Cologne in December is a truly magical time when the historic city transforms into a festive wonderland. With the festive season in full swing, it’s the perfect time to discover the city’s charm.
One of the main highlights during the month is, of course, the Cologne Christmas Markets. These vibrant markets offer arts and crafts from all over Europe, high-quality gifts, and an opportunity to indulge in delicious holiday treats.
Along with the markets, you can skate at the Heumarkt ice rink or explore the enchanting Old Town. There’s also an array of dining and shopping choices along the Keupstraße in Mülheim District, where you’ll find bustling Turkish and Kurdish-owned businesses. Grab a bite at Büyük Harran Doy Doy or enjoy a beer in a cozy pub like Früh am Dom in the Innenstadt to escape the winter chill.
As home to one of the busiest Christmas markets in Europe, there will be crowds, but you can find serenity by taking a Christmas stroll through the city and checking out the brilliant light displays on the many festively decorated buildings.
December is indeed a delightful month to fall in love with Cologne and bask in its wintry allure, making for a memorable trip you won’t soon forget.
Festive Events Throughout Cologne City Center
Whether hitting up the Alter Markt or visiting the famous Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market, there’s lots to do in Cologne during the month of December.
When it comes to traditional festivities in Cologne, you can’t start anywhere but the Cologne Christmas Markets. These markets are filled with delicious food, Glühwein (mulled wine), and unique gifts. Perfect for getting into the holiday spirit!
If you’re a fan of ice skating, you’ll love the Heumarkt Ice Rink. Bundle up and glide on the ice, creating unforgettable memories against the picturesque backdrop of Cologne’s Old Town. And don’t forget to check out the Chocolate Museum – a sweet experience for all ages.
KölnTourist, which provides guided boat tours all year long gets especially sentimental at this time of year. December is the only month when you can experience the company’s Advent Rides on weekends.
Exploring the Christmas Markets
While the Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market often gets all the glory, it’s not the only Cologne Christmas market. The Cathedral Market is also definitely the most crowded, which makes some of these lesser-known Cologne Christmas markets even more appealing.
Heumarkt Christmas Market
When visiting Cologne in December, you can’t miss the Heumarkt Christmas Market. As you stroll through this festive market, be prepared to be enchanted by a winter wonderland. With over 80-year-old trees and numerous quaintly decorated stalls, it’s time to indulge in some serious holiday cheer!
Be sure to try out all the delicious treats the market has to offer, such as hot mulled wine or yummy gingerbread cookies. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for unique gifts and handmade crafts that’d make fantastic Christmas presents and lovely souvenirs. You can also take the chance to decorate your Christmas tree with one-of-a-kind ornaments you won’t find anywhere else.
There’s also live music and performances on most weekend days to keep you entertained while you explore the market, and it’s home to one of Cologne’s favorite ice skating rinks. The market runs from late November to just before Christmas each year. Don’t miss out on this festive experience!
Another must-visit spot in Cologne during December is the Neumarkt Market. Located in the heart of the city, it’s one of the oldest Christmas markets in Cologne.
This market is known for its wide variety of handicrafts, gifts, and delicious food. It’s the perfect place to find that special something for your loved ones or just treat yourself to a tasty snack.
Just like the Heumarkt Christmas Market, the Neumarkt Market runs from late November to just before Christmas. Make sure to visit this festive wonderland and explore its numerous stalls while you’re in Cologne.
Cologne’s Chocolate Museum During December
Nestled along the banks of the Rhine River, Cologne’s Chocolate Museum, or Schokoladenmuseum, is a year-round haven for cocoa enthusiasts and history buffs alike. But come December, this temple of sweetness takes on an even more enchanting allure, making it an unmissable stop during your winter holiday in Cologne.
The museum itself is swathed in festive decorations, from twinkling lights to intricate ornaments. As you traverse its galleries, you’re not only tracing the rich lineage of chocolate, from its ancient ceremonial uses to its modern global appeal, but you’re doing so enveloped in the warm embrace of holiday cheer. Outside, the Rhine’s shores might be dusted with snow, but inside, the warm, heady aroma of cocoa beckons, providing a delightful respite from the winter chill.
What makes a December visit especially magical is its proximity to one of Cologne’s enchanting Christmas markets – the Harbour Christmas Market. Right beside the museum, holiday stalls spring to life, offering handcrafted gifts, delicious treats, and festive drinks. After immersing yourself in the world of chocolate, you can step outside and be instantly transported to Christmas at its finest. Sip on mulled wine or savor roasted chestnuts, all with the added bonus of knowing that a world of chocolatey delight is just a few steps away.
