Cologne Christmas Market (Map + Dates 2024)

A complete guide to the Cologne Christmas Market 2024 (+ map, opening dates, the best hotels to stay and best things to do in December).

The Christmas markets are a beloved tradition in Germany dating back centuries ago. Festive decorations, sparkling lights, stalls packed with culinary delights and mulled wine – the Germans just know how to celebrate Christmas!

The first Christmas market in Cologne (called Nikolaimarkt) opened in 1820 at Alter Markt. It quickly turned into a favourite tradition during the festive season. In the late 20th century, several new themed markets appeared all over the city.

Today, Cologne features one of the best Christmas markets not only in Germany but in Europe as well! So, If you’re looking for a traditional Christmas market experience in Germany, the city definitely should be on your list.

In this Cologne Christmas Market guide, I’ll share all you have to know to experience the best of the city. From opening dates and locations of the markets to popular Christmas activities and the best hotels to stay in – everything you need to plan the perfect holiday vacation.

Cologne Christmas Market Guide 2024

Cologne features 8 large Christmas markets, all located in the city centre. Each market is devoted to a different theme and has a unique vibe and atmosphere. From angel and harbour-themed markets to a gnome village, each of them is well worth a visit.

The best Christmas markets in Cologne are located at the Cathedral, Alter Markt, Heumarkt and Neumarkt. All markets are easily accessible on foot, only the one in the Stadtgarten is a little bit further out from the Old Town.

When does the Cologne Christmas Market start?

In general, the Christmas markets in Cologne open on 23 November and continue till 23 December. The stalls are open daily between 11 AM and 9 PM.

Cologne Christmas Market dates 2024

From 23 November to 23 December 2023
Daily from 11 AM to 9 PM
(please note that the official dates for 2024 are not yet announced)

For more details check each market’s opening times (below in the post).

Are the Christmas markets open on Sunday?
Yes, all markets are open on Sunday with extended working hours in the evenings.

Is there any market open after Christmas?
Yes, the Heinzels Wintermärchen at Heumarkt continues till 7 January and the Harbour Christmas Market – till 1 January. However, both of them are closed on 24 and 25 December.

Tips on Cologne Christmas Market

Accommodation – since December is a peak period for visiting Cologne, be sure to reserve a hotel in advance.

My favourite place to stay in Cologne: Legend Hotel
Why: central location, just a short stroll away from 3 large Christmas markets
What I like: rooftop bar with cathedral view, fantastic restaurant

Best time to visit – to explore the market with fewer crowds, go during weekdays in the daytime. Come back in the evening for mulled wine and to enjoy the festive atmosphere. If possible avoid the weekends, which is the busiest time.

Mapfind here a map of the precise locations of the market.

Sightseeing – if this is your first visit to the city, take a look at my guide on how to visit Cologne in one day, where you’ll find the best things to do and my favourite places to eat.

Best Christmas markets in Cologne

Cologne has 8 Christmas markets and almost all of them are worth a visit if you have enough time. Still, there are 4 which definitely should be on your list. Continue reading to find out which are the best Christmas markets in Cologne and which ones you can skip.

To discover the best of the markets and enjoy some local beer, take this Kölsch Beer and Christmas Market Tour. You’ll visit some of the city’s popular brewhouses, learn about the famous Kölsch beer and enjoy a mulled wine at the markets.

Cologne Christmas markets 2024

  • Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market
  • Heinzels Wintermärchen at Heumarkt
  • Heinzels Wintermärchen at Alter Markt
  • Angels’ Christmas Market
  • Nicholas’ Village Christmas Market
  • Harbour Christmas Market
  • Stadtgarten Christmas Market
  • Heavenue Market

Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market

Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market
The Christmas market at the Cologne Cathedral is the most popular one

Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market (Weihnachtsmarkt am Dom) is the city’s most beautiful market. Set at the backdrop of the impressive Gothic cathedral, this market features a giant fir tree with a blanket of 50,000 lights emerging from its top. It’s pure magic in the evenings when everything is lit up.

150 wooden stalls encircle the fir tree, creating a maze full of delicious treats, drinks and beautiful Christmas decorations. In its centre, you’ll find a stage, where you can catch over 100 festive performances and live music every evening.

Weihnachtsmarkt am Dom is my favourite market in Cologne, because of its festive atmosphere and the magnificent backdrop of the cathedral.

