Tim and Eva drinking gluwein infront of Christmas display in Cologne, Germany

A Detailed Guide to the Cologne Christmas Markets, Germany

30 Dec, 2023

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Eva Mitchell

Do you dream of being transported into an enchanting Christmas wonderland? Then the Cologne Christmas markets will be everything you have dreamed of and more!  

Exploring the Cologne Christmas markets is undeniably bucket-list worthy. In December 2023, Tim and I stayed in the festive city of Cologne for three magical nights of Christmas market fun. We visited Cologne, Bonn and Dusseldorf Christmas markets and Cologne was hands-down our favourite! No wonder thousands of people flock to this gorgeous city during the festive period to indulge in delicious Christmas market food, buy beautiful Christmas decorations and sip away on gluhwein as it gently warms your fingertips in the cool winter weather. Let me tell you everything you need to know before visiting the beautiful Christmas markets in Cologne. 

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How many Christmas Markets are there in Cologne in 2023?

There are ten delightful Christmas Markets in Cologne, Gemany dotted across the city, each with their own unique style and walking distance from one another.

  • Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market *Favourite
  • Cologne Harbour Christmas Market: The one with the Ferris wheel by the river.
  • Heinzels Winter Fairytale Christmas Market *The Best Market
  • Village of St. Nicholas Christmas Market
  • Market of Angels Christmas Market *Favourite
  • VeedelsAdvent at the Chlodwigplatz Christmas Market
  • Stadtgarten Christmas Market
  • Sulzer Weihnachtsdorf Christmas Market 
  • The smallest Christmas Market (Innenhof der Kartauserkirche)
  • Ehrenfeld Christmas Market: A small market on the outskirts of the city

What are the Best Christmas Markets in Cologne to visit?

The best Christmas Markets in Cologne were Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market, the Market of Angels Christmas Market and our absolute favourite was Heinzels Winter Fairytale Christmas Market. 

1. Heinzels Winter Fairytale Christmas Market

Our favourite Christmas Market! We felt that this market had everything going for it. The Christmas lights, the delicious and varied food on offer, this is where we tried a ham and cheese handbrot that was fresh from the oven and to die for! There is an ice-skating rink in the middle of the market and curling alleys set up on the ice if you want to give it a whirl. The vendor huts were beautifully decorated and lined each side of the alley, this created a cosy, festive feel that we loved. Just magical! 

2. Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market

Best enjoyed during off-peak times. With the magnificent cathedral as the backdrop to the market, it was hard not to love this Christmas market. As you venture further into the middle of the market you will find yourself under a canopy of fairy lights. The perfect spot to enjoy a gluhwein!

3. Market of Angels Christmas Market

The way this market was decorated was unique, it felt like a winter wonderland. There was a stage with singers belting out Christmas tunes which added to the overall festive vibe.


What dates are the Cologne Christmas Markets in 2023?

Most of the Cologne Christmas Markets are open from the 23rd November until 23rd December with the exception of the Heinzels Winter Fairytale Christmas Market that finishes on the 7th January.

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What times are the Christmas Markets in Cologne open?

The Cologne Christmas markets are open from 11am until 9-10pm depending on the day and the market. In December, we found it was starting to get dark by 4pm. This is the best time to start exploring the markets as the Christmas lights start twinkling and the atmosphere turns cosy and festive. 

If you want to avoid shoulder to shoulder crowding at the Cologne Christmas Markets, I suggest going to the markets during a weekday. If the weekend is the only time you can make it to the Christmas Markets in Cologne, consider attending the Cathedral Christmas Market towards the end of the night when it I likely to be less congested. 

What was the atmosphere like at the Christmas Markets in Cologne?

At the Cologne Christmas Markets, we found the atmosphere to be festive, cosy and fun. Out of all of the cities we visited in Germany for the Christmas markets, Cologne had the most music playing adding to the festive vibe. Although we were surprised by the overall lack of music at most markets we visited. 

The Christmas decorations at the Cologne markets were 100% the best out of all the cities we visited. There were canopies of Christmas lights, glittering Christmas trees, gorgeous Christmas decorations adorning the market huts and a beautiful mill where everyone was gathered around with a mulled wine in hand. 


We attended the Cologne Christmas markets on a Sunday and Tuesday evening. On the Sunday at 5pm the Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market was not all that enjoyable as the crowds were shoulder to shoulder. However, on the Sunday night we found all the other Christmas markets in Cologne were the perfect amount of busy, meaning we could move around freely and the food was always fresh because there were enough people ordering food for a constant turn over.

