Get away next 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: $3,090 * 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  Smithsonian travelers onboard ship. Credit: Meghan Nash  Holiday market in Cologne  View of Cologne along the Rhine River

Holiday Markets

A River Cruise along the Rhine River

12 days from $3,090

Get away next 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 ››

Overview

FlexAir is designed to provide you with the flexibility and choice you need to personalize your air travel experience. Explore a wide range of flight options in consultation with our experienced travel professionals to select the flights, routing, class of service, and dates of travel that most fit your needs. Our partner tour operator has negotiated contracts with a wide variety of carriers that allow them to hold flight reservations and then issue your ticket close to departure without additional fees. This protects you from the need to purchase published-fare tickets, which must be ticketed within 24 hours of purchase. FlexAir reservations provide the flexibility to adjust reservations without penalty and to accommodate extensions and upgrades right up until ticketing time, usually around 45 days before departure. We look forward to providing you with more choice and the best possible itinerary for your air travel plans.

Program Includes:

  • Guaranteed transfers between the airport and your overseas accommodations upon arrival and departure (in most cases). We will provide you with all of the details you need to guarantee your transfer.
  • Air schedule change and delay assistance. Book FlexAir to ensure assistance should schedule changes or delays impact your air travel plans.
  • Flight insurance worth up to $250,000, subject to policy terms, is automatically included.
  • Confirmed airline seat assignments at the time of booking (in most cases).

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.

2019 Itinerary - Zurich to Cologne - November 24 - December 5

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

Smithsonian Travelers depart the U.S. for Zurich via overnight trans-Atlantic air service. After a morning arrival at Zurich’s Kloten Airport and after Immigration and Customs formalities, transfer to Interlaken and the Royal St. Georges Hotel. The Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director will be available throughout the journey to answer questions and help with suggestions for independent activities.

This evening, a welcome reception is planned at the hotel. (R)

Day 3 – Interlaken

A full American-style buffet breakfast will be served each morning during the tour. Drive from Interlaken to Thun this morning. Enjoy an escorted walking tour that takes you over Schlossberg mountain and through the Old Town of Thun. See the Medieval Castle that overlooks the city. Stroll past the Stadtkirche which is also located on the Schlossberg in a prime location and with impressive views of the Alps. Pass through Town Hall Square and in the Old Quarter you’ll see the raised pavements that are unique in Europe. Stroll through the Mühleplatz and the Aarequai with its Mediterranean ambience.

From Thun, board a small boat with indoor seating for a luncheon cruise on Lake Thun. Enjoy magnificent views of the impressive alpine scenery, historic castles, and romantic lakeside vistas.

In the early evening, gather with the Smithsonian Journeys Expert for an engaging presentation. (B,L)

Day 4 – Interlaken

The entire final day is at leisure to explore Interlaken and the surrounding area. Interlaken has a beautiful, festively decorated Holiday Market with inviting regional specialty shops.

In the early evening, gather in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner for lively camaraderie. (B)

Day 5 – Interlaken to Basel

After breakfast, depart the hotel and travel by motor coach to Basel. A stop for sightseeing will be made in Bern, Switzerland’s capital city to visit its Old Town.

Upon arrival in Basel, board the MS Amadeus Silver III. This evening, gather for a welcome reception and dinner aboard the ship. (B,R,D)

Day 6 – Basel

After a morning arrival in Basel, take one of the two excursions offered.

Choice #1Alemannia Basel – Basel is one of the cities on the Rhine that was founded as a strategic outpost of the Roman Empire. Take a guided tour through the historic quarter of the city and visit the Munsterplatz and the Barfusserplatz where you’ll find its famous Swiss Christmas Markets.

Choice #2The Ways of Art in Basel – Depart the ship and visit the Foundation Beyeler, featuring the art of the 20th century including works of Monet, Picasso, Warhol, Lichtenstein, and Bacon in its permanent collection and also featuring rotating exhibitions.

Return to the ship for lunch. The remainder of the afternoon in Basel is at leisure.

