Cologne is one of the German cities that is known for the several Christmas markets, which are part of the Kölner Weihnachtsmärkte. Every year several squares are transformed in the most wonderful markets with plenty of food-, drinks-, and decoration stands. Some markets offer nice activities like ice-skating rinks or other winter games. Every year in November and December you can feel the magic of Christmas throughout the entire city. In this post I will share some handy tips for visiting the markets, a map with all the markets’ locations, and will describe Cologne’s best Christmas markets.
Try some local specialities! Typical German Christmas treats are glühwein (sweet, hot wine), bratapfeln (baked apples), bratwurst (sausages), Reibekuchen (potato pancakes), Maronen (hot chestnuts), and many, many more.
Every Christmas Market provide drinks in their own unique cup. It is nice to collect the cups from every market. When you order a drink, you must pay an extra € 2,50 as a deposit for the cup. When you return the cup you will get the deposit back and when you keep it you have a nice souvenir!
Within the weekends you will find more visitors on the markets. If you have the chance visit the markets on a weekday.
Beware for pickpockets! Christmas markets are usually very busy, so the crowds are easy targets.
Cologne’s best Christmas markets:
1. Christmas market at Cologne Cathedral This market is also called the Weihnachtsmarkt am Dom. It is the most wonderful Christmas market you will find in Cologne. It is located next to the famous Cologne Cathedral and has more than 150 stands. In the middle of the market you can find a big Christmas tree and a stage where they play live music with lights stretched out above it. The view and atmosphere is amazing. This market is easy accessible because it is located next to Cologne central train station (Köln Hauptbahnhof).
Christmas market at Cologne Cathedral
Christmas market at Cologne Cathedral
2. Cologne old town market (Alter Markt) In German this market is also called the Weihnachtsmarkt auf dem Alter Markt or Weihnachtsmarkt Kölner Altstadt. This market is only 200 meters away from the Christmas market at Cologne Cathedral, so easy accessible by foot. This market is very nice for young children, because it has a roundabout, small theatre and many toy stands.
3. Heumarkt Christmas market This market has a small ice skating rink, live bands playing festive Christmas tunes, and a variety of traditional Christmas market foods. This market is also called the Heimat der Heinzel (home of the Heinzelmännchen). I found on this market some nice Christmas decorations that were way cheaper than on other markets, so I can recommend you to buy some souvenirs on this market.
Heumarkt Christmas market
Cologne old town market (Alter Markt)
4. Christmas market at the chocolate museum This market is in front of the chocolate museum and is also called the Hafen-Weihnachtsmarkt am Schokoladenmuseum. It is also one of the biggest Christmas markets of Cologne. You can find here a wide variety of fish specialties and other delicious food and drinks.
5. Neumarkt Christmas market This market is the oldest market in the city and is known as the market of the angels or in German as the Markt der Engel. It is easy accessible by foot but also by tram from other Christmas locations. As on other markets, you can find plenty of food-, drinks-, and decoration stands. If you are lucky you may spot one of the angels.
6. Rudolfplatz Christmas market In front of the Hahnentorburg gate you can find the Rudolfplatz Christmas market (also called the weinachtsmarkt auf dem Rudolfplatz). This market is very family-friendly and has a lot of nice Christmas decorations. You may spot Saint Nicholas here, because the market is also known as the Nicholas Village.
7. Cologne’s gay and lesbian Christmas market Cologne is also known for the alternative Christmas markets. One of them is the Cologne’s gay and lesbian Christmas market (Schwul-lesbischer Weihnachtsmarkt). This market is located between the Schaafenstraße and Rudolfplatz. The market is accessible for everyone and there is a very nice atmosphere. You will find pink stands and ‘unusual’ Christmas decorations like a pink nutcracker or lolly pops in unusual designs.
8. Stadtgarten Christmas market This is another alternative Christmas market of Cologne and is in the Belgian Quarter. You can find a lot of unusual handicrafts here. The stands change weekly so things never get boring on this market.
Have you ever been to Cologne during Christmas? What market was your favorite?
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