The holiday season provides the perfect opportunity to get away and discover charming riverside towns with their festive Holiday Markets on an unhurried river cruise through the heart of Europe.

Starting at: $2,995 * Price includes special offer Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Holiday decorations at Place Kleber, Strasbourg  Christmas market at Place Kleber, Strasbourg  Festive entrance to Strasbourg's historic city center  Young traveler enjoying a pretzel in Strasbourg during the holidays  Wintertime in Cochem, Germany, along the Mosel River  Gingerbread, Germany  Christmas Eve in Bernkastel-Kues, Germany  Holiday decorations in Luxembourg  Holiday market along the Champs d'Elysees, Paris  Red toffee apples from the Christmas market, Paris  Holiday decorations along the Champs d'Elysees, Paris  Holiday decorations at Galeries Lafayette, Paris

Holiday Markets

Featuring a Rhine River Cruise

12 days from $2,995

The holiday season provides the perfect opportunity to get away and discover charming riverside towns with their festive Holiday Markets on an unhurried river cruise through the heart of Europe.

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details

TOUR BROCHURE

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WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

I can't say enough about my experience with Smithsonian Journeys!!

- Daniel M.

The Holiday Markets tour is a magical way to see Germany, Luxembourg, and Paris as the cities and people wonderfully display the joy of the season!

- Charles M.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

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SPECIAL OFFER

No single supplement for solo travelers! (Limited availability. Book early to ensure your place.)

Overview

Special Air Rates & Services: As part of our special air program, FlexAir, available with this tour, you can choose from a wide variety of flight options. View Special Air Rates/Services to learn more.

Escape the hurried pace of the holiday season at home. Instead, relax on a delightful river cruise that features charming holiday markets along Germany’s Rhine and Mosel Rivers and in Luxembourg and Paris.

Please Note: The 2017 program will take place entirely in Germany—starting in Cologne and concluding in Munich. 

I can't say enough about my experience with Smithsonian Journeys!!

- Daniel M.

The Holiday Markets tour is a magical way to see Germany, Luxembourg, and Paris as the cities and people wonderfully display the joy of the season!

- Charles M.

To see itinerary, please click on an option below.

2016 Itinerary

Escape the hurried pace of the holiday season at home. Instead, relax on a delightful river cruise that features charming holiday markets along Germany’s Rhine and Mosel Rivers and in Luxembourg and Paris.

Highlights Include

  • Paris: Enjoy two days in the “City of Light” as it prepares for the holidays. Highlights include a Seine River cruise and time to explore independently.
  • Luxembourg: Stop to savor the renowned holiday market in the main square.
  • Bernkastel and the Mosel: Choose from a guided tour of this 700-year-old town or the Mosel Wine Museum and a vineyard.
  • Cochem and Trier: Visit Reichsburg Castle overlooking Cochem and the many Roman sites of Trier.
  • The Rhine Gorge: Cruise along the most scenic stretch of the river, a World Heritage site, stopping at picturesque Koblenz.

Please note: The Amadeus Silver will accommodate guests on the November 29 - December 10 departure, while the group on the December 6-17 departure will set sail on the Amadeus Princess.

Day 1 — Depart the U.S.

Smithsonian Journeys Travelers depart the U.S. on evening transatlantic flights to Paris, France. 

Day 2 — Paris, France

After an early morning flight arrival transfer from Charles de Gaul Airport to the Paris Marriott Opera Ambassador Hotel. This evening join fellow travelers for a welcome reception. The balance of the evening is at leisure.

Day 3 — Paris

Begin exploring Paris this morning with an expert guide on a panoramic excursion that offers a wonderful orientation to the historical highlights of the City of Light.

Optional Half-Day Afternoon Tour to Versailles: Travel outside of Paris to explore France’s grandest palace, including the Hall of Mirrors where the Treaty of Versailles was signed. Just a short trip, the baroque chateau was the kingdom’s political capital and the seat of the royal court from 1682 until 1789. A headset rental is included so you can explore at your own pace.

