Rhine River Cruise (time of year)

My husband & I have booked a December holiday cruise on the Rhine for our 40th Anniversary. Now my husband is second guessing this and, although we've heard how beautiful it is then and wonderful markets, he's afraid it will be so cold we won't be able to truly enjoy it. We're in our late 50's so still active and eager for a great trip. I need help! This will be first river cruise and have only been to Europe once before (Paris). This was originally his idea but I've gotten excited about seeing the towns in their Christmas glory. Now I'm confused if we should re-book to the springtime. If we do go in December I need help in planning wardrobe for excursions/tours in winter. Our winters here are very moderate and need advice and any helpful ideas or tips to make this a memorable trip. Thank you in advance!!!!!!

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9134 posts

You can enjoy the Rhine in the winter if you arm yourself with a different set of expectations. The biggest positive would be the Christmas markets, if you're into that sort of thing. The biggest downside isn't necessarily the temperature. Although it won't be warm, it likely won't be as cold as you might think. The downside, though, is that from late October to late spring, the atmosphere is usually very damp. For sight-seeing purposes, means that all those Techicolor post card views you see from the summer take on a shade of hazy dull gray. And the hours of daylight are very short. As for actual temperatures... impossible to predict. December in this part of Germany can be mild or moderately cold or both. And it can change back and forth within a matter of days. But December is rarely very cold. The most reasonable strategy would be to prepare for temperatures anywhere from 0 to 10 ° C. It will probably rain, but precipitation is usually light. An umbrella will be all you need. If you see any snow at all, it will likely quickly melt.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10888 posts

By your standards it will be cold and maybe very cold. The days will be short with sunset around 4 pm or so. But it also really sets the mood for the Christmas. Unless you are from down under you don't expect Christmas to be balmy and 90s. We were through that area two years and it was in high 20s, low 30s most of the time with light snowfall every other to every third day. No great accumulations but as nice decoration for the Christmas markets. Sometimes it was almost magical with light fall snow, bright colored lights of the markets, the smell of roasting meats, glog wine, choc, etc., and the crowds of very happy people made for a very pleasant afternoon and evening. Being from Denver and the mountains we, of course, are more use to that type of weather. Start with good waterproof, thick sole shoes/boots, wool socks, long underwear, wool outer pants, long underwear on top, long sleeve shirt, with a medium weight sweater, a fleece vest, good quality windbreaker/rain jacket (or light weight parka), scarf, stocking caps, and gloves. You dress in light layers of clothing that can be added or removed as temperature dictates. We take no cotton clothes because we say, in the mountains, cotton kills. For you cotton is probably OK but not as warm as other natural fibers. And if you get cold there are lots of places to warm up. The Starbucks were packed because they also had nice water closets. Great time to we go. Just plan for cold weather and you will be fine.

Posted by Neil
Keystone, Colorado, USA
44 posts

Hi Beth I have to agree with your husband. We went to the Rhine for a day cruise last Nov near St. Goar. I enjoyed it, although no day cruises running, and I could only imagine how pretty it would be in the sun with green hills and blue river,instead of with gray clouds and mist. In fact it was cloudy and foggy the whole two weeks we were in Germany, and our family that lives there said - always like this in fall and winter. Think WWII movies when socked in and allied air power was grounded or WWI trenches in the fog - it is really like that - neat to experience. Also very cold - damp - and I ski in blizzards in Colorado. I have been to Europe several times in the good weather seasons, so I did not mind, but if this is your second trip I would recommend going for good weather. Neil

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2012 posts

I have to say I really think the only reason for visiting Europe from late fall to early spring is if you REALLY are into the Christmas markets (keep in mind there are other festivals all over europe in better weather too) or alpine skiing (and then again you have great skiing in California). A river cruise really seems like something that's based in scenery and relaxation on deck, but you will be inside your cabin due to the very cold temperatures and as others have mentioned, it will be gray. If you want to see Christmas markets, I wouldn't take a cruise, but use trains instead. If you want to cruise, I'd go in late spring at the earliest. Not before April. Snow is forecast here on Monday. It takes spring a while to get here.