Cologne and its effortlessly cool Christmas market

Reaching Cologne has certainly proven to be an adventure for me but I surely loved all the people I met along the way to there. You can easily reach Cologne in less than 3 hours with a FlixBus from Amsterdam, so if you are looking for an escape, this small German city is for sure a great Christmas destination.

What I knew about Cologne was that is a great university city with a lot of history and beautiful architecture, mostly famous for its Christmas market that everyone visits. What I found quite surprising was that actually it has the most pubs per person in Germany, so no wonder it look effortlessly cool!

Here’s what you need to try if you are going to Cologne for a short afternoon break from the fuzziness of Amsterdam:

Cologne Cathedral

One of the most imposing Gothic cathedrals I have ever seen will be welcoming you just outside the train station where you will arrive in if you are coming to Cologne by train. You can go inside for free and even climb up to the terrace for a small fee – which you definitely should since the view is simply spectacular. No wonder it’s an UNESCO site.

The black marble altar, the beautifully stained glass windows, the carved walls and the art depicting the life of Christ and His apostles are just some of the details anyone will observe, but what we enjoyed the most was the feeling we had while walking along the paths towards the altar. The grandeur of this cathedral gave us shivers and made us feel utterly small. And it was not until we climbed all the way to the top that we regained our confidence back!




Ludwig Museum

After 3-5 minutes of walk from the Cathedral we found this modern museum which actually seemed to be purposely built for playing music, given the playful design of shapes that made it look sort of like a concert hall on the outside. Inside we found lots of Picasso’s collections and Pop Art exhibitions, so if you are into that, definitely give this one a go.

Old Town

As I said before, it seemed like this city is full of effortlessly cool neighborhoods and the old town might be the peak of everything. The cobblestone alleys and the overall old world atmosphere are still bringing these streets to life. We decided to simply get loose around the Christmas shops, caffes, pubs and restaurants and enjoy the music, the people and the feeling of exploring what Cologne has best to offer.

There is also a story linked to the Heinzelmännchenbrunnen – a fountain built around the 1900 that depicts some gnomes who were supposedly doing all the work around the town at night so that the locals could relax. Unfortunately, they left the town forever after someone insulted them. Still, I think Germans do quite a good job too keeping Cologne so cozy, square by square.


Hohenzollern Bridge

The iconic bridge we had glued to our minds right after we googled Cologne is a must do as well. This tiered-arch bridge dates back to the 1900 too, it was rebuilt after the war and now it is restricted to the rail and the pedestrian traffic, so you can actually walk on it, enjoying the best views over the Rhine River (of course, right after the view you get from the Cathedral).

Unfortunately, this bridge has been taken over by the ‘love locks’ craze of people attaching padlocks to the grating beside the footpath so if you are one of those ‘padlocks fanatics’, please stop. It is said the locks added more than two tons to the structure. Maybe the sturdy Hohenzollern Bridge can handle this extra weight, but until when…?


Try Kölsch and Halve Hahn

Cologne’s local brew, Kölsch, is a must try along with the rye bread and gouda cheese, Halve Hahn. It is a top-fermented beer you will receive cold and in small 200ml glasses with the cheese that can be served with: tomatoes, butter, onion or other combinations. Have fun with it and enjoy it like a local! You can even try to order it in German. I have already told you the translation.

The ultimate Christmas Market

We were used to seeing build-up Christmas markets before, but Cologne goes the extra mile by arranging a cluster of booths around the Cathedral, setting up an ice skating rink right in the middle of some buildings and by lighting up chalet-style huts with lots and lots of Christmas goodies to instantly put you in a very holiday like mood.






Glühwein (mulled wine), lebkuchen (ginger bread) and roasted chestnuts

Tell me something that smells more Christmassy than the mulled wine with orange slices, cinnamon and star anise or than the ginger bread you can enjoy with a warm cup of milk or than the smoke of roasted chestnuts that are made right in front of you? And you even get to keep the mug you drank the wine from if you want!

These are just a few of the delicious things that you can try along the streets of Cologne’s Christmas market. Simply walking, without even buying anything will give you the right amount of magic to feel at home away from home.

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Comments (1 comments)

  • flag-de Torben Pütz 5 years ago

    This is probably the best description of my hometown I have read so far!

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