Day 4 – Paris

Begin the day with a talk conducted by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert. Later there’s a cruise on the Seine River, a designated World Heritage site that has always been the heart and soul of Paris. In addition to the many historic landmarks on the Seine, see the Grand Palace, Musee d’Orsay, Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower. You can't help but notice the many splendid bridges that span the river, some of them several centuries old. See the Pont Neuf, whose first stone was laid in 1578 by Henri III in the presence of the Queen Mother, Catherine de Médici. Get together in the Smithsonian Journeys Traveler’s Corner for a drink and lively conversation. (B)

Day 5 — Paris, Luxembourg, and Bernkastel, Germany

Depart Paris by morning train for Luxembourg. Upon arrival, visit the Luxembourg Holiday Market. Each year in December, the traditional holiday market turns the Place d'Armes into a fairy-tale village. The Main Square of the capital is covered with small wooden stalls, selling candles, decorations, and sweets, as well as Glühwein and typical holiday foods. After lunch at leisure, motor to Bernkastel to board your ship. This evening attend a Welcome Reception and Dinner featuring regional wines. (B,D)

Day 6 — Trier and Bernkastel

Once an outlying capital city of the Roman Empire, Trier boasts a trove of Roman ruins. As you explore Trier, you will see the Porta Nigra, a World Heritage site, and the City Gate built in the late 2nd-century A.D. Visit the largest Imperial Bath outside of Rome and a palace built by Constantine. See the Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady, a pair of churches originally founded to celebrate Constantine’s 20th year as emperor. Discover other treasures, like the Dreikönigenhaus the House of the Three Magi and the medieval Market Square. This afternoon there’s a guided walking tour of Bernkastel, a 700-year old town. The town has a lovely Market Square lined with half-timbered houses. See the late Renaissance Town Hall, St. Michael’s Church, and so much more. Before dinner, gather for a presentation on German Christmas Holiday Traditions. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Cochem and Koblenz

Explore Cochem, which is renowned for its half-timbered buildings that surround the Main Square. Visit Reichsburg Castle that overlooks the town. The original castle was built in the early 11th- century. True to its original style, it has a crenelated wall, multiple turrets and an imposing tower. Join a guided walking tour of the town. Afterward, there will be time to let your interests be your guide and explore on your own. The evening begins with an engaging lecture on the wines produced from the Riesling grape. After dinner the ship will dock in Koblenz where you can explore the Christmas Market. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Koblenz and Cologne

Established more than 2,000 years ago by the Romans to guard the banks of the Rhine and Mosel rivers, the picturesque town of Koblenz has a rich history that matches its charm. On a walking tour see the fountain in front of the Town Hall, the Church of Our Lady, the Old Castle, and the Old Merchant’s Hall that is today the Middle Rhineland Museum. Take a stroll through the lively Holiday Market. Drive to Cologne for a walking tour of the Old Town. See the iconic Dom, Germany’s largest cathedral and a World Heritage site. Enjoy a leisurely visit to the Christmas Market or spend time indoors at the Lindt Chocolate Museum or the Wallraf-Richartz Museum of Art. (B,L,D)

Day 9 — Koblenz, Rhine Gorge and Rudesheim

Today the ship sails on the most beautiful part of the Rhine and through the fabled Rhine Gorge. Pass the romantic Loreley Rock and learn why this section of the river was awarded World Heritage site status. This morning the Smithsonian Journeys Expert will give an engaging talk. Relax on board and marvel at the magnificent scenery that presents itself around every bend in the river. At a lecture learn about the castles and legends of the Rhineland. There are more castles along the Rhine than any other river in the world. The region is rich with legends. One legend tells of Lorelei, a siren whose song bewitched passing sailors and lured them to disaster on the rocks.

Afterward join fellow Smithsonian travelers at a Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner for a drink and lively conversation. Arrive in Rudesheim where the evening is free to enjoy its Holiday Market. Take a stroll on the famous cobbled Drosselgasse, a street lined with cozy wine taverns. (B,L,D)

Day 10 – Mainz

Mainz is a lovely river town with quaint old shops, and a beautiful market square. Join an excursion that showcases the Mainzer Dom, the beautiful Cathedral of St. Martin and St. Stephen and the Iron and Wood Towers, once used as fortification for the city. After the walking tour, enjoy some free-time to explore the Christmas Market. (B,L,D)

Day 11 – Speyer

While in Speyer you’ll have a choice of tours ashore.

Choice #1 – Romantic Heidelberg: This lively town is home to Germany’s oldest and most famous university; made famous in the operetta The Student Prince. During your visit see the Old Bridge, the Bridge Gate, Marketplace, the Hauptstrasse and Heidelberg University. The charm of Heidelberg can be sensed in every corner of the town.

