A Festive Adventure: Cologne’s Christmas Markets by First Class Rail

A Festive Adventure: Cologne’s Christmas Markets by First Class Rail



Hot mulled wine, twinkling fairy lights, bustling stalls and the scent of roasted chestnuts… There’s nothing quite like a Christmas Market.

Whether you’re a festive fanatic who starts the Christmas shopping in summer, or a self-proclaimed Scrooge who refuses to acknowledge the ‘C’ word before December, these special seasonal markets offer fun and festivities for all.

This year, treat yourself and your loved ones to a magical, pre-Christmas break at one of Europe’s favourite Christmas destinations: Cologne Christmas Markets.

Germany boasts a range of festive markets, but none compare to the wonders of Cologne, which draws in around 4 million visitors each year.

With seven separate markets in the city, including four large ones located at the Cathedral, the Alter Markt, the Neumarkt, and the Rudolfplatz, Cologne is the perfect destination for those craving a Christmassy break.

So what better way to travel to Germany’s festive hub than by First Class rail?

Planet Rail offers a delightful four day holiday to Cologne Christmas Markets. Transporting you from London through Belgium and on to the heart of Germany, the high-speed rail services ensure your break is pleasant and relaxing from start to finish.

The adventure commences at St. Pancras, where you board the Eurostar to be whisked onwards to Brussels. Here, you change onto an ICE service for the final leg of the journey. Upon arrival, you’ll enjoy a quick walk from the station to your accommodation, the 4* Wyndham Koeln Hotel, which is set in an ideal location near Cologne Cathedral, the Koelnmesse, and the charming Old Town.

With two and a half days in Cologne, you’ll have plenty of time to soak up the atmosphere and explore its landmarks, as well as discovering the city’s hidden gems. After a restful first night in the Wyndham Koeln, start the day with your choice of Germany’s baked specialities, the best fuel for a day of festive fun. We recommend you then head to the Cathedral, where you can admire the breath-taking architecture of Cologne’s second-tallest structure. Gothic design features and stunning stained glass windows will make for a truly inspiring experience, and if you’re feeling particularly energetic, you can also climb the 500 steps to the top of its observation tower!

Now is also the perfect time to enjoy your first Christmas market, and arguably the most impressive that city has to offer, thanks to its magnificent backdrop. The Cologne Cathedral Market boasts the biggest Christmas tree in Rhineland, and beneath its glittering boughs, well over a hundred beautifully decorated chalets. Weave your way through the crowds and enjoy the handcrafted souvenirs and delicious food, treating yourself to Christmas baubles, soaps, Stollen, and everything in between. A mulled wine – or Gluhwein – will warm you up, while a Weinachtwurst (Christmas sausage) will satisfy the hunger pangs.

Next stop, the Alter Markt, located in the heart of the Old Town in front of the Old Cologne Town Hall. This quaint and romantic market is only 200 metres from the Cathedral, and the perfect place for children of all ages, with a puppet theatre, roundabout and Santa’s grotto!
We recommend our holidaymakers visit the Neumarkt next, where the Angel’s Christmas Market is held. The prettiest of Cologne’s markets, Angel’s is aptly decorated in white and silver, offering a charming backdrop of St. Aposteln’s Church. This market is best enjoyed when sunlight begins to fade, when its splendid ‘stars at night’ theme can be fully appreciated. Treat yourself to some higher end market goods before heading back to your accommodation or grabbing a bite to eat – you’ve another big day of market exploration tomorrow!

Enjoy a leisurely morning before heading to the next festive pit-stop, Cologne’s Christmas Avenue. This miniature market is totally different to anything else the city has to offer, tremendously welcoming and cheerful, complete with pink and purple decorations. A short walk away is the Rudolfplatz, where you’ll discover the most magical of Cologne’s markets, the Fairytale Market. Here, the illuminations are especially eye-catching, and decorations are second to none. Now is the time to purchase a special keepsake for your own Christmas tree! The next stop, Stadtgarten Market, is only a fifteen minute walk away, and the best place to really relax and enjoy your lunch. A pleasant, village-like atmosphere surrounds Stadtgarten which will entertain all and sundry. You might be lucky enough to catch a Christmas Concert, and you’ll definitely have the opportunity to skate on the ice rink.

As the day draws to a close, make your way down to the harbour, where you can enjoy the Cologne Harbour Christmas Market. Eighty white marquees give the illusions of sailing ships, and when inside, you’ll be delighted by the nautical theme. Circus performers and musicians will entertain you, while talented craftsmen will leave you in awe of their intricately detailed gifts. There are also some delicious seafood dishes available here, which will make for an unusual, yet delicious festive fish dinner.

The next day, you’ll have the morning to explore any of the landmarks left on your list,

or perhaps complete your Christmas shopping. In the mid-afternoon, you’ll make your way back to the station for your train to Brussels, and then switch to the Eurostar before heading back to London. As you travel home, you’ll experience an overwhelming sense of Christmas joy, ready and raring to go for the exciting days ahead!

Each year, Cologne is touched by magic and merriment in the run-up to Christmas.

When you holiday with Planet Rail, you too can enjoy the fun and festivities, complete with high quality train journey arrangements that take the stress away from travelling. Find out more about visiting the Cologne Christmas Markets by First Class rail, and the other adventures available at Planet Rail, by getting in touch with one of our friendly experts on 01347 825292.