When I visited the city, there were eight Christmas markets to explore in and around central Cologne.
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- Christmas Market at the Cologne Cathedral / Weihnachtsmarkt am Kölner Dom
- Neumarkt (Angel's market)
- Altstadt (old Town)
- Boat moored at Frankenwerft on the Rhine
- Cologne Harbour Christmas Market outside the Chocolate Museum
I've coloured the German Christmas markets that I visited in green and those that I did not in red on the map below. I didn't have time to visit the market in Stadtgarten or that outside the Chocolate Museum. I avoided the festive boat moored at Frankenwerft.
The Cologne Cathedral Christmas market is the biggest and most popular.
Each time I visited these markets, thick crowds made it impossible to meander at a leisurely pace. I entered at one end and flowed in a tightly packed human river right to the exit. Escaping this torrent was nigh on impossible.
Despite the small footprint, this Christmas market is the biggest Cologne has to offer. As the attraction is free to browse, it absorbs flocks of locals and tourists. Make sure you visit this market but brace yourself.
The Neumarkt Christmas markets are ideally positioned next to Schildergasse, one of the main shopping streets in Cologne. These were slightly quieter than the markets at the Cathedral.
My favourite markets were at Heumarkt and Altstadt. The two separate markets seemed to merge into one, and both featured stalls selling local crafts, fudge, chocolate, and more.
A couple of cabins specialised in barbecued hot dogs which filled the air with an irresistible aroma. The lack of large crowds made these far more enjoyable. Here I could meander and browse at my own leisure.
Heumarkt was also the only market to boast an ice rink.
I opted to skip the boat moored at Frankenwerft which charged a nominal €2 just to browse the shops on board. When I looked in it was never busy, which could be handy if you need an antidote to the Cathedral markets.
I glimpsed the Chocolate Museum markets from a distance but didn't have time to take a closer look.
Overall there are plenty of excellent Christmas markets to visit in Cologne. While I was a little disheartened to find the Cathedral market overcrowded, it spurred me on to discover the other markets Cologne has to offer. I found markets to suit my preferences that blended Christmas charm and a relaxed atmosphere.
Explore as many Christmas markets as possible. Each of them is different, and you may have a different favourite to me.
Daunted by the overcrowded markets near the Cathedral I sought out other markets in the city. Each has a different atmosphere but all are as festive as can be.
Read more in this series
- International Passenger Terminal, Port of Tyne
- Princess Seaways Review
- Princess Seaways Cabins
- Food & Drink on Princess Seaways
- Entertainment on Princess Seaways
- Guide to Ijmuiden Port, Amsterdam
- Cologne Marriott Hotel Review
- You Cannot Visit Cologne And Not See These Sights
- Cologne Christmas Markets Guide (you are here)
- Cologne Christmas Markets Mini Cruise Review on DFDS' Princess Seaways