Choices #2 – Mobile Mannheim: At the confluence of the Rhine and Neckar rivers is the industrial center of Mannheim. The city has a fascinating history that centers on industrial innovation. You’ll hear the stories of such famed German innovators as Karl and Bertha Benz founders of the world-renowned automobile company. After some free time to stroll through the Christmas Market. Later, join an excursion that highlights Speyer’s Old Gate built in the early 13th century.  Walk along the Maximilianstrasse and see Speyer Cathedral a World Heritage Site, the Old Mint and Town Hall. After many shared and wonderful memories of Christmas Markets, vineyards, castles and magnificent scenery, gather this evening for our festive Farewell Reception and Dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 12 — Depart Frankfurt for the U.S.

Depart the ship and transfer to Frankfurt’s Rhein-Main Airport for return flights to the U.S. (B) 

2017 Itinerary

Enjoy the start of the holiday season on a delightful river cruise as towns along the Rhine and Main open their cheerful Christkindlmarkts (Christmas markets). Personalize your cruise with a choice of included excursions in select ports of call and visit four World Heritage sites.

Highlights Include

  • Your River Cruise: In Cologne, explore the Old Town and Cathedral Square or join a Jewish Heritage walking tour. Visit the town of Koblenz, once a Roman outpost, and sail through the scenic Rhine Gorge, passing romantic Lorelei Rock. Continue along the Main River to gaze upon half-timbered houses in Miltenberg and discover towns like Würzburg and Rothenburg, located along the Romantic Road and adorned in their holiday best. Stop in colorful Bamberg, known for its medieval and baroque buildings, and in Nuremberg to visit the Hauptmarkt and St. Lorenz Church.
  • Bavaria’s Capital: Settle into a deluxe hotel in Munich for three nights. Take a day trip to Salzburg, Austria, the city of Mozart and enjoy a day at leisure in Munich.
  • Christkindlmarkts: Welcome the winter season as you explore traditional holiday markets in Cologne, Koblenz, Rothenberg, Würzburg, and Nuremberg to name a few. Their colorful stalls feature holiday food specialties, hot mulled wine, and beautifully crafted holiday decorations. 

Day 1 — Depart the U.S.

Smithsonian Travelers depart the U.S. on evening trans-Atlantic flights to Frankfurt, Germany

Day 2 — Cologne

After an early morning flight arrival, transfer by motor coach from Frankfurt Rhine-Main Airport to the Amadeus Silver docked and waiting in Cologne, Germany. Upon arrival at the ship, each traveler will receive a customized Welcome Kit containing general information highlighting Germany as well as a map of the Rhine and Main Rivers. The Travel Director will be available this afternoon and throughout the program for suggestions regarding sightseeing, restaurants and independent activities. This evening meet fellow travelers at a Welcome Reception and Dinner aboard ship. The ship will overnight in Cologne. (R,D)

Day 3 — Cologne

This morning, you have a choice of shore excursions.

Choice 1: Start exploring on a walking tour of Cologne’s Old Town, Cathedral Square and the magnificent Gothic Kölner Dom a World Heritage Site and one of the largest Gothic structures in the world. It is remarkably one of the only buildings that survived allied bombing during WWII.

Choice 2: Learn about Cologne’s Jewish history on a Jewish Heritage Walk. Recent archaeological excavations have uncovered the city’s historic Jewish Quarter. Continue to the Cologne City Museum to visit exhibits that showcase the city’s heritage.

This afternoon there is free time to follow your own path. Later, attend a talk about the history of the holiday markets and other German holiday traditions. Get together with fellow travelers in the Smithsonian Journeys Traveler’s Corner for lively discussion. Dinner is served in the ship’s Dining Room. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Koblenz and the Rhine Gorge

Established more than two millennia ago as a Roman outpost to guard the confluence of the Rhine and Mosel rivers, the picturesque town of Koblenz has a rich history and great charm. On a walking tour, see the town’s historic highlights and take a stroll through the lively holiday market. As the ship sails toward Miltenberg, you ‘ll be traveling on the most remarkable and beautiful part of the Rhine. Pass the Lorelei Rock in an area of the river designated as a World Heritage Site. The region is rich with legends of castles and kings. One legend tells of Lorelei, a siren whose song bewitched passing sailors and lured them to disaster on the rocks. This afternoon your Smithsonian Journeys Expert will give an engaging presentation. Relax on board and marvel at the magnificent scenery that presents itself around every bend in the river. There are more castles along the Rhine than any other river in the world. Dinner will be served in the ship’s Dining Room. (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Miltenberg

