by Janis / 0 comments - Orginally published:5th December 2023

Returning to Germany for more festive fun

We’re so excited; we’re returning to Germany to visit more twinkling traditional Christmas markets.

How time flies. We didn’t get the opportunity to visit Germany at Christmas last year, so we’re making up for it and heading to Trier, Koblenz, and our old favourite, Cologne. It wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t squeeze in a visit to Cologne at Christmas.

This will be our 13th time exploring Cologne’s Christmas markets; we always find new things dotted around the city. However, I do love the familiarity of returning to the old haunts of Cologne’s Gnome Market and Dom Market. They bring back many heart-warming memories for both of us. Don’t get me started on the conga line I joined late one night at a bar in Cologne.

The pin image for our post - 'Visiting Trier, Koblenz & Cologne Christmas Markets
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I digress; this year, we’re adding to the 12 Christmas Markets we’ve previously visited in Germany and will partake in the festive fun in Trier and Koblenz. I can’t wait as both cities have some fascinating history to discover too.

Where we’re visiting at Christmas in 2023

- By Air
Start creating your own German adventure and discover the ancient history amongst the charming city streets.
Search for your flights in one easy place with Over 400 airlines are scanned for your favoured routes and chosen dates. Then hop on a train for around 1 hour, and you’re there

- By Car
If you’re venturing from the UK, jump on Le Shuttle and tour Germany under your own steam.  If i's your first time check out out post - 'Your first German Christmas Market by car'

Alternatively, it’s so easy to visit on a road trip. Rental Cars searches multiple well-known car hire brands and discovers the deals that suit you the best.

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Discover Germany’s local history

In the footsteps of Romans

This festive trip ticks quite a few boxes for us, as we love exploring new destinations, discovering their local history and, of course, partaking in the festive fun around the Christmas markets.

We also look forward to sampling the different nibbles and tipples from the Yuletide cabins in Trier and Koblenz.

The magnificent stone roman porta nigra stands 29 meters high on the ring road around the german city of trier
Porta Nigra

While researching our visit to Trier, I discovered that this fascinating German city has a vast amount of Roman heritage, and many of its historic monuments and ruins can still be seen today.

Trier is located along the banks of the Moselle River and is in the Rhineland-Palatinate region of Germany, renowned for its wine. I didn’t quite realise how close Trier was to the Luxembourg border; it’s almost within yodelling distance.

To make the most of our German Christmas Market road trip, we’ve chosen to take the scenic trail from Trier to Koblenz. We’ll be weaving our way beside the Moselle River following the wine route and stopping in Cochem’s picturesque and historic town to visit their Christmas festivities.
a giant christmas tree, decorated with red baubles, in the markplatz square, lined with historic german buildings in the centre of the traditional german town of cochem, on the banks of the moselle ri
Marktplatz in Cochem

The German city of Koblenz is also nestled along the Moselle River; however, it also shares a confluence with the River Rhine, known as the Deutsches Eck (German Corner).

Koblenz has many attractive squares dotted around its old town; six of them will be hosting Christmas Markets.

Sitting high above the city of Koblenz across the Rhine Gorge is the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress. This rocky outcrop has been occupied by many fortifications over the centuries, including a Roman castle.

For Christmas, the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress will illuminate their picturesque gardens, which can be visited from Koblenz city via a cable car. Tickets for the Christmas Garden Koblenz can be obtained in advance.

The ehrenbreitstein fortress in koblenz set high on a rocky illuminated at night
The Ehrenbreitstein Fortress
Even though we have visited Cologne at Christmas on many occasions, this city never fails to bring a smile to our faces. I love strolling across Cologne’s Hohenzollern Bridge, which straddles the River Rhine.
The iconic evening view of the Dom and Hohenzollernbrücke. The cathedral is lit by white lights and the arched iron railway bridge is lit by orange lights With the River Rhine flowing underneath.
The Dom and Hohenzollernbrücke
All across the bridge are ‘love padlocks’, and the number is now estimated to be over ½ a million, which must undoubtedly weigh a few tons. Crossing the bridge to the east, you’ll catch the iconic view of Cologne with the Hohenzollern Bridge in the foreground and Cologne Cathedral beyond. It looks particularly stunning on an evening.

