The Christmas Markets in front of Cologne Cathedral
Caption: The Christmas Markets in front of Cologne Cathedral
Caption: A-ROSA cruise ship
Caption: Festive Markets
Caption: Binnenhof in the Hague
Caption: The canals of Amsterdam
Caption: Cologne Cathedral
Caption: Zaanse Schans
Caption: Amsterdam in festive spirit
Caption: The lights of the Christmas Markets
Caption: Cologne at night

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Journey Snapshot

Activity level: Level 2 Requires moderate physical activity. You need to be able to participate in physical activities such as longer walking tours, walking over uneven terrain, climbing steps and be comfortable with some periods of standing. Not suitable if you have limited mobility or require a wheelchair/mobility scooter.
Destination: Enchanting Christmas Markets - Amsterdam & Festive Rhine River Cruise
Duration: 11 days / 10 nights
Flight information: International flights from London Heathrow Airport [LHR] to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport [AMS] Netherlands on Day 1 and depart from Cologne International Airport [CGN], Germany London Heathrow Airport [LHR] on Day 11.
Pickup location: Amsterdam Schiphol Airport [AMS]


Choose your own departure date for your group

Get in the festive spirit on this fabulous journey and visit some of Europe's best Christmas markets in Germany and France. Sail the mighty River Rhine, discover scenic landscapes and quaint towns this Advent

Join us on this special Christmas trip and discover Europe at its festive best. Starting in the Netherlands, we spend some time to explore the canals of Amsterdam; visit interesting museums including the Anne Frank House; tour the Gothic-style Binnenhof which houses the seat of the Dutch parliament in The Hague, and discover discover some old, typically Dutch traditions at the Zaanse Schans.

We then head over the border to Germany to begin our cruise on the Rhine, which stops at numerous places on the way, and finish in Cologne for a final night. There is no doubt that the Christmas markets in Strasbourg, Mainz and Cologne are some of the best places to pick up some unique gifts, so make sure you have plenty of room in your suitcase. 

From the hustle and bustle of the Netherlands to a more tranquil setting aboard the wonderful A-ROSA SILVA cruise. This magical 5-night all-inclusive journey along the Rhine, will truly get you in the festive spirit!


Itinerary summary: DAY 1 - Welcome to Amsterdam
DAY 2 - Discover Amsterdam on foot and by canal boat
DAY 3 - Windmills, Clogs & Cheese
DAY 4 - The Hague
DAY 5 - Transfer to Cologne and board your Rhine Christmas Markets Cruise
DAY 6 - Rüdesheim
DAY 7 - Germersheim & Speyer
DAY 8 - Kehl (Germany) to Strasbourg (France)
DAY 9 - Mainz to Koblenz, passing the Lorelei Valley in the afternoon
DAY 10 - Koblenz to Cologne
DAY 11 - Auf Wiedersehen Germany
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Full Itinerary

DAY 1 - Welcome to Amsterdam

Welcome to Amsterdam! You will be met at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport by your English-speaking guide and transferred to your hotel, where you can meet up with your Tour Director.

Depending on your time of arrival you could go for a stroll in the vicinity of your hotel. In the evening you have the opportunity to get to know your fellow travellers with a welcome drink and enjoy your first dinner together at a nearby restaurant. 

Included meals: Dinner 
Accommodation: NH City Centre Amsterdam 

DAY 2 - Discover Amsterdam on foot and by canal boat

After breakfast, your guide will take you on a full day tour of Amsterdam - the capital of the Netherlands - even though the official seat of the government is in The Hague. Blessed with great infrastructure this easy-going city is not difficult to navigate and an excellent place to discover on foot, by bike, by tram or via the intricate and interesting canal network. 

Our first stop is a house that nearly everyone around the world has heard of - the Anne Frank Huis. Although she only spent 25 months of her short life hidden in the secret annex, during the Second World War, her personal diary became one of the most read books in the world. A visit to the house will leave you with many mixed emotions and it's yet another experience you will never and can't ever, forget.

Your private saloon boat awaits you right in front of the Anne Frank Huis and you'll get a fantastic impression of the canals and architecture of Amsterdam. It is by far the best way to discover the city. While you are sailing you can enjoy some typical Dutch treats like bitterballen and drinks.

We disembark near The Lebanese Sajeria restaurant, where you can enjoy a Lebanese Mezze and culinary experience of sharing food. On the dining tables you will find bowls and plates with a variety of deliciously scented snacks, and glasses with typical Lebanese drinks. 

