In November 2022, Susie – part of our Sales team in Australia – experienced some of Germany’s most magical Christmas markets on our Festive Season in the Heart of Germany river cruise.  

Charles Bridge

I always find that a great way to get over your jetlag before you embark on your river cruise is to include at least one extra night to your holiday. Luckily for me, my itinerary had the option of adding two nights in Prague before embarkation. I absolutely love this city so any opportunity for another visit gets a big tick.

Charles Bridge, Prague
The iconic Charles Bridge of Prague

I was picked up from the airport and transferred to the stunning Art Deco Imperial Hotel, situated in the heart of Prague’s Old Town.  

Art Deco Imperial Hotel guest desk
The Avalon guest desk at the Prague Art Deco Imperial Hotel

Its fantastic location meant I was within walking distance to all my favourite things like Old Town Square, Charles Bridge, cobblestone streets, cafes, tram stops, shopping…and the first of many experiences of a European Christmas market! 


At Prague’s magical Christmas market, it was time to sample some local ‘market’ fare. I have no idea what this is called, however it consisted of gnocchi, sauerkraut, bacon, and a bratwurst on the side for good measure! One of the local desserts are chimney cakes or trdlenik. I describe it as a fancy cinnamon donut shaped into a cone filled with ice-cream served in a cup – delicious! 

Prague market food
Yum – a local specialty at the Prague Christmas market!
Chimney cake
A delicious chimney cake

An included sightseeing tour with a local guide is a must, however you also have ample time to explore Prague on your own. 

My ship was beginning its journey in Nuremberg, Germany which meant a seamless coach transfer from Prague. Arriving at your ship in the early evening is a sure delight, particularly if you have booked a festive-themed cruise! The Avalon Artistry II was fully adorned with Christmas decorations, the staff were welcoming, and the check-in process was slick. 

Panorama Lounge
The Panorama Lounge decked out in all its Christmas glory

I lovingly call this cruise the Bergs/Burgs as you get to experience Nuremberg, Bamberg, Wurzburg, Miltenberg, and Rothenburg is offered as an Optional Excursion. Our final stop was Frankfurt for this itinerary. 

Bamberg food
Curried bratwurst at the Christmas market in Bamberg
Frankfurt’s Christmas market

My favourite highlight was Rothenburg. Although an optional excursion, it is a must-see! This small, stunning walled village is a Christmas delight. Not only do you have the Christmas markets, but you also have the shops all decorated in their best festive attire. This is particularly spectacular as night falls, and everything lights up.  

The streets of Rothenburg
Rothenburg lighting up for the night

I could have spent several days here exploring and people watching. There is a hidden gem around every corner, not to mention the family-run Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas shop and museum which has been providing Christmas decorations since 1964. 

The famous Christmas tree at Rothenburg’s Käthe Wohlfahrt shop

What can I say about being in Europe late November/early December? It is invigorating, it is magical, it is spectacular. At each Christmas market, it is not only about the local food, wine and the Christmas decorations, but it is also about the sense of community spirit where friends and family come together to embrace the celebration and warmth of the Christmas spirit. You can’t help but be caught up in the joy that the local children exude, feeling welcomed and included. 

Walking into Wurzburg

All in all, I would certainly be putting a festive themed river cruise on your bucket list! It is truly a gorgeous season to be travelling through Europe. Take a look at the range of cruises that Avalon Waterways offers in late November – December here

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