Get away during the holiday season and discover festive traditions and holiday markets in charming riverside towns in Germany, France, and Switzerland on an unhurried river cruise.

Starting at: $3,590 * Price includes special offer Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Festive entrance to Strasbourg's historic city center  Holiday decorations at Place Kleber, Strasbourg  Young traveler enjoying a pretzel in Strasbourg during the holidays  Gingerbread, Germany  Enticing holiday sweets. Credit: Meghan Nash  Holiday market treasures. Credit: Meghan Nash  Holiday market in Germany. Credit: Meghan Nash  Passing through the Rhine Gorge. Credit: Meghan Nash  Passing through the Rhine Gorge. Credit: Meghan Nash  Holiday market in Cologne  View of Cologne along the Rhine River

Holiday Markets

A River Cruise from Interlaken to Düsseldorf

11 days from $3,590

Get away during the holiday season and discover festive traditions and holiday markets in charming riverside towns in Germany, France, and Switzerland on an unhurried river cruise.

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details

TOUR BROCHURE

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WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

I loved going to the stops on the cruise to experience the wonderful holiday markets - be sure you have extra space for the treasures you will buy!! Also the kind of trip you can take again!

- Ellen S.

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.

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

- Daniel M.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

See All Journeys Dispatches ››

SPECIAL OFFER

Save $250 per person when you book by December 18, 2020!

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

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. Visit the Tour Details tab and click on "Special Air Rates/Services" drop down. 

Overview

Welcome the start of the holiday season during a delightful river cruise as towns along the Rhine open their cheerful Christkindlmarkts (Christmas markets) with holiday food specialties, hot mulled wine, and beautifully crafted holiday decorations. Personalize your cruise with a choice of included excursions in select ports of call and visit four World Heritage sites. 

Highlights Include

  • Heart of the Swiss Alps: Enjoy a two-night hotel stay in Interlaken, situated in the Bernese Oberland. From here, enjoy a tour of nearby Bern and a day at leisure in Interlaken.  
  • Seven-Night River Cruise: Located in the historic French region of Alsace lies Strasbourg, where you’ll discover historic buildings and celebrated culinary traditions. After docking in Mannheim, join an excursion to the historic town of Heidelberg nestled in the enchanting Neckar River Valley. Stroll through the charming Old Town of Rudesheim and sample the local wine at Family Stoerzel Winery. Sail through the scenic Rhine Gorge and in Cologne explore the Old Town and Gothic cathedral.  
  • 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.
  • Small Ship Experience: Enjoy cruising aboard an upscale small river ship that features sophisticated staterooms and public spaces, superb amenities, excellent cuisine, and an informal ambiance. See more information on the Tour Details page. Please note that the direction of the cruise varies depending on the departure date and is outlined under the Itinerary section below. Each voyage will also host other leading cultural and educational institutions, which will add to the excitement and energy of the experience.

I loved going to the stops on the cruise to experience the wonderful holiday markets - be sure you have extra space for the treasures you will buy!! Also the kind of trip you can take again!

- Ellen S.

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.

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

- Daniel M.

2021 Itinerary - Zurich to Dusseldorf - November 25 - December 5

Day 1 & 2 –Depart the U.S. for Zurich, Switzerland

Depart the U.S. for Zurich via your transatlantic flight. Arrive at Zurich’s Kloten Airport and transfer to Interlaken and the deluxe Victoria Jungfrau. Your Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director will be available to answer questions and help with suggestions for independent activities. In the late afternoon, gather for an escorted orientation walk around the hotel neighborhood. This evening, gather for a welcome reception at the hotel. (R)

Day 3 – Interlaken

A hearty breakfast will be served each morning during your stay. The day will be free of planned activities. Your Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director will be available to help with suggestions for sightseeing and restaurant suggestions. In early evening, get to know your fellow travelers in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner. (B)

Day 4 – Interlaken / Basel

After breakfast, depart the hotel and travel by deluxe motorcoach to Basel. A stop for sightseeing will be made en route in Bern, the capital city of Switzerland for a visit to its Old Town. After time to explore and lunch on your own, continue to Basel for embarkation aboard the Amadeus Silver III. This evening, gather for a welcome reception and dinner aboard the ship. (B,R,D)

Day 5 – Breisach

This morning, travel to Freiburg through the lovely Kaiserstulh area. In Freiburg, see the historic highlights of the city center and the Augustinerplatz, site of Freiburg’s Munster, a remarkable Gothic cathedral built of local red sandstone. There’s time to stroll through the Holiday Market that features holiday food specialties, glühwein, and fanciful decorations. Afterward, return to the ship for lunch.

