Cologne Christmas Markets Review

Get ready for another festive adventure as we continue our market-y quest in Germany, the birthplace of Christmas markets!

After travelling to Kraków, Budapest, Vienna and Berlin to explore their Christmas markets, our journey has finally brought us to the heart of holiday magic – Cologne.

This article may include mentions of products from one or more of our affiliate partners. Unless explicitly stated, we are not being paid to include these. To learn more about our advertising policy, please refer to our Terms of Service.

Cologne is a Christmas lover’s dream come true, serving up a treasure trove of magical markets that will leave you spoiled for choice. I’m giving the lowdown on two of the city’s finest: the Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market and Heinzels Wintermärchen.

I recently embarked on this festive adventure as part of my Christmas Market Crawl, conquering seven European markets in seven days, all thanks to my amazing followers who voted for each market.

Everything You Need To Know About The Cologne Christmas Markets

Cologne entered the Christmas market game a bit later than some other German cities, in around 1820. However, it has more than made up for it. Today, the city is bursting with a multitude of festive activities spread throughout.

Heinzels Cologne Christmas Market 20

What Christmas Markets Are There in Cologne?

Cologne has quite a few christmas markets dotted around the city, meaning there’s something for everyone.

If you’re seeking family fun, make your way to the Cologne Harbour Christmas Market, where you’ll find a Ferris wheel, pirate ship and festive performers. This market also transforms into a New Year’s celebration in January.

Cologne Harbour Christmas Market

I decided to visit the Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market and Heinzels Wintermärchen Christmas Market.

The Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market is the city’s most popular festive affair. With stalls offering handmade treasures, organic delights and Christmassy drinks, you’re spoilt for choice. Right in the middle of all the action stands a giant Christmas tree, adding that extra bit of sparkle. They also have a stage here with lots of performances.

Cologne Christmas Markets

Next I popped over to the Heinzels Wintermärchen Christmas market that’s held in Cologne’s old town and spread over the Alter Markt and Heumarkt squares. The theme revolves around the folk legend of the Heinzelmännchen, which are household spirits. In addition to the food and gift stalls, there is also a packed program of live music, artist performances and an ice rink on the Heumarkt.

These markets are so close together that you could easily visit both like I did!

When do Cologne Christmas Markets Open in 2023?

You can find Christmas Markets in Cologne running from early November till early January – many of them transform into New Year markets for a week or so after Christmas.

Is Cologne a Good Destination for Christmas Markets?

Cologne truly embraces the Christmas spirit when the festive season arrives, making it an ideal destination for a winter break. With so much to do, you can easily spend a weekend exploring the city’s numerous Christmas markets.

The markets are hosted in historical and traditional spots, like the majestic Cologne Cathedral, which just amps up that fairytale vibe.

Whether you know your dates and destination or just your budget, here's my guide on how to book cheap flights for every occasion.

How Expensive are Cologne Christmas Markets?

Cologne Christmas Markets are really affordable. Unlike other markets where the food is cheap but the drink is expensive, or vice versa, both of these elements are on an equal level.

So overall, it’s absolutely one of the best value Christmas markets around if you want to really experience it. It’s particularly good if you want to try a few different food items since many of them are under £5. My advice would be to go with a travel partner and share so that you can try it all!

Heinzels Cologne Christmas Market

The Best Cologne Christmas Market Hotels

As Cologne is quite a walkable city and has a few markets to choose from, it means there’s a fair few options for what could work best for your Cologne Christmas Market visit.

Here’s a few of our recommendations, based on your budget.

My Review of Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market

Cologne Christmas Markets

Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market Opening Dates and Times

Opening dates
Thursday 23 November 2023 – Saturday 23 December 2023

Sunday – Wednesday: 11am–9pm
Thursday – Friday: 11am–10pm
Saturday: 10am–10pm

My First Impressions

This place is a VIBE!

