The many markets of Cologne
The beautiful city of Cologne goes all out for the holiday season with seven markets and 110 nativity scenes. Plan a weekend trip and make sure to see the markets at the cathedral, harbor, Neumarkt and Altstadt.
An immense Christmas tree and the Kolner Dom, one of the world's tallest and most impressive cathedrals, dominate the scenery of the Cathedral Market. More than 150 kiosks offer delicious regional dishes and lovingly handmade gifts from all over Europe.
Laugh at the Rhine Pirates' tall tales, dine on fresh fish, and stop by the old ship for Glühwein at the Harbour Market.
The splendid Angel Market is worth braving the crowds. White lights, stars and angels create a white Christmas ambiance, even if it hasn't snowed. Find superior gifts at the market and throughout the Neumarkt shopping district.
Children will be ecstatic to explore whimsical booths and chat with Santa at the cheery market in the Altstadt.
Christmas market dates: The Cathedral Market, Angel Market and Altstadt Market are open Nov. 27-Dec. 23.
Helpful hints: The Christmas-Market-Express is a quick and easy way to travel between the four main markets. Round-trip tickets for adults cost 10 euros, and discounted tickets are available for children. Visit www.koelntourismus.de for opening hours and a market map.
Beyond the market: Explore the interior of the Gothic Cologne Cathedral after visiting the market out front. If you're a chocoholic or need gifts for one, head to the Cologne Chocolate Museum. Though most exhibit information is in German, the Roman-Germanic Museum has a fascinating collection of archaeological findings from the days of the Roman Empire. If you still have free time, consider the Fragrance Museum (you are in Cologne, after all), Picasso's works at Museum Ludwig and fine art of the Wallraf-Richartz Museum.