Christmas Markets, Cologne
Cologne has six Christmas markets, one of the most interesting is the medieval one at the Chocolate Museum. You have to pay an entrance fee, 2 Euro per adult, children smaller than a sword are free.There's someone standing outside with a sword in his hands and takes measure.
Since Christmas markets usually are free, and especially since there are five others in Cologne, you may be tempted to give this one a miss. But it's really worth spending the entrance fee. A group of actors performs medieval shows, you can buy unusal Christmas gifts and even the food tries to be medieval.
There´s a lot of Christmas-markets in Köln(as we say Cologne).That was the reason that we choosed to come here for our"little-Christmas-trip"in the beginning of December.I hate winter,but I love Christmas,so I take all I can get from everything about Christmas!
Best market was maybe that old time market,with real smiths and other handycraft-makers.I´m a metal-smith for my other occupation,too,so I wanted to go there.It was quite small,but still I liked it.There was also a real donkey there!
That Glûhwein(sorry if I write it wrong,I don´t speak German) wasn´t our thing,so after one cup,we took hot chokolade with vanilla-liquer or something else.It was nice to have something hot outside.In Finland you can´t sell alcohol outside unless it´s a beergarden.
Cologne offers Christmas Markets at several downtown locations such as the Roncalliplatz at the Dom, the Alter Markt, the Neumarkt (the oldest) and the Rudolfplatz. Even some of the Rhine cruise ships are converted into floating markets in December.
A small road train rides in between the markets; a ride is 5 Euro's.
Prices around the Dom are high, you get more value for your money at the Rudolphplatz.
Cologne Christmas Markets
When visiting Cologne for the Christmas markets, make sure you see them all. We counted at least 5 different, large markets around the city centre and outskirts. To me the best one was located just behind the cathedral and difficult to miss. A great, friendly atmosphere, great music from local buskers and plenty of Gluwhein. When buying the hot Gluwhein (many different flavours available), you pay a deposit on the mug. You can then either keep it or take it back for a refund. I think it was 2euro. I kept mine as a souveneir.
Also try the slightly smaller market at Rudolfplatz, which is also surrounded by nice, late night bars where the local always make you welcome.
I always think that there is something quite incongrous about having a market just outside the steps of a Christian place of worship. After all, didn't J.C himself turn over the tables of the moneychangers in the market of the temple in Jerusalem /
No such quarms here for the residents of Cologne who enjoy a number of thriving Christmas markets during December. The biggest of them is in the square just to the side of the Dom.
I am no expert in matters of shopping, but Mrs Sourbugger informs me that this is one of the finest Christmas markets in Germany... and who am I to argue ?
I am not a lover of pre-Christmas hype but the Germans really know how to 'do' Christmas and it's a lot more traditional than in many other countries.
Cologne is transformed from late November until early January, into a magical city of lights and decorations and the shop window displays are gorgeous. The decorations inside the Galeria Kaufhof department store are particularly spectacular.
The Christmas markets are world-renowned but I didn't fully appreciate why until I visited them. They are truly lovely and whether you like Christmas or not, you will be sure to enjoy them. Hours of preparation must go into the numerous stalls where you can buy a wide range of gifts, decorations and sweets, candy etc. There are also lots of places to buy hot food and the famous gluwein. The markets are all open during the day but the best time to visit is at nightfall, when local families come out. In the Altstadt (Old Town) there's even a man-made skating rink and it's fun to watch people enjoying themselves. In the evening, the Cathedral bells ring very loudly and that just completes the atmosphere.
There are four main markets - Cathedral (Dom) Square, Old Town (Altermarkt), Neumarkt and a medieval market at the Chocolate Museum - and the little tourist train will take you to all of them if you don't want to walk.
I've always visited in early December and I would recommend it because it wasn't too crowded and the hotel rates were reasonable.
If you have never been to a Christmas market before, then go to the Cologne one. We were amazed at the amount of stalls and little wooden huts selling wonderful tree decorations, dolls, beautifully wooden crafted toys, candles galore, jewelery, sculptures, paintings and the most delicious street food you will ever taste(apart from Bangkok that is!) We walked for ever and found 6 different market squares, all selling much the same but the atmosphere was different in each one. On our 3rd day and after exhaustion had set in we actually found a small wooden train on wheels, not rails, that started at the Cathedral and toured the city stopping at the 6 markets. Most of these huts are open till 10pmish and the atmosphere at night is brilliant with everyone in holiday mood and enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of this lovely city.
If you are lucky enough to be in Cologne in the run up to Christmas and can brave the bracing weather then it would be almost impossible to stroll around the city without visiting the markets. The markets are great, -feel so German. And to keep the patrons warm and festive they sell Gluhwien - this is basically mulled wine. Buy your mug with some wine in it and then go round and pay for refils.
It is a cunning wheeze because it tastes so much better warm than cold and when the air temperature is minus whatever it doesn't stay warm for long - meaning another topup. Word of warning on that one though- glasses are quite big and 4 of them is about as much alcohol as a bottle of wine, which makes a 300 euro one metre diameter gong so much more appealing!
There are also plentiful sausage, flamkuken and raclette stalls - much better to eat something from here and look at the stalls than to go to a restaurant
The Neumarkt, or 'new-market' has actually been there since the middle ages, and was originally where weapons and livestock were sold. There is a legend that once it was a meeting ground for witches, and in later years it was a place of high society, but it has always been a place where many people have gathered.
Now it's full of food and drinks stalls and other stalls selling everything from model taxis, to flowers and headstones for graves.
There are 6 Christmas markets in Cologne, all with their own character. There are similarities between them, but they're sufficiently different to make them all worth investigating.
The most spectacular setting is the one outside the Cathedral - there's a huge Christmas tree, with the Dom as a backdrop. I think this market probably has the most stalls too.
Goods for sale include a host of Christmas decorations, wooden toys, crafts, and woolly hats (these stalls were doing a good trade when we were there - it was FREEZING!)
There's also lots of stalls selling Gluhwein (highly recommended), and all sorts of food - from sausages to waffles, chinese to fried fish, doughnuts to baked potatoes. Don't come here if you're on a diet....
It is like a small village with a lot of small wooden cabins. There are 4 (I think) christmas markets located in different parts of the city. In most of them you can find all kinds of present for christmas : wooden toys, christmas decoration, candles, etc...
In the christmas market next to the Dom, you will find whatever you want to eat : from the german food (Bratwurst, Pfannekuchen, Spaetzle, Roestli, Gluehwein) to the more exotic one (chinese, mexican).