TUI Rhine Christmas Charms 2021 River Cruise

Have a Christmas time like no other on this fantastic TUI river cruise, discovering all of the charms and treasures that await you along the delightful Rhine river.

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Cologne Christmas Markets

Itinerary

You might hear Frankfurt referred to by another name – Mainhattan, alluding to the city’s setting on the Main River, as well as its futuristic skyline. But, mixed in with the new, there are timber houses and red-brick churches. Lots of the city was damaged in World War Two, but it’s since undergone a huge restoration project. Römerberg square’s now lined with traditional, Medieval-style buildings. Palmengarten is Frankfurt’s version of Kew Gardens, with zones dedicated to rainforest, sub-Antarctic and desert plants. And the 200-year-old Städel Museum houses artworks by Van Gogh, Monet and Rembrandt. Get a feel for Frankfurt on the Ebbelwei Express tram, which does a circuit of the city, rattling past the zoo and Römerberg.

Rudesheim’s a little town in the heart of Germany’s wine country. It’s part of the Rhine Gorge, a 65-kilometre-long, fortress-filled UNESCO World Heritage Site. Gothic, 16th-century houses line the water’s edge. And this is backed by a hillside sprinkled with walking trails for hikers, castles for historians and vineyards for wine-lovers. In fact, some of the biggest vineyards in Germany are found near here. Stick about in the centre of town, and you’ve got plenty of shops and bars to nip in and out of, plus a collection of museums focusing on toys, musical instruments and wine. Don’t miss the Niederwald Monument. The ride up to this giant, 100-year-old statue serves up incredible views of the town down below.

The German town of Boppard’s main claim to fame is its wine. White Riesling and red Pinot Noir’s been bottled here for centuries, starting off life in the vineyards – including the biggest in the Middle Rhine Valley – outside of town. The bars and restaurants here put on tasting sessions where you can sample them for yourself. You’ll find them clustered along the waterfront – which is also home to traditionally German, 16th-century architecture and museums – and around the modern-meets-Medieval town square. Wander around the Electoral Castle. It was built in the 13th century, and has been a hospital, a prison and a police station. These days it’s a museum, and you can dive deep into all this history through the exhibits here.

Cologne’s an iconic German city for so many reasons – like its beer halls, Christmas markets and a cathedral that’s graced many a holiday brochure cover. It’s also a city of contrasts where ancient Roman walls and Medieval churches rub shoulders with a postmodern quarter chock-full of chic shops. For drinks, head to Paffgen, a popular beer hall and garden. Or visit the Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum on the waterfront – a museum dedicated to the history of chocolate. Try to pronounce its name while sampling a tasty chunk or two. And don’t leave Cologne without walking through its cathedral. This World Heritage Site hovers majestically over the roofs of the city, and its interior’s just as impressive as its two spikey spires.

Dusseldorf is one of the most modern cities that flank the Rhine. At first glance it looks very business-orientated, with its banking, advertising and fashion industries recognised globally. Spend a few hours exploring, though, and you’ll discover an old quarter where pork knuckles are served with beer, and archaic theatres are set back off the pavement. Also of note is Dusseldorf harbour. It’s one of the city’s latest developments, and is recognised for its impressive avant-garde architecture – like Claude Vasconi’s Grand Bateau, built to resemble an ocean liner. Dusseldorf’s metroline’s an arty masterpiece, too – it’s decorated with geometric shapes and projections of planets and even has some LED walls.

Bonn is made for sightseeing. First off, you’ve got presidential palaces that hark back to when the city was the capital of West Germany during the Cold War. Elsewhere, thousand-year-old churches are packed in with glass-front shopping centres, which sit on streets decorated with Japanese cherry blossom trees. Visit in April and you’ll see the purply-pink leaves come in to bloom. Plus, the museums here cover everything from Ancient Rome to the city’s most famous resident, Beethoven. Go for a walk along the river, meanwhile, and you’ll see the landscape change from cobbled streets to waterfront parks, which play host to weekend markets and music concerts in the summer months. Germany’s famous wine country’s ripe for exploring in the nearby valleys. Here, you can sample award-winning reds after a tour of the Gothic castles.

Settings like Koblenz’s don’t come around often. The city’s a meeting place of mountains and rivers and the Rhine and Moselle rivers come together here, too. The waterfront’s dotted with UNESCO-stamped forts and palaces, while fairy tale castles christen the hilltops on the edge of town. And the surrounding valleys are teeming with terraced vines and world-class wineries. You can take a cable car up to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress for spectacular views over the city and its two rivers. When you arrive at the fort, you can explore its many museums, as well. Alternatively, catch a bus to Schloss Stolzenfels. This hilltop-castle-turned-palace is super-grand, which is fitting considering it’s played host to guests like Queen Victoria.

Tucked in to a curve in the Rhine River, Mainz takes the top spot as the capital of Germany’s wine country. Taverns stocked with world-renowned Riesling reds can be found around the town’s collection of squares, which each have their own individual style. Over in the Markt square, brightly coloured souvenir stalls are hemmed in by a border of Baroque-style houses. And the Kirschgarten area’s loaded with traditionally German, half-timbered houses and restaurants – the former of which date back to the 16th century. At the centre of it all sits the thousand-year-old Mainz Cathedral. History buffs can explore the tombs, where princes and archbishops of the Holy Roman Empire are buried. And the treasury’s packed with displays showcasing a collection of ancient artwork.

Your journey ends today in stunning Frankfurt.

Price Guide

Date Price (pp)
20 December 2021 £999

What's Included

  • Upgrade to All Inclusive from £210pp
  • £120pp excursion credit per 7 days
  • Direct flights from a range of UK airports with 20kg luggage allowance
  • 5 nights on board TUI Maya
  • Airport transfers - to and from your ship
  • Full board plus - breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Tea, coffee and juices with breakfast
  • Wine, beer and soft drinks at lunch and dinner
  • Barbecues on deck (weather permitting)
  • 1GB of Wi-Fi per cabin, per week
  • All tips and port charges

Excursion Guide

  • Winzerexpress & Seigfrieds mechanical music cabinet
  • Winzerexpress, cable car & old town
  • Rudesheim wine tasting
  • Walking tour of Boppard
  • Hammes winery tour & tasting
  • Medieval Marksburg Castle
  • Cologne's breweries with sightseeing
  • Cologne city tour with cathedral
  • Cologne city tour
  • Walking tour of Dusseldorf
  • Dusseldorf pub crawl
  • Dusseldorf city tour with Rhine tower
  • Journey up the Drachenfels mountain
  • The panoramic Siebengebirge mountains
  • Bonn city tour including Beethoven house
  • Koblenz hilltop fortress & scenic cable car
  • Walking tour of Koblenz
  • Koblenz tourist train & wine tasting
  • Walking tour of Mainz & Gutenberg museum
  • Eberbach Monastery & wine tasting