After lunch, we travel on foot and by tram to Het Rijksmuseum. The museum’s collection offers an impressive overview of Dutch art and history, including works by 17th- century Dutch masters such as Rembrandt, Vermeer and Hals. 

Our last stop of the day will be The Diamond Museum. Let yourself be enchanted by glittering gemstones, admire the wonderful collection and learn about 400 years of diamond history in the only diamond museum in Europe.

In the late afternoon we return to our hotel and you have the rest of the day free at your own leisure. If you want to experience a typical Dutch restaurant in the evening, then head for the Piet de Leeuw on Noorderstraat 11 in Amsterdam, with its typical Dutch authentic wooden furniture and floorboards, shiny beer pumps, oil-painted ceiling and wrought iron lamps. The restaurant within walking distance from your hotel.

Included meals: Breakfast, Snacks on board & Lunch 
Accommodation: NH City Centre Amsterdam 

DAY 3 - Windmills, Clogs & Cheese

Today you visit De Zaanse Schans, an authenic village not far from Amsterdam, which can be best described as an open museum and place of cultural heritage where people still live and work. Here you get the chance to see what it was like to live in 17th and 18th century Holland. You can visit authentic wooden houses and museums and take pictures of a colourful collection of lovingly restored mills, each with their own story to tell. Pass by the bakery museum and try to resist the smell of freshly baked bread and biscuits. You could also visit the dairy farm and try to discover what makes Dutch cheese so special.

You will be personally welcomed by the owners of one of the last existing clog factories in The Netherlands. At the end of the 19th century, special machines were built to manufacture clogs and they are still in use today. Enjoy the demonstration and you may end up buying pair of clogs! De Zaanse Schans is a perfect place to pick up some Christmas gifts or souvenirs.

We return to Amsterdam in time for a late lunch. You could either take it easy this afternoon or why not hire a bike or hop on the tram and visit the Bijenkorf (Beehive in Dutch). It is a well-known department store - the historical building alone is worth a visit. Another unique and architecturally striking building that has influenced many architects is the Beurs van Berlage an old stock exchange building turned into a bustling meeting place.

In the evening your guide will escort your to Mama Makan, where your Chef Rosmina will have prepared a traditional Indonesian Rijst tafel (Rice Table) for you. Indonesia used to be a colony of the Dutch Empire, and other than the valuable spices (nutmeg, mace, cloves), the Rijst Tafel is one of the lasting legacies, the Dutch brought back.

First introduced by Dutch plantation holders in Indonesia who were quite partial to all the different dishes prepared by their local staff, the Rijst Tafel has become an integral part of the Dutch multi-ethnic cuisine. Consisting of small colorful plates with mouth-watering food. Think of satay, spring rolls, prawn crackers, but also plenty of vegetarian and meat dishes, they come accompanied by rice prepared in different ways. Enjoy this amazing banquet or as they say in Indonesian Selamat Makan (Enjoy your Food)

Included meals: Breakfast & Dinner 
Accommodation: NH City Centre Amsterdam 

DAY 4 - The Hague

Today we will visit The Hague, the third largest city in the Netherlands and the official seat of the Dutch government. 'Die Haghe' originated around the Binnenhof.  If you walk across the Voorhout and De Hofvijver, you will still experience that aristocratic atmosphere.

We start our guided tour at Het Binnenhof. This centuries-old complex includes the parliament and government buildings and originated from the hunting lodge of the Counts of Holland, which was built in the 13th century.

Since then, the Binnenhof has been the residence of monarchs and governments up to the present day. After Het Binnenhof, we will have lunch at ‘De Grote Markt’, and you may even see government officials (perhaps even the prime minister) cycling past.

We continue on to the Mauritshuis, one of the most beautiful museums in the Netherlands. It hosts a magnificent collection of Dutch Golden Age paintings including works by Vermeer.

In the afternoon we head back to Amsterdam, where you have the rest of the afternoon off,until we meet up again for dinner in the evening.

Included meals: Breakfast & Lunch 
Accommodation: NH City Centre Amsterdam 

DAY 5 - Transfer to Cologne and board your Rhine Christmas Markets Cruise

Today we say Tot Ziens (Goodbye) to Amsterdam and accompanied by our guide we make our way to Germany. For the journey you will be given a small packed lunch with some typically dutch foods to enjoy en-route.

