Get away next holiday season and discover festive traditions and holiday markets in charming riverside towns in Germany on an unhurried river cruise.

Starting at: $3,090 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 View of Cologne along the Rhine River  Cathedral and holiday market in Wurzburg  Holiday decorations in Miltenberg. Credit: Creative Sparks Imagery /  Gingerbread, Germany  Holiday decorations in Europe

Holiday Markets

A River Cruise along the Rhine and Main Rivers

12 days from $3,090

Get away next holiday season and discover festive traditions and holiday markets in charming riverside towns in Germany on an unhurried river cruise.

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details


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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.


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Save $250 *per person when you book by August 18, 2017! Use promotion code LASTCALL online or when speaking to our travel specialists to secure these savings.

• Nov. 27, 2017

*Offer valid on new bookings only.


Please call or ask us a question to register your interest for our 2018 departures. 

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.

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

  • The Rhine River: In Cologne, choose from a morning walking tour featuring the Old Town and the Gothic cathedral or the city’s Jewish heritage and the Cologne City Museum. Visit the town of Koblenz, once a Roman outpost, and sail through one of the most scenic sections of the Rhine, designated a World Heritage site, passing romantic Lorelei Rock. 
  • The Main River: Gaze upon half-timbered houses in Miltenberg’s town square, one of the most photographed sites in Germany. Traveling along the Romantic Road, you’ll discover the walled city of Rothenburg, with its Old Town, market square, and Christmas Museum. In Würzburg, visit one of the most beautiful baroque palaces in Europe as well as the city center with its cathedral, churches, Old Town Hall, and bustling marketplace. Stopping in colorful Bamberg, a World Heritage site, choose to explore either the town’s medieval and baroque architecture or its wide-ranging cuisine during a morning excursion. And in Nuremberg, see the site of the Nuremberg trials and choose from excursions featuring the city’s architecture or other World War II sites.
  • Bavaria’s Capital: Settle into a deluxe hotel in Munich for three nights. During a day trip to Salzburg, Austria, stroll through the city of Mozart and visit the Hohensalzburg Fortress. Conclude your journey with a day at leisure in Munich.
  • Christkindlmarkts: Welcome the winter season as you explore traditional holiday markets in each of the cities on your journey. Their colorful stalls feature holiday food specialties, hot mulled wine, and beautifully crafted holiday decorations.

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.

November 27 - December 8 Itinerary

The November 27-December 8 departures start in Cologne and end in Munich. The December 1-12, 2018 departure runs in reverse, starting in Munich and ending in Cologne.  

Days 1 & 2 — Depart the U.S., Arrive in Germany

Depart the U.S. on evening flights to Frankfurt. 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. 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. Dinner each evening will include a selection of German and Austrian wines. The ship will overnight in Cologne. (D)

Day 3 — Cologne

The day begins with a presentation by your Smithsonian Journey Expert. This morning, there is a choice of shore excursions.

Choice #1 – Start exploring on a walking tour of Cologne’s Old Town, Cathedral Square, and the magnificent Gothic Dom Cathedral, 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 is at leisure. Gather with fellow travelers in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner for a lively discussion. Later, attend a talk by a local speaker about the history of the Christkindlmarkt and other German holiday traditions. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Koblenz / 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. 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. In the late afternoon, your Smithsonian Journeys Expert will give an engaging presentation. (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Miltenberg

This morning, the ship will cruise to Miltenberg. Gather in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner with your Smithsonian Journeys Expert. After docking this afternoon at Miltenberg, join a walking tour that takes you to the Market Square with its iconic fountain and charming half-timbered houses. The Miltenberg Town Square is one of the most photographed sites in Germany. There’s free time to explore the Christkindlmarkt on your own before returning to the ship in time for the departure for Wurzburg. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — 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 Neumunslerkirche, where St. Kilian’s crypt is found; the Old Town Hall; the University; and the bustling marketplace. After lunch aboard ship, depart on an excursion to visit Rothenburg situated on Germany’s 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 the late afternoon, return to the ship. After dinner, gather in the lounge for an exclusive concert featuring opera and Christmas music including a performance by a soprano, tenor, and pianist. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Bamberg

Join your Smithsonian Journeys Expert for an informative presentation. The ship will arrive Bamberg after lunch. After arrival, there is a choice of shore tours.

Choice #1 Bamberg, 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.

Return to the ship in time for dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Nuremberg

Start the day with lively conversation in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner. After docking, there is a choice of engaging shore tours.

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 the 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 wartime Germany and played host to spectacular demonstrations and rallies organized to display Nazi strength and power. At the Documentation Center, you’ll see exhibits that showcase the National Socialist Party’s infamous regime. See the courthouse where the Nuremberg War Crimes trials were conducted between 1945 and 1949.

Choice #3 – Enjoy an exclusive visit to a Franconian farm to learn about rural life and local holiday traditions. Continue to see nearby countryside villages.

Later, there’s time to explore the local Christkindlmarkt. This evening join fellow travelers for a farewell reception and dinner aboard ship. (B,L,R,D)

Day 9 — Nuremberg / Munich

After breakfast, disembark the ship and travel by motor coach to Munich, the capital of Bavaria. On a panoramic tour of the city, see the Old Town Hall, Frauenkirche, and St. Peter’s Church in the old town and learn about the history of a city that offers an endless variety of beautiful sights. 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

Drive outside Munich this morning to visit Hohenschwangau Castle, built by King Maximilian II of Bavaria and childhood home of Ludwig II. Continue to the Castle of Neuschwanstein built by King Ludwig II during the 19th century. Tour the interior of both castles and marvel at the state rooms and royal apartments. Enjoy the remarkable vistas surrounding these fairy-tale castles. During the excursion, see nearby lakes including Lake Alpsee and Lake Forggensee. (B, L)​

Day 11 — Munich

The day is at leisure, 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) 


During this voyage we will share the ship with other leading cultural and educational institutions, which will add to the excitement and energy of the experience.

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)