404 Köln (Cologne) Christmas Market with Kids

Köln (Cologne) Christmas Market with Kids

Yes, I’ve written a lot about Christmas markets recently. ‘Tis the season and all that jazz.

Fact is – I love them. It really livens up the fall-to-winter transition around these parts, plus there’s always this great feel of community. Even if the community feels like a million people you don’t know all cramming into one small square in the spirit of the holidays.

Last weekend I took my first trip to one of those super-busy markets, Köln’s Christmas Market. I’ve been hesitant to go there because of silly reasons. My parents went a few years ago and their pictures didn’t really impress me. But, it’s only a short drive from where we live, it’s free, and what else are we to do on a Sunday afternoon in December?

Getting there

There’s currently some construction going on downtown. This didn’t seem to make the traffic any worse (or better), it just is what it is. Four of Köln’s big markets are focused around the cathedral area, which means it’s easy to just take the train to the main train station. So, traffic shouldn’t be an issue for most people.

(Please note: Vodafone did not sponsor this post… 😉 )

Parking, for those that need it, is actually easy to find. There are several signs letting you know which parking garages have free spaces, how many they have, and which direction you need to go to get there. We parked really close to the markets and there were still a lot of spaces available in our garage. The crowds must have all come from the trains.

Crowds: The bad and the good

I went on a Sunday. It was crowded. As I mentioned in a previous post, Christmas markets along the border tend to be more crowded during the day, and especially on weekends, because of the influx of people from other countries. It was difficult to navigate with a big double stroller, but I can’t imagine how I would have felt if I made my walking boy walk. There were just far too many crowds.

The good news is that even on a Sunday afternoon, the market crowds are really concentrated at the Christmas Markets. The surrounding areas, while busy, are nowhere near as busy. Plus, a walk along the Rhein is always fun.

The best part: the FOOD!

I don’t think I’ve been to a Christmas Market in Germany that made me want to return all the gifts I’ve purchased so that I could have money to eat more. Aside from the standard fare (bratwurst, mushrooms, crepes), they had cheese spätzle, grilled beef sandwiches, raclette, baked apples, these delicious thick noodles that I can only describe as bigger and tastier gnocchi with an assortment of toppings, soup, grilled garlic bread with an assortment of toppings, apple strudel, and so much more. Seriously, the best food options I’ve seen.

Our highlight

Other than the food we did eat, I really loved our ride on the small ferris wheel. Many Christmas Markets have large ferris wheels that seem intimidating for me, as a mom of 2 toddlers. If Köln has a larger ferris wheel, I didn’t see it. This small one, though, is at one of the markets (the busy one pictured above). It was built in 1902. Watching it go, it seemed to go so fast. Still, my son wanted to go on and I went with him.

Upon sitting down and the wheel lifting us about 5 feet off the ground, I remembered I’m terrified of heights. All of a sudden I couldn’t really see my surroundings, held on to my son for dear life, and tried to get back into myself. It took a couple of rotations until I calmed down and enjoyed the ride. My son loved it the whole time.

Overall, this has jumped into my top 3 favorite markets. I loved it so much, I’m contemplating getting a hotel there for a few nights so that we can beat the crowds, check out the other markets, and eat some more cheese spätzle.

(Also, Thrifty Travel Mama is doing a series this month on expat holiday celebrations. My post is up there today about how we celebrate in Germany. Don’t worry, I talk about more than just the Christmas Markets. Check out my post and the rest of the series. It’s really interesting!)

This post is part of the Instagram Travel Thursday linky hosted by Skimbaco LifestyleDestination UnknownChild ModeHines Sight BlogLive.Do.Grow.House of AnaïsLuxury Travel Mom. Click on any of those links to access all Instagram travel posts.

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  1. Thank you for sharing!! I love the German Christmas markets, please keep these coming!

  2. I would love to go to Germany during December. It just seems like Christmas. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Oh how much I miss Europe. I would love to go to a Christmas market, but we don’t have any in Los Angeles! 🙂

  4. Wow that was some crowd! Love markets 🙂

  5. We don’t have that many Christmas markets here in Norway, but the ones we have are quite magical in a very traditional way, often hosted at old farms or like the biggest one, at the outdoor museum. Pity there is no gluhwein on offer though due to strict alcohol regulations!!

  6. I am LOVING the Christmas market posts! Keep them coming. I am making a list for one day when I go to Germany around Christmastime! 🙂

  7. I WANT TO COOOOOME!!! I really hope we can make it next year.. please, please, pleeeaaaaase.

  8. I’m so on the fence. You know how badly I want to go– but but BUT. I need to be able to go on like a Tuesday morning or something with no crowds and my battering ram has all the room it needs 🙂 I want to eat ALL THE THINGS too.

  9. We had a German student stay with us a year ago this last October. He showed us some beautiful photos of the Christmas markets by him. Since then, it’s been on my list to see one. My son and I are planning a trip to Germany for his high school graduation. Perhaps we should do that around the holiday season?

  10. Your Instagram post of the Kölner Weihnachtsmärkte makes me long for both Köln and the big-D. As much as I like the one by the Dom, I really like the ones in the Altstadt and at Neumarkt. Thanks for your post!