Upon arrival in Cologne your guide will drop you off at a cafe/restaurant where you can have a quick bite, before you board the cruise ship. You set sail at 4pm. Your ship the A-ROSA SILVA is a small vessel and offers you the same modern amenities as a luxury hotel, complete with free Wi-Fi, sauna, fitness area, pool and A-ROSA spa facilities. The added bonus is that you always have a room with a constantly changing view of your surroundings from your outside cabin.

There is no need to dress up while you are onboard, as the dress code is casual and even when you are taking any of your included meals, the whole atmosphere on board is pretty informal and above all, festive! The Chefs on board create dishes that reflect the area you are sailing through, so expect to served the local blood sausage (also called Flonz) from Cologne or the Tarte Flambee from Strasbourg.

Throughout the day, hot and cold drinks, as well as soft drinks, beers, cocktails and a wide selection of excellent German wines are included.

In the evenings there will be nightly entertainment in the lounge.

Included meals: Breakfast, packed lunch, Snacks and Afternoon Tea on board & Dinner 
Accommodation: A-ROSA SILVA Cabin 

DAY 6 - Rüdesheim

Other than its Weihnachtsmarkt der Nationen (Christmas Market of the Nations), Rüdesheim is well-known for its vineyards, which produce the grapes for the famous Riesling wines. 

It's also the centre of Rhine Romanticism, and has inspired many poets and musicians, like Brahms who composed his 3rd symphony in Rüdesheim. And of course, on this second day of your Christmas cruise on the Rhine, you should definitely try the Rüdesheimer Kaffee. A hot drink that other than coffee also contains Asbach Uralt brandy and sugar cubes. It was first made in 1957 by the German television chef, Hans Karl Adam, and is still popular today. 

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks and Afternoon Tea on board & Dinner 
Accommodation: A-ROSA SILVA Cabin 

DAY 7 - Germersheim & Speyer

Today we'll be sailing along the Upper Rhine. Germersheim is only about 20 km from the city of Speyer, which is over 2000 years old. The German king Rudolph von Habsburg (Rudolf of Habsburg) gave Germersheim its city rights in 1276. According to a legend the King, when he was sick, rode from Germersheim to Speyer to die there and not in Germersheim.

Speyer is Germany’s oldest planned medieval town. Speyer’s most prominent monument is its cathedral. As one of the country’s most important High Romanesque cathedrals, it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks and Afternoon Tea on board & Dinner 
Accommodation: A-ROSA SILVA Cabin 

DAY 8 - Kehl (Germany) to Strasbourg (France)

We sail from Kehl, across the German border into Strasbourg in the historic Alsace region of France. Since 1949, Strasbourg has been the official seat of many European institutions like the European Parliament, the European Court of Human Rights and the European Ombudsman. It also played an important part in the Protestant Reformation and it was one of the first centres of the printing industry.

A visit to Strasbourg should not be missed during the pre-Christmas season, because it has France’s oldest Christmas Market. Before we visit the market we take you on a short stroll through the Old Town, with its interesting Franco-German architecture. We pass old timber-framed housed on our way to the world-famous Strasbourg Cathedral, which took many years to built as it started in 1015 and finally finished in 1439. It was the world's tallest building for many years and as of today it's still the sixth tallest church in the world. Although some parts of the design is in Romanesque style, many consider it one of the finest examples of Rayonnant Gothic architecture.

Afterwards you will have enough time to explore the delightful Christmas market on your own.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks and Afternoon Tea on board & Dinner 
Accommodation: A-ROSA SILVA Cabin 

DAY 9 - Mainz to Koblenz, passing the Lorelei Valley in the afternoon

Today we visit one of the oldest cities in Germany, Mainz. Located on the left-bank of the river Rhine and opposite another great river the Main, it was founded by the Romans in the 1st century BC. It is full of history and the birthplace of Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the movable printing press, and printed one of his first book there, notably the Gutenberg Bible. Its Jewish Cemetry is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Due to its waterfront location, the climate in Mainz is fairly mild (slightly warmer in winter and cooler in summer) and it comes as no surprise that it the offers the ideal location to cultivate wine. It is surrounded by Germany's largest wine-growing region 'Rheinhessen'. During this excursion you discover the heart of Mainz's old town, the historic Christmas market on the Domplatz, towered over by the illuminated and imposing Mainz Cathedrals, and have the chance to try regional wines during a wine tasting session.

