Christmas is around the corner so I figured how about a Christmassy post to help you get into the right mood? Being winter and more particularly Christmas enthusiasts my partner and I, we always search for places to spend these special days of the year coz sometimes being away is a nice change.

So today, I’m going to talk about my all-time favorite Christmas destination. And this is hands down Germany! I know most of you would instantly think of Vienna which is also amazing during this time of the year, but believe me guys, if you haven’t visited Germany at Christmas yet, you have to do so!!! And I’m literally talking about any place in Germany. German people love this holiday season and they tend to celebrate it to the fullest with the country hosting the most Christmas markets you can possibly find, serving the best hot wine (gluhwein) you have ever drunk and with the general atmosphere being so festive you wish it could last forever.

Now, I know Germany offers many options, but I’m going to start with the city of Cologne and spice it up with a few bonus destinations you can combine it with (I know I did and it was an absolute blast!).

But let’s start with Cologne which traditionally hosts the most Christmas markets, 7 in total. Cologne is situated in Germany’s federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia and is an ultra-modern and gay-friendly city offering many art and entertaining options. During Christmas the city puts on its most festive colors and welcomes its visitors with open arms.

Cologne Christmas Markets

What can I say about them that can possibly be enough? Your visit there is an experience itself. They are like a miniature of Santa’s village where at some point you expect to see dwarfs and goblins. Hundreds of decorated wooden kiosks, or else Christmas market stalls wait for you to explore their collections of handcrafted ornaments and the food and drinks are plenty. I suggest you try their famous Currywurst, which is sausage combined with a sauce with plenty of curry. It’s yummy! At night, people grab a cup of gluhwein that is literally sold everywhere and enjoy each other’s company standing up by the open-air fire or in the seating areas with a blanket on their laps if it is provided. I’m telling you, the gluhwein is a reason to visit Germany itself! Just don’t forget to add Amaretto for extra taste!! In most of these kiosks you get to keep the glass or cup with an extra fee. This is where my collection of Christmas cups comes from. If I had to pick one of Cologne’s Christmas Markets, I would definitely suggest you visit the one taking place at Cologne Cathedral’s square (in German it is called Weihnachtsmarkt am Kolner Dom). It gets really crowdy, but the atmosphere there is so festive that you won’t mind. Plus, most of the days it hosts live bands playing Christmas songs so you’ll probably end up spending the day there.

Cologne Christmas Markets

Cologne Christmas Markets

Museum of Chocolate

If you want to explore a little bit more of Cologne, you should check out the Chocolate Museum by Lindt too. Located in the Rheinau harbour, in front of the old town near the Cologne Cathedral, this amazing museum will lead you through chocolate’s history and make you drool like a child. A warning though: At the end of your tour, you’ll probably end up buying too many chocolate packages coz the options are unlimited.

Chocolate Museum Cologne

A walk along Rhein

I always say that you cannot really know a city, unless you walk it. And that’s also the case with Cologne. So start by walking along Rhein. The views of the river on one side and of the Cathedral on the other side are amazing and at some point you’ll reach the Hohenzollernbrucke Bridge, or Love Locks Bridge in English, where couples leave locks with their names on them that symbolize their love for each other, just like the Pont des Arts in Paris.

Rhein Cologne

Explore the old town and the Cologne Cathedral

Visiting Cologne is never complete without a stop at Germany’s most visited landmark which is Cologne Cathedral (Kolner Dom in German). This Catholic Cathedral is of gothic architecture and at 157 m is the tallest twin-spired church in Europe. What is more interesting though, is that during World War II, this Cathedral was the only building that remained standing in an otherwise completely flattened city, although it suffered multiple bombings itself. Today, it is considered a World Heritage Site and its view alone both from the outside and from the inside is breathtaking. While you are there, don’t omit to go for a walk through Cologne’s old town, which is amazing especially if you are a fan of German medieval architecture like me. During Christmas time the streets and stores are also decorated and there is joy all over the air.

Cologne Cathedral

Visit Museum Ludwig

If you love art, don’t miss this museum. I can definitely say that it’s one of the best museums I have ever visited. And it’s not just because I love contemporary art. I’ve recently read that this museum is one of the most celebrated museums of art of the twentieth and twenty first centuries worldwide. It hosts one of the biggest collections of Picasso’s work, but also some of the most amazing photography, expressionism and contemporary art collections. But my favorite was by far their pop art collection.

Ludwig Museum

Combine your stay with a trip to Essen or Dusseldorf

Essen is a smaller city, just one hour away from Cologne, which has a lot to offer. Having stayed there I can assure you of this. You don’t have necessarily to stay, but instead you could just go on a day trip there. My initial reaction when I first walked through the city center, was that this city has a cozy vibe. It’s not so touristy like Cologne and this gives a more relaxed and friendly tone to it. I loved their big mall ‘Einkaufszentrum Limbecker Platz’ (I know, German names are sooo long) and found out that they have mastered the art of a good cappuccino! But above all, I liked the fact that they celebrate Christmas in the extreme as well. Decorations and Christmas music are everywhere and they have pretty amazing Christmas markets too! What else do you need? If you are a party animal, you can always pop by Dusseldorf, which is only 30 minutes away (if you are renting a car) and is known for its night entertainment options, whereas Essen is more like a family-friendly city. What’s more, you get to explore the city’s old town which is lovely too.

trip to Essen

Bonus: Discover Monschau

Monschau is a traditional German village situated one hour and a half away from Cologne and it’s like it has jumped out of a fairytale. I always dreamt of visiting a traditional German village because I adore their architecture, so when we found out about this gem, we didn’t hesitate at all. I know that going from one place to another which means renting a car, is not everyone’s favorite thing, but if you want to know more about this place, check out my post about Monschau here.