River Cruise Buzz: Cologne, Germany Christmas Markets Review

River Cruise Buzz: Cologne via Uniworld Cruises Rhine Christmas  Markets Cruise

Featured Excursions: Cologne walking tour, cathedral visit, and Christmas Markets.


Uniworld Cruises S.S. Antoinette in Cologne, Germany. Photo by Carrie Finley-Bajak.


I was glad that my Christmas markets journey on Uniwolrd Cruises’ S.S. Antoinette began in the smaller town of  Basel, Switzerland and ended in the very large city of Cologne, Germany. During the 7-day cruise the towns grew in size and with the increase in population, I noted a drastic change when it came to crowds. In fact, I read that every year the Cologne Christmas markets attract almost 2 million visitors.


Cologne offers many Christmas Markets, which cruise guests can explore on their own. Here are the names of the 2012 Christmas markets in Cologne:

  • Alter Markt – promising an “old market Christmas”
  • Angel’s Market –  on the Neumarkt
  • Cathedral X-Mas Market
  • Harbor market – overlooking the Rhine, the Cologne Harbor Christmas market at the Chocolate Museum
  • Market of fairy tales on the Rudolfplatz

Old Town Cologne Cathedral Market

In front of the backdrop of Cologne’s landmark, the Cathedral Christmas market has 160 wooden pavilions offering music, food, drinks, and crafts.

Old Town Cologne market.

Our tour group arrived to Old Town Cologne early enough in the morning to avoid the crush that would arrive by the afternoon. I went into the Cologne Cathedral and then made my way around the stands nearest the church.

Alter Markt

Look for the Gnomes who are the central theme at this market. Photo Carrie Finley-Bajak.


The Christmas Market on the Alter Markt takes place in Altstadt (Old Town).  This market is not as crowded at the Cathedral market. What I liked best were the gnomes and the stunny background of the old buildings and church.  According to an old Cologne legend, this is were the famous “Heinzelmännchen” gnomes are said to have done all the work during the night so that the citizens of Cologne could be “lazy” during the day. Wikipedia does a better job explaining the story, click here to read it.

Cologne Harbor Christmas Market

Located near the entrance to the Chocolate Museum and the medieval Malakoff-Tower, swing bridge, the Christmas market at the harbor was my favorite. The staggered layout of the booths made for an easier flow of traffic once the crowds started arriving in the early afternoon.

Cologne Christmas market near the harbor.

The Cologne Harbor Christmas Market has over 80 white marquee pagoda tents offering food, drinks, and handicrafts.


Getting into the spirit of the holidays enjoying a cold beer at the market.


Details about Cologne Christmas Markets

Opened from 26nd November – 23rd December 2012
Sunday to Thursday 11:00 a.m. – 09:00 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Note: Based on my research, The Cologne Floating Christmas Market and the Medieval Christmas Market did not take place this year (2012).

To find out more about the Cologne Christmas Markets visit http://www.cologne.de/ or http://www.cologne.de/events/christmas-markets.

Share on Social Media