This afternoon personalize your visit with a choice of shore excursions:

Choice #1 - Riquewihr and the Wines of Alsace: Enjoy a walking tour of Riquewihr, France, a lovely town that has not changed noticeably since the 16th century. Stop at a local winery and enjoy a sampling of the local wines.

Choice #2 – Colmar Markets: The holidays are an especially magical time in this beautiful Alsatian town. Walk through the Old Town and visit four different markets. Dominating the main market is the Dominican Church and its remarkable stained-glass art from the 14th century. In the Place Jeanne d’Arc, walk through stalls selling Alsatian treats. Continue to Place de l’Ancienne Douane, a charming square with stalls arranged around the Schwendi Fountain. Head indoors at the Koifhus to see this medieval building and discover the work of local artisans.

This evening, gather in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner for an informal discussion of the day’s discoveries. Dinner will be served aboard the ship. (B,L,D)

Day 6 – Strasbourg

Arrive in Strasbourg in the early morning. Today is your choice between two tours ashore:

Choice #1 – Strasbourg Panoramic Tour: This morning, discover beautiful Strasbourg on a panoramic motorcoach tour. The principal city of France’s Alsace region and the capital of the European Union, the excursion includes a stop at the Notre Dame Cathedral, for years the world’s tallest building, and the museums of the Palais Rohan and the St. Thomas Church. Then, enjoy a guided walking tour through Strasbourg’s historic center.

Choice #2 – Culinary Strasbourg: Join a tour that offers insight into the city’s culinary heritage. Strasbourg is renowned for its cuisine throughout France. In winstubs, small wine bars typical of Strasbourg, traditional dishes can be enjoyed, as well as fine Alsatian wines. During this guided walking tour, stops will be made so you can sample local food specialties and wine.

This afternoon a shuttle bus will be available to take travelers to and from the city center. The remainder of the day is free of planned activities. In early evening, learn about typical holiday traditions in a German home. Hear stories from a local speaker about the importance of home and family during this special time of the year. (B,L,D)

Day 7 – Mannheim / Heidelberg

This morning, depart the ship for the historic town of Heidelberg. A local guide will accompany you on a visit of the red-walled castle with its 18th-century Great Vat, a 49,000-gallon wine cask, and enjoy the panoramic views of the Neckar Valley and the venerable city below. Afterward, take a short walk through the city center passing the Student Jail, the Old University, the Cathedral, and along the Neckar River which runs through the heart of Heidelberg. Join fellow travelers for lunch at a restaurant featuring German specialties. This afternoon, attend a special musical performance. Sample favorite holiday treats and refreshments while enjoying a mix of contemporary music, opera, operetta, and seasonal holiday songs. Return to the ship for dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 8 – Rudesheim / the Rhine Gorge

Today, enjoy a choice of shore tours:

Choice #1 – Rudesheim Walking Tour: Depart from the ship and walk into the Old Town of Rudesheim. Walk along the Drosselgasse, a street lined with wine taverns, cafes, and shops. See the Christmas Market of the Nations featuring traditions and goods from 15 countries. Visit Siegfried’s Mechanisches Musikkabinett, a truly unique museum featuring beautiful music boxes and self-playing instruments. During free time, stop for coffee, made with flambéed brandy, sugar, and topped with whipped cream and chocolate flakes.

Choice #2 – Rhine Wine Tasting: Travel to the beautiful Abbey of St. Hildegard, set amid a vineyard on a hillside overlooking the river. Enjoy the serene environment as you visit the Benedictine abbey and church, where you will learn about the remarkable St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179). A prominent woman in the medieval church, the multi-talented Hildegard of Bingen was an abbess, mystic, author, composer, poet, healer, theologian and preacher during her lifetime. Afterward, head to a local Rudesheim winery and taste the region’s renowned, fine wines in an old wine cellar.

The ship will depart and cruise on the most remarkable 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 nobility. One legend tells of Lorelei, a siren, whose song bewitched passing sailors and lured them to disaster on the rocks. Relax 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. Later, join fellow travelers in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner. Before dinner, get together and toast the holidays with a festive German specialty … Glühwine. (B,L,D) 

Day 9 – Cologne

This morning, join 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 the Allied bombing during WWII. Lunch is served on board. Shuttle service will be available from the ship to the city center during the afternoon. The balance of the day will be at leisure. This evening, enjoy a festive farewell reception and dinner on board. The ship will overnight in Cologne. (B,L,R,D)

Day 10 – Dusseldorf

This morning you have a choice of shore tours:

Choice #1 - Düsseldorf and Holiday Markets: Düsseldorf highlights are impressive, with the modern architecture of the Medienhafen (Media Harbor) on the Rhine riverfront showcasing world-class architects such as Frank Gehry. See The Old Town or Altstadt, all but destroyed during World War II. Rebuilt according to historic plans, the area is now a popular shopping spot and on weekends, it turns into what’s known as the "longest bar in the world." At Christmas, the air is filled with the scent of roasted almonds and hot mulled wine.

