Did you think river cruising was only for the warmer months? Think again! Did you know you can see the Europe less-seen as the festive season breathes new life into this old continent? Marvel at gothic architecture before following the city’s illuminated streets towards the Christmas Markets, where you can savour a mulled wine, be blown away by the creativity of the handmade wooden decorations and end your days snuggled up in your own personal onboard oasis after a day of exploring snow-laden streets.

Christmas truly is a special time of the year, and one of our favourite festive river cruise trails is from Basel to Budapest. Imagine spending your Christmas river cruising through France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Hungary – magical. Read on for tips on how to really experience Christmas time magic…

Christmas in Basel


Welcome to Switzerland! The perfect starting point for your Central European Christmas adventure; spend your first evening strolling through the city centre, enjoy the festive illumination and savour Christmas delicacies like waffles, gingerbread, sweets and Swiss raclette.

Christmas in France



A Gothic Cathedral, Heaven’s Time and Joyeux Noel; there’s no such thing as ‘Bah Humbug’ in Strasbourg! Marvel at the gothic majesty of the Cathedral, before following the city’s illuminated streets towards the famed Christmas Markets; one of the oldest and finest in Europe.

Christmas in Germany



Winter wonders and a wine barrel fit for a King! Venture to Heidelberg and enjoy wandering around the magnificent Heidelberg Castle and the Great Vat – the world’s largest wine barrel! Then soak up the sights and sounds, tantalising treats and seasonal handiwork of the sparkling winter wonderland Christmas Market.



Ornaments, Old Saint Nicholas and Nutcrackers sweets! Embark on a guided sightseeing tour of the “Pearl of the Romantic Road” with its Old Main Bridge, towering fortress and baroque Bishop’s Residence. You may choose to join an optional excursion to the beautiful nearby Bavarian town of Rothenburg, where you can visit the Kathe Wohlfahrt German Christmas museum, which houses the world’s most extensive collection of traditional German Christmas decorations.



Cherished Christmas Customs and cradle scenes; enjoy spending time strolling through dozens of Bamberg’s nativity scenes – from miniature to life-size. Be sure to spare some time for the quaint Christmas markets and warm up with traditional German dumplings, sausage and a glass of hearty Bavarian ale.

Interested in experiencing a European Christmas? Check out our range of Avalon Waterways Festive river cruises here

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