Like many German cities, Cologne (or Köln to use its German name) sparkles brightest at Christmas time, when its festive markets become the star attraction.
This year are seven different markets dotted around the city, so there’s something for everyone, young and old.
In each market you’ll find a happy throng of visitors and locals wandering among stalls selling wooden toys, tree decorations and woollen clothing; eating gingerbread and bratwursts and sipping from steaming mugs of glühwein (mulled wine) as they shop.
Each market has its own unique glühwein mug, so you’ve the perfect excuse to try a drop of the good stuff at all seven and start a collection!
There are lots of other Christmassy treats to savour, too. Listen to carol singers in the market outside historic Cologne Cathedral; admire fairytale figurines at Rudolfplatz; go ice-skating in the Altstadt (Old Town); or have a tinsel-tastic time at the gay and lesbian Christmas Avenue.
Chocoholic? Then head to the Chocolate Museum beside the pretty harbour market, where 80 white marquees with roofslike ship sails and a replica of a pirate ship create a fun nautical atmosphere on the banks of the River Rhine.
Over a weekend I visited six of the seven markets and returned home feeling especially Christmassy. So much so that I’m already planning where to go to experience the Christmas markets next year…. any suggestions?!