Kevin and I decided to spend the holidays/ Christmas season in Europe this year to visit the magical markets! And for our first stop we decided to take a train to Cologne (Köln) Germany for the day with our Amsterdam friends. Because holidays are meant to be spent with the people you love! ❤️
How to get there
Living in Amsterdam, it’s fairly easy to get to Cologne, Germany. We took an early train at 6:30AM and we were in Cologne by 9:30! If you are traveling from other parts of Europe, book train tickets at NS International. If you’re traveling from abroad, and you would like to drive. I think it would be totally manageable as I saw multiple parking lots around the city.
What you should know
When I first planned the trip to Cologne, I thought – we show up, the whole city is decked in Christmas stuff and there’s this one huuuuge area where the market will be. WRONG! There are actually SEVEN different Christmas markets in Cologne, and we hit them all. Yes, it is possible but be warned it is a lot of walking. (Or you can use Lime, code RQZQEEK for a free unlock). You will find the locations of all the markets here at the official website.
Conveniently, the most popular market (the one you see in all the pictures with the tree in front of the cathedral) is right by the train station. Both map of all the markets and image of the Weihnachtsmarkt below. The markets are definitely way less crowded in the mornings/ day time and every one comes out once it starts getting dark and the Christmas lights start sparkling. Honestly it’s magical any time of day.
Out of all the markets, I liked the Weihnachtsmarkt which is right by the train station. We assumed that it would be the busiest out of all 7 since it’s the most convenient location with the largest tree. But we stopped by on the way home and it was the least crowded. I definitely recommend heading over before the night is over. They also serve the best food! You have to get the raclette, glühwein (duh), and basically anything with cheese.
Old Town Market (Altermarkt)
This market is the largest market in Cologne, and is split into two sections and streets. On one side you can do fun activities like ice skate and some sort of ice bowling game. And on the other you can find all the delicious foods! Definitely get the Rosti with sour cream, meat skewers and glühwein again. Are you catching a pattern yet? 😉
This market was the prettiest to me! From the all white stalls and decor to the cutest glühwein cups. Each market has its own design on their cups and when you get a drink you are charged ~2-3 euros as a deposit. You can choose to return the mugs for your deposit back, or keep it as a souvenir! Cute right? The only thing about this market is that it was also the most crowded – even early in the day. We walked through and ended up sitting down to hang out and chat over a cup of wine.
Overall, it is TOTALLY doable to do Cologne in one day – however it would definitely be a busy day full of walking. However, if you only have a short period of time don’t worry it’s manageable. And if you’re on an epic European Christmas market road trip, your stop after Cologne could be Dusseldorf! As someone is obsessed with the holidays and Christmas, experiencing the Christmas market was an absolute dream. Even though it would have been nice to be able to nap or something in the afternoon lol. Hope you all are having a wonderful holiday season. Let me know below if you have any questions!
Happy Holidays! 🎄🎄