As soon as I arrive – around 4:20pm – I can hear live music in the distance. What’s more, they’re funnelling said live music through the sound system in the market and so everyone is able to enjoy, even when they’re not in front of the stage.

Cologne Christmas Market at the Cathedral 5

The view of the cathedral is so impressive. I think I’m starting to realise that’s an important marker of a good Christmas market for me!

And finally, a lot of the stalls aren’t in straight line formation but instead they zigzag about. I quite like this as it feels a little less contrived though it does mean certain areas can get packed quite easily.

Chelsea Paying for Mulled Wine Cologne Christmas Market

Oh actually one last thing – most places are cash only – so make sure you’re sorted before you head on in.


As is the case with many markets, there’s one place to buy your bratwursts from but they have several outposts around the market. I counted two in this market, but perhaps there were more!

It cost €5 (£4.30) for a bratwurst, the same for a krakauer (Polish sausage) and €5,50 (£5.05) for a tray of currywurst. Very decent prices! But what did the sausage taste like?

Chelsea at Cologne Christmas Markets

Similar to the one I had a Berlin, the sausage comes in a teeny tiny bun but the big difference was that it wasn’t rock solid. This made it one of the most enjoyable bratwursts I’ve tried so far. It was really delicious.

There’s lots of other food on offer here too, with a big emphasis on carbs – perfect for filling you up on a cold day! I saw cheese covered pretzels for €5 (£4.30), potato pancakes with apple puree for €5 (£4.30) and handbrot (bread stuffed with cheese and other fillings) for €8 (£6.85). For veg fans, I did spot some garlic mushrooms that looked incredible for €5.50 (£5.05).

Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market hotdog sausage

Also, a big shoutout to the lovely guys who were on the fondue stall who were so nice. They let me try some fondue for free and it was delicious. Plus, you can get a bowl of it along with some bread to dip in for just €5.80 (£4.95) which I thought was a fantastic price.

Not captured on photo or film, but I was really feeling the lack of sleep in this market and had hardly eaten that day, so went to a cheese stall called Alphäs & Schmalzbrot. They sorted me out with a massive chunk of cheese which they cut into cubes for me to have in my pocket for when I needed a pick me up! It’s the best €4.10 (£3.50) I’ve ever spent.

For those with a sweet tooth, there were some amazing looking cinnamon rolls from €5 (£4.30) with so many topping options!


Similar to the bratwurst set up, there were several places serving mulled wine but ultimately, they were all the same and with the same prices.

The cheapest drink at Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market was the ‘Glühwein rot oder rose’ – or red mulled wine to you and me – which cost €4.50 (£3.85) for 200ml. It tasted BOOZY which for me is an absolute perk!

Chelsea Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market

If you wanted to add in some rum or amaretto, it cost €5.50 (£4.70) which is the cheapest I’ve seen compared to other markets.

There’s also hot chocolate for €4 (£3.45) – you can add a shot for just €1 more – and there’s an alcohol free punch for just €3 (£2.55).

All come served in a very cute Cologne mug which you pay €3 (£2.55) for. The decision is whether you want to keep it, or return it for your cash back.

Cologne Christmas Markets


There are many places to shop at Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market and you’ll find hats, candles, lights, food, drink, decorations, accessories and much more on offer!

I would say the tat level was quite low, with lots on offer looking like they’d make great gifts for yourself and for others. It didn’t stand out as an exceptional Christmas Market shopping experience, but it’s definitely worth a look around.

christmas, christmas market, advent market-3032515.jpg


The main event is the stage plonked in front of the huge Christmas tree, with the cathedral looming dramatically in the background. It really is an incredible view, especially with a web of lights enclosing it all.

Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market red stage performance

Even from the early afternoon, there was live music playing and it continued throughout the evening, pausing for short breaks. The vibe in front of the stage was amazing, with everyone stood around with mulled wine and bopping away to the music.