Weihnachtsmarkt am Dom
Christmas concert at the Cologne Cathedral market

Weihnachtsmarkt am Kölner Dom
From 23 November to 23 December
Sunday to Wednesday – 11 AM to 9 PM
Thursday to Saturday – 11 AM to 10 PM
Address: Roncalliplatz 1, 50667 Köln
Weihnachtsmarkt am Kölner Dom official website

Heinzels Wintermärchen at Heumarkt

Heinzels Wintermärchen at Heumarkt
The largest Christmas market in Cologne is at Heumarkt

Heinzels Winter Fairytale (Heinzels Wintermärchen) is the city’s largest and most magical market. Devoted to the legendary house elves (Heinzelmännchen), this market features a fairytale theme with richly decorated wooden stalls.

According to the legend, Heinzelmännchen were house gnomes, who helped the citizens of Cologne with the housework at night when everybody was asleep. Unfortunately, one day a tailor’s wife decided that she had to see the creatures. She threw peas onto the floor of the workshop so that when the house elves came, they would slip and fall. Her actions had disastrous consequences. The gnomes got angry, disappeared and had never returned since that day.

Luckily, you still have a chance to see these little creatures, as you’ll find them all over the market. The gnome theme is reflected even in the mug designs!

The Heinzels Wintermärchen is split into two locations within walking distance from each other – at Heumarkt and at Alter Markt (in front of the City Hall). Both markets are huge, featuring over 100 stalls, split into different themed laneways, so make sure to dedicate plenty of time to exploring. Also, they have different opening dates, so I decided to list them separately in the blog post.

At the Heinzels Wintermärchen Heumarkt, you’ll find a 2,400 square metres open ice rink and curling. Also, this is the place to go for some delicious food, as at this market there are plenty of savoury and sweet options. I especially enjoyed the Flammlachs (roasted salmon) and the Handbrot mit Käse (cheese-filled bread) at this market. And to escape the cold, just head to any of the cosy wooden chalets for some mulled wine!

Heinzels Wintermärchen at Heumarkt
From 24 November 2023 to 7 January 2024
26 November, 24 and 25 December – Closed
Daily – from 11 AM to 10 PM
Address: Heumarkt
Heinzels Wintermärchen official website

Heinzels Wintermärchen at Alter Markt

Heinzels Wintermärchen at Alter Markt
For souvenirs and gifts make your way to Alter Markt

The two sections of Heinzels Wintermärchen (at Heumarkt and at Alter Markt) are connected with the so-called Antique Alley. You’ll find a variety of antiques here such as jewellery, books, Christmas decorations, etc.

Heinzels Wintermärchen at Alter Markt is more focused on handmade goods and decorations. There are a few food stalls, but if you’re hungry head over to the section at Heumarkt.

I suggest visiting this market during the daytime on a weekday, so you can browse the stalls at your leisure. During my visit on the weekend, it was so crowded that it was nearly impossible to get close to any of the stalls.

Heinzels Wintermärchen at Alter Markt
From 24 November to 23 December
26 November – Closed
Daily – from 11 AM to 10 PM
Address: Alter Markt

Angels’ Christmas Market

Angels’ Christmas Market
Angels’ Christmas Market is the oldest one in the city

Located in the heart of the shopping district, Angels’ Christmas Market (Markt der Engel) is the city’s oldest Christmas market. And the most romantic one in my opinion!

The market features an angel theme with white rustic stalls and illuminated stars hanging from the trees. It’s truly magical in the evenings!

As it comes to food, Angels’ Christmas Market is one of the best places to enjoy a savoury or sweet snack. Also, only at this market, I managed to find some delicious gingerbread cookies (but more on this later in the post).

Markt der Engel
From 20 November to 23 December
26 November – Closed
From Sunday to Thursday – 11 AM to 9 PM
Fridays and Saturdays – 11 AM to 10 PM
Address: Neumarkt, 50667 Köln
Markt der Engel official website

More Cologne Christmas markets

If you have enough time, I’d suggest you take a look at these four Christmas markets below. They may not be the biggest or the most magical ones in Cologne but still have plenty of charm and a festive atmosphere.

Nicholas’ Village Christmas Market

Nicholas’ Village Christmas Market
Nikolausdorf is a family-oriented Christmas market

Nicholas’ Village Christmas Market (Nikolausdorf) is situated in the backdrop of the medieval Hahentorburg, one of the city’s last remaining city gates. Its charming half-timber houses are decorated with sparkling lights and plenty of red and green. Santa and reindeer displays add to the Christmas atmosphere.

The market is smaller in size and family-oriented. Santa Claus visits Nikolausdorf every day between 4 PM and 4:30 PM.

