmas Market River Cruise to look forward to, next Holiday season will be here before you know it…
Your Holiday Vacation festivities will begin in the whimsical city of Prague, well known for its enchanting atmosphere year round, this capital city of the Czech Republic becomes a fairytale come to life in the months of November and December. Once you’ve landed, you’ll swiftly be escorted to your luxurious hotel, where you can settle in after traveling, and then dine at a restaurant recommendation from your esteemed concierge. Don’t forget to rest up for a full day of exploration tomorrow!
When you wake up, you may feel like you’re still dreaming with the storybook landscape out your window, but rest assured, this fairytale vacation is real, and just getting started. After breakfast at your hotel, you’ll head out on a tour of the city, discovering Prague’s eclectic collection of architecture ranging in style from Art Nouveau, Baroque, Renaissance and Gothic. Then, you can hike to the thousand-year-old Prague Castle, walk over the storied Charles Bridge, and visit the famous Astronomical Clock, Tyn Church and statue of Jan Husak in Old Town Square. Also in the Old Town Square, you’ll find the city’s famed Christmas Markets, of course, where you can wander at your leisure, tasting local delicacies as the afternoon turns into evening.
Be sure to have a hearty breakfast today, since the main activity of the day is all about beer! Did you know that the Czech Republic’s first brewery was established all the way back in 993? Or that beer is just as important to the country’s identity as the art and architecture standing in its most famous squares? Today, you’ll tour a brewery and enjoy a beer tasting to discover what makes Czech beer so remarkable, and such an important part of Czech culture. After, you’ll have more time to go back to the Christmas Market at the Old Town Square, to visit any stalls you may have missed yesterday.
Today is Embarkation Day! After breakfast at your hotel, you’ll pack up for the only time throughout your journey (besides when you head home, but we’re far from then, don’t worry!), and head out on a beautiful pastoral drive through the countryside. Once you reach Nuremberg, where your ship awaits, you’ll be able to board and settle in with plenty of time before your Welcome Dinner!
Though you boarded your River Cruise Ship last night, you won’t be leaving Nuremberg just yet; there are historical sites and Christmas Markets to explore, after all! After breakfast onboard your ship, you’ll head out into the city for a World War II highlights tour, including the Imperial Castle, nearly thousand-year-old ramparts, and cobblestone streets, which will lead you into some small, local Christmas Markets. Later, though, you’ll visit one of the world’s largest Christmas Markets, Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt, with plenty of time to peruse the stalls. Once back on your ship, your river journey will officially begin as you cross the Continental Divide before the day is over.
Today’s adventure is full of Yuletide cheer and tradition! You’ll be exploring Regensburg, one of the most well-preserved medieval cities in Germany, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Excursion choices for the day include a guided walking tour of Regensburg’s signature architecture, including the Old Town Hall, and Porta Praetoria, or a food-centric tour on which you’ll get to sample some of Bavaria’s famous local fare, including beer, sausage and pretzels, or, for a more active option, you can choose to bike around the city, visiting sites such as the neoclassical white marble temple at the base of Walhalla, which was inspired by the Parthenon in Athens.
Whichever options you choose, there will of course be time for exploring the Christmas Markets of the area, and later in the day, you’ll visit one of the most picturesque and romantic Christmas Markets in all of Europe, the Markets at Thurn and Taxis. Here, artisans make their crafts right in front of you, making each treasure you find all the more special!
As your journey down the Danube continues, today will bring you to the two-thousand-year-old city of Passau, famous for St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and the defining Gothic and Italian Baroque architecture. Once again today, you’ll have a multitude of choices for excursions: you can spend the whole day immersed in the Christmas Market and the Bavarian-style crafts and delicacies therein, or you can take in a new view of the river on a guided bicycle ride along the Danube.
Or for something totally different, you can take a day trip through the Austrian Alps to Salzburg, where you’ll enjoy a walking tour of the Old Town, including the Salzburg Cathedral and Christmas Markets.