Given the amount of people attending the Christmas markets in Cologne, we were surprised that the lines for food were rarely longer than a handful of people. We revisited the Cathedral Christmas Market on the Tuesday and found that we could walk freely around the stalls, quite the opposite to our experience a few days prior. 

The vendors were generally friendly and there was a wide selection of food, drinks and goods available to purchase. Overall, the gluhwein was delicious at all of the Christmas markets in Cologne. Do make sure to take cash with you as some vendors do not accept card payments.

Are there toilets available at the Cologne Christmas Markets?

Yes, most Christmas markets will have toilets available. Like most of Europe, you will have to pay a small fee, usually €0.5 to €1, to use the toilets. Another reason to carry small change with you. 

What gifts and souvenirs can you buy at the Cologne Christmas Markets?

The Christmas markets in Cologne, Germany had a wonderful variety of Christmas goods. There were plenty of Christmas decorations to choose from and a wonderful variety of gifts for all ages.

The markets had everything from warm clothing from woollen socks, hats and jerseys, iced gingerbread, jewellery (however I couldn’t find any Christmas themed jewellery), wooden boards with cartoons engraved into them, salami, drinking glasses with glass sculptures inside of them, plenty of different types of artwork, toys, candle holders, liquors and so much more! 

In my humble opinion, the best souvenir you can buy at the Christmas Markets in Germany has to be a gluhwein mug!  


If you are looking for something a little special. You will find at the Angel Market in Cologne, there was a store creating Customised Christmas decorations on the spot. These would make for a lovely reminder of your time at the Christmas markets in Germany or a fun gift for your loved ones back home!

The Christmas Markets in Cologne with the best variety of gifts and souvenirs were the Cologne Cathedral market, the Market of Angels and Heinzels Winter Fairytale Christmas Market. 

What do I wear to the Christmas Markets in Cologne? 

Make sure you wrap up warm as it does get a little chilly at night. We opted for pants, a long sleeve top, a festive jumper and a waterproof jacket (a must in Germany in the Winter). Make sure to bring along gloves and a scarf for later on in the night. 

Where to stay when visiting the Christmas Markets in Cologne, Germany?

We opted to stay in an affordable hotel that was about a 20 minute walk from the centre city and Cologne HBF train station in Cologne. This hotel suited us perfectly as it was walking distance to all of the Christmas markets in Cologne, while also being handy to the Cologne HBF and Cologne West train stations to access Bonn and Dusseldorf.

If you have the budget, I highly recommend booking accommodation in Cologne that overlooks one of the markets. I could just imagine how dreamy it would be looking out of your window at the glistening lights of the Christmas market!

Hotel Inception

We Stayed Here In Cologne

Should I visit every single Christmas Market in Cologne?

No, I would suggest picking three to four Christmas Markets in Cologne to attend each night at a relaxed pace. Soak up the atmosphere, food, activities and gluhwein at each market before moving on to the next. If you are staying for 3 nights or more, then you might have time to get around all of the markets however instead, I would suggest popping down to Bonn on the train one evening to experience the stunning Christmas Market there. 

What food was available at the Christmas Markets in Cologne, Germany?

The Christmas markets in Cologne had a wonderful selection of food. We mostly found that the food selection was similar at all of the markets. Some markets did have better food than others. Some of our must-try food recommendations would be:

  • Handbrot (Warm bread roll): €7.50

This was our absolute fave! For lunch one day, we walked down to the Heinzels Winter Fairytale Christmas market and grabbed one of these delicious, breaded treats, straight from the oven. Each bread is filled with either ham or mushrooms and cheese, then finished with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of chives on top. Mmm hmm…scrumptious! 

  • Potato fritters with apple sauce: €2 each

If you know me, you know I can’t say no to the humble potato! These fritters were delicious and we found he combination with the apple sauce to be an interesting take. As kiwis, we would expect aioli or tomato sauce as a side to a potato fritter.

  • Chamginon (Mushrooms): €6

There is a reason these mushrooms taste so damn good…they are deep fried then simmered in a huge pan with lots of yummy seasoning and covered in your choice of sauce, we opted for hollandaise. I don’t know if you can technically count these as one of your 5+ a day but they are to die for! 


  • Sausages galore: From €4

Bratwursts, currywursts, bockwursts. Germany loves slapping a sausage between a bread bun and saucing it up with a touch of mustard. You simply can’t go to the Christmas markets in Germany and not get a sausage. If you can only try one sausage, grab a traditional bratwurst in a bun. 