This evening, the Smithsonian Journeys Expert will offer an engaging presentation. (B,L,D)

Day 7 –Breisach

Depart the ship on an excursion to visit Freiburg and Breisach. 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. Continue with a walking tour of Breisach, a beautiful town that boasts one of Europe’s largest wine cellars. Both towns are known for their wonderful Christmas Markets. Breisach is also known for its original cuckoo clocks and Black Forest cake. After lunch on board, 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 #2Colmar 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, there’s a get-together with the Traveler’s Corner for an informal discussion of the day’s discoveries. Dinner will be served aboard the ship. (B,L,D)

Day 8 – Strasbourg

Arrive in Strasbourg in the early morning. Today, customize your visit with a choice of tours ashore.

Choice #1Strasbourg Panoramic Tour – This morning, discover beautiful Strasbourg on a panoramic motor coach 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 #2Culinary 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. (B,L,D)

Day 9 – Speyer and 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 typical restaurant featuring German specialties.

After lunch, there’s free time to follow your own path and explore on your own. Later, 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 10 – Rudesheim and the Rhine Gorge

Today, personalize your cruise with a choice of shore tours.

Choice #1Rudesheim 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 nations. Visit Siegfried’s Mechanisches Musikkabinett, a truly unique museum featuring beautiful music boxes with self-playing instruments. During free time, stop for coffee, made with flambéed brandy, sugar and topped with whipped cream and chocolate flakes.

Choice #2Rhine Wine Tasting – Travel to Broemserburg Castle and Wine Museum. Tour the museum, that showcases unique wine glasses, paraphernalia and vessels used over the centuries, and enjoy visiting the castle itself. Learn about the unique characteristics of the land and vineyards before sitting down to a tasting. If you wish, climb the tower for great views of Rudesheim and the Rhine.

Return to the ship with a stop in Rudesheim for those who wish to return to the ship on their own. The ship will depart and cruise on the most remarkable part of the Rhine. The Smithsonian Journeys Expert will offer an engaging presentation. 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, get together in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner. (B,L,D)

Day 11 – 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 allied bombing during WWII.

This afternoon there is free time to follow your own path. Visit the local Christmas Market or the Rautenstrauch Joest Museum for an ethnological journey around the world. The balance of the day will be at leisure. Start the evening with a cocktail reception followed by dinner on board.

Dinner will be served on board. (B,L,R,D)

Day 12 – Return to the U.S.

Transfer to Frankfurt am Rhine Airport for westbound trans-Atlantic flights to the U.S. (B)

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

2019 Itinerary - Cologne to Interlaken - December 4-15

Day 1 & 2 – Depart the U.S. for Frankfurt, Germany

Depart the U.S. for Frankfurt via overnight trans-Atlantic air service. After a morning arrival at Frankfurt am Main Airport, transfer to Cologne and embark the MS Amadeus Silver III. The Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director will be onboard to answer questions and help with suggestions for independent activities.

This evening, a welcome reception and dinner is planned for you on board. The ship will remain in Cologne overnight. (R,D)

Day 3 – Cologne

A full American-style buffet breakfast will be served each morning during the cruise. After breakfast, a local speaker will talk about the Christkindlmarkts and other fascinating German holiday traditions.

Later, start exploring with 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.

This afternoon there is free time to follow your own path. Visit the local Christmas Market or the Rautenstrauch Joest Museum for an ethnological journey around the world. Get together with fellow travelers in the Smithsonian Journeys Traveler’s Corner for lively conversation.

Dinner will be served on board. (B,L,D)

Day 4 – Rhine Gorge and Rudesheim

The ship will depart and cruise on the most remarkable part of the Rhine. The Smithsonian Journeys Expert will offer an engaging presentation. 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.

After lunch, the ship will arrive in Rudesheim where there is a choice of shore tours.

Choice #1Rudesheim 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 nations. Visit Siegfried’s Mechanisches Musikkabinett, a truly unique museum featuring beautiful music boxes with self-playing instruments. During free time, stop for coffee, made with flambéed brandy, sugar and topped with whipped cream and chocolate flakes.

