The wafting aroma of freshly roasted chestnuts and mulled wine welcomes you in Cologne, where the largest Christmas tree in the Rhineland can be found during the holiday season. Today, enjoy a walking tour of Cologne and visit the colourful Christmas market that sits underneath the shadows of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Cologne Cathedral, a Gothic masterpiece that effortlessly creates a striking backdrop to the nativity-like scene below. More than a hundred half-timbered stalls are swathed in light, streaming down from the twinkling canopy of bulbs that criss-crosses above.
In Cologne’s many Christmas markets, you can find glittering ornaments, artisans creating handcrafted goods and freshly baked produce, including lebkuchen, a beloved round or heart-shaped type of gingerbread that usually includes honey, cardamom or candied fruit. Enjoy drinking mulled wine from a festive mug as you soak in the views of what is arguably one of the best Christmas markets in Europe. Included Excursion Guided tour of Cologne's old town (B/L/D)
Today, set foot into the UNESCO World Heritage-listed historical landscape of the Rhine Gorge, where the beams of Rüdesheim’s half-timbered houses are covered in fairylights. Rüdesheim hosts the “Christmas Market of Nations”, where more than a hundred stalls effortlessly represent more than a dozen nations, each showcasing their own Christmas specialities, customs and celebrations.
Whilst in Rüdesheim, enjoy an excursion to Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet, and perhaps indulge in some Rüdesheim coffee, a famous drink that is made with locally distilled Asbach Uralt brandy, served with whipped cream and sprinkled with vanilla sugar and chocolate flakes. This festive drink is certain to warm you on a frosty winter’s day. Later, return to the plush surrounds of your Star-Ship for a special on-board performance. Included Excursion A visit to Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet Museum (B/L/D)
Today, enjoy a guided tour of Würzburg and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Würzburg Residence. Nestled in the heart of the old town, you will find an enchanting Christmas market. Steeped in 19th-century beginnings, more than 100 wooden stalls showcase seasonal decorations and delectable treats, all coated by the soft glow of Christmas lights. A traditional mug of Glühwein, a hot red wine infused with spices, is the best way to fight off the chill of a cold day.
The Würzburg Residence is a true icon, built by the prince bishops’ centuries ago. The opulence that it displays is truly breath-taking. Enjoy a guided tour of what is quite possibly one of the most beautiful Baroque palaces in Europe, as its gardens are blanketed by fresh snow. Included Excursion A walking tour of Würzburg and visit to the Bishop Residence DiscoverMORE Excursion to Rothenburg (extra expense) (B/L/D)