The key advantage of enjoying the Christmas trip in this fourth largest city in Germany is that you do not have to deal with huge crowds. Cologne is a hugely unexplored gem compared to other top-rated city destinations.
During the Christmas season the city has a lot of nightlife events Christmas based, sumptuous foods and drinks, and much more. Subsequently below take a look at some of the leading things to see and do in this historic and cultural city.
1. Christmas Markets
Cologne offers one of the best destinations for experiencing the popular Christmas Markets in Germany and Europe. The origin of the markets can be traced up to the 13th-century. From the city center there are in excess of five winter-themed markets with all of them exceptionally decorated to give the festive feeling.
As one of the earliest Christmas markets you can expect to find different handmade gifts and products in wooden stalls well illuminated by Christmas lights. The brick and mortar Christmas markets provide you with a chance to purchase a variety of Christmas presents like Christmas cake, Christmas trees, wooden toys, lanterns, ornaments, etc.
Alternatively it is also possible to buy presents online through the Schmidt Christmas Market. You can get Christmas goodies not only from Germany but also from numerous locations globally like Spain and Russia. Within the USA, the Schmidt Christmas Market provides free shipping for purchased products.
2. Cologne Cathedral
In Germany, this place of worship is a top visited attraction site. Its 19th-century twin towers are openly visible in the city’s horizon. Going on the basilica top offers a chance for observing the scenic views of Cologne.
The soaring cathedral is a UNSECO site with breathtaking interior attractions, priceless art and history. The main attraction is definitely the Three Kings Sanctuary. The repository has bones of the men from the biblical story about Jesus Christ’s birth. After the transportation of remains through different expanses, the pilgrims finally brought them to the cathedral, a final resting place.
Next to the Cologne Cathedral you can also visit the modern Museum Ludwig. The focus of the museum is on modern-day paintings collection. There are world-class recent art exhibitions from artists like Andy Warhol.
3. Enjoy Rhine Boating
Apart from Germany, the Rhine River passes through other European countries like France. When roaming the river using small boats you are guaranteed to enjoy the sights of Cologne along the Rhine in a more relaxed and quieter manner.
In the Christmas season expect the Christmas spirit to hover around. In your day cruise which may take a couple of hours you may have drinks and Christmas carols to sing along. For sailing during the night, it gives you an out of the movie experience as there is stunning light reflection off the river water.
4. Visit The ‘Schokolade’ Museum
The Chocolate Museum is conveniently situated on the old town riverbanks. This particular museum is about 500 meters from the small structure used for displaying the level of the River Rhine at any given time.
Visiting the museum provides you with an opportunity to know almost everything concerning chocolate and cocoa including how this delightful food is made. There is also the making of freshly tasting chocolate within the museum that you can enjoy as you observe the Rhine.
5. Old Town
If you want to go back in time then you have to visit the Old Town of Cologne. Remember that a significant chunk of the Cologne history was destroyed and lost through war, particularly World War II bombing.
Thanks to a lot of preservation and restoration work done on buildings you will see that the small museums and historical churches are in fantastic condition.The Old Town also houses the Romano Germanische Museum which has been used for preserving the Roman artifacts that the city’s excavation unearthed.
6. Botanical Garden
This charming garden is located next to the Cologne Zoological Garden with more than 10,000 wildlife exceeding 800 species. The park is about 11 hectares with a beautiful glass palace having colorful flowers, splendid gardens and expansive lawns.There are different crops cultivated in the garden including cinnamon, cocoa and sugar cane.
The architectural elegance of the garden was influenced by the Crystal Palace, a massive historical glass structure that was built and demolished in England.
7. Hohenzollernbrücke Bridge
The bridge was built initially for both rail and road transport. Nonetheless, after the 1945 substantial damage because of war it was explicitly rebuilt for rail and crosswalk. This particular bridge is heavily used in Germany by over 1,100 trains each day.
Over the last few years the Hohenzollern Bridge has not been spared from the love padlock fashion. Couples come to the bridge to attach padlocks and subsequently throw the keys into the Rhine River to signify an unbreakable bond and love. The pleasant view of the river adds some air of romance for lovers.
8. Bike Hiring
You can also rent a bike in Cologne for cycling throughout the city. Using a bike you can go to see the Cologne Zoo, move along the river and go through parks. It is even possible to carry your bike along on trams and trains to explore the countryside around the city.
In the central railway station, there is a tourist office for sharing ideas about your biking and hiking options.
9. Farina Fragrance Museum
The success of the globally popular cologne perfume originated from this German city nearly 300 years ago. Johann Maria Farina, the fragrance water inventor, named his product Eau de Cologne in honor of his area of residence. The inventor and his family settled in Cologne after migrating from Piedmont, Italy.
Because of the success of the famous fragrance in improving the city’s reputation that is why there is a museum solely dedicated to it. The depository has a cellar, furniture and equipment used by the Italian native and photos showing the complicated production art throughout the years.
There is also a presentation of the initial scent of the perfume since during the time it was invented no trademark laws existed. Thus there is a high chance you have come across copycats of this classy perfume.
The city has lots of boutiques and shops to visit. There are assortments of renowned German departmental stores, local antique and art shops and international brands.
The Belgian Quarter provides some unique and trendy shopping experience in Cologne due to the combination of various architectural styles and antiquated accessories, souvenirs and exceptional clothes. Apart from the handmade accessories and antique attires, the neighborhood also offers visitors live music settings, bars and eateries.
There is much more Cologne has to offer as a destination for spending the Christmas season. There are traditional bars, restaurants, museums, parks, Christmas markets, Romanic churches and many other things to do and see.
If you plan to visit Cologne for your Christmas holiday it can be helpful to learn how to pronounce and spell the name of the city correctly. When in Germany, you will not see any maps, directions, or signs with “Cologne.” spelling. The Germans spell their city as Köln. The local spelling and pronunciation of the city name can make you feel like a local and come in handy when asking directions.