This is part three of a four-part series on German Christmas markets. Part 1 (Aachen) can be found here. Part 2 (Monschau) can be found here.
Besides being the most difficult German city to pronounce, Köln (let’s just say “Cologne,” shall we?) was a complete MADHOUSE. In the main Christmas market under the Dom, it was wall-to-wall congestion of people when we arrived mid-day, making it nearly impossible to approach any of the stalls. I learned it was especially busy that day because it was one of the few Sundays a year when the city’s regular shops would be open.
I had hoped to climb the Dom and get some bird’s eye photos of the square below, but signs posted indicated the observation deck was closed that day. Bummer.
So, we stayed away from the Dom and opted instead to visit a few of the other six markets, including the Alter Markt, Markt der Engel, and Christmas Avenue, each of which has its own unique atmosphere.
The Alter Markt is a short 5-minute walk from the Dom square. Its theme is “Heimat der Heinzels,” or “Land of the Gnomes.”
After a pit stop at the LEGO store, we moved onto the favorite market of Ivanka’s 6-year-old daughter: Christmas Avenue, the gay and lesbian market known for its bright and shiny decor.
In the early evening, I parted ways with Ivanka’s family and met up with some of my relatives on my mother’s side. We met at the Markt der Engel (Angel’s Market), which is held on the Neumarkt in the heart of Köln’s shopping district.
We enjoyed catching up over waffles and glühwein here before rain arrived, and unfortunately, cut short our time at the markets.
And that was it for my one day in Köln. I most enjoyed the three markets away from the Dom. As breathtaking a backdrop as it is, the crowd there was just unbearable to me.
If you go: to state the obvious, spend more than one day, if possible. With seven diverse markets spread throughout the city, it takes a good 2-3 days to enjoy them all. Be prepared for crowds. Köln’s markets attract nearly two million visitors per year. If I returned, I’d probably try to visit mid-week.
Next (and final) stop: one of Germany’s biggest and most popular markets, Nürnberg