Top 7 Things To Do At Christmas In Cologne, Germany - Updated 2023

things to do in cologne at christmas
Joyce Anne
Joyce Anne 
| 3 min read

Cologne city has ample opportunities to experience German Christmas charms. Travelers from all over the globe visit here, especially during this festive season, primarily because of its filled-to-the-brim Christmas markets. Aside from the famous Cologne Cathedral, you can stroll along The Angels’ Market and find thoughtful gift shopping at the many boutique stores. Enjoy the atmosphere of the annual event while wandering through the beautiful Rhine banks, tastefully decorated with Christmas lights. On top of these, bring your loved ones and visit attractions, such as Cologne Zoological Garden, Lanxess Arena, and Live Music Hall, which showcase themes aligned with the Christmas season.

These are just some of the city’s offerings when you spend your merry holiday here. To give you a glimpse, check out this list of top things to do at Christmas in Cologne, Germany, and make your trip worthwhile.

1. Stroll around the Christmas market at Cologne Cathedral

Weihnachtsmarkt Dom 2011 1
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Superbass used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Wander around the Christmas market of the centuries-old Cologne Cathedral and be amazed by the intimate beauty of its Gothic-inspired architecture. Explore the area with your loved ones and savor delicious treats such as sweet pancakes, mulled wines, and more.

Make sure not to miss the enchanting seasonal performances, including an estimated 100 music and theater events for all ages. For an Instagram-worthy photo, take a snapshot of the beautiful 82 ft (25 m) Christmas tree located at the center of the Cathedral.

Christmas market at Cologne Cathedral

Address: Domkloster 4 | Cologne Cathedral, 50667 Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Website: Christmas market at Cologne Cathedral

Opening hours: Nov 17 - Dec 23: Sun - Wed: 11am - 9pm; Thu & Fri: 11am - 10pm; Sat: 10am - 10pm

2. Visit the Three Kings Shrine

Cologne - Dom Cathedral - Shrine of the Three Kings (Magi) (4)
Source: Photo by Flickr user Larry Koester used under CC BY 2.0

As you enjoy the spirit of Christmas in this lively city, paying a visit to Three Kings Shrine will make you appreciate the true essence of this season. This historical landmark consists of a well-designed sarcophagus located within Cologne Cathedral.

It is acknowledged as the home of the three wise men’s remains, so dropping by here means you commemorate their role at Christ’s birth. Moreover, its designs feature events from Christ’s birth to his crucifixion. These include the adoration of the three kings, Christ’s baptism, and more.

Three Kings Shrine

Address: Cologne Cathedral, Domkloster 4, 50667 Köln, Germany

Website: Three Kings Shrine

Opening hours: 10am - 7pm (daily)

3. Enjoy a winter cruise at Rhine River (from USD 21.46)

things to do in cologne at christmas | enjoy a winter cruise at rhine river

Upgrade your holiday experience by cruising on the Rhine and enjoying the city’s festive sights. Grab a glass of mulled wine while dancing to the beat of lively music, all available within the boat cruise. It also offers access to scenic views of the city skyline.

Some iconic attractions, such as Cologne Cathedral, Rheinauhafen, and Great St. Martin Church can also be seen here. While it’s open to all types of visitors, the surrounding night lights make winter cruising an ideal romantic holiday getaway for lovers.

Cologne: Winter Cruise with Live Music

Duration: 1.5 hour

123 reviews

4. Try ice skating at Heumarkt Christmas market

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Take advantage of the cold winter weather and enjoy ice skating or ice stock sport with your loved ones here at Heumarkt Christmas market. The ice rink has expanded its area considerably and offers several new experiences for visitors to enjoy. In particular, some programs include ice dancing and lively pieces of music playing in the background.

A special program for children is available on the rink, which will serve as an ice skating school. Furthermore, an entrance fee discount is offered every Monday for kids who want to experience fun ice rink activities.

Ice skating at Heumarkt Christmas market

Address: Heumarkt 55, 50667 Köln, Germany

Website: Heinzels Wintermärchen

Opening hours: Nov 21 - Jan 8: 11am - 10pm (daily); Dec. 26: 11am - 9pm (closed on Dec 24 & Dec 25)

5. Join a fun-filled guided tour in German (from USD 13.2)

things to do in cologne at christmas | join a fun-filled guided tour in german

Your Cologne winter trip won’t be complete without a short tour of the famous old town. Have fun while learning about the Christmas traditions and old customs in this city. Kids will love listening to famous Christmas characters’ stories, such as Santa Claus and Knecht Ruprecht. Be mesmerized by each house and establishment’s beautiful furnishing as you continue strolling in the area.

Note that the tour’s meeting point is at Cologne Cathedral. Additionally, German will be the medium of communication. Invite your loved ones to this family-friendly activity and commemorate the real essence of the Christmas celebration.

Cologne: Advent and Christmas Customs Tour in German

Duration: 2.0 hour

4 reviews

6. Be mesmerized by Christmas Garden Cologne

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Christmas Garden Deutschland on Tuesday, November 5, 2019

During the holiday season, a part of Cologne Zoo serves as a lovely Christmas garden. Bring your family and enjoy strolling within the garden’s incredible biodiversity. The place also boasts a romantic atmosphere due to sparkling lights installed in every area.

Riding a Christmas carousel will be a memorable experience, especially for kids. You may also take your loved ones to the zoo’s restaurant, which serves aromatic food and beverages that match the holiday atmosphere. Lastly, Christmas Garden Cologne accepts reservations for Christmas party events for those who want to spend more time in this scenic place.

Christmas Garden Cologne

Address: Riehler Str. 173, 50735 Köln, Germany

Website: Christmas Garden Cologne

Opening hours: Nov 17 - Jan 15: 5pm - 9:30pm (daily) (closed on Nov 21, 22, 28, 29 & Dec 24 & 31)

7. Tour the magical city on two wheels (from USD 43.9)

things to do in cologne at christmas | tour the magical city on two wheels

Biking is another way to explore Cologne’s holiday beauty faster than mere strolling. Engage in a guided bike tour through the busy city center and well-decorated streets and whisk straight to the Christmas crafts, establishments, attractions, and more. Get along with a small group of fellow bike riders as you pass by the stunning Christmas markets full of mouthwatering food and beverages.

As the tour goes on, you’ll discover some information that you may find interesting. These include stores where you can purchase handmade gifts, souvenirs, and delicious local food. Your guide will also share stories and myths about Christmas that only locals know.

Cologne: "Christmas Magic" Guided Tour by Bike

Duration: 3.0 hour

2 reviews

Get enchanted by Cologne's Christmas celebration

Cologne doesn’t just welcome the holiday season with beautiful decorations. It also offers plenty of activities to relish the joyous moments. The listings above are just some samples of why this city is such a wonderful place for the holiday season.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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I am an introvert, an anime enthusiast, and a "cat person." I usually spend my spare time drawing, painting, or doing anything I am passionate about. I have previously worked as editorial staff for...Read more

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