This day trip will even include a visit to Hellbrunn Palace, where the inner courtyard is transformed into one of the most enchanting Christmas Markets in all of Austria. Whatever you choose, your day will end, as usual, with a spectacular dinner onboard your familiar ship.
As you sail through the heart of Austria, you’ll stop in the historical city of Melk, home to the revered Baroque monastery, Melk Abbey. Situated high on a rocky cliff, this Benedictine Abbey has been converted into a museum chronicling its own history, and also housing a famous library with innumerable medieval manuscripts.
You can choose to visit this famous Abbey, or opt for a bike ride around the city of Melk, before boarding your ship for a scenic cruise of the Wachau Valley, a UNESCO-designated area that is a planned day sail, instead of night sail, for its dramatic views. Before the end of the day, you’ll arrive in the storied city of Vienna, with plenty of time before dinner to begin your exploration of the Christmas Markets there.
Known as the “City of Waltzes,” Vienna positively sparkles with Christmas Spirit during the Holiday Season, and your options for how to explore this romantic city are plentiful! You can tour the regal highlights throughout Vienna, including the opulent Opera House, and the former Imperial Palace of Habsburgs, or cycling enthusiasts will enjoy another opportunity to explore the city and riverfront by bike.
Of course, the remainder of the day will be spent exploring the Christmas Markets of Vienna, including a visit to Schonbrunn Palace, with its towering, glistening Christmas tree. As the Christmas Carols carry through the night air, maybe even take a moment to Waltz with your sweetheart, or even on your own, in the sparkling light of the tree.
The culmination of your European City and Christmas Market exploration could not be in a more regal or historic city than Budapest. Many of the most storied sights can be viewed right from your ship as it sits docked on the bank of the Danube, but of course, the tours offered will provide an insightful experience of the twin cities on both sides of the river. On your tour, you’ll enjoy sweeping views from the famed Buda Castle, before continuing on to sites such as Fisherman’s Bastion, the Royal Palace, St. Stephen’s Basilica, and Heroes’ Square, to name just a few highlights.
Even after your full tour, you’ll have plenty of time to experience the iconic Christmas Markets of this famed city, where you’ll want to be sure to make it to every stall that interests you, and try every last delicacy before boarding your ship for one last evening.
With your bags filled with treasures from all the Christmas Markets you’ve visited, and your metaphoric cup overflowing with Christmas Cheer, you’ll disembark with the bittersweet sense of your Festive River Cruise coming to an end, but with plenty of gifts and stories to share with loved ones as you head home for the holidays! Perhaps a celebratory beer to cheers with at the airport before your flight home will be the perfect cap to the Perfect Christmas Market River Cruise Vacation!
Ready to Plan?
If you are ready to experience the Iconic Christmas Markets of Europe for yourself, and would like to plan your Perfect Christmas Market River Cruise Vacation, contact your Love of the Magic Travel Agent today, or email hello@LOTMV.com. And of course, whether you want to journey through storybook Christmas Markets, or plan your next adventure somewhere totally different, your LOTMV Travel Advisor will work with you to create the unique experience you’re looking for.
Looking for more of our Inspiring Itinerary series?
You can find links to all of 2023’s Inspiring Itineraries in this Blog: 2023 Inspiring Itineraries Recap and even links to all of 2022’s Inspiring Itineraries here: A Year of Inspired Travel: 2022’s Inspiring Itineraries, Month by Month.
Just like last year, a new Inspiring Itinerary will come out each month!
And don’t forget to check out our Friday Blog Series: Jamie’s Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s, where our favorite Travel Planning Aficionado shares her wealth of knowledge and experiences about traveling the world! You can find links to all of Jamie’s 2023 Travel Tips here: Jamie’s 2023 Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s, A Recap, and to all of Jamie’s 2022 Travel Tips at this Blog: Jamie’s 2022 Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s: A Recap.
Ready to plan The Perfect Christmas Market River Cruise Vacation? Contact your Love of the Magic Vacations Travel Advisor today or email hello@LOTMV.com