Choice #2 – Aachen – The City of Charlemagne: Aachen has flourished for millennia and it was Charlemagne who established the city firmly on the European map. The emperor, for strategic reasons, made Aachen the geographical and political capital of his vast Frankish Empire. Charlemagne’s legacy lives on in the stunning Cathedral, which in 1978 became Germany’s first World Heritage site. Visit the Dom of Aachen with the original Throne of Charlemagne, the historic City and Spa Area of Aachen, and the Christmas Market famous for the "Aachener Printen" a special variety of gingerbread. The afternoon is free so you can follow your own path and explore Dusseldorf’s uniquely delightful Christmas Markets on your own. (B,L,D)

Day 12 – Return to the U.S.

After an early breakfast disembark the ship and transfer to Dusseldorf International Airport for your flight to the U.S. (B)

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

2021 Itinerary – Dusseldorf to Zurich -December 4 - December 14

Day 1 & 2 - Depart the U.S. for Dusseldorf, Germany

Depart the U.S. for Dusseldorf via your transatlantic flight. Arrive at Dusseldorf International Airport and transfer to the Amadeus Silver III. Lunch will be served on board for early arrivals. Your Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director will be available to answer questions and help with suggestions for local activities. This evening, gather for a welcome reception and dinner aboard the ship. (L,R,D)

Day 3 – Dusseldorf

Today you can personalize your shore experience with a choice of excursions:

Choice #1 - Dusseldorf and Holiday Markets: Dusseldorf highlights are impressive, with the modern architecture of the Medienhafen (Media Harbor) on the Rhine riverfront showcasing world-class architects such as Frank Gehry. See the Old Town or Altstadt, all but destroyed during World War II. Rebuilt according to historic plans, the area is now a popular shopping spot and on weekends, it turns into what’s known as the "longest bar in the world." At Christmas, the air is filled with the scent of roasted almonds and hot mulled wine.

Choice #2 – Aachen – The City of Charlemagne: Aachen has flourished for millennia and it was Charlemagne who put the city firmly on the European map. The emperor, for strategic reasons, established Aachen the geographical and political capital of his vast Frankish Empire. Charlemagne’s legacy lives on in the stunning Cathedral, which in 1978 became Germany’s first  World Heritage site. Visit the Dom of Aachen with the original Throne of Charlemagne, the historic City and Spa Area of Aachen, and the Christmas Market famous for the "Aachener Printen" a special variety of gingerbread. The afternoon is free so you can follow your own path and explore Dusseldorf’s uniquely delightful Christmas Markets on your own. (B,L,D)

Day 4 - Cologne

This morning, learn about typical holiday traditions in a German home. Hear stories from a local about the importance of home and family during this special time of the year. Later join a walking tour of Cologne’s Old Town, Cathedral Square, and the magnificent 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 the Allied bombing during WWII. Lunch is served on board. Shuttle service will be available from the ship to the city center during the afternoon. (B,L,D)

Day 5 – Rhine Gorge / Rudesheim

This morning, sail through the most impressive and interesting section of the Rhine, the Rhine Gorge on the way to Rudesheim. Pass romantic Loreley Rock, a 433-foot high slate cliff, and learn why this section of the river was awarded World Heritage site status. Relax on board as a new spectacular vista presents itself around every twist of the river and every rocky crag of the river bend. Enjoy bridge commentary broadcast in the Lounge, sundeck, and restaurant while sailing past the main sights of this wonderful area of the river. After lunch you’ll have a choice of tours ashore: 

Choice #1 – Rudesheim Walking Tour: Depart from the ship and walk into the Old Town of Rudesheim. Walk along the Drosselgasse, a street lined with wine taverns, cafes, and shops. See the Christmas Market of the Nations featuring traditions and goods from 15 countries. Visit Siegfried’s Mechanisches Musikkabinett, a truly unique museum featuring beautiful music boxes and self-playing instruments. During free time, stop for coffee, made with flambéed brandy, sugar, and topped with whipped cream and chocolate flakes.

