Rhine Christmas Markets River Cruise

8 Days
Amsterdam to Zurich
From (USD)
$ 4,095
Dates & Pricing

2021 Amsterdam > Zurich

Winter in northern Europe means the arrival of long nights, crisp snows, and dazzling celebrations of the holiday season. Cruise in comfort along the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel, disembarking along the way to explore magical Christmas markets exhibiting customs unique to each city.
Wander through medieval squares filled with the sounds of traditional carolers, the scents of mulled wine and spices, and the sparkle of ornamented Christmas trees. Browse stalls displaying delicate handmade trinkets and toys, explore fairytale castles and cathedrals decked with tinsel, and bring home holiday cheer to brighten the new year. As we sail these storied waterways, enjoy the freedom and flexibility to tailor the itinerary to your interests, choosing from a variety of available excursions at each port of call—and benefit from the insights provided by the National Geographic Expert and the National Geographic photographer who accompany us on the journey.
Tour Map
Tour Code:
XAMB
Duration:
8 days
Departure City:
Amsterdam
Return City:
Zurich

National Geographic Expert, Teresa Fisher

Departure date: December 6, 2021
Teresa Fisher is a National Geographic author and freelance travel writer based in Portsmouth, UK. With a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Exeter University, she initially worked in London for Sotheby’s auction house; then in Europe as a cross-cultural communications trainer, living in Germany, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland and Taiwan. While residing in Bavaria, she commenced a career in travel writing, focusing initially on Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France and Italy – destinations which still hold a special place in her heart. Teresa has since penned more than 30 guidebooks and children’s educational books on a wide variety of destinations from Europe to Japan, for publishers such as Lonely Planet, Frommer’s and Fodor’s, and including National Geographic Traveler Switzerland. She specializes in European cities, adventure travel to far-flung destinations and all things Alpine, dividing her time between her family-oriented website, familyskinews.com, and photojournalism. Her stories have taken her round the globe, documenting wildlife and culture in some of the world’s more remote places. Highlights include tracking jaguars by dugout canoe in Guyana, tracking orangutan in eastern Sabah, backpacking round Japan, and being part of the first team of husky mushers to cross from Finland into Russia. When she’s not travelling or skiing, Teresa spends summer months aboard her houseboat in the world’s largest natural harbour, Poole Harbour. Teresa speaks French, German and some Italian, plays the violin and piano, and is a member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and The Arts Society. She has been leading expeditions for National Geographic in Europe for more than half a dozen years
Gianluca Colla

National Geographic Photographer, Gianlucca Colla

Departure date: December 6, 2021

Originally from Italy, Gianluca Colla has traveled and photographed around the world, from the Arctic to the Antarctic Circle, from Africa’s deserts to the Amazon and to the Alps. He has covered a diverse range of topics including the secrets of the longest-living centenarians in the world, a lost Da Vinci painting, and hidden mummies in Sicilian crypts. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including National Geographic magazine, Condé Nast Traveler, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. Currently based in Switzerland, he has traveled and photographed extensively around Europe.

8 Day Itinerary

  1. Day 1 - Amsterdam, Netherlands

    Embark our ship in Amsterdam and settle into your spacious suite. This evening, gather for a welcome dinner and raise your glass to the beginning of a magical trip along the Rhine.

  2. Day 2 - Amsterdam, Netherlands

    This morning, set out to explore one of the many Christmas markets set along the picturesque canals of the Dutch capital. Sample delicious treats such as oliebollen, Dutch doughnuts, or poffertjes, small pancakes topped with butter and powdered sugar. Choose to explore the city’s medieval canals on a boat cruise, or opt for a guided tour of the Rijksmuseum, home to historical exhibitions that tell the story of the Netherlands, as well as masterpieces by famous Dutch painters from Rembrandt to Vermeer.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  3. Day 3 - Cologne, Germany

