It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like European Christmas Market Season With Viking

The holidays are always a little happier when your voyage is packed with luxurious amenities and delightful stops along the way.

Cruise lines don't always have the best reputations, especially with seasoned travelers, but there's something to be said about a luxury accommodation that moves. You unpack once, gather just a purse or day bag for exploring a new destination, and while you're heading to the next country, sit down to a five-course meal at the on-board restaurant. Take a hot shower or take in the views by your balcony with a glass of wine instead of rushing through airports and catching trains. It's truly next level luxury, especially with a cruise line with a phenomenal reputation like Viking.

The European Christmas markets are a top bucket list item for many travelers. The holiday season is magical as it is, but these European markets filled with the smell of fresh fire roasted chimney cake and spiced mulled wine really get you in the spirit. A great way to see a variety of Christmas markets without having to deal with the travel in between is to take a cruise with Viking. You'll get to each destination, refreshed, relaxed, and ready to walk the markets to find special gifts for your friends and family this holiday season.

In addition to the cruise, there are plenty of opportunities to experience a one-off market pre- or post- river cruise. The market in Prague is said to be one of the absolute best, so a few nights in Prague before a short plane ride or train ride to Budapest to begin the cruise is in order. Book an overnight stay at the historic, 5-star Hotel Mozart, which is just minutes from the Charles Bridge, with gorgeous views of Prague Castle. The rooms offer plenty of character, boasting unique art and creative decor. Especially in the deluxe baroque rooms, with original features from the 18th century. Ideal for art lovers and history buffs, or those who just love a little elegance and luxury.

Finest Dining

If you're looking to explore the food scene in Prague and you're not sure where to start, the Taste of Prague foodie tour stops at about four or five different spots for a variety of local dishes. Secure a Prague Card to gain access to a variety of tours and attractions, in addition to a short river cruise and bus tour. Guests can book a private guide to go sightseeing on their own, with an individual tour leader to give them a one-of-a-kind, personal experience.

Jana Marková is the founder, owner, and head guide of the boutique tour agency "Absolutely Prague" and has grown up in Old Town. She runs a variety of set tours around Prague based around a variety of locations and preferences like the Castle District, food, the Jewish Quarter, Old Town, and more in addition to custom tours based specifically on your interests. She connects with guests to find out what they like and creates a schedule with sites and activities like Old Town Square, the Astronomical Clock, Wenceslas Square, local Christmas Markets, Náměstí Míru, lunch at Vinohradský Parliament, Vinohrady district, and Žižkov Tower!

Of course, one of the main reasons for visiting Prague are the impressive Christmas Markets that visitors can check out daily. There are a few scattered around the city at locations like St. George's Basilica and Prague Castle, but the main markets are at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, just about a five minute walk in between. After enjoying Prague for a few days, fly or take the train to Budapest to begin the river cruise.

On Board a Viking Longship

Their award-winning line of Viking Longships feature a Scandinavian design, high-end amenities, and spacious rooms. If wanting to explore the European Christmas markets has been high on your list, the Viking Vilhjalm can take you to markets along the Danube. With room for 190 guests, the ship has 95 outside staterooms including 25 basic rooms, 22 with a French balcony, 39 veranda rooms, seven veranda suites, and two large explorer suites.

Stroll through the ship to find plenty of rooftop seating to take in the views, an herb garden, a walking path, and putting green. In addition to the common areas on the ship, guests can expect delicious dishes with high class service to match. There's free Wi-Fi for guests, laundry service available—so you can pack a little lighter—and movies to enjoy at night in bed on the flat screen TVs in the rooms. The open seating dining plan is a great way for guests to be able to adjust when they want to head down to dinner without being locked into a time. There's a buffet breakfast and casual lunch spots on board to fuel up, followed by a gourmet five-course dinner, with seating anytime between 5:30 PM and 7:30 PM.

Viking offers a unique opportunity to see a variety of Christmas markets, even with options before and after the trip to check out cities like Prague or spend a few extra days in Budapest to take the time to explore the city and their Christmas markets in the evening. You can pick up last minute handmade presents, gift toppers, and stocking stuffers right before the holidays in destinations like Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, and Germany on the Danube Christmas Delights sail through Viking. During this itinerary, Viking guests can enjoy views of the Wachau Valley,  before breathing in the smell of fresh soft pretzels and sweets like chimney cake being cooked by local vendors before browsing through artisan crafts at traditional holiday markets in Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna, Linz, and ending with two days in Passau, Germany.

Take It All In

Budapest is full of character and charm. Skate along the outdoor ice rink or taste some traditional desserts as you're walking around Buda's Castle District. In addition to the market, the Ruin Bars in Budapest are covered with plants and graffiti, pulling in travelers attracted to its unique charm and art. The Great Market Hall in Budapest (Nagycsarnok Market) is the ideal place to try traditional dishes like stuffed cabbage and goulash. The Christmas market and winter festival is a Hungarian treat. Make sure you try chimney cake. It's the ideal cold-weather treat to warm you up while you're shopping.

Next up: Bratislava, Slovakia. See the Bratislava Castle and explore the local shops in the town center before making your way to the holiday markets in the historic Old Town. Vienna, Austria is an incredible place to look for handmade items and unique gifts at their holiday market for your friends and family after exploring the city. The scenic sail takes place along the Weißenkirchen in the Wachau Valley and Krems, Austria. The holiday market in Linz, Austria, is the spot to be in between taking photos of the Christmas nativity at Volksgarten.  

The trip ends with an overnight stay in Passau, Germany. Explore the Christmas market during the day, or experience other activities, saving the market for the evening, with a giant soft pretzel in hand. There are so many amazing treats and artisans to explore in Passau. After the market, leave some time to see the patrician houses in the Old Town and the cathedral.

A trip with Viking takes the stress away from traveling, so guests can just enjoy the ride without having to worry about catching trains, busy airports, or driving through an unfamiliar city. It's a special treat around the holidays and a wonderful way to see the festive, local markets.