Nikolausdorf
From 23 November to 23 December
Sunday to Thursday – 11 AM to 9 PM
Fridays – 11 AM to 10 PM
Saturdays – 10 AM to 10 PM
Address: Rudolfplatz, 50674 Köln
Nikolausdorf official website

Harbour Christmas Market

Harbour Christmas Market
The Harbour Christmas market is a unique marine-themed market

Located along the banks of the Rhine River, right in front of the Chocolate Museum, is the Harbour Christmas market (Hafen-Weihnachtsmarkt). The marine theme is reflected in the decoration and the products in the market. The 70 snow-white pagoda tents with pointed roofs offer delicious fish specialities and drinks.

Don’t miss the sea shanties, pirates’ shows, the giant Ferris wheel and the wooden three-mast boat (15m in length), from where you can buy mulled wine. And in case you’re feeling too cold, just head to the gift shop at the Chocolate Museum (I never miss a visit when I am in the city)!

Harbour Christmas Market
From 23 November to 23 December
Daily – from 11 AM to 10 PM
From 26 December to 1 January, the market turns into a New Year market with food and drinks in front of the Ferris wheel
Address: Am Schokoladenmuseum 1A, 50678 Köln
Harbour Christmas Market official website

Stadtgarten Christmas Market

Stadtgarten Christmas Market is located in the city garden, on the edge of the city centre. This is a little bit far away from the other markets and it’s not accessible on foot from the Old Town.

The market is pretty small and features a more local vibe. There are more than 80 exhibitors, who change weekly, offering handicrafts and locally made products.

Stadtgarten Christmas Market
From 23 November to 23 December
Monday to Friday – 4 PM to 9:30 PM
Saturday and Sundays – 12 PM to 9:30 PM
Address: Stadtgarten, Venloerstrasse 40, 50672 Köln
Stadtgarten Christmas Market official website

Heavenue Market

Heavenue Market

Heavenue Market is the only gay Christmas market in Cologne. With its pink stalls, decorated with glittering clouds, LED lights and snow-white garlands, this market is a modern twist on the traditional Christmas market.

The place is a hot spot for music and dancing, featuring countless drag performances and spectacular light shows. The best time to visit – after dark!

Heavenue Market
From 23 November to 23 December
Monday to Thursday – from 4 PM to 10 PM
Friday to Sunday – from 2 PM to 10 PM
Address: Rudolfplatz, 50674 Köln
Heavenue Market official website

Where to stay in Cologne for the Christmas market

If you’re visiting Cologne for the Christmas markets, choose a central location, so you can easily walk to most of the markets. Usually, it is very cold in December, so having a market at your doorstep where you can finish the day with a glass of mulled wine, is a great advantage.

The best place to stay in Cologne for the Christmas market is the Old Town (Altstadt), especially around Alter Markt. There are 3 big markets in the area, plus you’ll be a 10-minute walk from Markt der Engel at Neumarkt.

During my visit to the markets, I stayed near Alter Markt, which turned out to be an excellent decision since everything was conveniently located just around the corner.

Find more information and recommendations in my guide to where to stay in Cologne, Germany.


CityClass Hotel Alter Markt – Best mid-range

Guest rating: 8.5 | 3,830+ reviews

Perfect location, right next to the city’s biggest Christmas market, Heinzels Wintermärchen, at Alter Markt. Rooms are modern, comfy and offer nice views of the Christmas market. Plenty of restaurants at your doorstep.

Why book – next to the Christmas market at Alter Markt, modern rooms with city views, great breakfast


Excelsior Hotel Ernst am Dom – Best luxury

Guest rating: 8.9 | 1,000+ reviews

Overlooking the cathedral, Excelsior Hotel Ernst am Dom is the best 5-star hotel to stay in the city. The Christmas markets at the cathedral and at Alter Markt, and the Christmas Market Express stop are just a 5-minute walk away. You can enjoy exotic Asian dishes at Taku, a Michelin-starred restaurant, or French gourmet cuisine at Hanse Stube. Plus, there’s a Wintergarten (for tasty pastries and afternoon tea) and a Piano Bar with live music.

Why book – next to the Christmas market at the cathedral, wellness centre, gourmet restaurants

cologne Nikolausdorf

What to do in Cologne at Christmas

Take a winter cruise

Take this Winter Cruise with live music and Glühwein and enjoy the beautifully decorated city’s skyline during the Christmas season. You’ll see some of the most iconic sites like the Cologne Cathedral, Great St. Martin Church and Rheinau Harbour.

