The magic of exploring some of the best Christmas markets in the world is truly unbeatable. A mini cruise to a European Christmas market comes with a merry atmosphere, cultural insights, and of course delicious festive delicacies. No matter the market you choose, the warm glow and sensational scent of Christmas spices are a comforting beacon on a chilly winter evening.
Christmas Market Cruises from Southampton
Cruising from Southampton makes getting to your chosen Winter destination even easier with no need to fly. Instead, your holiday begins from the moment you step onboard, with many cruise lines operating short cruise breaks to Europe featuring Christmas markets as a real highlight on the itinerary. Choose from a huge range of cruise lines to sail from Southampton, including firm favourites such as Fred. Olsen Cruises and P&O Cruises.
Christmas Market River Cruises
River cruises are a fantastic way to reach hidden inland destinations that ocean liners cannot reach and, in Winter, the perfect way to discover the best Christmas Markets of Europe. Sail along the Rhine or Danube around this time of year and you’ll wake up in a new city each day. Discover Vienna, Budapest and Frankfurt on the Danube, or uncover the romantic charms of Germany and Switzerland on the Rhine. When on a Christmas market river cruise, you’ll be able to spend more time ashore and enjoy hand-picked excursions, bringing you to the heart of these festive destinations.
Top Christmas Market Destinations
Just thirty minutes away from Zeebrugge cruise port, Bruges features tranquil canals, fairy-tale architecture and, at Christmas time, is awash with festive spirit. Expect Christmas lights, fir trees, roasted chestnuts, traditional market stalls and very merry music. Belgian chocolates and locally crafted beers make wonderful presents to bring home- and don’t forget to treat yourself to some delectable waffles while you’re here.
The capital of the Republic of Ireland oozes Christmas cheer, and a stop off in an warm Irish pub will no doubt see you singing along and dancing with the lively locals. Irish Christmas markets offer typical fare from local farmers, and handmade crafts from artisans, as well as quirkier gifts such as vinyl records and vintage clothing. For a truly unique Christmas present, Dublin is a brilliant place to begin your search.
From delicious hot chocolate to scenic ice skating, a stop off in Antwerp at this time of year offers an abundance of Christmas joy. Meet local stall holders at Groenplaats, a main square surrounded by historical buildings, and indulge in the delights of this chocolate-box city. For that extra special someone, pass by Antwerp’s renowned Diamond District where the shops truly glitter and shine.
With the scent of hot punch and roasting chestnuts to lead the way, the Christmas markets of Vienna will spoil you for choice when it comes to culinary delights as well as handcrafted goods. Find that extra special tree decoration, learn how to make Christmas cookies and enjoy the warm, welcoming spirit of this beautiful city.
It’s no wonder why traditional German Christmas markets have made their way over to the UK. Hosting one of the largest markets in Germany, Frankfurt offers a huge, illuminated tree, a life-sized nativity scene and a plethora of beautiful stalls. Among the fairy-tale festivities, you’ll find dazzling lights, cosy carols and your favourite Christmas classics such as mulled wine and gingerbread - don’t forget to try the famous bratwurst sausages too!
More on Christmas Cruises
Check out our Planet Cruise Weekly Christmas Cruises Special where Keith and Glenn get right into the Christmas spirit. With more information on European markets as well as Christmas Caribbean itineraries and top tips, you’re spoilt for choice on where to go this winter, though if you’re still looking for some inspiration, check out our Winter destination recommendations.