Christmas Market Visitor Information

For a bit more information on Trier’s, Koblenz and Cologne’s Christmas markets, visit the Trier Weichnacts Markt, Koblenzer Weichnacts Markt and Köln at Christmas websites.

I love nothing more than planning a trip and so often I use the DK Eyewitness books.  I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.

We used a previous version of this book to plan our Germany road trips, now you can grab the revised copy.

Exploring German architecture

Cathedrals, castles & Christmas

As I mentioned, Trier has an extraordinary number of Roman sites to explore, from the Aula Palatina Roman Basilica to the ruins of the Imperial Baths, amphitheatre, and the Roman Bridge.

All of these ancient monuments were inscribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Trier’s monuments in 1986, along with its magnificent Romanesque Trier Cathedral.

twinkling christmas market stalls around the base of trier's cathedral at dusk
Trier Cathedral Christmas Market

Trier is Germany’s oldest town and unsurprisingly houses the oldest church, too; Trier Cathedral was erected around 1,700 years ago.

One of Trier’s Christmas markets is to be held in the Cathedral Square ‘Domfreihof’, which looks beautiful. Such a delightful backdrop while you’re sipping your warm glühwein

crowds gathering at the christmas market stalls in koblenz's jesuitenplatz looking up at the giant advent calendar in the city's rathaus
Koblenz Advent Calendar on the Rathaus

I’m looking forward to exploring Koblenz’s Altstadt with its many attractive squares and lanes. The city's largest advent calendar is within Jesuitenplatz on the baroque Rathaus, displayed across its many windows.

Along the banks of the Rhine is the imposing Electoral Palace, built in the neoclassical style and was one of the last palaces built in Germany prior to the French Revolution.

Looking up at the lit Dom Cathedral at night with the Christmas tree and its blanket of lights meeting the red-topped market huts.
The Dom towers over the Christmas Market

Now, heading back to Cologne, one of my favourite sights in the city is the Kölner Dom, which stands so proud within the historic city and has a bustling Christmas market at its feet.

Cologne Cathedral is a magnificent sight to see day and night, with its gothic spires piercing the Cologne skyline. The Kölner Dom is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is free to visit.

Where to stay in Trier, Koblenz & Cologne at Christmas


Our accommodation for the two nights in Trier was in the Mercure Porta Nigra; this hotel was in a perfect location, overlooking the ancient Porta Nigra. The Old Town was just a short hop away.

The hotel had an on-site car park, a daily charge was applied.


Our next accommodation for our two nights in Koblenz was in the Sander Hotel; this hotel was in the heart of the Altstadt and ideal for exploring the Christmas markets.

The Sander Hotel also had an on-site car park, with a daily charge.


If you're visiting Cologne, we can highly recommend staying at the Eden Hotel Früh am Dom. Located in the heart of the city with an incredible view of Cologne Cathedral.

We've stayed at Eden Hotel on many occasions, and this central hotel never disappoints. It is owned by the Früh Brewery and has a bustling restaurant in its cellar.

Experiencing German Christmas market fare

Tempting my tastebuds

Well, sampling the local food and drink delights at Trier and Koblenz Christmas markets will be an all-new experience for us.

We love to try new things, especially the local delicacies from the region, so I can’t wait to see what Trier and Koblenz have to offer.

However, I have read that Trier does not only have the usual glühwein, but also hot mulled Viez an apple wine. Well, I suppose I’ll have to take one for the team and give it a try.

Two red christmas mugs of white glühwein on a wooden shelf in trier's german christmas markets
Apple Wine

If you’ve ever visited a Christmas market, especially in Germany, you’ll know the decorated glühwein mugs are a big issue.

Some towns and cities produce a different design of Christmas mugs each year, and occasionally, within some cities, they’ll also create a mug for each of their themed markets. We found a stall in Nuremberg displaying each of their mugs through the decades.

Two Nuremberg's Winter Warmers in decorative mugs on a stall on the Christmas Markets
Two mugs of winter warmer drink
We have quite a collection of Christmas mugs at home; we get them out every Christmas and use them as decorations. I wonder whether we’ll be tempted with a mug from Trier or Koblenz.
A goblet of warm spiced beer and a wind glas of mulled wine on Koblenz's Christmas Markets
Drinks on Koblenz's Christmas Markets

One treat we continually bring home from Cologne is gingerbread, and it’s always from the same stall at the Dom Christmas Market. The gingerbread we like is Aachener Printen from Klein. It’s delicious, and the ladies on the stall are always cheery and helpful.

