Why Christmas in Europe is the ultimate festive escape

From iconic destinations to charming markets.

To step into a scene fit for a Christmas card, wintry Europe is the place to be. It’s where you’ll find all the ingredients needed for a truly traditional celebration – from steaming mugs of gluhwein to snow-dusted mountains and every festive detail in between.

It’s an experience so different to Christmas in Australia, it has to be seen to be believed.

Here are four reasons why you need to experience Christmas in Europe at least once, and why a Viking river cruise is the best way to do it.

1. European charm

For almost 800 years, crowds have gathered at Europe’s Christmas markets to feast on the finest in seasonal treats, browse hand-crafted gifts and soak up the festive cheer.

Vienna’s Christmas markets are unforgettable and have a charm of their own.

Although Christmas markets originated in Germany, they have steadily rippled across Europe, with each country and city adding its own yuletide traditions into the mix. A Viking river cruise is the perfect way to experience the plethora of different customs, with many of the itineraries visiting several countries in one voyage. It’s a seamless way to travel, with no need for constant repacking.

Viking’s Christmas on the Danube voyage weaves through Hungary and Austria before finishing up in Germany, while its Christmas on the Rhine and Moselle takes voyagers on a meandering journey through France, Germany and Switzerland.

2. Winter magic

The summer allure of Europe is renowned, but lesser known are its wintry charms. During the cooler months, Europe, away from the ski fields, attracts far fewer crowds. It’s a secret world that Viking expertly shares with its in-the-know guests.

Enjoy the Christmas market stalls in Basel.

For those looking for a new itinerary, combine Christmas markets with atmospheric hilltop castles, towns steeped in history and the rich yuletide traditions of three countries with this year’s addition of an exploration of three countries along the Main and Moselle rivers. The Christmas on the Main and Moselle embarks in Paris, France and sails via Germany before ending in Prague in the Czech Republic.

3. Festive cheer

With Christmas spirit ladled out in such good measure at each destination, you may not want to call it a day as the sun goes down. But on a Viking river cruise, those warm feelings don’t fade once you return from a day of exploring.

Enjoy festive activities onboard a Viking River Cruise.

The incredible team aboard the elegant longships go to great lengths to create a holiday haven with special touches everywhere. Bake gingerbread with the executive chef, part of the program of onboard Christmas activities, or simply relax in the twinkling glow of the holiday décor.

4. A holiday haven

The run up to December 25 and beyond is a joyful time of year, but it can also be highly stressful with gift shopping to do and cupboards to stock. Why not dodge the crowded malls and supermarkets to instead pick up unique gifts and gourmet treats at Europe’s Christmas markets?

Explore the wintry magic of Budapest.

With everything you need included on a Viking river cruise, it’s an ingenious way to leave the holiday mayhem at home while indulging in the best Europe has to offer at this wonderful time of year. It’s the perfect festive gift to yourself.

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