There is something truly magical about wandering around the European Christmas markets in December.
Its a time of excitement and anticipation and a time to reflect, take stock and think about those significant others in your life. And what more magical place to do it in but Europe, who arguably have the best selection of Christmas markets in the world. Smell chestnuts cooking over open fires, taste regional variations of Gluhwein, take in the festive twinkling of thousands of Christmas lights and walk around dozens of individual and unique market stands offering delicious delights and regional products.
This tour has two annual December departures . They are perhaps our most unique trips, providing you a wonderful Christmas market experience, while allowing you the ease of traveling by train and linking these markets together. This gets us nice and close to the centre of town and where we stay locally for the best possible immersion experience. Travelling on the trains in Europe is much faster than buses (which can spend hours stuck in traffic at this time of the year) and gives us schedule flexibility. Our accommodation is hand picked for its comfort and location and your Siamo Host is as passionate about Christmas and 'travelling like a local' as you are.
These trips are not for those on a detox. Prepare to have your senses shattered with Christmas smells and endless tastings of local Christmas specialities, mulled wine, Christmas beers and regional specialities. Bring an empty suitcase, a great camera and a child like sense of adventure and join us for a magical trip of discovery and memory making!
The Wonders of a European Christmas by Rail Itinerary
1: Brussels Wednesday 6th December 2016
We meet up as a group after lunch on this first day. Those travelling from London will arrive mid-afternoon. That evening in the beautiful setting of Place Sainte Catherine we explore the Brussels Christmas market – called Winter Wonders. Brussels is bursting with continental atmosphere and quaint wooden chalets offering an array of festive delights. It is a modern Christmas market with a strong green policy.
2 & 3: Brussels – Bruges – Cologne
We start our journey reasonably early today as we head to the medieval town of Bruges. Here we put our bags into storage and wander around the central cobblestoned streets. After a day of exploring and trying some of the famous Belgian beers and moulé frites for lunch we catch the evening train into Cologne, Germany.
Believe it or not Cologne has six different Christmas markets and each one has its own flair and theme. Their sparkling lights and peaceful atmosphere attract millions of visitors from all over the world every year. Additionally, a great number of events take place each night during the Christmas markets period. The traditional artisan stalls and the lovingly decorated huts are outstanding. We are here for two nights and you are free to explore at your leisure.
4: Cologne – Nuremberg
Nuremberg is perhaps the most famous of all the Christmas cities in Europe. It has a unique atmosphere that attracts visitors from all over the world. Located on the Main Market Square between the Frauenkirche (Church of our Lady) and the Schoener Brunnen (Beautiful Fountain) it exudes the "aromas of traditional Christmas" - sweet roasted almonds, delicious Nuremberg gingerbread cookies, mulled wine and German Christmas bakery. The stalls are full of the most beautiful traditional Christmas tree ornaments, Christmas angels, lanterns, Christmas creches & handmade prune dolls, etc … There are no modern plastic toys. On the stage in front of the Church of our Lady, choirs and orchestras perform Christmas songs throughout the day and evening. The Nuremberg markets are a wonderful experiential sensory overload (and mulled wine overload too if you are not careful)!
5 & 6: Nuremberg – Strasbourg
While Nuremberg might be the most famous, it is hard to deny Strasbourg the title of the 'Capital of Christmas' as Strasbourg is said to be the oldest Christmas market in Europe. The Christkindelsmärik (market of the Infant Jesus) was first held in Strasbourg in 1570. As part of a long tradition of authentic, atmospheric Christmas markets, the 300 stalls of Strasbourg’s Christkindelsmärik are spread out over 12 locations within the city centre, making it one of the largest in Europe. Hence we take two nights here to explore at your own speed (or even have an evening rest from all the mulled wine).
Strasbourg is located in the region of Alsace home to wonderful French cheeses, patés and salami selections and if you haven't been hanging out for the French wine then Alsace is also famous for arguably the best of French beer. Let's hope your suitcase is not full yet as you will want to take home lots of the traditional Alsatian Christmas decorations and craftwork.
7: Tuesday 12th Strasbourg – Brussels
Heading back to Belgium we leave mid-morning to be back in Brussels by early afternoon for those of you who may wish to connect with a Eurostar Train to London, and the sad end to what will have been a most excellent week. We expect that you will arrive back in Brussels not only heavier in your luggage but at least a few pounds heavier yourself from the decadence of all the Christmas goodies you've consumed!