Begin the day with at an introductory get-together with your Smithsonian Journeys Expert. After docking this afternoon at Miltenberg, join a walking tour that takes you to the Market Square with it’s iconic fountain and charming half-timbered houses. Miltenberg’s town square is one of the most photographed sites in Germany! There’s free time to explore the holiday market on your own before returning to the ship and the departure for Wurzburg. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Wurzberg

Start the day with an engaging presentation by the Smithsonian Journeys Expert. Join a shore excursion to visit Rothenburg situated on the legendary “Romantic Road.” Step back in time and explore this fascinating walled city. Visit the Old Town and Market Square. Rothenburg celebrates Christmas year-round with shops that sell beautifully crafted ornaments and other decorations; there is even a Christmas Museum. In late afternoon, return to the ship in Wurzburg for an overnight stay and a chance to visit the Christkindlmarkt during the evening. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Wurzberg

Get an early start this morning and explore the Wurzburg Residence, one of the most beautiful Baroque palaces in Europe. On a walking tour, discover the historic highlights of the city center including St. Kilian’s Cathedral; the Neumünslerkirche, where St. Kilian’s crypt is found; the Old Town Hall; the University; and the bustling marketplace. The ship will depart in late afternoon for Bamberg. Meet in the Smithsonian Journeys Traveler’s Corner for a get-together and conversation. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Bamberg

This morning, join your Smithsonian Journeys Expert for an engaging presentation. In Bamberg, you have the choice of shore excursions.

Choice 1Bamberg, a World Heritage Site, is a remarkable town that showcases Gothic and Baroque architectural masterpieces. Discover the grand Rococo arch of the Obere Brücke and see the fishermen’s houses and baroque mansions that are a centerpiece of this storybook town.

Choice 2: Join a culinary tour around the town’s bakery, butcher, deli, and candy store to learn about and taste local Franconian specialties such as the famous Bamberger Hörnle, a variation on the French croissant; the Bamberger Weck, a bread roll with sausage; the famous licorice and rauchbier or smoked beer.

Later, there’s time to explore the local holiday market. This evening join fellow travelers for a Farewell Reception and Dinner aboard ship. (B,L,R,D)

Day 9 — Nuremberg and Munich

Today you’ll have a choice of tours ashore in Nuremberg. Disembark the ship and begin exploring Nuremberg on your selected tour.

Choice 1: Explore the historic highlights of Nuremberg including the site of the Nuremberg Trials that followed WWII. Visit the Hauptmarkt that is dominated by a 14th century Gothic fountain. See Our Lady’s Church then continue on to St. Lorenz Church dating from the 15th. century.

Choice 2: The city of Nuremberg played a central role in the history of the Nazi Party. The city played host to huge demonstrations and rallies organized to display Nazi strength and power. At the Documentation Center see exhibits that showcase the National Socialist Party’s infamous regime. See the courthouse where the Nuremberg War Crimes trials were conducted after WWII.

There’s time for lunch and a stroll through the market before departing by motor coach for the drive to Munich. Arrive at the deluxe and centrally located Bayerischer Hof where accommodations have been reserved for a three-night stay. This evening is a perfect time to visit the Christkindlmarkt in the Marienplatz. (B)

Day 10 — Munich and Salzburg

Get an early start this morning on a drive to Salzburg, Austria. This small, charming city is known as the city of Mozart and home to the world-famous Salzburg Music Festival. On a guided tour, walk along quaint cobblestone streets and see delightful squares, quaint shops and cafes. Visit the hilltop Hohensalzburg Fortress, then after a luncheon featuring local specialties, there’s free time to visit the Christkindlmarkt located in the Salzburg Cathedral square before returning to Munich. (B,L)

Day 11 — Munich

The day is free, so let your interests be your guide and explore on your own. This evening gather with fellow travelers for a Smithsonian Journeys Farewell Reception. (B,R)

Day 12 — Depart Munich for the U.S.

Depart the hotel and transfer to Munich International Airport for return flights to the U.S. (B)