KölnTourist Advent Rides
Amidst the frosty embrace of December, as Cologne transforms, a magical journey awaits you on the waters of the Rhine. The KölnTourist Advent Rides are not just boat tours; they are ethereal voyages into the heart of Cologne’s festive spirit.
Embarking from Konrad-Adenauer-Ufer, the KölnTourist Advent Ride takes you past Cologne’s historic treasures. The iconic silhouette of the Cologne Cathedral and the stately Romanesque structure of Groß St. Martin punctuate the romantic Old Town panorama, serving as majestic sentinels of yesteryears.
This cozy, 90-minute, roundtrip voyage is accentuated by heartfelt Christmas melodies performed live, and seasonal drinks, cakes, and snacks are available to satiate your festive cravings. This isn’t merely a boat ride – it’s Cologne’s holiday spirit, celebrated on the waters of the Rhine.
While you can visit these Cologne attractions any time of year, December is the perfect month to take them in.
Visiting the Cologne Cathedral
The Cologne Cathedral, or Kölner Dom, is a must-visit when you’re in Cologne in December. This iconic Gothic cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and inside, you’ll find the Shrine of the Three Kings, which is said to hold the relics of the Magi. What could be more Christmas than that?
If you’re a fan of chocolate, make sure to pay a visit to the Chocolate Museum, located along the banks of the Rhine River. Here, you can embark on a tour that takes you through the history of chocolate production and enjoy some samples too. Plus, the museum’s riverfront location offers a stunning view of the city.
A Walk in the Old Town
Strolling through the Old Town of Cologne is an excellent way to experience the city’s historic charm. With cobblestone alleys, colorful houses, and picturesque squares, it’s the perfect spot for a leisurely walk. The Christmas markets dotting the area make it easy to stop off for a Glühwein, taste some traditional German treats, and shop for unique holiday gifts.
Taste of Cologne
Traditional Food and Drinks
Cologne in December is a foodie’s dream, as you’ll get to indulge in some tantalizing local food and drinks. Brace yourself for some delightful German cuisine that’ll warm you up in the winter months.
First up, stop by the Christmas Markets and grab a cup of Glühwein (mulled wine) to stay cozy while exploring the city. It’s a traditional warm drink made with red wine and infused with spices, perfect for the chilly weather.
As you stroll through the streets, don’t miss out on some Kölsch beer — a classic Cologne drink originating from the city itself. And let’s not forget about the scrumptious food you’ll find. Keep an eye out for:
Reibekuchen: Crispy potato pancakes and a popular street food, especially in the colder months.
Lebkuchen: The quintessential German Christmas cookie.
Quetschenmann: A sweet, doughy treat especially associated with the festive season.
Marzipan Bread: With its sweet almond taste and often chocolate-coated exterior, it’s a beloved treat during the holidays.
Stollen: Rich, fruit-filled bread and a classic Christmas treat.
Christmas Pastries: Various festive cookies, including Spekulatius and Aachener Printen.
An essential part of your Cologne trip has to be a visit to a traditional Brauhaus. It’s not just about the beer; it’s about immersing yourself in the vibrant atmosphere and experiencing the local culture. In these cozy beer halls, you’ll get to enjoy frosty mugs of Kölsch beer straight from the source, as well as sample some authentic local food.
Cologne Winter Weather & Essentials
December brings cold and breezy weather, with average daytime highs around 42°F (6°C) and lows dipping to 33°F (0°C). So, you’ll want to pack plenty of warm clothing layers to stay cozy during your visit. Although temperatures generally stay above freezing, don’t be surprised if the wind off the Rhine makes it feel slightly colder than it is.
Discover Cologne In December
December paints Cologne with magical strokes, turning its historic charm into a winter spectacle. The city’s Christmas Markets dazzle with gifts and treats, making every corner a haven for holiday enthusiasts. While the iconic Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market is the star, don’t overlook hidden gems like the Heumarkt and Neumarkt Markets.
For the adventurers, the Heumarkt ice rink awaits, as does the enchanting Old Town, brimming with twinkling lights and festive fervor. Meanwhile, the KölnTourist Advent Rides promise an unforgettable journey along the Rhine, surrounded by the melodies of live Christmas music.
But, a December trip isn’t complete without a detour to the Chocolate Museum. Located beside the festive Harbour Christmas Market, it’s a delectable dive into the world of cocoa with the added charm of festive flair.
In essence, Cologne in December is where memories are crafted – an experience that encapsulates the warmth, joy, and nostalgia of the holiday season.