In 2021, during another of our Christmas road trips, we visited Aachen Christmas Market and found the local shop that produces Aachener Printen. Needless to say, we bought some more.

The Aachener Printen gingerbread stall in Cologne. It's stacked his with all the different styles of gingerbread biscuits. The lady behind the counter is handing Janis back her change after we've bought another bag load.
Aachener Printen for sale at the Dom Christmas Market in Cologne

I’m sure we will seek out a local Brauhaus during our visit to Trier and Koblenz. We’ve had some wonderful experiences in German bars over the years. Our German language is minimal; however, we try and give it a go and always enjoy ourselves.

Every time we visit Cologne, we pop into Bierhaus en d’r Salzgass and partake in a Kölsch or two. It has such a friendly atmosphere, and unless you place a beer mat on top of your glass, the beer will keep on flowing.

Inside the Christmas decorated Bierhaus en d'r Salzgass, a traditional Kolsch pub with beer barrel on the bar.
Inside Bierhaus en d`r Salzgass - enjoy!
I know we’re going to have an incredible time sampling the different food and drinks in the Rhineland-Palatinate region, and one thing we can certainly guarantee is that there won’t be a shortage of Bratwurst.

Tourist Information

If you’re tempted to visit Trier, Koblenz or Cologne, the local tourist offices provide some extremely useful information and handy pointers for around each city.

If you’re looking to visit other Christmas markets in Germany, take a peek at our posts on Berlin, Bremen, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Münster, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, and Stuttgart.

Revisiting an old friend ‘Cologne’

The ice rink takes centre stage

As I mentioned, Gary and I have been visiting Cologne at Christmas for many years, and it continually evolves. They certainly don’t sit on their laurels in Cologne; we have seen so many changes, especially the ice rink.

The ice rink has always been a fun place to visit; even if you’re like us and never take to the ice, we are British, after all, and spend most of the time gripping the sides of the rink. But it’s a wonderful experience just watching others.

One of the circular ends to the ice rink in Cologne, lit at night, overlooked by a carousel and the two-storey drinks cabin.
One end of the ice rink at the Market of the Elves

When we first visited Cologne, the ice rink used to be a reasonably simple design; it’s now been extended and remodelled and takes Heinzel’s Winter Fairy-tale market to another level.

You can even watch the excitement from above, head to the glühwein cabin at the end of the rink, head upstairs with your hot beverage and look down upon the spectacular rink.

Crowds in front of a carol concert on stage in the cologne's Dom Christmas Market, under a blanket of fairy-lights
Crowds under the blanket of lights enjoying a carol concert

Cologne’s themed Christmas markets are captivating to explore; you’ll feel like a kid again in your own fairy-tale. We particularly enjoy the Cathedral market with its red-roofed cabins encircling the towering Christmas tree and the elves hopping across the snowy rooftops at Heinzel’s Winter Fairy-tale market.

Then, a little further west of the old town is the Market of Angels, where we always indulge in a hot chocolate with Baileys and then stroll further along to the Village of St. Nicholas in Rudolfplatz.

A view of the historic Hahnentorburg gate from within a damp Village of St Nicholas Christmas market in Cologne.
The Hahnentorburg gate and Village of St Nicholas
Our advice is don’t hesitate to visit any of Germany’s Christmas Markets; they are so welcoming. And we especially love that they are aimed at all ages; Christmas is not just for the small kids; it’s for the big kids, too.

Just a few points to note;

  • You need to book accommodation as soon as possible; these Christmas markets are very popular.
  • Although all the German Christmas markets are fantastic to visit during the day, they really come alive in the evenings, don’t miss it.
  • Be aware these markets become extremely busy at the weekends, particularly in the evenings. Children may feel a bit swamped with the crowds.
  • Dress warm and comfortable.
  • Germany’s Christmas markets are really for all ages; don’t be put off that it is all for children, it really isn’t. We are all big kids at heart.

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