The 10 things to do in Cologne, other than the Christmas markets

In Christmas, Europe, Germany, Mini Breaks, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, Unesco, World Travel by GaryLeave a Comment

What else should you look at to squeeze in.

So let’s assume you plan to go to the Christmas Markets, and you feel like a break from the endless Glühwein & wurst fest (Oh there is so much more!)


The Cathedral or Dom

A truly impressive structure, and the backdrop for one of the major markets of Cologne.

It was added to the Unesco World Heritage list in 1996 and is free to visit.

The Dom, Cologne, Germany

The iconic view is to cross the Hohenzollernbrücke after dark and capture the illuminated Dom & bridge from the other side of the mighty Rhine.

The Dom and Hohenzollernbrücke, Cologne, Germany


Eau de Cologne

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.

The original Eau de Cologne, Cologne, Germany

There are various outlets, but home to the 4711 fragrance museum is the Dufthaus at Glockengasse 4

4711 -The smell of Cologne, Germany


Museum Ludwig

Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany

Fancy a bit of culture? The Museum Ludwig is only a stone’s throw from the Dom Market and houses a unique collection of art including a selection of works by Pablo Picasso, American Pop art and an impressive photography collection.

Our favourite travel reads


Foodie Gadget Heaven

Kölner Kochhaus, Cologne, Germany

Okay, so those who know me know I love a gadget, and if it’s a culinary toy then all the better. My favourite place for a 15 minute gander is the Kölner Kochhaus. A shop that will leave you wanting something…


Peek & Cloppenburg

Peek & Cloppenburg, Cologne, Germany

Yep you heard me right! If you’re not German you may wonder what I’m going on about. More shopping! And from a guy! 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.

Something to make your travels easier?

Why not?

Start creating your own Christmas Market adventure and discover the culinary delights for yourself, easyJet & British Airways are just a couple of options.

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The Chocolate Museum

The Chocolate Museum, Cologne, Germany

What can I say CHOCOLATE – Mmmmm. The Chocolate Museum in the Rheinau harbour, and right next to the Harbour Market. Certainly worth a visit, and if it’s your birthday you get to go for free.


For the adventurer

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?

Inside the Globetrotter store, Cologne, Germany


Discover the old town

That beautiful tower behind the elf market is the Rathaus, always makes me snigger like a child that the German for townhall is Rat haus – with the politians being the ‘rats’ – We know they’re not, but it still tickles my child-bone.

The Rathaus, Cologne, Germany

The lanes that run down to the waterfront, such as Salzgasse & Lintgasse, plus those delightful little squares such as Ostermannplatz.

The cobbled alleys of the old town, Cologne, Germany

There’s plenty to discover as you stroll between markets so make sure you vary your routes.

Tünnes and Schäl statues, Cologne, Germany


Stroll the waterfront

The views across the River Rhine, Cologne, Germany

The Rhine is a working thoroughfare that gave Cologne it’s life blood, it has changed shape over the years but gives a wonderful view of the other side of the city. Whichever bank you choose to meander along you’ll see both the old & new Cologne.

Something for the Traveller


Visit a bar

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: Secrets of Kölsch. The 2 hour tour includes a visit to four breweries around the Old Town and of course a sample in each.

Cafe Täglich – Okay I said no particular order, but this is in the top 3. It’s the atmosphere, great staff – the ever smiling Jurgen, and full of people enjoying themselves.

Scene of Janis’s infamous conga through the narrow bar.

Täglich Brasserie, Cologne, Germany

Herings im Martinswinkel – 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.

A visit to Cologne would not be the same without a visit to Herings.

Herings im Martinswinkel, Cologne, Germany

Bierhaus en d`r Salzgass – Love this place, so many great memories – The businessman & the beer mat, the guys from the Luftwaffe & the German lady who worked as a nanny in her teens in the UK – all folks we’ve chatted too whilst sharing a table. It gets really busy so timing is everything.

Inside Bierhaus en d'r Salzgass , Cologne, Germany

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.

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 🙂 )

If you’re joining us and staying at the Eden Hotel, owned by the Früh brewery, the lift takes you straight down to the lower levels. Oh dear…

Früh am Dom, Cologne, Germany

Papa Joe’s Biersalon – this watering hole, with its tuba & accordion animatronic jukebox (yes, you read that right), is buzzing – it’s location, just behind the Elves market, means that it’s always busy.

Outside Papa Joe's, Cologne, Germany

So get ready to share a bench and sway in time with your favourite Bavarian oompah tune.

Inside Papa Joe's, Christmas Markets, Cologne, Germany

Haxenhaus – This bar/restaurant is a short distance from the mighty River Rhine, and it’s power is demonstrated by the line on the bar that the 1995 flood waters rose too.

When the River Rhine is behaving itself this pork fest palace, specialising in pork knuckles & sausages, is full of people sharing benches and having a ‘chompingly’ good time.

Haxenhaus, Cologne, Germany

Brauerei zur Malzmühle – Stroll up to the entrance to this establishment and it doesn’t look traditionally welcoming but past the large rotating wooden door you enter a world of people munching down on a vast array of traditional German fare. If you’re just drinking head to the back and savour the fresh Mühlen Kölsch.

Brauerei zur Malzmühle, Cologne, Germany

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There’s more

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

Inspired to visit Cologne at Christmas?

And why wouldn’t you. It’s our favourite (Is it wrong to have favourites?)

Anyway why not check out the latest deals on Booking.Com?
The Dom, Cologne, Germany

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Have You?

Enjoyed the Christmas Markets in Cologne? How many of the list have you done? Or do you plan on going Anything on this list take your fancy?

About the Author


Gary, the co-founder of Our World for You, was born and raised in London. An IT guy who likes to takes snaps. Along with Janis his partner, they have been travelling part time since 1995. In 2016, over a Sherry in Seville, they decided that enough was enough with suits. The decision was made to take their knowledge and experience to create a blog to inspire others to travel the world near and far.

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