Last Updated on 12th December 2019 by Sarah and Justin
Cologne during the Christmas season is one of the best places to be. We first visited on our honeymoon so it always feels romantic and nostalgic to us. And, to top it all off, it has a lot of Christmas Markets. One magical December, we spent two weeks in Cologne and went to a Christmas Market at least every other day. To us, they really are the embodiment of joy during the holiday season. Even though on the surface they may appear a bit touristy, they are a hugely local thing. Everyone is just happy to be there enjoying good food, hot Glühwein, and friendly company. We think the Cologne Christmas Markets are the best in Germany, and we hope this post inspires you to visit and enjoy them.
The seven Christmas Markets in Cologne
Cologne has seven major Christmas Markets located in different neighborhoods. But the city is pretty compact and easy to get around (on foot or by U-Bahn), so it’s easy to see all of them during a one or two-day visit. Lucky for us, we had two whole weeks to explore all the Cologne Christmas Markets. And lucky for you, we’re pretty much experts. Here’s our run down of and top tips for each.
In 2019, the Cologne Christmas Markets are open from November 25-December 23. Check back here for opening dates and times for each market as we get closer to the season.
Christmas Market am Dom
The most impressive Christmas Market in Cologne is definitely the one under the Dom, one of the largest cathedrals in the world. The Dom is a gorgeous, ornate building, and it looks even more beautiful when it’s towering over a Christmas tree and festive Christmas Market huts.
One can also climb to the top of the Dom. We did this on our honeymoon before Sarah was diagnosed with LAM (although climbing 533 steps would be difficult for her with or without a lung disease!). If you can manage it’s a really great experience. The views out the little windows on the way up and from the top can’t be beat.
Christmas Market at Alter Markt (Heinzels Wintermärchen)
The Christmas Market at the Alter Markt (aka Heinzels Wintermärchen) is massive and actually seems like two markets in one. It starts a few minutes walk from the Dom, going through the Altstadt. It’s lined with wooden statues of gnomes (Heinzelmännchen) and goes right behind the beautiful Rathaus (city hall).
One of our favorite Christmas Market eats can be found here. Schupfnudeln is a dish made of hand-rolled potato noodles. It’s typically served with sauerkraut and bacon, which is quite tasty. But one of the stalls in this Christmas Market has a version with arugula, pine nuts, sun dried tomatoes, parmesan cheese, and crème fraîche. It’s absurdly decadent, but so delicious. And there’s greens in there, so you can convince yourself it’s not a complete lost cause.
The large market continues through to Heumarkt. The highlights here are alpine huts (where better to drink Glühwein?) and a skating rink (a pretty big one considering)! We had a really fun time skating in such a beautiful setting. Although Sarah forgot Justin is an expert skater, and that this activity requires exertion! But not to worry, there were plenty of benches where she could take a little breather.
Markt der Engel was our favorite Christmas Market the first time we visited Cologne. We were pleased when we learned it was pretty close to where we were staying this time around. It’s angel-themed, and there are two people dressed as angels who walk around the market and dutifully sprinkle children with glitter and pose for pictures. There are twinkly lights everywhere and it’s quite beautiful.
It was at this market that we also enjoyed a new Christmas Market treat: Prague ham sandwiches. We saw these stalls throughout all of the markets and the delicious spit-roasted meat didn’t disappoint. And of course the side of kale made the whole meal super healthy. It’s not like it had cream and Wurst in it or anything.
Christmas Market at Rudolfplatz
Our go-to Christmas Market when we visited was the one at Rudolfplatz. It was close to where we were staying, but we also loved the vibe. It’s a much smaller market with fewer stalls but just as much delicious food, warming Glühwein, and super happy people. It’s positioned under the Hahnentorburg (Hahnen Gate) which, originally built in the 13th century, was one of the 12 gates to the city in medieval times.
A smaller Christmas Market in the same area as Rudolfplatz and the Angel’s Market is Heavenue. It’s billed as the LGBTQ Christmas Market. All the stalls were wrapped in pink and purple metallic wrapping paper. It was open late and also had live music and was quite a fun place to be.
The Statdgarten Christmas Market seems a bit more upscale than the others. Its Glühwein was organic and cost 10 cents more than it did anywhere else. It’s definitely they place to go for proper Christmas Market shopping, with a more unique offering of gifts and crafts. It’s a little bit outside the center, but reachable by tram in just a few minutes.
Harbor Christmas Market
The Harbor Christmas Market is located directly in front of the Chocolate Museum, which looks delicious (we’ve never actually gone in). It’s in a beautiful setting at the harbor with views of Cologne all around you. It’s maritime themed, which mainly means they sell more seafood and some of their huts are shaped like ships.
