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Belgian Holiday Markets

8 Days | Brussels to Brussels

from
$5,899

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2023 Belgian Christmas Markets
  • 8 days
  • 2 countries

Indulge in all of the classic delights of a European Christmas with unique Belgian charm.

There’s no more magical way to enjoy the holiday season than with a visit to a Christmas market. And on an all-inclusive, luxury river cruise, you can wander the stalls of many such markets in one trip, encountering the delights of each city’s unique rendition along the way. The holiday season in Belgium is something truly special. Not only will each city have its own quintessential Christmas setup, with rows of stalls offering handcrafted gifts and delicious wintertime treats, but they’ll also surround these markets with enchanting festivals, ice skating rinks, elaborate light displays, Ferris wheels and more characterize the holiday season in towns across Belgium.

Bordered by the bigger tourism magnets France, Germany and the Netherlands, Belgium is a small country bursting with cultural impact and well worthy of being the highlight of any European trip—whether it’s your first time on the continent or your tenth. Chocolates, french fries, specialty spirits and beers are amongst the many things this stretch of the Earth is known for doing well, and you’ll get to experience it all during Belgium’s most festive time of the year.

Visit Christmas towns unlike any other in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands—such as Brussels, Bruges and Aachen, where the markets are often named amongst the best in Europe. Discover why as you sip vin chaud and the world’s most delicious cups of hot chocolate between bites of warm liege waffles and spiced gingerbread.      

Who will enjoy this cruise: This trip is perfect for those who have been to the classic markets of Germany and are looking for something new, for anyone looking to explore a different side of Belgium than most tourists see or for those excited to lean into a holiday extravaganza for their next winter season.

Belgian Holiday Markets Map
LEGEND
  • UNESCO
  • Motorcoach
  • Embark/Disembark
Note: The itineraries presented are subject to modification due to water levels, closures because of public holidays or other uncontrollable factors. Every effort will be made to operate programs as planned, but changes may still be necessary throughout the cruise. This day-to-day schedule is subject to change. Your final day-to-day schedule will be provided onboard on the first day of your cruise.
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Day 1

Brussels (Embark)

Brussels

Arrive at Brussels Airport. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer, or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the ship.

Note: For Arrival, Departure and Transfer details, please visit Uniworld.com/transfers. For Port Location details, please visit Uniworld.com/ports.
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Day 2

Brussels

Brussels, the capital of Belgium, offers a treasure trove of historic architecture, along with a rich culinary tradition—chocolate!—and a vibrant culinary capital. Food lovers will be lured by the divine aromas drifting from the many holiday market stalls, while others will be attracted to the city’s enchanting architecture and elaborate Christmas displays.

Featured Excursion

Brussels Christmas Market

As far north as Brussels, night falls early during this time of year—which means we have the good fortune to be able to catch the Christmas market light up for the evening. Our driver will drop you right off at the city center, where your Cruise Manager will walk you to the market to explore...

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Brussels Christmas Market

As far north as Brussels, night falls early during this time of year—which means we have the good fortune to be able to catch the Christmas market light up for the evening. Our driver will drop you right off at the city center, where your Cruise Manager will walk you to the market to explore on your own. The largest in Belgium, Brussels’ market has over 200 stalls. Perhaps you’d like to enjoy the city’s most famous sweet holiday-style, with a delicious cup of hot chocolate from one of the market’s many vendors.

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Brussels City Tour with Chocolate Tasting

On our way into the city center, we'll take you on a panoramic tour of the major sightseeing spots in Brussels, such as the Royal Residence, Chinese Pavilion and Japanese Pagoda. From there, we'll set out on foot to see the city up close—and taste some iconic Belgian chocolates along the way! ...

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Brussels City Tour with Chocolate Tasting

On our way into the city center, we'll take you on a panoramic tour of the major sightseeing spots in Brussels, such as the Royal Residence, Chinese Pavilion and Japanese Pagoda. From there, we'll set out on foot to see the city up close—and taste some iconic Belgian chocolates along the way! At one of the chocolatiers, Neuhaus Chocolate, you’ll learn about the benefits of sustainable chocolate practices. Neuhaus uses beans harvested from their own cacao farm, which means they can ensure their chocolate is of both of a superior quality and produced by fair labor.

This MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience supports Global Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production; and Global Goal 15: Life on Land.

Our MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences support sustainable tourism, offering our guests opportunities to directly impact the communities we explore in a positive way.

mtm-logo

MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences Our MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences support sustainable tourism, offering our guests opportunities to directly impact the communities we explore in a positive way.

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Brussels Walking Tour with Belgian Beer Museum

Take in the top sights of Brussels on an engaging walking tour with a local guide, during which you’ll see La Grand-Place and enter the old stock exchange. Here you’ll find the Belgian Beer Museum, where you’ll learn all about one of the country’s most iconic products. This...

