Cologne is a beautiful city with a rich history that turns into a Christmas wonderland during the holiday season. If you’re planning on visiting the Christmas markets of Cologne this year, then you’ll want to read this ultimate guide to to make the most of your visit. In this guide to the Christmas Markets of Cologne, Germany, I’ll outline the best places to find Christmas decorations, the top seven Christmas markets of Cologne, and some travel tips for visiting this German city. By the end of this post, you’ll have everything you need to know to have a wonderful time visiting the Christmas markets of Cologne.
Table of Contents
- 1 What To Expect When Visiting Cologne
- 2 Where to Stay in Cologne, Germany
- 4 The Best Christmas Markets in Cologne
- 4.1 1. Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market (Weihnachtsmarkt am Kölner Dom)
- 4.2 2. Advent Village with Christmas Pyramid (Adventsdorf mit Weihnachtspyramide)
- 4.3 3. The Christmas Market in Cologne’s Old Town
- 4.4 4. The Angels’ Market (Markt der Engel)
- 4.5 5. Nicholas Village (Weihnachtsmarkt am Rudolfplatz)
- 4.6 6. The Christmas Market In The Stadtgarten (Weihnachtsmarkt im Stadtgarten)
- 4.7 7. Harbor Christmas Market (Hafen Weihnachtsmarkt)
- 4.8 Map of the Christmas Markets
- 5 What Foods to Try at the Christmas Markets of Cologne
- 6 Travel Tips for Visiting Cologne
- 7 How to get to Cologne, Germany
What To Expect When Visiting Cologne
Christmas markets are a tradition in Germany, and there are several different markets to choose from in Cologne. Whether you’re looking for the bustling market at Cologne Cathedral, the quaint Christmas market at Angel’s Market found on Neumarkt or the family-friendly market, Nicholas Village at Rudolfplatz, there’s a market for everyone. Not only do these markets offer great shopping options, but they are also great for enjoying holiday cheer, mulled wine, and gingerbread treats.
To make the most of your visit to Cologne’s markets, be sure to wear warm clothes as temperate drops during these winter days, carry cash because many stalls do not accept cards and lastly bring a camera to capture these festive moments!
Where to Stay in Cologne, Germany
To fully enjoy all that Cologne has to offer during the holiday season, the best place to stay is in the city center. In my opinion, staying at Hyatt Regency Cologne is the perfect hotel for your German trip. Its prime location right along the Rhine River offers unparalleled views of Cologne.
Explore More Hotels in CologneBooking.com
The Best Christmas Markets in Cologne
If you’re looking for some of the best Christmas markets in Cologne, look no further. Below, I’ve outlined the top seven Christmas markets of Cologne and go into depth on their features, attractions and top tips on how to visit them.
When it comes to the best Christmas markets in Cologne, there are a few that stand out above the rest. The Market of Cologne Cathedral is by far the largest and most popular market in town, with over 200 stalls spread across two floors. There’s a wide variety of traditional Christmas foods, drinks, and gifts available here, so you’re sure to find something that appeals to your taste buds. Likewise, the Old Town Christmas Market stands out from the rest due to the sheer amount of Christmas stalls, attractions and entertainment.
1. Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market (Weihnachtsmarkt am Kölner Dom)
If you’re visiting Cologne during the Christmas season, be sure to check out the Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market. Every year, over four million people visit Cologne’s dazzling Christmas market, which is set around Cologne’s iconic Gothic cathedral. This market is considered to be the largest and most visited Christmas market in Germany. There is plenty to do and see, including sampling local delicacies such as Glühwein (mulled wine), kölsch beer and Reibekuchen, hot potato pancakes. There are over 200 different stalls to browse, offering handmade decorations and crafts, as well as trinkets and gifts.
As night falls, the market fills up with vibrant colorful lights and classical carols, and the festive smell of Christmas fills the air. There’s no better way to end the year than by visiting Germany’s most popular Christmas market! A 25-meter-high red spruce tree looms large in the middle of Roncalliplatz. This magnificent spruce has been dubbed the highest natural Christmas tree in North Rhine-Westphalia. Decorated with stars and a light tent filled with 50,000 LEDs, this Christmas tree is a sure sight to behold.