Take a brewery tour

You can’t visit Cologne and not taste the famous local Kölsch beer. Take this Brewery Tour with tastings and learn about the local brewing culture. You’ll visit some iconic breweries such as the 700 years old Brauhaus Sion or Früh am Dom, the city’s largest brewery.

Heinzels Wintermärchen at Heumarkt

Go ice skating

For some winter activities, head to Heinzels Wintermärchen Heumarkt. Here, besides curling, you’ll find a 2,400 square metre open ice rink. Set along the magical market, this ice rink is more than 100m long!

Heinzels Wintermärchen ice rink
The ice rink at Heumarkt

Take the Christmas Market Express

Cologne is a very walkable city, but if your feet start to ache or it’s too cold, there is a Christmas train you can hop on. The train runs between the four main markets around the city (the Dom, Heinzels Wintermärchen, Harbour and Angels’ market) every 15 minutes. You can find the full Christmas train schedule here.

Enjoy mulled wine at the Christmas pyramid

Christmas pyramid is a popular thing in Germany and you’ll see them all over the Christmas markets. It is supposed that the Christmas pyramid is a predecessor of the Christmas tree.

Southeast of the main market at the Dom, you’ll find a small Advent Village with a huge Christmas pyramid! Stop for a glass of mulled wine and enjoy the festive decoration.

Address: Am Hof 34-46, 50667 Köln

Cologne Christmas pyramid
You can buy mulled wine at the Christmas pyramid

Cologne Christmas Market food

One of the best things about visiting a Christmas market is trying all the delicious food! You’ll find countless savoury and sweet food options, ranging from grilled sausages and salmon to potato pancakes and gingerbread cookies. There is something for everyone’s taste.

Bratwurst

While exploring the markets, you’ll come across plenty of stalls selling wurst (sausages). There are all kinds of sausages, ranging from standard to bio and even vegan. They are usually served in a bun with mustard and ketchup and you can buy French fries additionally.

You can’t make it all the way to Germany and not taste this traditional meal!

Bratwurst with French fries
Bratwurst with French fries

Flammlachs

Flammlachs is one of my favourite Christmas market foods. And if you like fish, don’t miss these fillets of salmon roasted over an open flame on wooden boards. Served in a bun with a cabbage salad, it’s the ultimate treat!

My tip: In my opinion, you’ll find the best Flammlachs at Heinzels Wintermärchen at Heumarkt (they serve it with a Remoulade sauce there).

Flammlachs
Roasted salmon with Remoulade sauce

Lachsschinken

This delicious baked ham comes in a bun with cabbage salad.

My tip: taste the Lachsschinken at Angels’ Market.

Lachsschinken
Ham sandwich with cabbage salad

Reibekuchen

Reibekuchen is a great vegetarian Christmas food option. These fried potato cakes are made from grated potato, egg, and onion and served with apple sauce.

Handbrot mit Käse

This is bread stuffed with cheese and ham (or mushrooms if you prefer the vegetarian version) and topped with sour cream.

My tip: I found the Handbrot at Heinzels Wintermärchen at Heumarkt absolutely delicious.

Handbrot
Bread with cheese and mushrooms

Lebkuchen

Lebkuchen is a traditional gingerbread cookie. I’d recommend you skip the richly decorated heart-shaped Lebkuchen (not very tasty) and opt for the plain ones.

My tip: buy Lebkuchen from Angels’ Market, you’ll find more variety here.

Lebkuchen
Gingerbread

Glühwein

Glühwein is a spiced hot wine, usually made with red, but you can also find white or even a rosé wine. It can be customized with an additional shot of Amaretto (a sweet Italian liqueur) or rum.

Note, that when you buy a glühwein you have to pay a deposit for the mug (usually between €2 and €4). When you return the mug, you’ll get your deposit back. You can keep the mug as a souvenir or return it, it’s up to you. Keep in mind that every market has its own mug design, so try the wine at several places to choose the best one!

My tip: If you like bitter almonds, order white mulled wine with a shot of Amaretto (my favourite one).

Glühwein
Mulled wine

How to get to Cologne Christmas Market

By train

Cologne Central train station (Köln Hauptbahnhof) is located right next to the Old Town and the cathedral. From here it’s just a short walk to the main Christmas markets.

Check timetables and book tickets online at Deutsche Bahn official site.

By car

Cologne has a Low Emission Zone, so you need an Umweltzone sticker. Parking on-street is expensive, so car parks or Park and Ride are better options (find more info about parking here).