Choice #2 – Rhine Wine Tasting: Travel to the beautiful Abbey of St. Hildegard, set amid a vineyard on a hillside overlooking the river. Enjoy the serene environment as you visit the Benedictine abbey and church, where you will learn about the remarkable St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179). A prominent woman in the medieval church, the multi-talented Hildegard of Bingen was an abbess, mystic, author, composer, poet, healer, theologian and preacher during her lifetime. Afterward, head to a local Rudesheim winery and taste the region’s renowned, fine wines in an old wine cellar.

This evening is free to enjoy Rudesheim and its Christmas Market. Perhaps you will take a stroll of the famous cobbled street of Drosselgasse lined with wine taverns and beer gardens. (B,L,D)

Day 6 – Mannheim / Heidelberg

This morning, depart the ship for the historic town of Heidelberg. A local guide will accompany you on a visit of the red-walled castle with its 18th-century Great Vat, a 49,000-gallon wine cask, and enjoy the panoramic views of the Neckar Valley and the venerable city below. Afterward, take a short walk through the city center passing the Student Jail, the Old University, the Cathedral, and along the Neckar River which runs through the heart of Heidelberg. Join fellow travelers for lunch at a restaurant featuring German specialties.

This afternoon, attend a special musical performance. Sample favorite holiday treats and refreshments while enjoying a mix of contemporary music, opera, operetta, and seasonal holiday songs. Return to the ship for dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 7 - Strasbourg

Arrive in Strasbourg in the early morning. Today you have your choice between two tours ashore:

Choice #1 – Strasbourg Panoramic Tour: This morning, discover beautiful Strasbourg on a panoramic motorcoach tour. The principal city of France’s Alsace region and the capital of the European Union, the excursion includes a stop at the Notre Dame Cathedral, for years the world’s tallest building, and the museums of the Palais Rohan and the St. Thomas Church. Then, enjoy a guided walking tour through Strasbourg’s historic center.

Choice #2 – Culinary Strasbourg: Join a tour that offers insight into the city’s culinary heritage. Strasbourg is renowned for its cuisine throughout France. In winstubs, small wine bars typical of Strasbourg, traditional dishes can be enjoyed, as well as fine Alsatian wines. During this guided walking tour, stops will be made so you can sample local food specialties and wine.

This afternoon a shuttle bus will be available to take travelers to and from the city center. The remainder of the day is free of planned activities. Early this evening enjoy a Gluhwein party on-board before dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 8 – Breisach / Freiburg

This morning, travel to Freiburg through the lovely Kaiserstulh area. In Freiburg, visit the historic highlights of the city center and the Augustinerplatz, site of Freiburg’s Münster, a remarkable Gothic cathedral built of local red sandstone. There’s time to stroll through the Holiday Market that features holiday food specialties, glühwein, and decorations. Afterward, return to the ship for lunch. This afternoon you have a choice of shore excursions:

Choice #1 - Riquewihr and Wines of the Alsace: Enjoy a walking tour of Riquewihr, France, a lovely town that has not changed much since the 16th century. Stop at a local winery and enjoy a sampling of the local wines.

Choice #2 – Colmar Markets: The holidays are an especially magical time in this beautiful Alsatian town. Walk through the Old Town and visit four different markets. Dominating the main market is the Dominican Church and its remarkable stained-glass art from the 14th century. In the Place Jeanne d’Arc, walk through stalls selling Alsatian treats. Continue to Place de l’Ancienne Douane, a charming square with stalls arranged around the Schwendi Fountain. Head indoors at the Koifhus to see this medieval building and discover the work of local artisans. This evening, gather in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner for an informal discussion of the day’s discoveries. Dinner will be served aboard the ship. (B,L,D)

Day 9 – Basel / Interlaken

This morning, depart the ship in Basel by motorcoach to Interlaken, Switzerland. Along the way stop in Bern, the vibrant capital city of Switzerland, for a walking tour through the Old Town. Then enjoy free time at leisure for lunch and individual sightseeing. Upon arrival in Interlaken this afternoon, check in to the deluxe Victoria Jungfrau Hotel located in the heart of the Bernese Oberland mountains. Your Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director will guide you on a short orientation walk through Interlaken after checking in. Dinner is at leisure this evening. (B)

Day 10 - Interlaken

The entire day is at leisure. Your Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director will be available at the hospitality desk for suggestions on sightseeing, shopping, and meal reservations. Stroll through the town, take a boat ride or journey up to one of the surrounding mountain peaks or villages. This evening there will be a farewell reception at the hotel. (B,R)

Day 11 – Depart for U.S. Gateway Cities

Depart for Zurich’s Kloten International Airport and your return flight home. (B)

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