    Go ashore in Cologne, and gaze up at the intricate twin spires of the city's iconic cathedral—one of the only structures left standing in the city following the heavy air raids of World War II. Enjoy a guided tour of the city, including a walk through the rustic old town and the hallowed halls of the cathedral; and discover the distinctive red-roofed stalls of the Cologne Christmas market at your own pace, in search of hand-made gifts for friends and family. Alternatively, join an excursion to the Neanderthal Museum in Mettmann, located near the site where the bones of an Ice Age human were recovered for the first time.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  4. Day 4 - Koblenz, Germany

    Arrive in Koblenz, situated at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers. Glide past the colossal equestrian statue of Emperor William I that presides over the two waterways, and observe the clash of colors where the waters meet. Disembark for a guided tour of this historic city, and delve into a colorful Christmas wonderland. During the holiday season, six of the city’s old squares are utterly transformed by sparkling lights, ornamented trees, cottage-style market stalls, and an Advent calendar fashioned out of the 24 dormers in the baroque-style town hall. Listen to traditional choirs while sampling Germany’s festive “fire cup” of mulled wine, potato fritters, and the famous Lebkuchenherzen gingerbread hearts. Alternatively, explore Cochem, a medieval gem nestled in the Moselle River Valley. A guided tour culminates in a visit to the Reichsburg Castle, a fairytale cluster of conical towers perched high above the town.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  5. Day 5 - Heidelberg, Germany

    Discover the rich history and romantic cityscape of Heidelberg. Weather permitting, visit the hilltop ruins of the Renaissance-era Heidelberg Castle and hike back to the old town. Alternatively, tour the city’s picturesque baroque-style streets, or enjoy an exclusive visit to the World Heritage site of Grube Messel, a quarry renowned for its superbly preserved plant and animal fossils. One of the best preserved primate fossils in the world—nicknamed Ida—was discovered here in 1983, and then analyzed by National Geographic Emerging Explorer Jørn Hurum in 2009. This afternoon, we continue our cruise along the Rhine.

    Enrich

    Enjoy a private evening concert at a fabulous Baroque Palace in the region. It’ll be an evening of grandeur unlike any other, and a chance to create memories that you’ll cherish for a lifetime.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  6. Day 6 - Baden-Baden, Germany

    This morning we venture inland to the charming spa town of Baden-Baden, famous for its Roman baths. Choose between several ways to explore the city, including a guided tour of the old town or a hike to the 12th-century Hohenbaden Castle ruins, perched high above the town and offering breathtaking views of the surrounding Black Forest. Or visit the Speyer Technical Museum. Alternatively, experience a traditional European spa at Friedrichsbad, an elegant bathhouse dating to the 19th century where we’ll have the opportunity to enjoy a luxurious, 17-stage bathing ritual au naturel.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  7. Day 7 - Strasbourg, France

    Having alternated allegiances between France and Germany several times over the course of its 2,000-year history, Strasbourg is a fascinating cultural amalgam that boasts spectacular Romanesque, Gothic, and baroque architecture. Set out on a guided tour of the city this afternoon, including the historic Grand Île, a UNESCO World Heritage site. As you stroll the enchanting cobblestone streets, marvel at half-timbered houses and stroll across the Ponts Couverts, a trio of covered medieval bridges. Enjoy free time to explore the ornamented stalls of Strasbourg’s famous Christkindelsmärik, one of the oldest and largest Christmas markets in Europe. As you take in scents of mulled wine and spices, discover why Strasbourg is known as France’s “capitale de Noël.”

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  8. Day 8 - Basel, Switzerland

    After breakfast onboard, transfer to the airport in Basel and connect with your flight home.

    Please note: Pre–release itinerary, subject to change

    Meals Included: Breakfast

Tour inclusions

Trip Highlights
  • Experience the Christmas spirit like never before at some of Europe’s oldest and grandest Christmas markets.
  • Discover the rich history of the Rhineland as you explore magnificent cities in the Netherlands, Germany, and France alongside National Geographic Experts.
  • Capture spectacular images of castle ruins and gothic churches, using tips and tricks from our accompanying National Geographic photographer.
  • Enjoy an exclusive behind-the-scenes visit to the Neanderthal Museum in Mettmann; and explore Grube Messel pit, the famed fossil site featured in National Geographic magazine where “Ida”—the world’s most complete primate fossil—was found.

Pricing & Availability