  • Warm Pretzel with cheese: €3

Disregard any hard, chewy pretzels you have had in the past. This is the real deal! The pretzels at the Christmas Markets in Cologne are super fresh, soft and covered in delicious cheese. Yum! 

  • Chocolate covered fruit: €4 chocolate apple

You will find stalls selling chocolate covered apples, strawberries and bananas that are beautifully decorated and taste yummy!


  • Langos: If you follow us on our socials, you will know that we fell in love with the langos in Budapest. In Germany, the traditional langos is topped with sour kraut. 
  • Roasted Chestnuts: €4

Get ready to be transported into ‘The Christmas Song’ as you purchase your chestnuts roasting on a fire and nibble away on them as you wander around in a dreamy Christmas state. 

What drinks are available at the Cologne Christmas Markets in Germany?

The most important drink available at the Cologne Christmas markets is gluhwein. Every single market will have multiple vendors selling gluhwein in cute mugs. A gluhwein can cost anywhere from €3+ depending if you would like to add a dash of liquor or not. You will pay a deposit on your mug of €3 to €4 that will be refunded if you return your mug. Otherwise, keep it for a special memory of your time at the Cologne Christmas markets. 


There are plenty of other alcoholic and non-alcoholic options available. We saw other marketgoers indulging in extravagant hot chocolates that looked divine. 

Is it expensive to visit the Cologne Christmas Markets? 

Visiting the Christmas markets in Cologne can be very affordable. We took an overnight train from London that cost €50 each and stayed at a clean affordable hotel within a 20 minute walk to the markets for €70 per night. Our daily spend for food, drink, transport and activities was roughly €60 (€30 each) per day. 

The food and drinks are reasonably priced, the markets are walking distance, and it is FREE to attend all of the Christmas markets. The good thing about the Christmas markets in Cologne is that it can be as cheap or as expensive as you like. 


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How many days should I spend at the Cologne Christmas Markets?

One or two nights is long enough to experience the magic of the Cologne Christmas Markets. 

After spending three nights in Cologne exploring the Cologne, Bonn and Dusseldorf Christmas markets, we made our way to Luxembourg and then Metz, France to experience Christmas Markets in different countries. 


If you are planning on doing a Christmas Market trip around Europe. I would suggest choosing a city or town in each country to visit and spending two nights in each location. That way, you won’t burn yourself out from travelling every day and still get to experience how different European countries put on Christmas markets. 

Are the Cologne Christmas Markets worth visiting?

Yes, yes, yes! The Cologne markets are absolutely worth visiting. There is no other place in the world where I have felt such a magical Christmasy atmosphere.

What Christmas Markets are near Cologne?

The closest Christmas Markets are at Dusseldorf and Bonn, both easy to get to via train for an evening visit. If you want to explore another country, Luxembourg is a scenic train ride away from Cologne and has lovely Christmas markets with the best gluhwein mugs.


Detailed Guide To The Christmas Markets In Luxembourg 2023

What to do in Cologne in Winter? 

Other activities you can consider doing in Cologne during the Winter season include popping into a beer hall for a glass of Kölsch, a type of beer that originated in Cologne. There are many beer halls dotted around Cologne, we opted for Brewery Paffgen and were served by a friendly gentleman.


If you fancy a more luxurious experience, consider swinging by one of the oldest cologne factories who continue to produce divine scents that you can smell at the store. We stopped at the House of Fragrances 4711 and smelt some of their lovely fragrances in the shop. If you have more time, consider taking a tour of the perfume house or creating your very own fragrance. 

The best free activity to do in Cologne is to take a leisurely stroll across the love lock bridge. See if you can spot the oldest padlock attached! 

If you have any questions about the Christmas markets in Cologne, drop me a comment below and I will answer as soon as possible. 

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A word from the authors

Eva and Tim are the creators behind this world-class travel finance blog.

In 2021 they decided to travel the world for an entire year and begun implementing savings strategies to achieve their goal of long-term travel. By May 2023, they quit their jobs to embark on their year-long adventure, sharing their invaluable practical and achievable savings, planning and travel tips they learnt along the way/with the aim to help others Make Cents of Travel.

You can find Eva & Tim on Tiktok, Facebook and Instagram as Make Cents of Travel.

About Us

Hello, Hola, Ciao! We are Tim & Eva, a couple of kiwis who have spent the last few years saving for and planning our epic year-long adventure around the world. Our goal is to inspire fellow wanderlust souls (just like you!) to Make Cents Of Travel by sharing our experiences and strategies we used to turn our dream of long-term travel into a reality.


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