We had the amazing opportunity to visit Cologne this holiday season. As you have probably heard, Cologne has one of the best Christmas markets in all of Europe. And we do have to say that it lived up to the hype! The entire city was decorated with lights and decorations, and the markets were fantastic.
During the holiday season, Cologne actually has multiple Christmas markets in various areas of the city. This might seem like holiday overload, but several of the largest markets are very close together and essentially merge into one large market in the old city center.
Getting to the markets is quite easy if you’re elsewhere in Europe, because you can take the train to Cologne’s main station (Koln HBF) which is next to the famous Cologne Cathedral. The first market begins next to the cathedral, so from the station you’re only a 2 minute walk away from the festivities! Then, wander your way through this market and the others nearby before venturing further into the city to see the others. You can take public transit very easily to get around the city, or you can take the fun little holiday train which makes a loop through 4 of the markets in the old town.
While you can visit most of the markets in just one day, why would you? It’s better to take a few days to explore the markets and the rest of the city, too. Here’s how much a hotel in Cologne will cost.
While visiting, don’t miss the Cologne Cathedral which is open to the public with free admission. The cathedral dates back to the 12th century, survived the wars, and is the second tallest church in Europe. The Cologne Zoo is also terrific, as are the archaeological museums and the chocolate museum. Phantasia Land is not far away, and great for the kids. It’s also very easy to hop down to Bonn which offers even more things to do.
Here are some of the highlights of the Cologne Christmas Markets from our trip.
Cologne Cathedral Market
Located right next to the huge cathedral, this is where you should start your journey through the markets. You’ll find amazing food, spiced wine and other fun drinks, and a live stage here, too.
Heinzels Winter Fairytale Market
Just two blocks south of the cathedral market, you’ll find this sprawling and beautifully decorated market full of food, drinks, gifts, rides for kids, ice skating, and more.
Market of Angels
In Neumarkt square, this market has a nice vibe at night with the surrounding trees decorated with lights and stars. Located near the shopping district, you can head out to the nearby malls after visiting this spot for some gifts and wine.
Village of St. Nicholas
Located under the historic Hahnentorburg (a sort of small castle), this festive and well-decorated market has plenty of hot chocolate, spiced wine, and yummy food. It’s fairly small, though, so you’ll probably only be here for a few minutes unless you want stay awhile to taste all of the different warm spiced wine variations. You’ll find plenty of other visitors here doing the same.
Cologne Harbor Christmas Market
Although not quite as scenic as the other markets, you can find a large Ferris Wheel here. It’s also next to the Lindt chocolate museum.
The little holiday train goes around to the various markets, and it was 12 Euros for the complete loop of the Cathedral market, Heinzels market, the Angels market, and the Harbor market. You’ll have to walk or take public transit to the others.
Bryan has visited exactly one more country than his wife, and she won’t let him forget it! Also an avid photographer, he enjoys entrenching himself within the local culture in order to learn more about the people of a place. He is the co-founder of Budget Your Trip and loves a good adventure, an exotic meal, or a passionate conversation about global events.