Choice #2Rhine Wine Tasting – Travel to Broemserburg Castle and Wine Museum. Tour the museum, that showcases unique wine glasses, paraphernalia and vessels used over the centuries, and enjoy visiting the castle itself. Learn about the unique characteristics of the land and vineyards before sitting down to a tasting. If you wish, climb the tower for great views of Rudesheim and the Rhine.

Return to the ship with a stop in Rudesheim for those who wish to return to the ship on their own. The evening is free to enjoy the Christkindlmarkt and the wine taverns in the Drosselgasse. (B,L,D)

Day 5 – Speyer and 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 typical restaurant featuring German specialties.

After lunch, there’s free time to follow your own path and explore on your own.

Later, 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 6 – Strasbourg

Arrive in Strasbourg after breakfast. Today, customize your visit with a choice of tours ashore.

Choice #1Strasbourg Panoramic Tour – This morning, discover beautiful Strasbourg on a panoramic motor coach 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 get-together before dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 7 – Breisach

Depart the ship on an excursion to visit Freiburg and Breisach. 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. Continue with a walking tour of Breisach, a beautiful town that boasts one of Europe’s largest wine cellars. Both towns are known for their wonderful Christmas Markets. Breisach is also known for its original cuckoo clocks and Black Forest cake.

After lunch on board, 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 #2Colmar 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, there’s a get-together with the Smithsonian Journeys Expert in the Traveler’s Corner for an informal discussion of the day’s discoveries. Dinner will be served aboard the ship. (B,L,D)

Day 8 – Basel

After an early morning arrival in Basel, take one of the two excursions offered.

Choice #1Alemannia Basel – Basel is one of the cities on the Rhine that was founded as a strategic outpost of the Roman Empire. Take a guided tour through the historic quarter of the city and visit the Munsterplatz and the Barfusserplatz where you’ll find its famous Swiss Christmas Markets.

Choice #2The Ways of Art in Basel – Depart the ship and visit the Foundation Beyeler, featuring art of the 20th century including works of Monet, Picasso, Warhol, Lichtenstein and Bacon in its permanent collection and also featuring rotating exhibitions.

Return to the ship for lunch. The remainder of the afternoon in Basel is at leisure.

This evening, Smithsonian Journeys travelers gather for a special farewell reception and dinner aboard ship. (B,L,R,D)

Day 9 – Basel and Interlaken

Following breakfast, disembark the ship and travel by motor coach to Interlaken. Along the way, stop in Bern, the bustling capital city of Switzerland, for a walking tour through the Old Town. Then enjoy leisure time for lunch and individual sightseeing.

Upon arrival in Interlaken this afternoon, check-in at the Royal St. Georges Hotel situated in the heart of the Bernese Oberland. After getting settled, the Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director will guide you on a short orientation tour of the town.

In the early evening, gather for an engaging talk by the Smithsonian Journeys Expert. (B)

Day 10 – Thun

Drive from Interlaken to Thun this morning. Enjoy an escorted walking tour that takes you over Schlossberg mountain and through the Old Town of Thun. See the Medieval Castle that overlooks the city. Stroll past the Stadtkirche which is also located on the Schlossberg in a prime location and with impressive views of the Alps. Pass through Town Hall Square and in the Old Quarter you’ll see the raised pavements that are unique in Europe. Stroll through the Mühleplatz and the Aarequai with its Mediterranean ambience.

From there, board a small boat with indoor seating for a luncheon cruise on Lake Thun. Enjoy magnificent views of the impressive alpine scenery, historic castles, and romantic lakeside vistas.

In the early evening, gather with the Smithsonian Journeys Expert and fellow travelers in the Smithsonian Travelers’ Corner. (B,L)

Day 11 – Interlaken

The entire final day is at leisure to explore Interlaken and the surrounding area. Interlaken has a beautiful, festively decorated Holiday Market with regional specialty shops.

This evening, Smithsonian Journeys travelers gather for a special farewell reception. (B,R)

Day 12 – Return to the U.S.

Transfer to Zurich’s Kloten Airport for westbound trans-Atlantic flights to the U.S. (B)

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