Think river cruising in Europe is only for the warmer months? Think again!  

While the temperatures are a lot cooler than in summer, there is still so much you can see and do in winter – particularly around the festive season with Europe’s legendary Christmas markets. And the best part? Knowing you can return to your Suite Ship, a warm cocoon to dispel any chills from exploring the streets of each new city or town.  

So, add a dash of merriment to your river cruise with Avalon Waterways! These are our top five places to visit on a festive river cruise.  

Alsace, France 

Colmar, France
Photo by @jean.paul.krebs on Instagram

The historical region of Alsace is transformed into a magical place from the end of November. While she may be small, Alsace is mighty! Alongside their annual Christmas markets, you can also enjoy other activities like Christmas concerts, craft workshops and wine tasting with a festive flair.  

Regensburg, Germany 

Photo by @journey.tom on Instagram

Regensburg can be a little hard to reach if visiting Germany by land, however cruising along the Danube makes this a piece of (Christmas) cake! Regensburg plays host to several Christmas markets with its main one the most impressive. The Regensbuger Christkindlmarkt is held in the middle of a UNESCO World Heritage Site so it is incredibly special. A Christmas tradition for this town is their sausages sold by the half metre, a must-try!  

Prague, Czech Republic 

Photo by @lucianaterroni on Instagram

Prague is, without a doubt, one of the most enchanting cities to visit. Visit during winter and its atmosphere is elevated with a fresh dusting of snow and glittering festive lights strung through its streets. Grab a trdelnik (a cylindrical, hollow pastry covered in cinnamon and sugar) to warm you up as you wander the cobblestone streets and its Christmas market.  

Budapest, Hungary 

Photo by @beceatsgood on Instagram

Budapest’s Christmas city lights are officially lit on the first Sunday of the Advent period (3 December). From this day forward, this historic city is truly a winter wonderland. On an Avalon river cruise, you will dock in the heart of the city which makes it easy to disembark and explore both Buda and Pest. Even though the outside temperature is chilly, we love to have a soak in the famous Szechenyi Baths to warm up. 

Salzburg, Austria 

Photo by @mikecleggphoto on Instagram

Flanked by a spectacular cathedral and the city’s Residenz, the Salzburger Christkindlmarkt is easy to find – if not for the heady scent of freshly baked cookies that wafts through the air! This market has been held since the fifteenth century so holds many festive traditions, but we would also recommend visiting some of the city’s smaller markets as well. The Hohensalzburg Fortress holds one in its courtyard, as do the Mirabell Gardens. Whatever your pick, Christmas really elevates the romance of Salzburg. 

Is a festive river cruise on your bucket list? Take a look at what Avalon offers today by clicking here

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