Our trip to 3 German Christmas Markets: Dortmund, Dusseldorf, Koln/Cologne

After visiting Prague, Vienna and Nice, we wanted to see what the German Christmas markets have to impress the eyes and the taste buds. All the images from Cologne looked terrific and the Bratwurst and the Gluhwein was front and center in every post on Instagram. It looked promising. So here are our …

 Top 15 things to do, eat and explore

in 3 German Christmas Markets:

Dortmund, Dusseldorf, Koln/Cologne


What do you imagine once I say Christmas market? Decoration, food and a Christmas Spirit right? You can find that everywhere, but countries each have something specific to admire and enjoy. In Germany, there was this 

Lovely Weihnachtspyramide, Ore Mountain region folkloric decoration, suggested as a predecessor of the Christmas tree.

This pyramid is in Dortmund, the first of the German Christmas markets we visited. We describe it for you here so you can decide to visit in 2022 or 2023. 

The German Christmas Markets 2022 Dates: November 17th and closes on December 30, 2022

Dortmund – Opening hours are from 10 am – 9 pm from Monday to Thursday, 10 am – 10 pm on Friday and Saturday and from 12 pm to 9 pm on Sundays

Dusseldorf – Sunday – Thursday: 11:00 – 20:00, Friday + Saturday: 11:00 – 21:00

Koln/Cologne – Nov 21 – Dec 23, 2022, Sunday-Wednesday: 11.00-21.00, Thursday-Friday:  11.00-22.00, Saturday: 10.00-22.00


5 Things to see, do and eat in Dortmund and its Christmas Market

The city center was amazing here, feeling like a hub of chalets and joy. The smell of candied fruits and roasted almons was overwhelming. 

  1. Ride the old-school wheel right next to St. Reinold’s Church. Make sure not to eat before. And just because it was great, check-in at the Basecamp Dortmund Hotel. It’s right next to the wheel and the breakfast is served on the last level, giving you an amazing view of the city and the Christmas Market. 

Then take the food/drink and shopping stalls and peruse the offer near the church and along Kleppingstrasse.

2. Stand under the record-breaking Weihnachtsbaum in Hansaplatz. Dortmund is known for having the world’s largest (natural) Christmas tree, weighing in at over 40,000kg. The atmosphere here is great, and the surroundings too, with cute trees at one end and old buildings on the other. And also a cool house with a second floor for enjoying a drink with a view. 

3. Eat one of each: mulled wine and candied nuts, a Paradiesäpfelm comfort eats like pasta tossed in a wheel of Parmesan, a traditional wurst at a Wurst Willi, try a calorie bomb in chaumkuss (Marshmallows), and try a Reibenkuchen if you love potatoes in any form. 

4. Take a selfie with one of the rhinos, the mascot of the city. The reason they are everywhere is their extraordinarily sensitive ear. And so the winged rhino becomes the heraldic animal of Dortmund’s concert house, the Westphalian Philharmonic. In 2005/2006, eighty sponsors put up 100 artistically designed rhino sculptures in the City of Dortmund.

5. Visit the U Tower and Katharinentreppe for other iconic Dortmund Photos, and Westfalenpark, one of the largest inner-city parks in Europe. And show support for the local team, Borussia Dortmund by buying a bee cute, yellow, and black scarf. 

The Christmas market in Dortmund rebranded and it’s now known as Christmas City. You can find stalls and decorations all over the city center. Enjoy the walks, the food, and the atmosphere. In our personal top, out of the 3 cities, it comes in third place. 

TIP> If you have the time, visit Wasserschloss Haus Rodenberg, a beautiful house in Renaissance architecture, in a park, surrounded on three sides by a moat and overlooking a lake.

TIP>The Holy Sepulcher Church of Our Lady is a special place. The church was transformed into a burial place eleven years ago. Up to 5000 people find their last resting place in this special place. And it’s filled with candles and flowers. 


5 Things to see, do and eat in Dusseldorf and its Christmas Market

Just to be clear, Dusseldorf was my personal favorite of the three. You can walk a lot and the feel of the streets is cozy and nice.

1. Visit the amazing Christmas Market with its huge Versace Wheal in Burgplatz. The place is great and the atmosphere is lively. Then go over to the chic little market (The Handwerker-Markt) at the Old Town Hall. Then head to the iconic canal and visit the small Engelchen-Markt and admire all the decorations from the brands on the Königsallee shopping street. And end the Christmas markets tour near the Dreischeiben skyscraper to admire things from above. 

2. Eat one of each: roasted chestnuts (Marones), Churros (they all have it, it’s nuts how many churros you find), a langos, some lebkuchen, and of course, another cute cup of warm glüwhein. 

