With a piece of gingerbread in one hand and a mug of hot mulled wine in the other, travelers are ready to explore Europe’s timeless markets. Peruse Vorosmarty Square in Budapest, where more than half the vendors at this “handmade-only” Christmas marketplace are part of the Hungarian Artisan Association – you can purchase gifts from jewelers, potters, bookbinders, and even furriers. Choir music pours from the 150 vendor stalls at Vienna’s nineteenth-century Christkindlmarkt. Or pause for a kiss at the romantic Thurn and Taxis Palace
in Regensburg, Germany. Take it from us, the snacking is just as fun as the shopping: Try the pan-fried Reibekuchen
(potato pancakes with applesauce) in Cologne and fresh Bretzels
with Emmentaler cheese at Strasbourg’s Marché de Noël.
Nostalgic holiday traditions (tree-trimming parties, hanging stockings by the fireplace) can sometimes get shunted aside in the holiday frenzy at home, but on a Christmas-themed cruise, those moments are celebrated. On AmaWaterways sailings, guests can hang tinsel and garland to their heart’s content during onboard celebrations, take part in ornament scavenger hunts, and leave their shoes outside their staterooms for Saint Nicholas to fill. (Our favorite: the freshly baked Christmas cookies delivered to your stateroom.)