Home of the original Christmas market and the Christmas tree, Germany easily captures the magic of yuletide. And as temperatures drop, the Rhine Valley lights up with festive sparkle. Here are your options for celebrating Christmas along the Rhine.
Take a Christmas Cruise
The best way to take in the Rhine Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is on a river cruise. Winter is one of the most scenic times to enjoy the views, as the already fairytale-like landscape transforms into a winter wonderland. Take a festive afternoon Christmas cruise from Rüdesheim or Cologne and look out over the snow-capped turrets of Katz and Marksburg castles, get romantic during a candlelit Christmas dinner cruise, or sample a spread of seasonal foods while listening to Christmas carols on a Sunday brunch cruise.
Indulge in Seasonal Specialties
Sip on mulled wine (glühwein) and try lebkuchen, the gingerbread cookie that has been a local Christmas staple since the 14th century. Several Rhine River cruises offer meals, and indulging in local specialties such as dumplings in beef broth, cold smoked fish, and spiced Christmas ham around town is a great way to enjoy the Rhine Valley and treat your tastebuds too.
Go Shopping at the Christmas Markets
Germany’s legendary Christmas markets are the focal point of seasonal city tours, and the Rhine hosts several atmospheric markets all the way through Christmas Eve. The wine-making town of Rüdesheim am Rhein swaps Riesling for glühwein during the holiday season, with a giant Christmas market held in the old quarter in front of its town hall, while Trier’s Christmas market crowns an annual German Mulled Wine Queen and Cologne is home to numerous markets, including the famous Christmas market held just in front of the city’s UNESCO-listed cathedral.