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Travel advice

5 Reasons to River Cruise in Winter

Discover magical landscapes and delight in festive cheer - find out more about river cruising in winter with Saga.

1. Fully-inclusive luxury all the way

A chauffeur outside a house, ready to pick up guests for a river cruise

On a Saga River Cruise, you’ll enjoy our UK return travel service, and boutique-ship luxury throughout. Your cruise will be fully-inclusive – and if your travel dates include December 25th, that means a gala Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, as well. And you’ll enjoy a selection of exciting and memorable included excursions, alive with the Christmas spirit.

2. Choice of wonderful festive destinations

Snow covered banks of the Rhine

We know all the best places to cruise in December – so a Christmas River Cruise with Saga offers you a rich selection of winter wonderlands to explore. We cruise the Moselle, Danube, Rhine, Douro and the Dutch and Belgian Rivers, visiting favourite seasonal destinations everywhere from Budapest to Amsterdam…Vienna to Bruges… Cologne, Bonn and Dusseldorf to Bratislava, Linz and Regensburg.

3. December is a great time for a river cruise

Felt snowman decorations on a Christmas market stall

All the historic towns and cities are sporting their finest winter decorations and ablaze with light. The fabled Christmas markets are crammed with stalls offering everything from beautiful, handcrafted gifts to Christmas gingerbread and sweets and of course, cups of aromatic mulled wine.

The shops are full of irresistible inspirations for gift-giving - and for discovering a little something special for yourself, as well. There’s no better way to immerse yourself in the spirit of the season.

4. Join us – free - on memorable festive excursions

Explore the atmospheric Christmas markets in Budapest and Cologne.

Cologne Christmas market, Germany

Elegant Vörösmarty Square hosts Budapest’s oldest and largest Christmas market. As you make your way around the countless stalls offering unique crafts and delicious drinks and snacks, you’re likely to encounter at least one group of the delightful Hungarian musicians who serenade visitors.

Then, visit Budapest Basilica Christmas Market, situated in front of magnificent St Stephen’s Basilica, very close to Vörösmarty Square. Organised by the National Association of Folk Artists, this fair features stalls selling unique and original Hungarian traditional crafts.

In Cologne, there are actually seven Christmas markets. One of the biggest, with the mighty, Gothic cathedral as its backdrop, offers a wonderful photo-opportunity. Sip mulled wine as you explore its wide-ranging selection of wares – everything from tasty lebekuchen and stollen to Christmas baubles, clothing and handicrafts of every kind. Some of our regular guests buy a new bauble for their tree every year – a wonderful, lasting memory of their visit.

Pay a festive visit to Strasbourg’s Old Quarter

Strasbourg canal and houses at dusk

There’s no better time of the year to explore La Petit France – Strasbourg’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for its wealth of history and graceful architecture. Admire the festive illuminations as our guided tour leads you through the Old Town to the magnificent pink sandstone Cathedral. From the outside, the guide will explain the fascinating history of this wonderful building and then, if you wish, you can explore inside independently.

Finally, we’ll board a canal boat for a relaxing cruise along the majestic waterways, taking in 12 centuries of religious, civil and military architecture before you return to the ship.

5. You’ll enjoy it all from your luxury home-from-home on the river

Explore all the wonderful Winter sights and sounds…then come home to your cosy well-appointed cabin. Remember, as it’s a river cruise, the attractions come to you – so you’ll only need to pack and unpack once. And what to pack? If this is your first winter cruise, do remember a warm hat and gloves, wool socks, a scarf, perhaps some thermal underwear and sturdy leather shoes or boots – trainers are not comfy in the snow. You’ll need a coat, of course, and a selection of sweaters.

There are lovely scarves and hats for sale in some of the Christmas markets – a practical as well as delightful souvenir. River cruises are more informal, so our guests wear ‘smart casual’ for evenings on board – although you may wish to add a little festive sparkle for Christmas and New Year events!

Find our more about Saga river cruises.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.