With a traditional Christmas market in the shadows of Cologne Cathedral and dazzling illuminations stretching along the banks of the Rhine River, Cologne pulls out all the stops for the holiday season. Here are a few ways to celebrate in style.
Visit the Christmas Markets
During the festive season, Cologne plays host to at least five Christmas markets, each offering something different than the last. Highlights include the Cologne Cathedral market—where local artisans sell their wares and the scent of mulled wine (hot glühwein) fills the air—the romantic Alter Markt in the heart of the Old Town, and the Cologne Harbour Christmas Market. Also noteworthy are Rudolfplatz and the family-friendly Stadtgarten Christmas Market, where nativity scenes are displayed on the edge of Cologne's oldest park.
Take a Christmas Cruise on the Rhine
Escape the hustle and bustle of the busy markets and celebrate Christmas in Germany with a Rhine River cruise. Admire sweeping views over top attractions such as the UNESCO World Heritage–listed Cologne Cathedral, the Old Town, and the marina of Rheinauhafen. You’ll also savor a delicious brunch buffet of hot and cold dishes and decadent desserts.
See the City Illuminated
Cologne is pretty at any time of year, but Christmas brings with it a whole new look and feel. Take a stroll through the historic streets and admire top attractions such as the Great St. Martin Church, which gets illuminated for the Advent season. Along the way, catch carol concerts and festive food stalls around town, and watch the city lights dancing on the Rhine River.