If you’re visiting during December but don’t have time to visit the entire cityscape of Cologne during your trip (or if you just want to hit one big market instead), make sure to check out the Cathedral Christmas Market! It’s located right in front of one of Germany’s most famous landmarks – making it an easy place to see while you’re on vacation.
Lastly, a visit to Cologne’s famous Cathedral is a must. It should be noted that the climb up to the top of the Cathedral is no joke. To reach the top of Cologne Cathedral you must climb up 533 steps on foot.
More information on Cologne Cathedral Christmas MarketDates: November 23rd, 2023 to December 23rd, 2023
Times: Sunday-Wednesday: 11:00-21:00, Thursday-Friday: 11:00-22:00, Saturday: 10:00-22:00
Location: Roncalliplatz next to Cologne Cathedral
2. Advent Village with Christmas Pyramid (Adventsdorf mit Weihnachtspyramide)
Just around the corner of Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market, you’ll come across Advent Village Market. This small market is easy to miss but worth a stop. This quaint market is characterized by its sizable Christmas pyramid found right in the center of the square. Such a pyramid is a traditional feature of a German Christmas market and definitely one to visit while in Cologne. Like most Christmas Markets you’ll find a nice selection of treats and bites, mulled wine and Gingerbread cookie ornaments in the Advent Village Market.
More information on Advent Village MarketDates: November 27th, 2023 to January 7th, 2024
Times: Sunday-Thursday: 11:00-22:00, Friday-Saturday: 11:00-23:00
Location: Am Hof Street 27
3. The Christmas Market in Cologne’s Old Town
If small-town charm is what you’re after during your holiday travels, head over to The Old Market in Cologne. Every year, the German city of Cologne hosts one of the largest Christmas markets in the country, “Heinzel’s Winter Fairy Tale”. This market is based around the long-told legend of the hardworking Heinzelmännchen, mysterious little journeymen who did the work of the people of Cologne while they were sleeping. Every year, this market transforms the city’s historic old town into a winter wonderland. With about 120 stalls crammed full of fabulous Christmas treats and a 1,800 square meter ice landscape, this Christmas market offers all the festive cheer of a traditional German market.
The Old Town Christmas Market in Cologne was a personal favorite as the amount of attention to detail and to the design of the market made it seem as if this spot was a permanent attraction. Everywhere you look, you’ll be greeted with spectacular scenes. This charming Christmas Market is so large, that it is split into two: the Heumarkt and the Alter Market. For a full map of the Old Town Market click here.
The mythical and ice landscape of the Heumarkt will be an attraction for the whole family. Enjoy a sleigh ride around the square, take a lap on the outdoor ice rink, channel the winter Olympics with a game of curling or take in the wonderful Christmas music playing in the background. There’s truly something here for everyone!
Over at the Alter Markt, visitors can enjoy mulled wine, try local street food and shop around. Handmade items made by artisans from all corners of Cologne and beyond, showcase their traditional craftsmanship and offer their products for sale. From handmade jewelry to exquisite wooden sculptures, these handmade items make for a perfect Christmas present or to add in one’s home. Many of the products being sold are hand-crafted right there at the stands — adding an even special, personalized touch to the products.
More information on Cologne’s Old Town Christmas Market
Dates for Alter Markt: November 24th, 2023 to December 23rd, 2023
Dates for Heumarkt: November 24th, 2023 to January 7th, 2024 (closed December 24/25)
Times: 11:00 – 22:00 and from December 26th: 11:00 – 21:00
Location: Between the Heumarkt and the Alter Markt in the old town
4. The Angels’ Market (Markt der Engel)
If you’re planning on visiting the Christmas markets in Cologne, Germany, then you need to make sure that you visit the Angels’ Market. Every year, the festive atmosphere of the Angels’ Market on the Neumarkt, is adorned with hundreds of twinkling starlights. During the day, the market is made colorful with the many craft and food stands, including handmade chocolates, waffles and mulled wine.
By night, the starlights create a stunning atmosphere that is sure to draw a crowd. This year, visitors may even have the chance to meet some of the “angels” that are working at the market, who are sure to make the experience even more memorable.