The only drawback was how busy this area and the nearby stalls got – it does get a bit congested due to lots of people stopping and watching! However, I expect you’ll be going to enjoy just this and not dashing about filming and so I imagine this won’t be such an issue for you.

Where I Stayed

I stayed at Eden Hotel Früh am Dom which could not be closer to the Christmas Market at Cologne Cathedral (Dom means cathedral). Within one minute of leaving the reception, I was in the market.

The hotel is right next to FRÜH beerhouse – again, I suppose you could tell from the name! So it’s perfect if you want to experience the Cologne beer culture as well. It also explains the beer ‘artwork’ hanging above my bed.

I paid £113 for the night including breakfast which after checking, is quite a good price for midweek. Sometimes booking at the last minute is a curse, but in this case it worked out just fine!

The room was spacious and had everything I needed. It was a little bare – it could do with a rug and some artwork perhaps – but it was clean and comfortable. That, and the staff who checked me in were lovely.

The only bizarre thing in the room was the toilet brush which was in the shape of a love heart… I absolutely lost it at that, but perhaps it was the lack of sleep. Haha!

Breakfast the next morning was a continental buffet with breads, cold cuts, cheese, cereal and yoghurt. There were also some hot items, including eggs and some bacon. I apologise for the lack of photos; I was once again chasing my tail so was in and out in seconds!

Eden Hotel Früh am Dom Hotel

Overall, I’d definitely recommend Eden Hotel Früh am Dom for the sheer convenience. Close to the markets, and only a six minute walk back to the station for my next Christmas market.

My Review of Heinzels Wintermärchen

Chelsea at Heinzels Cologne Christmas Market - Alter Square

Heinzels Wintermärchen Christmas Market Opening Dates and Times

Opening dates
Friday 24 November 2023 – Thursday 7 January 2024

Times (for 24 December – 7 January times can vary)
Monday – Sunday: 11am–10pm

My First Impressions

Oh my god, what a beautiful Christmas market!!

Set in Cologne’s Old Town, Heinzels Wintermärchen is split between two squares – Heumarkt and Alter Markt. An impressive entrance welcomes you to each, with cobbles that beckon you to enter this magical market full of old world charm.

Heinzels Cologne Christmas Market - Alter
Heinzels Wintermärchen

The big standout difference is how solid these markets look. In fact, I assumed they were permanent structures – there are two tier beer houses! – but after checking Heumarket on Google Maps (it was last updated in 2022) it’s just a plain square?! But perhaps they are new additions. Honestly I’m blown away and would absolutely watch a full length documentary on how they transformed this place! It is so impressive.

And please, if you are from Cologne or know the answer to this, please do let me know!

Heinzels Wintermärchen


I was on the prowl for sausage once again (get your mind out of the gutter) and found one place serving up bratwurst straight from the grill. Surprisingly, it was cheaper than the Cathedral market and only cost €4.50 (£3.85 ) – what a bargain!

Heinzels Wintermärchen crepes

Also, it did taste a little different. It had quite a peppery taste and is definitely up there with my favourite bratwursts of the week. Really tasty and the perfect size to give yourself an excuse to try what else is on offer. You could also pay on card!

Heinzels Cologne Christmas Market Food

I saw lots of similar items with similar prices to the Cathedral Christmas Market – potato pancakes, handbrot and raclette – the latter costing from €6 (£5.14). There were sweet treats too and I spotted crepes from €5 (£4.28) and waffles from €6.50 (£5.57).


Perhaps it’s not the same but the mulled wine tasted very similar to what I drank at the Cathedral market – and that’s not a bad thing!

Chelsea Cheap holiday expert at Cologne Christmas Markets

It also costs €4.50 (£3.85) for 200ml but there are two main differences. One, that you can pay on card. Two, that you get the cutest little ‘pot’ of a mug with a little gnome hidden on the inside.

If I wasn’t travelling so light, this is the mug I would have brought home with me. It’s so cute!

