Best Christmas Markets in Cologne, Germany: A First-Timer’s Guide

Cologne Germany Dom Cathedral

We think of Europe as the most whimsical Christmas destination, and that’s partly due to the European tradition of Christmas markets. But did you know these Christmas markets originated in the former Kingdom of Germany? Over the centuries, the tradition spread around Europe and even beyond, but there’s something about Christmas markets that remains synonymous with Germany. Germany’s a country I’ve spent a lot of time in over my entire life, and I finally timed a visit during Christmas! I enjoyed several different Christmas markets throughout North Rhine-Westphalia, but today, I’m sharing the best Christmas markets in Cologne! Even though I myself am not a local, I was guided by my family (who live in Cologne), so you can kind of think of this as an indirect local’s guide to Cologne Christmas markets. Enjoy!

Cologne Germany Dome Cathedral behind red Christmas market booths


Main Christmas Markets in Cologne

Weihnachtsmarkt am Dom (Christmas Market at the Cathedral)

Cologne Germany Dom Cathedral Christmas Market with tree and tents

If there’s only one Cologne Christmas market you can make it to, it should be the Weihnachtsmarkt am Dom. The Cologne Cathedral, called the Dom (pronounced “dome”) is the landmark of the city and almost synonymous with the word Cologne itself! Add to that 150 wooden stalls selling sweets, meats, and trinkets, all tied back to a central Christmas tree under a canopy of Christmas lights, and you’ve got a pretty amazing Christmas market. Did I mention there’s also a merry-go-round? For more information like this year’s dates and hours, check out the market’s page.

Weihnachtsmarkt in der Altstadt (Christmas Market in the Old Market)

Cologne Germany Old Town Christmas Market entrance with people

If there are only two Cologne Christmas markets you can make it to, Weihnachtsmarkt in der Altstadt (also called Heinzels Wintermärchen, meaning “House Elves Winter Fairytale”) should definitely be the second one! The market is actually split into two sections; Heumarkt and Alter Markt. At Heumarkt, you’ll find an ice rink and merry-go-round. At Alter Markt, you’ll find a ferris wheel, plus get the city hall building as your backdrop. They actually feel a little like separate markets, except that they’re cohesively decorated and connected by a walkway. For more information like this year’s dates and hours, check out the market’s page. Also check out this cute market map of the 140 wooden stalls.

Markt der Engel (Market of Angels)

People at Angels Christmas Market in Cologne

Markt der Engel is Cologne’s oldest Christmas market. And with the huge pathway of stars hanging from the trees above, you’ll really feel like you’re up in the skies. It’s the oldest Christmas market in Cologne, and it’s located at Neumarkt, in Cologne’s shopping district. For more information like this year’s dates and hours, check out the market’s page.

Nikolausdorf am Rudolfplatz (St. Nicholas Village at Rudolfplatz)

When you think of Germany, you probably think of castles, so what’s more German than a Christmas with castle towers as the backdrop? The Nikolausdorf am Rudolfplatz market (or St. Nicholas’s village) is located near Hahnentorburg (or Hahnen Gate), a 13th century gate from Cologne’s former medieval city walls. I unfortunately didn’t snap any pics of this Christmas market, but I do remember that this one felt like the one with the most locals at it. I also remember sampling several interesting types of honey at one of the stalls at this market – mmm. For more information like this year’s dates and hours, check out the market’s page.

Cologne Christmas Markets in One Day

Now that you know what Christmas markets to visit in Cologne, what is the best way to see them all, plus a little bit of Cologne itself? Well, I’ve got you covered. Just follow the route as I have described and mapped out below. It will efficiently take you through each Cologne Christmas market mentioned above and some key Cologne sights and areas in between.

Directions: This 30 minute walking route (excluding all stops) begins at the Friedrich Wilhelm III statue in Heumarkt. This is the entrance to Weihnachtsmarkt in der Altstadt. After finishing the Heumarkt portion of the market, walk through the stall-lined alleyway onto the Alter Markt section by the Rathaus. Next, make your way to the famous Cathedral for the Weihnachtsmarkt am Dom. If you come in the daytime, enter the Dom and climb up to the top for views over the city. Next, walk down Hohe Straße until at Schildergasse, where you’ll turn right. These two streets are Cologne’s main shopping streets. At the end of Schildergasse, is Neumarkt, where Markt der Engel is located. After finishing here, it’s the home stretch of your Cologne Christmas markets tour! Make your way to Rudolfplatz, for Nikolausdorf. Do this by either walking Apostelnstraße and taking the first left all the way to the market (as I have in the map), or by walking the main car-traffic street, Hahenstraße, until you hit the market on your right.

What to Eat at Drink at German Christmas Markets

Sweet Assorted Treats in German Christmas Market
Reibekuchen with apple sauce in front of lit up ferris wheel at Cologne, Germany Christmas market

There’s honestly so much to eat, drink, and snack on at German Christmas markets (that’s kind of the entire point of going!). It’d be slightly useless to give you the entire menu, so I’ll highlight the items I found to be local favorites – at least in the Cologne area.

  • Wurst (Sausage): Perhaps the most cliche of German foods, it goes without saying that wurst is a German Christmas market classic. The wursts that come to mind first might be Bratwurst or Frankfurter, but you can get those anytime while in Germany. I found that every one in my family had the Krakouer as their favorite Christmas market wurst. They said it only came around at Christmas time (this might not be true for all regions in Germany) so make sure to try it!
  • Reibekuchen (Potato Pancakes): It’s basically an even yummier, crispier, more flavorful version of hash browns. Reibekuchen are normally served with some thick applesauce on the side. I could seriously eat these golden-brown things forever!
  • Glühwein (Mulled Wine): I’m sure you’ve heard of this item, as it’s basically the official Christmas market drink. Places might also offer Kinderpunsch or Kinderglühwein (kids mulled wine), which is the non-alcoholic version.
  • Kinder Riegel Crepes: The flagship chocolate bar from the iconic German milk chocolate brand melted into a crepe? Yep, it tastes as good as it sounds. A little random? Perhaps. But I noticed all the young adults flocked to this particular dessert, at least at the Christmas markets I visited.

Questions on Cologne Christmas Markets?

I absolutely loved the Cologne Christmas markets, and I know you will too! If you end up using my walking route, let me know how you like it. And feel free to ask any questions about the Christmas market in Cologne in the comments section below.


  • Wes
    November 3, 2021 at 6:22 AM

    Thank you so much for the guide and the tips shared. Would you know by any chance how’s the markets during the week? I was wondering if I must go on a weekend or not.

    • That Travelista
      November 3, 2021 at 10:24 AM

      Hi Wes!

      The markets are a daily thing, so you’ll definitely have a nice time during the weekdays! I actually went during the week when taking the pictures I’ve shared. I think the bigger difference is between going in the daytime or nighttime. I think nighttime has a bit more magic to it! The markets are a bit less full/bustling in the daytime on the weekdays particularly, as people are still at work. (But maybe that is a plus this year given the health situation.)

      Hope that helps and you love your trip!!

  • Anonymous
    April 6, 2021 at 12:06 PM

    Thanks for the great information on how to see several of the Christmas markets. I hope to do this on 2021.

    • That Travelista
      April 6, 2021 at 2:07 PM

      I hope so too! 🙂


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