And make sure to make a stop at Schweine Janes Altstadt for the cooked food, Bäckerei Hinkel for the bakery, and Café Hüftgold for the sweets. 

3. Take strolls, the city center is amazing, from the Rhine promenade to see the Rhine Tower and all the backstreets here, with some great architecture and jewels like the Stadterhebungsmonument. 

4. Take a spin on the 1,700-square-meter ice rink and stay a while in this lively Christmas market near the canal. The music sounds great and you can find places to sit on the river bank.  

5. Admire the architecture. Lok for the Gehry Buildings, visit Pebbles, an organically shaped bar-restaurant, see Europe’s largest green facade. It can be admired from a Christmas market too, at Kö-Bogen, next to the Dreischeiben skyscraper ( 94 meters) and the white, curved facade of Düsseldorf Schauspielhaus. Amazing. And while on the promenade, visit the neighborhood of Medienhafen. Amazing old and new and strange buildings on this former Rhine port. 

TIP> Take a tram to the Kiefernstraße, the graffiti street, for the colors and the strangeness of an entire street decorated by graffiti. 


The morning after our first day there, when people were all over the place, drinking and enjoying the Christmas market, well, that morning was a perfect morning. We could see thousands of bottle caps on the ground, and it was obvious people were partying. But it was quiet except for the bells in the German Cathedral. 


5 Things to see, do and eat in Cologne/Koln and its Christmas Market

Cologne is famous for its Christmas markets, no less than 8 of them. Some with themes, one in the shadow of an awe-inspiring cathedral. The decor is the most complex here, and themes are amazingly staged. 

The old town is smaller than in Dusseldorf I thought but cute and walkable. So here are 5 things not to miss while here. And hurry, because they close the Christmas market in 24th December, earlier than Dusseldorf and Dortmund. 

  1. Visit the Est side, with the Hahnentor gate and Nikolausdorf. Also here there’s the LGBT Christmas market and Neumarkt-The Angels’ Christmas Market. What I loved was all the light and the attention o detail in all the themes of the different Christmas markets. The food and the drinks, decorations and gifts can be similar, but the stalls look different and they all have a different feel. Just look at these 3. 

2. Eat one of each: a Dresdner Handbrot with ham or mushrooms, a Mutzen, Baumstriezel (chimney cake), a Flammkuchen, a knoblauchbrot. The food here was the best and we had a repeat on the second day. Some things I can’t get enough of. 

3. Visit the famous Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market and take in the amazing view of the tallest twin-spired church in the world, the second tallest church in Europe after Ulm Minster, and the third tallest church of any kind in the world. It’s truly humbling. And the Christmas market has the stalls copy the form on their front. 

4. Skate and admire the Heinzels Wintermärchen. If the cathedral represents the new, this market is the old. Situated in the old town, there’s more than the Heinzels Wintermärchen to see. The side streets and the promenade next to the Rhine are amazing. Walk inside a Brauerei (Brewery), the feel is so authentic.

This was my second favorite in Koln, after Nikolausdorf. Or maybe tied to it? Hihi. The details in these vintage markets amazed me and I fell for the atmosphere, with people dressed as old infantry officers (? I don’t know why) and sculptors doing their work right there. 

5. Walk the promenade, from the Hohenzollern Bridge and its million lockets to the Harbour Christmas market (Hafen Weihnachtsmarkt) and the Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum. 

TIP> Saturdays are super crowded but Sundays not so much. And for a quiet place with just a few stalls, live music and cute atmosphere, go over to the St. Aposteln mini Christmas market. We caught a live concert with lovely old Christmas songs. 

It was an amazing experience, the stalls and themes were amazing and we discovered three new cities in Germany that were well worth it. With them, we learned that>

  • People qued at 19 o’clock to go inside the Public Library in Koln and that made me respect this city. 
  • The train system is more complicated that the one in France, Romania, Switzerland, Austria, or Spain. There are multiple machines, but don’t worry, in the bigger station you also have people there helping youAnd download the BD app and make your travel easier. We chose to ride a train between Dortmund and Dusseldorf (approx 33 euro/ticket) and Dusseldorf-Koln (approx 25 euro/ticket).  
  • The transport system is great otherwise, in the cities you can easily get tickets and get around.
  • The mask is STILL MANDATORY in every public transport. 
  • The toilets are not free, not even in a fast food or restaurants. The prices vary between 0.5 euros and 1 euro. 
  • People prefer to speak in german, especially in Dortmund. 
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The GALs, Catalina&Florin

”We’re a couple in love with travel and research. We hope to give you some good tips from experience so that you can have the best of times.”

Our trip to 3 German Christmas Markets: Dortmund, Dusseldorf, Koln/Cologne