Our next place to visit is Koblenz. Its history dates back over 2,000 years, making it one of Germany’s oldest cities – and one of its most picturesque, with a wealth of sights and cultural attractions. Marvel at Koblenz’s palaces, stately homes, grand townhouses, narrow lanes and romantic corners. And watch as our A-ROSA ship sails close to the famous Deutsches Eck headland, a promontory in Koblenz, where the Mosel river joins the Rhine.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks and Afternoon Tea on board & Dinner 
Accommodation: A-ROSA SILVA Cabin 

DAY 10 - Koblenz to Cologne

After our last night on the cruise, this morning we disembark in Bonn and you will be transferred back to Cologne where you can leave your luggage in the hotel's storage room. You will meet your guide in the hote lobby for a morning sightseeing tour.

The city is known for its famous fragrance Eau de Cologne 4711, which has produced there since around 1709. You can still see the original building where you used to be able to purchase this 'Water from Cologne' at the Glockengasse 4711. Not to be overlooked is Cologne's imposing Gothic Cathedral, which boasts the third tallest church and tallest cathedral in the world. Next to the cathedral at the Roncalliplatz you can find over a hundred Christmas stalls.

This afternoon and evening you have some time at leisure to explore Cologne further. You might like to visit some of Cologne's many museums (Museum Ludwig, Chololate museum) and galleries or you could wander to the historic Old Town, where on the Alter Markt, you will find some more Christmas stalls. Look out for the Heinzelmannchen - mythical gnome-like creatures only to be found in Cologne - who used to do all the housework.

The evening is free at your own leisure.

Included meals: Breakfast 
Accommodation: Maritim hotel, Cologne (or similar) 

DAY 11 - Auf Wiedersehen Germany

Laden with unique gifts you have bought at the different Christmas markets, it's time to say Auf Wiedersehen (Goodbye) to Germany. You will be transferred back to Cologne International Airport [CGN] in time to catch your departure flights that you have arranged.

Included meals: Breakfast 


More information

What's includedWhat's not includedImportant information

What's included

  • ATOL Protection
  • International flights from London Heathrow Airport [LHR] to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport [AMS] and from Cologne International Airport [CGN] to London Heathrow Airport [LHR]
    • Flights from regional airports available, supplements may apply. Please contact us for details
  • Meet & Greet at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport on arrival
  • 10 nights accommodation as detailed in the itinerary
  • Meals as detailed in the itinerary
  • Flexible dining on the cruise
  • Transportation throughout in an air-conditioned deluxe vehicle and cruise ship
  • All activities, visits and excursions as detailed in the itinerary
  • English speaking tour guides where applicable
  • Services of a Big Journey Company Tour Director throughout (subject to minimum numbers)

What's not included

  • Transfers on arrival or departure, to/from the airport(s), outside of the tour dates
  • Cruise shore excursions
  • Additional food/beverage unless otherwise included in the programme
  • Personal expenses
  • Personal Travel & Medical Insurance
  • Visas (if required)
  • Optional excursions
  • Gratuities
  • Any COVID tests or related entry & exit requirements

Important information

  • Please let The Big Journey Company know prior to travelling if you have any medical needs or take any medication that we need to be made aware of to ensure that you have a safe and pleasant tour
  • Visas are not currently required for entry to The Netherlands, Germany and France for US, UK & Canadian citizens. For other passport holders please check before travel if you require a visa.
  • Check in is after 2-3pm and check out is before 10am unless otherwise specified in the itinerary.
  • Cancellation 90 – 0 days prior to departure cancellation fee is 100%. It is your responsibility to ensure the correct travel insurance in place to protect you against the need to cancel your holiday. Deposits are non-refundable and final payments are due 14 weeks prior to departure.
  • Further terms and conditions apply and will be provided upon request or at the time of booking. The Big Journey Company reserves the right to withdraw any offer prior to accepting a reservation request. This does not affect your statutory rights. This offer is subject to availability and space is limited.

The big journey promise

The big journey company was set up with one goal in mind, to share our passion for inspirational cultures, destinations and experiences. Over the last 10 years we have had the privilege to escort thousands of travellers on awe inspiring and sometimes life changing journeys. Our promise to every guest who joins us is that we will do everything possible to make sure your journey not only exceeds expectations but delivers at least one moment of true amazement.

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Holiday tours are operated by The Big Journey Company Limited. Registered in England. Registered office: Marron Bank, Branthwaite, Cumbria, CA14 4SZ. Registered number: 6532140. The Big Journey Company Limited is a member of The Travel Trust Association member number U5675 and holds an Air Travel Organiser’s License number T7282.

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