What else should you squeeze in to your Cologne mini-break
So let's assume you're planning a visit to the Cologne Christmas Markets in Germany, and you feel like a break from the endless glühwein and bratwurst fest (Oh there is so much more!).
To discover the delights of culture in Cologne for starters head down to Rhine River and stroll along the waters edge. Explore Cologne's quaint Old Town, indulge in the chocolate museum and grab yourself a bottle of the original Eau de Cologne.
Oh yes, and there's shopping to be done.
To make life a little easier why not check out the KölnCard, you get free and easy public transport, plus bags of discounts for attractions, dining & much more.
Cologne; In summary
Things to do in Cologne
Where to eat & drink in Cologne
- Täglich Brasserie - of the infamous conga fame
- Herings im Martinswinkel - Great, fresh fish & seafood
- Bierhaus en d`r Salzgass - Hearty portions and great atmosphere
- Früh am Dom. Head underground into a labyrinth of rooms full of shared benches.
- Papa Joe’s Biersalon – great atmosphere, expecially when the 'jukebox' is fed!
- Haxenhaus by the Rhine - check out the high water mark at the bar.
- Brauerei zur Malzmühle - home of Mühlen Kölsch, and a great atmosphere.
A truly impressive structure, and the backdrop for one of the major markets of Cologne, Weinachtsmarkt am Kölner Dom.
It was added to the Unesco World Heritage list in 1996 and is free to visit. The iconic view is to cross the Hohenzollernbrücke after dark and capture the illuminated Dom & bridge from the other side of the mighty Rhine.
We all know I'm not talking about the water.
The 'original' can be found at the Fragrance Museum - Obenmarspforten 21, or a name that became synonymous with the term, 4711.
Where to stay in Cologne
Eden Hotel Früh am Dom - This friendly hotel is in the heart of the city centre with and just a couple of minutes walk to Cologne Cathedral.
We've stayed at Eden Hotel on many occasions and it never disappoints. It is owned by the Früh Brewery and has a bustling restaurant in its cellar.
To be honest the Peek & Cloppenburg building is striking, and wandering around for a Brit is eye-opening, it's the little differences in style that become apparent. It's always good to have a little look as you wander up Schildergasse which will take you straight to the Angel market at Neumarkt.
I suppose I should also mention Galeria Kaufhof too without jumping to number 6, with its wonderfully impressive window displays - The best are the animated Stieff collection, although they not in place every year.
Start creating your own Christmas Market adventure and discover the culinary delights for yourself, take a browse through ebookers.com for departures from your local airport.
Discover more of Germany on a road trip like us, why not check out Rental Cars as they search multiple well-known car hire brands for the best deals
More from our visits to Cologne
We make no secret of our love for Cologne. Our first German Christmas Market and we have visited many times since.
There are so many things to enjoy about this city, why not take a look at some of our other posts.
Okay, more shopping, but this is a must - especially if Cologne has turned out colder than you expected, or those comfortable shoes are not as comfortable as expected - but that is not the main reason.
The Globetrotter store Richmodstraße 10 - This store has an amazing selection of 'Outdoor' equipment, plus an overwhelming array of the 'Cologne Camouflage' - Jack Wolfskin. If you want to wander around the German markets looking like a local, Jack's ya man. Granted I could have bought my jacket cheaper on-line at home, but would I have had the chance to try the different options on?
However the real reason is when you look up you'll see a forest canopy, and when you look down there'll be somebody testing their scuba gear - yes, there's a pool at the bottom.
We once watched a guy 'test drive' a kayak - how many stores can you do that in?
That beautiful tower behind the elf market is the Rathaus.
It always makes me snigger like a child that the German for townhall is Rathaus - with the politicians being the 'rats' - We know they're not, but it still tickles my child-bone.
Now, I am going to share with you a list of bars I enjoy - of course it's not a definitive list, and all our tastes vary, but these are my favourites in no particular order.
If you're tempted to find out a little bit more behind the unique flavour of Cologne's Kölsch, book yourself onto the Cologne: Brewery Tour with Three "Kölsch" Tastings. The 2 hour tour includes a visit to three breweries around the Old Town and of course a sample in each.
The grumpy man and his wife.
It was actually Andrea, the wife, that referred to Amir as the grumpy man. Amir is far from grumpy and the atmosphere in the busy little gastropub is great.
To see the Köbes strut around the bar with the Kölsch tray in one hand, eagle eyed, looking for patrons in need of refreshment. Then they pounce, plucking you empty 200ml glass, refreshing it with a full one, before adding a further pencil mark to you beermat, increasing your tally.
There's also a great array of regional food - if you don't fancy eating on the markets then fill your boots here.
In Früh am Dom you have a choice of the brauhaus, or a descend into the catacombs of the brauhauskeller this is an amazing place to dive into. Great food, and a lively atmosphere.
Expect it to be busy as it's a stones throw from the Dom market (Take my word, please don't throw stones 🙂 )
For the up to date list of all things Cologne & Christmas, check out Cologne Tourism
Obviously there is a lot more to Cologne than the Christmas markets, the Cologne Carnival is something I need to fit into our busy schedule one year - I have been avoiding it because I feel I may get hooked, as I have done with the Christmas Markets.
We truly do love Köln
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After reading blog after blog, I stumbled across yours to my delight! A colleague of mine and I, with our husbands in tow, will be traveling to Germany the week before Christmas so that I can meet my German counterpart from the main office in Herdorf. My colleague has been to Germany many times but this will be my first trip. I was having a difficult time narrowing down where we want to go until I read your blog. One of the IT guys from our GmbH office was in the states for two months so we got to know him quite well. He suggested Cologne but other people in our office gave different opinions. Your description of the places and your insights on the atmosphere make we want to see everything on your list. Any suggestions for where to stay/eat/visit in Frankfurt? We will be there the night we arrive and the day before we leave. Any ideas would be helpful! Thanks for your inspiring blog…..now I REALLY can’t wait to get there!!
Hi Terry, firstly sorry for the delay in getting back to you – slight hiccup with the site yesterday.
Anyway, soooo excited for you. Germany at Christmas is magical, and Cologne is our favourite. I’ll even wish for a little snow for you like we had in 2012!
In Frankfurt we stayed in the Adina Apartment Hotel Frankfurt Neue Oper. A lovely place for us, because we had the car and it had convenient parking, but it was a 10-minute walk to the markets. As for eating, we had grazed on the markets (Cheese sausages or Käsekrainer, and apfelwein or (apple glühwein) are two things to try.) We also took the weight off our feet one night at Paulaner am Dom, but that’s more Bavarian. Did you check out our post on Frankfurt? https://www.ourworldforyou.com/frankfurt-christmas-festivities/
For more suggestion, I’d check out our friends the Berkeley Square Barbarians, because they know Frankfrust so much better than us. https://www.berkeleysquarebarbarian.com/?s=frankfurt
Finally, I hope you have a really great time; there’s something special about Christmas in Germany