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Brussels Walking Tour with Belgian Beer Museum

Take in the top sights of Brussels on an engaging walking tour with a local guide, during which you’ll see La Grand-Place and enter the old stock exchange. Here you’ll find the Belgian Beer Museum, where you’ll learn all about one of the country’s most iconic products. This museum isn’t just educational though, it’s also interactive. You’ll sample as you go, getting to know a variety of different Belgian beer varieties to see which suits your tastes best.

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Day 3

Ghent

Ghent

Visit one of two national gems: beautiful Bruges, the capital of West Flanders and one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe, or fascinating Ghent, the capital city of East Flanders, whose long history does not weigh on its vibrant present. Belgium’s second-largest city, Ghent abounds in medieval architecture, which makes for a particularly magical canvas for the town’s Christmastime decorations.

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Ghent Walking Tour with Christmas Market

Since cars are completely banned in Ghent’s historic center, it’s a particularly pedestrian-friendly area. Stroll with your guide from the Church of Saint James, with its two Romanesque towers, to the Friday Market square, which, as its name suggests, was the site of a huge market every ...

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Ghent Walking Tour with Christmas Market

Since cars are completely banned in Ghent’s historic center, it’s a particularly pedestrian-friendly area. Stroll with your guide from the Church of Saint James, with its two Romanesque towers, to the Friday Market square, which, as its name suggests, was the site of a huge market every Friday in the Middle Ages. You’ll pass the magnificent 15th-century Great Butchers’ Hall and the elegant medieval trading houses that line Graslei and Korenlei streets. Your last stop is the Belfort, the great bell tower that rises above the Old Town.

You’ll have time to explore Ghent’s winter festival, complete with well over a hundred Christmas market stalls following your tour. Breathe in the wintry smell of pine that distinguishes this town’s holiday festivities.

Please note: the Christmas market in Ghent will not be available on the November 25 and December 2 departures of this itinerary.

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Bruges Walking Tour with Christmas Market

Walk through the UNESCO-designated city center of Bruges with a local guide to see why this lovely city is a popular favorite of visitors to Belgium. The town grew up around a fort built by the first Count of Flanders to defend against Viking invaders. By the 14th century, Bruges had become the...

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Bruges Walking Tour with Christmas Market

Walk through the UNESCO-designated city center of Bruges with a local guide to see why this lovely city is a popular favorite of visitors to Belgium. The town grew up around a fort built by the first Count of Flanders to defend against Viking invaders. By the 14th century, Bruges had become the center of the international cloth trade. Merchants and traders worldwide came to Bruges for Flemish cloth, and the town’s bounty of beautiful churches and mansions testify to its prosperity. It's even more wonderful in the wintertime, when the crowds of tourists have dwindled and locals decorate the city in festive fashion. Christmas trees, twinkling lights and the sweet scent of holiday treats fill the streets.

Your guide will bring the tour to a close at the wonderful Christmas market of Bruges, which you’ll have some free time to explore before returning to the ship.

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Day 4

Hasselt

Today, you’ll explore the trendy-yet-quaint town of Hasselt. A blend of city interest—with plenty of cafés, shopping and the area’s largest Christmas market—and an easygoing, small-town atmosphere, the mostly car-free Hasselt is a charming place to explore on foot. It is also, as you can discover at one of the tasting booths in the market, known as the unofficial capital of Belgium’s famous spirit, Jenever.

Featured Excursion

Hasselt Walking Tour with Christmas Market

Hasselt Winterland is truly something to behold, often boasting such attractions as an ice skating rink, a carousel, a small roller coaster and more. It’s not short on the classic holiday market staples either, with plenty of vendors selling seasonal food and drinks, Christmas decorations and ...

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Hasselt Walking Tour with Christmas Market

Hasselt Winterland is truly something to behold, often boasting such attractions as an ice skating rink, a carousel, a small roller coaster and more. It’s not short on the classic holiday market staples either, with plenty of vendors selling seasonal food and drinks, Christmas decorations and other crafts. We’ll visit in the evening, when the whole affair is splendidly lit.

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Day 5

Maastricht

Maastricht

Venture into the Netherlands to visit Maastricht, known as one of the most beautiful and romantic cities of Holland and loved for its convivial lifestyle and historic center, which has long played a strategic role in European politics. Not only will you explore this city’s Christmas market, but you will also have the opportunity to head into Germany to visit the famous Aachen Christmas Market.

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Aachen Christmas Market

The only German Christmas market we’ll visit on this itinerary, Aachen's market has frequently been named among the best in Europe. The area surrounding the Aachen Cathedral turns into a bustling Christmas village every year, known foremost for its local take on gingerbread. Aachen Printen,...

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Aachen Christmas Market

The only German Christmas market we’ll visit on this itinerary, Aachen's market has frequently been named among the best in Europe. The area surrounding the Aachen Cathedral turns into a bustling Christmas village every year, known foremost for its local take on gingerbread. Aachen Printen, as it is known, has many varieties, so make sure to try as much as you can during your time here!