This market was amazing for the number of drinking venues it had – many of them covered or even indoors.

Cologne Christmas Markets
Heinzels Cologne Christmas Market 33


The items on offer were similar to what was on sale at the Cathedral market – and other Christmas Markets around Europe – but you could tell there were some local sellers with products that they sell all year around.

Cologne Christmas markets shopping

I had a lovely chat with the people selling hats at Heumarkt where they had some lovely items on sale for around €32 (£27.40). They made the great point that hats are great even when you’re packing light because you can just wear it on your head on the way home!

Shopping at Heinzels Cologne Christmas Market - Alter 5

However, the real stand out shopping for me was in Alter Markt which had a real traditional feel to it. There was a gorgeous booze stall there, adorned in lights, and many of the other stalls are so picturesque it will absolutely entice you into spending a few euros!


There are lots of activities at Heinzels Wintermärchen including ice skating (starting at €9 / £7.70 for adults and €5 / £4.30 for kids) and curling (starting at €56 / £48.05) in Heumarkt. There’s a carousel too.

There’s also a small stage in Alter Markt and I arrived in time to see a brass band packing up. I was gutted. Christmas brass bands are my favourite! There’s a ferris wheel here too, which adds to the festive mood!

Where I Stayed

My hotel, Eden Hotel Früh am Dom, was just a four minute walk from Alter Markt, and just eight minutes from Heumarkt. You can read my full thoughts above!

Are Cologne Christmas Markets Worth Visiting?

My Overall Thoughts

Cologne is a fantastic destination for Christmas Markets, thanks to there being so many to choose between! Whether you want the impressive views of Cologne Cathedral, the traditional Old Town vibes of Heinzels Wintermärchen or the small but lively feel of the Advent Village Market, there will be something for you.

Chelsea at Cologne Christmas Markets

I was totally won over by Heinzels Wintermärchen thanks to its traditional feel and more chilled out atmosphere, but I have to say that the market at the Cathedral was really good too. Often, the ‘big’ and ‘well known’ markets are the most commercial but I really did think this place didn’t lose its magic.

Heinzels Cologne Christmas Market - Alter

I managed to pop by the Advent Village Market on my way home and even at 9:30pm when the Cathedral market had shut up shop, the party was still going on here. There was a bloke playing keyboard and singing – albeit slightly off key – to Christmas classics from a small hut and it was the exact level of fun you want after a day of drinking mulled wine!

What’s more, it’s such an easy city to get to and the different markets are very walkable. If travelling from the airport, a 14 minute train will get you into Cologne quickly, and walking from the train station, you’ll be at the Cathedral within five minutes!

Overall, Cologne Christmas market is so far my favourite market that I’ve visited on my Christmas Market Crawl so far. I give it a 9/10!

I'm dishing out all the important Kraków Christmas Market info, like the available activities, food and drink prices, and the best places to stay during your Kraków city break.

Other European Christmas Markets to Visit

Follow my Christmas Market Crawl challenge where I visit seven markets in seven days, as voted for by my followers on Instagram.

See what I thought of Budapest, Vienna, Kraków and Berlin Christmas markets plus you can browse our rundown of the top Christmas Markets in Europe.

Here's our list of the best Christmas Markets in Europe in 2023 including opening times and dates, and what festive treats to expect.
Have I helped? Want to say thanks?

That’s nice of you! There are free ways you can return the favour by following me on Instagram and YouTube.

If you’re feeling generous, you can buy me a ‘coffee’ using Ko-Fi. Or you can also join my Patreon for extra travel perks including my personal hotel upgrade templates, behind the scenes access and even a secret Instagram group.

Cologne Christmas markets

Related Articles

About Chelsea

Find out a bit more about what I do.

More Posts


Sign up to my mailing list!

If you want info first on the best deals I find, then sign up for my mailing list. It’s free!

About Chelsea

Find out a bit more about what I do.