As you wander around the market, you’ll be astounded by the intricate details and design of the Christmas stalls that comprise this dreamy and festive atmosphere. Here, you’ll be able to take in the delightful sight of illuminated oak stars, angel figures and Christmas wreaths delicately perched in the gables of the houses. It’s a beautiful sight to behold and truly captures the festive cheer of the Christmas season!
More information on Angels’ MarketDates: November 20th, 2023 to December 23rd, 2023
Times: Sunday – Thursday: 11:00 – 21:00, Friday-Saturday: 11:00 – 22:00
Location: In the Neumarkt Square, found west of the city center
5. Nicholas Village (Weihnachtsmarkt am Rudolfplatz)
The Christmas market on Rudolfplatz features an enchanted village complete with cozy half-timbered houses. This scenery makes visitors feel as if they have been transported to a small “Nicolaus village”. The relaxed atmosphere, handmade crafts, and family-friendly entertainment make the market a favorite destination for all ages. With hot drinks and tasty treats, the market is the perfect place to experience the magic of the Christmas season.
The Rudolfplatz market is a great choice for a family outing, with plenty of activities to keep the little ones entertained and the adults happy. Throughout the day, the stage becomes the center of attention for the village’s many performers, from street artists to live bands. As the day begins to wind down, younger guests of the village will have the special treat of meeting the village’s own version of Santa Claus. Every day, between 4 PM and 4:30 PM, Santa will be on stage, ready to take questions, take pictures, and talk to the kids. As the sun sets, Santa will take his time to walk down the village’s alleyways, spreading holiday cheer. Visitors of the village are welcome to follow Santa on his stroll or simply enjoy the sights and sounds of the village from afar.
In the heated Nikolaushaus, the emphasis is placed on children who come to the market. Experienced personnel guide the children in activities such as arts and crafts, painting and cutting. Every day, the craft activities are different and the sessions are free. From Monday to Friday in the afternoon, daycare groups and primary school classes can take part in an art program lasting several hours.
Overall, the Nicolas Village Christmas Market in Cologne is an idyllic place for children and adults alike to soak in the festive atmosphere of the season.
More information on Nicholas Village Christmas MarketDates: November 20th, 2023 to December 23rd, 2023
Times: Sunday – Thursday: 11:00 – 21:00, Friday-Saturday: 11:00 – 22:00
Location: Rudolfplatz Square
6. The Christmas Market In The Stadtgarten (Weihnachtsmarkt im Stadtgarten)
If you’re looking for something smaller but still packed with a festive atmosphere, try the Stadtgarten Christmas Market in Cologne. Christmas time at the city garden in Cologne’s Belgian quarter is truly a magical experience. Under the twinkling lights of a myriad of festive Christmas decorations, people can wander through this alternative yet romantic Christmas market.
The Stadtgarten Market is full of a variety of stalls, each decorated with unique and stylish products that you won’t find anywhere else. With over 80 vendors, you are sure to find the perfect Christmas present, craftwork, jewelry, and so much more. These vendors rotate weekly, so you can keep coming back to find new and exciting items all season long. Make sure to swing by and you will find plenty of holiday cheer!
Food stalls brimming with delicious dishes from traditional cinnamon rolls and crepes, to the Alsatian tarte flambée. For a unique taste sensation and a spot of liquid courage, the Stadtgarten team offers up a homemade mulled wine recipe, sure to warm the bodies and the hearts of the visitors!
More information on Stadtgarten Christmas MarketDates: November 23rd, 2023 to December 23rd, 2023
Times: Monday – Friday: 16:00 – 21:30, Saturday-Sunday: 12:00 – 21:30
Location: In the Stadtgarten
7. Harbor Christmas Market (Hafen Weihnachtsmarkt)
The relatively-new Hafen Weihnachtsmarkt or Harbor Christmas Market is on the banks of the Rhine River, right by the Chocolate Museum. This nautical inspired market is filled with 70 stalls, where visitors can find a wide selection of high-quality gifts and arts and crafts from local artisans.
There is also the tantalizing prospect of culinary delights, including some of the best winemaker mulled wine to be found. This is all set up on a large, real three-master wooden ship, which is a popular attraction. Visitors can also choose from an array of delicious dishes, from flame salmon, steaks, and other grilled dishes, to original Hamburg fish rolls and sweets. And if that wasn’t enough, they even offer special drinks such as mulled beer and fire tong bowl.