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Christmas in the Caves

Here’s your chance to experience something utterly unique: the underground Christmas market of Valkenburg. Cozy stalls and twinkling lights line the stone walls of this enchanting cave, where you can shop for classic holiday gifts and treats while escaping the weather. And if you venture...

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Christmas in the Caves

Here’s your chance to experience something utterly unique: the underground Christmas market of Valkenburg. Cozy stalls and twinkling lights line the stone walls of this enchanting cave, where you can shop for classic holiday gifts and treats while escaping the weather. And if you venture outside, you’ll find even more Christmas spirit spreading out from the cave across the entire festively-decked town.

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Day 6

Antwerp

Antwerp

Discover an eclectic mix of historic and modern in Belgium’s “Second City,” Antwerp, a town where well-preserved medieval buildings are interspersed with artful modern architecture. After your included explorations today, you may find your final Christmas market for this journey centered in Antwerp’s Old Town, lighting up nostalgic facades and the local castle to create the perfect backdrop for this festive event. Please note that Antwerp’s Christmas Market will not be open during the November 25 and December 2 sailings of this itinerary.

Featured Excursion

Antwerp Walking Tour with Christmas Concert

Meander your way around Antwerp with a local guide, arriving at the St. Paulus Church. Located in Antwerp’s Old Town, St. Paulus is a beautiful Gothic building dating back to the 16th century. A brief tour here will introduce you to the church’s history, followed by a concert of holiday ...

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Antwerp Walking Tour with Christmas Concert

Meander your way around Antwerp with a local guide, arriving at the St. Paulus Church. Located in Antwerp’s Old Town, St. Paulus is a beautiful Gothic building dating back to the 16th century. A brief tour here will introduce you to the church’s history, followed by a concert of holiday tunes by the Chamber Choir of Flanders.

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Day 7

Antwerp

You’ll find a penchant for all things high quality in the country’s biggest port city. Diamonds, art, fashion, and more compete for attention here, so you’re sure to find just the thing to make your time in Antwerp memorable.

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The Nottebohm Room

Once named the World Book Capital by UNESCO, Antwerp has a dedicated relationship with literature. The Nottebohm Room of the Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library illustrates this well. Walk in to see two open stories of wooden bookshelves, filled to the brim with leather bound volumes. A wrought...

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The Nottebohm Room

Once named the World Book Capital by UNESCO, Antwerp has a dedicated relationship with literature. The Nottebohm Room of the Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library illustrates this well. Walk in to see two open stories of wooden bookshelves, filled to the brim with leather bound volumes. A wrought metal balustrade bisects the two, giving librarians access to the incredible collection of rare items inside. Some particularly exciting members of this collection are accessible to you on the ground floor, including an iconic pair of globes by Dutch cartographer Willem Blaeu.

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Chocolate Nation

In the center of Antwerp, you’ll find a whole museum dedicated just to Belgian chocolate. Walk inside to discover the love story that is Belgium’s relationship with the sweet treat, follow the path of the cocoa bean from the farms of Ecuador to the world’s largest cocoa storage...

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Chocolate Nation

In the center of Antwerp, you’ll find a whole museum dedicated just to Belgian chocolate. Walk inside to discover the love story that is Belgium’s relationship with the sweet treat, follow the path of the cocoa bean from the farms of Ecuador to the world’s largest cocoa storage port in Antwerp, and of course, you’ll sample a variety chocolates during your time here.

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Day 8

Brussels (Disembark)

Disembark the ship. If your cruise package includes a group departure transfer, or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to Brussels Airport for your flight home.

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What's Included

Dining

  • All meals onboard, prepared using the finest and freshest ingredients
  • 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 7 dinners
  • Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Receptions
  • Welcome and Farewell Gala Dinners
  • Unlimited beverages onboard, including fine wine, beer, spirits, specialty coffee and tea, soft drinks and mineral water

Excursions

  • 6 days of excursions, all fully hosted by English-speaking local experts
  • State-of-the-art Quietvox portable audio-headset system on all excursions
  • Use of bicycles and Nordic walking sticks

Accommodations

  • 7-night cruise in a riverview stateroom on the elegant S.S. Victoria
  • Lavishly appointed riverview staterooms and suites have handcrafted Savoir® Beds of England, high thread count 100% Egyptian cotton sheets and European duvets, and a menu of pillow options
  • Free Internet and Wi-Fi access

Experiences

  • 3 countries: Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany
  • 2 UNESCO World Heritage sites
  • Services of an experienced Uniworld Cruise Manager
  • Cultural enrichment, including a Signature Lecture
  • Group Transfers are included on arrival and departure days (please see terms and conditions for transfer guidelines)
  • Gratuities for onboard personnel (ship staff, crew, Cruise/Tour Manager) are included during the cruise/tour
  • Captivating onboard local entertainment

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Belgian Holiday Markets

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