The Christmas Markets of Cologne & Rüdesheim 2013
The Rhine Valley and its Christmas Markets by rail
Indulge in the spirit of Christmas with a trip to some of Germany's most famous festive markets. From the traditional markets of Cologne to the 'Christmas Market of Nations' at Rüdesheim, Germany truly is the home of exciting festive celebrations. Set against some of the country's finest scenery, these Christmas markets open up every year and sell everything from unique handmade gifts to delicious local delicacies and warming Glühwein (mulled wine). Areas of natural beauty such as the incredible Rhine Gorge and the mighty River Rhine are seen on these tours as well as many other seasonal and cultural highlights.
Day 1 - London to Remagen
We begin our journey on a Eurostar departure from St Pancras International to Brussels, and then continue on to Cologne by high-speed train. We change to a local service and travel alongside the Rhine to Remagen and our hotel, the family-run 3* Hotel Pinger, for a three night stay.
Day 2 - Cologne
Today we head to Cologne, renowned for many years for its wonderful traditional Christmas Markets, which can be found across the city. The oldest of Cologne's Christmas Markets is the Neumarkt in the heart of the shopping district. With its beautifully decorated stands and mouthwatering fare, the 'Market of Angels' at Neumarkt is considered one of Europe's best markets. The charming Alter Markt, famed for its local crafts, is a firm favourite with children because of its fairground rides and puppet theatre. The Cathedral Christmas Market, so called because it is set against the backdrop of Cologne's magnificent landmark, is the most elaborately decorated with great attention to detail. There are over 150 illuminated wooden pavilions as well as the largest Christmas tree in the Rhineland, and many stalls sell sweet delicacies and glühwein (mulled wine) from festively decorated Christmas mugs. The Rudolfplatz Christmas Market, found at the Hahnentor city gate, has a fairytale theme, and on the Rhine itself is a Maritime Market with a mariner theme.
Day 3 - Rüdesheim
Today's excursion is by train to the magical Christmas Markets in Rüdesheim. Our journey takes us through the most scenic part of the Rhine Gorge, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and past the famous Lorelei rock. Every year towards the end of November, Rüdesheim welcomes more than 120 stands from 12 nations offering their products, specialities and traditions in a beautiful market atmosphere. In addition, many shops have an excellent selection of Christmas decorations and presents. The Rüdesheim wine growers open their cellars to visitors with winter specialities on offer, while the town's cosy restaurants welcome weary shoppers with sumptuous local cuisine. Europe's largest nativity scene can be found on the market square, complete with life sized figures, and there are numerous events throughout the festive pre- Christmas season, from concerts and parades to nativity plays and other Advent celebrations. We stay for a while to see the wonderful Christmas lights and to give you time to explore, before returning to Remagen in time for dinner at our hotel.
Day 4 - Remagen to London
We leave Remagen by local train heading north to Cologne, where we connect with the onward high-speed service through to Brussels. On arrival in the Belgian capital we change for a Eurostar back to St Pancras International in London.
These meals, where shown, are included in the price of your holiday
Please note that the tour departing 25 November 2013 (4REM01) will visit Koblenz Christmas Markets on Day 3 instead of Rüdesheim, as this year Rüdesheim's Christmas Markets do not begin until 28 November.
Explore the Rudesheim and Cologne Christmas Markets
Browsing the Rudesheim and Cologne Christmas Markets at your own pace is a real delight. There are also many other places of interest for you to explore and enjoy, such as Europe's largest nativity scene and a floating Christmas market which is set aboard a ship. The friendly locals add to the joyful atmosphere of this time of year with their costumes from the Middle Ages, concerts and nativity plays. Each market setting has its own unique attractions, such as Santa's grottos, backdrops of magnificent cathedrals and fairground rides. There is no better way to shop for unique gifts and enjoy the festive spirit than on a visit to Rudesheim and Cologne Christmas Markets.