Christmas Market Express
If you only have one day to see Christmas Markets in Cologne (which would be a tragedy), or if you have mobility limitations, or you just don’t want to walk, you can hop on the Christmas Market Express. This green and yellow trolleybus drives visitors to the four Christmas Markets in the city: the Dom, Alter Markt, Harbor, and Angel’s. It’s like a hop off/hop on bus for Christmas Markets. If you buy a round trip ticket (10 EUR), you can get off and back on at each stop.
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Bonus: Bonn Christmas Markets
Bonn is a quick and easy train ride away from Cologne so we went for an afternoon to see even more Christmas Markets and explore the city. There are a few Christmas Markets quite close together which made for easy wandering.
27 thoughts on “Cologne Christmas Markets”
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Wonderful trip and so many photos! I have heard so many good things about Cologne. I really want to check out some of the Christmas Markets you have suggested. Looks like a great time.
SEVEN xmas markets in the same city!? Holy guacamoly! I’m not the xmas market type so I guess I will better avoid Köln during this time of the year 😀 I love the colorful Altstadt buildings tho, they remind me of Copenhagen 🙂
Safe and happy travels dear!
Any excuse to drink Gluhwein and I’m there! The fact that they have different themed markets was nice and also loved that the rivalry extended to the kebab shop. Why did you choose Koln for your honeymoon?
We were in Köln for only a few days out of our honeymoon. It was part of a larger trip around Germany, Belgium, and France. Our first stop was Baden-Baden, the spa town in Germany, which was the most romantic and lovely!
Brrr looks so cold there. We have summer in Xmas, so many Xmas markets you don’t have to shop at malls which I have to be honest is not my best. The food looks amazing, this post will be useful so many. Looks like you had an amazing time!
German christmas markets are simply the best! It’s the first time ever I won’t be home in Germany for Christmas and I already know I’ll miss all the Christmas Market goodies so much. It’s just not the same elsewhere
Is there anything that is traditional for Cologne (or whole Germany) that you would suggest to buy in a Christmas market, except food?
There are so many different gifts you can buy – from ornaments and nutcrackers to things like tools crafted from chocolate and wax candles. The Christmas Market with the most unique gifts in Cologne was the one at the Stadtgarten.
I love going to Christmas markets. Its great to taste the food and purchase unique gifts for friends and family. I haven’t gone to any overseas, but love the one in NYC.
I’ve never been to Germany but I’d love to visit one of those christmas markets they seems amazing, good food, nice scent, and amazing architecture around ! Also the Harbour Market seems really cute !
Oh, I love, love, LOVE German Christmas markets! Unfortunately I’ve never actually been to one IN Germany (I missed the Freiburg one by just a few days the last time I was there 🙁 but the ones I’ve been to elsewhere have been amazing. Hopefully I right the wrong of not having been to a proper German Christmas market soon – maybe even with the ones in Köln!
That happened to us in Freiburg too! We were so sad – everything looked so festive being set up but was a bit depressing seeing all the huts with no one in them. Freiburg is such a wonderful city, though, so we got over it 🙂
Who knew Cologne had so many christmas markets?! Looks amazing, I’d love to go… especially to sample the gluhwein 😉
The only city I have seen in Germany is Munich and that too in summer. Now after reading this post I feel like going back to Germany in the winter and specially to Cologne 🙂 Such lovely and fun filled atmosphere in the photos. Since our holidays this year are already booked with other plans you have inspired me to look for Christmas markets nearby home.. lol
Great article. Recently I was in Cologne and your amazing photos took me again in the beautiful city. Thanks.
The Christmas markets in Cologne are one of my favourites in Germany! Not only because I think Cologne is a super cool city 😉
I have never been to Cologne but I have heard how wonderful the christmas markets are. Looks like you had a great time and that skating sure is something! There is one in Rotterdam this year near the Euromast from friday 8th if you fancy another ice skating trip!
I went to Cologne at the end of November and unfortunately it was TWO DAYS before the Christmas markets kicked off! 🙁 they look absolutely amazing!
My family just moved to Switzerland (near the German border) and we’re looking into Christmas markets to visit! I’ll definitely have to share this with them- I think this is just what we’re looking for!
Your pictures offered such a real feel of the place. They totally had my wanderlust ignited. I can’t wait to experience Cologne now for Christmas Markets! Great work!
I am obsessed with Christmas markets-the food, the Gluhwein, the decorations! There is something magical about Christmas around gorgeous old European architecture. The church looks lovely. Thanks for sharing!
I love Christmas and each year I’d love to visit a new place to experience their Christmas markets! Great pictures, thanks so much for sharing, I’m adding this to my list now!
Lovely photos, brought back memories ! I’ve been to Cologne few times. Whatever the season, this region is beautiful. I really loved the winter time with enchanting Christmas markets. There is something magical: good food & good atmosphere !
Ohh, this post made me wanna visit Cologne right now! So sad I didn’t have time to go there while living quite close to it. Hope one day I’ll get there anyway.
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