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Cruising to Europe’s Christmas Markets
A Christmas market is a street market held during the four weeks of Advent that lead up to Christmas. Some of the oldest markets are in Germany, where Christmas markets have been popular since the Middle Ages. Then and now, people come to the markets to browse for ornaments, toys, books, unique handmade gifts and more. In addition to stalls full of items for sale, many markets feature nativity scenes, decorated trees, and stands selling traditional Christmas cookies, pastries and drinks.
The Christmas market in Nuremberg, Germany, is one of the oldest and best-known markets in Europe, visited by two million people each year. Look for locally made angel ornaments, a Nuremberg tradition. The market is in the heart of the old city, so wear sturdy shoes for steadier walking on cobblestone streets, especially after you’ve sampled some delicious Gluhwein (hot mulled wine).
Salzburg, Austria, has a Christmas market that twinkles with strings of festive lights. Look for hand-made crafts and aromatic tree ornaments. This market also features special live performances by the city’s famous choirs, string quartets and other ensembles.
The capital city of Austria, Vienna, has more than two dozen Christmas markets. There’s a fabulous market in front of Schonbrunn Palace, which was the summer palace of Austria’s Habsburg monarchs. With such a spectacular setting, it’s no wonder that this market has a reputation for elegant gifts.
The main Christmas market in Hungary is in Budapest, in Vorosmarty Square on the Pest side of the Danube. Look for woven products here, as well as woolen gloves and hats. Be sure to try a sweet Hungarian pastry with your mulled wine.
When you’re not visiting a Christmas market or seeing other sights on shore, you’ll be able to relax and update your Christmas list in the comfort of your river cruise ship.  The ship will do the work of taking you from one lovely market to another while you enjoy fine dining, conversation with fellow passengers and restful sleep in your stateroom. It’s a pleasant change from fighting holiday season traffic at the mall!
To find a European river cruise that will take you to these or other charming Christmas markets, talk with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.