If you’re visiting Cologne for a day, there is a good parking garage right next to the cathedral (Contipark Tiefgarage Am Dom), a great starting point for the markets.

By air

The closest airport is Cologne-Bonn Airport, about 15 kilometres away from the city centre. The most convenient option to get there is by train – take the train directly from the airport and then get off at Köln Hauptbahnhof.

Best Christmas markets near Cologne

Aachen Christmas Market

Aachen Christmas market
Aachen Christmas Market is the best one near Cologne

Just 1h away by train, Aachen, the final resting place of Charlemagne, is a great option for a day trip. Located in the shadow of the city’s cathedral, Aachener Weihnachtsmarkt is one of the best Christmas markets nearby. It is much smaller than the one in Cologne but has a lot to offer – a medieval atmosphere, magical backdrops and one of the tastiest cookies in Germany – Aachener Printen.

Find out more (plus where to eat the best gingerbread cookies) in my Aachen Christmas Market guide.

Besides Aachen, there are good Christmas markets in Düsseldorf, Bonn and Essen, too. However in my opinion they are not a must-see, especially if you have limited time in Germany. I’d recommend visiting them only if you’re looking for markets off the beaten path with a local vibe.

Düsseldorf Christmas Market

dusseldorf christmas market

Just a 30-minute train ride away, Düsseldorf is a great option if you’re looking for an authentic Christmas Market with a local vibe. There are 6 Christmas markets, situated across the Old Town, with the largest one, Handwerker Markt, at the City Hall. You’ll also find a big Ferris Wheel at Burgplaz and a 1,700-square-meter ice rink at Corneliusplatz.

Find everything you need to know in my guide to the Düsseldorf Christmas Market.

Bonn Christmas Market

bonn christmas market

Similar to Düsseldorf, the Bonn Christmas Market offers an authentic local market experience. With over 160 stalls, the market spreads across several locations, including Friedensplatz, Vivatsgasse, Bottlerplatz, Poststraße, Münsterplatz, and Remigiusplatz. You’ll find the main one at Münsterplatz, set against the picturesque backdrop of the historic Old Town Hall and the nearby Minster.

Make sure not to miss the big Christmas pyramid, right next to the 13th-century Bonner Münster, where you can buy mulled wine.

How to get to Bonn
Take a train from Köln Hbf to Bonn Hbf (20min journey). From there it’s less than a 5min walk to the main market at Münsterplatz.

Bonn Christmas Market
From 22 November to 22 December 2024
Daily – from 11 AM to 9 PM
Closed on 24 November
Address: Münsterplatz, 53111 Bonn, Germany
Bonner Weihnachtsmarkt official website

Faqs about Cologne Christmas Market

Is the Cologne Christmas Market worth visiting?

Cologne Christmas Market is one of the best not only in Germany but in Europe as well. The city features 8 Christmas markets, all differently themed with a unique atmosphere.

Which is the best Christmas market in Cologne?

The best Christmas market in Cologne is Heinzels Wintermärchen, located at Heumarkt and Alter Markt. The market features a fairytale gnome theme with over 100 richly decorated wooden stalls and a 2,400 square metres open ice rink.

Cologne Christmas Market – cash or card?

Although more and more vendors are beginning to accept bank cards, most stalls still require cash. So be sure to bring enough euros to buy everything your heart desires.

Is the Cologne Christmas Market free?

All 8 Christmas markets in Cologne are free and don’t require a ticket to enter.

Dusseldorf or Cologne Christmas Market?

Although both Cologne and Dusseldorf have several Christmas markets, the ones in Cologne are bigger and prettier. Each Christmas market in Cologne features a different theme and unique vibe. Plus, there is far more sightseeing to be done in Cologne, including the famous Kölner Dom.

Berlin or Cologne Christmas Market?

If this is your first time in Germany, Berlin is a better place to visit for Christmas markets than Cologne. The city features more than 10 big Christmas markets and numerous small local ones (for more info see my Berlin Christmas market guide). Plus, there are plenty of historic attractions, museums and excellent restaurants.

Nuremberg or Cologne Christmas Market?

Both Nuremberg and Cologne have excellent Christmas markets. However, if you’re looking for a medieval Christmas atmosphere with picturesque half-timbered houses, Nuremberg is the place to go. Plus, the Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt is one of the most popular markets in all of Germany!

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About the author

Avatar Milena Yordanova
I am a full-time traveller and I have visited over 20 countries across 2 continents. Travelling has always been my passion and I love to discover new places, cultures and food. I’m an expert in travel planning and I am here to help you plan your dream vacation.

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