Below the enormous, gothic Cologne Cathedral lies a city that’s known for its Kolsch beer and its location on the Rhine River. Cologne is a cultural hub for the region, boasting music performances, museums, and other attractions as well as countless great restaurants and Biergartens.
At Christmas time, though, it’s easy to spend an entire day in Cologne and never even notice the restaurants or the museums. That’s because the many smaller Christmas markets of Cologne are spread throughout the city, bringing it to life with twinkling lights, the smells of mulling cider and roasting chestnuts, and the feeling that Christmas is just as magical now as it was when you were a kid.
There are Christmas markets all over town! If you take the train to Cologne, you’ll come out of the train station immediately beneath the Cologne Cathedral. There, you’ll find the first market: The Cathedral Christmas Market with its 160+ huts.
In the city center market, you’ll see city’s oldest Christmas Market: the Angel’s Market (or Markt der Angel). We didn’t see this one, in particular, but it sound fun, with angels who wander the streets wearing white and covered in glitter and Gluhwein stands named things like “Cloud Nine.”
Along the Rhine River is the Harbour Christmas Market. The Harbour Market is directly outside the Lindt Chocolate Museum (bonus!), so be sure to give yourself a little time to warm up and explore the museum while you’re in town.
I’m sure exactly how many markets there are in Cologne at Christmastime, but it seemed like we’d leave one market and find another just a block or two away. Not surprisingly, considering that Cologne is one of Germany’s most liberal cities, there’s even a gay and lesbian Christmas market there!
If you want to give your feet a break between markets, you can hop on a cute little Christmas train called the Christmas Market Express that takes you between four of the larger markets in Cologne.
We went to the Cologne Christmas Markets as a day trip from Wiesbaden when we lived there, but if I had it to do again, I think I’d plan it as an overnight trip. There was so much to see and do at the markets and in the city that we could have easily spent a full day exploring.
Have you been to the Christmas markets in Cologne? Which were your favorites? Do you have any other advice you’d offer travelers planning to go to Cologne at Christmas?
Read about all of the Christmas markets we’ve visited in Europe right here!
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