Visit Köln's famous festive market by the great Gothic cathedral. Credit: Shutterstock

Why you should escape on a solo cruise this Christmas

Author: Sarah Riches

Published on:

Updated on:

Inhale the aroma of mulled wine, nibble
on gingerbread and listen to carols as
you explore Europe at its festive best

Ever wondered what it might be like to escape family dramas and experience Christmas as a solo traveller in Europe?

If so, a festive river cruise could be the perfect option for you.


Stimulate your senses with the scent of freshly baked cookies and the soothing sounds of an alto choir during a six-day sailing with Riviera Travel along the River Danube.

Departing from Budapest in Hungary, you’ll call at the great cities of Vienna and Bratislava.

In the Austrian capital you’ll get to explore traditional Christmas market stalls to the charming sound of chimes from the 13 bells atop St Stephen’s Cathedral.

On a guided tour of Bratislava you’ll take in the bright lights and markets of Slovakia’s fast emerging capital before wandering around its cobbled old town, which has a backdrop of Baroque architecture such as Grassalkovich Palace and Trinity Church, recently restored to its former glory.

Between stops you can admire the beautiful banks of the Danube, where the landscapes are scattered with stark alder and black poplar trees, while enjoying a complimentary superior drinks package, which is available on all Riviera Travel’s European river cruises.

Cologne offers quite a few Christmas markets. Credit: Shutterstock


Alternatively, a little nearer home you can discover the magical ambience of Germany’s Christmas markets on the Enchanting Rhine and Yuletide Markets River Cruise.

Experience Rudesheim, a quintessential riverside town with crooked houses, then sip a zesty glass of gluhwein as you peruse 160 festive stalls beneath fairylights outside Cologne Cathedral.

Riviera Travel will offer 37 festive departures in 2025, across six itineraries on the Rhine and the Danube. Six cruises will include optional extended stays on land – so you can avoid disputes about the TV remote for a few more days.

Get onboard

Riviera Travel’s six-day 'The Danube’s Imperial Cities and Yuletide Markets River Cruise for Solo Travellers' aboard MS Emily Brontë, return from Budapest via Bratislava and Vienna, departs on 18 December 2024.

Riviera Travel’s five-day 'Enchanting Rhine and Yuletide Markets River Cruise for Solo Travellers' aboard MS Geoffrey Chaucer, return from Cologne via the Rhine Gorge, Rudesheim, Koblenz and Bonn, departs on 18 December 2025.

Read more about Christmas cruises

About Sarah Riches

After a five-year stint living in Asia, Sarah was inspired to become a travel journalist. Sarah has freelanced for Condé Nast Traveller and National Geographic Traveller and is the author of London Almanac (2010) and Culture Smart! The Essential Guide to British Customs & Culture (2024). She was also the deputy editor of Time Out Abu Dhabi, Where London and London Planner, digital editor of Wanderlust – the UK’s oldest travel magazine.