This year, the Harbor Christmas Market is taking it to the next level with the introduction of a Ferris wheel that stands a towering 48 meters tall. Taking a ride on the Ferris wheel will give you an incredible view of the city of Cologne, the Rhine River, the Cologne Cathedral, and the lights of the harbor Christmas market. Be sure to also visit the Chocolate Museum where you can discover how chocolate is made and sample endless chocolate while you wander through the museum.
Following the Christmas Market, The New Year’s Market is located in the same place from December 26th to January 7th, 2024. Not only will this place be full of seasonal decorations and unique gift opportunities, but you can also experience a variety of delicious food and drinks while taking a ride on the Ferris wheel! The New Year’s Market will be open every day from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. so that you can get the complete holiday experience.
More information on Harbor Christmas MarketDates: November 23rd, 2023 to December 23rd, 2023
Times: Sunday – Thursday: 11:00 – 21:00, Friday-Saturday: 11:00 – 22:00
Location: To the south of the city center next to the Chocolate Museum
Map of the Christmas Markets
What Foods to Try at the Christmas Markets of Cologne
Now that we’ve covered everything important about visiting Cologne during the Christmas season, let’s move on to food and drinks! In particular, don’t forget about those famous sausages and mulled wine!
Grilled Sausage: Grilled sausage or Wurst can be found in every market in Cologne. Perhaps the most popular traditional food found in German Christmas markets, wurst is grilled on the spot and accompanied by soft bread. Ketchup, mustard or other sauces only enhance the juice flavors of these sausages.
Potato Pancakes: Otherwise known as Kartoffelpuffer, German potato pancakes are a favorite treat found in almost every Christmas market. You may choose either garlic sauce or applesauce to accompany these tasty pancakes.
Raclette: Nothing can go wrong with toasted bread and melted cheese, and that is exactly what raclette is. This mouth-watering treat is a must when visiting Germany’s Christmas markets.
Handbrotzeit: Another popular street food option in Cologne is Handbrotzeit. This heavenly treat is served right from the oven and includes soft and warm bread filled with melted cheese and ham or melted cheese with mushrooms.
Slow-grilled salmon: Found at the Harbor Christmas Market, this Finnish-inspired dish consists of sides of salmon cooked over a beechwood fire.
Waffles & Crepes: After indulging in sausages and other savory dishes, one must also try out the sweets that the Christmas markets of Cologne have to offer. At every market, you’ll definitely come across at least one stand making sweet crepes filled with chocolate or waffles sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Roasted sugared almonds: Sugary and full of cinnamon flavor, roasted almonds are another traditional German Christmas market staple. Not a fan of almonds? Most stands also carry roasted pistachios, pecans and more!
Glühwein: Another Christmas Market stable, Glühwein, or mulled wine, is just the right beverage to keep you warm on a cold winter day. Full of spices and flavor, every market sells Glühwein in its own custom mug. When ordering at Glühwein, the bar will charge an extra 2-3 euros for the mug. Upon drinking your mulled wine, you may either return the mug and receive the deposit back or keep the mug and collect one from each market! For a non-alcoholic option ask for the Kinderpunsch.
Travel Tips for Visiting Cologne
First and foremost, know that Cologne is a city known for its culture and history. As one of the oldest cities in Germany, it has a lot to offer visitors in terms of history and architecture. Not only that, but Cologne is also home to some amazing museums, such as the Museum Ludwig or the Wallraf – Richartz Museum which both contain world-renowned collections of art. If Museums are not your thing, there are also plenty of other attractions available in Cologne – from churches and palaces to shopping districts and parks. Whether you’re interested in sightseeing or just taking a break from all the holiday madness, Cologne has something for everyone. You can check out the Complete Travel Guide to Cologne, Germany here.
How to get to Cologne, Germany
To reach Cologne you may either fly right into Cologne Bonn Airport or fly to nearby cities such as Frankfurt or Düsseldorf and take a bus or train into Cologne. From Düsseldorf, the train ride is 30-40 minutes long, while the train ride from Frankfurt is about an hour and a half. Once in Cologne, the city is easily walkable and all markets can be reached on foot. Of course, the option of Uber, taxis and scooters are also available to use within the bounds of the city.