Sunday 6 December 2020
From 08h00 to 22h30
Transportation by 4* luxury coach
With a continuous history of over 2.000 years, Cologne is one of Germany’s oldest cities. It is home to one of the world’s grandest monuments and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Kölner Dom. Today we are not only explore this epitome of Gothic architecture, but also see the rest of the city with a local guide. Top that with incredible German food in a local Brauhaus, a boat tour on the Rhine River and endless shopping and enjoying at the “Mother of All Christmas Markets.” There are many great places you can visit for Christmas, but if you come for the actual markets, Cologne is where you need to go!
What is included in the trip fee?
- Trip by 4* luxury coach with reclining seats
- Bottled water during the outbound journey
- Guided Old Town tour
- Guided Kölner Dom tour
- Cologne Christmas Markets
- Great group of international people
- A lifetime expat memory
Coach pick-up point
Place Schuman (bus stop next to KBC Bank on roundabout)
Who can join this trip?
Expat Club is known for welcoming a wide variety of international people on its trips. This creates a special, open-minded, safe and friendly environment in which everyone should feel comfortable.
- Members & non-members
- Expats & (international) Belgians
- All ages, including children
- Singles / couples / retirees / friends / colleagues / families
How to add a child ticket?
Expat Club loves welcoming young expats, too! If you want to bring your child(ren) up until 18 years, please first add the regular adult ticket(s) to the cart and then go to the cart page. On the cart page, there is a child ticket available for just €45.
As with any Expat Club trip, our schedule today is carefully designed so you can enjoy all the places and have enough time for lunch, a coffee and free time at the Christmas markets. Still, all times below are tentative and depend also on external circumstances, such as weather and traffic conditions. Together with the bus driver, guide and welcoming destinations we will do our best to give you the most optimal experience. FYI, Expat Club loves being on time and we are very often spot on when it comes to keeping track of the schedule.
08h00 – Latest departure from Place Schuman
10h45 – Arrival Cologne
11h00 – Guided Old Town tour
12h30 – Lunch
14h30 – Guided Dom Tour
16h00 – Rhine River cruise
16h50 – End cruise & free time
20h00 – Departure to Brussels
22h30 – Estimated arrival Brussels
Note about length of the day
Cologne Christmas markets are always busy. To cope with bus traffic the polices closes the regular pick-up locations until 20h00. If we would leave earlier, this would mean the entire group would have to find its way to a huge bus parking at the expo grounds. This takes a lot of time and the chances of getting lost are high. Therefore we wait until the police opens up the regular pick-up spot next to the Dom again at 20h00. This allows you more time to enjoy the markets and have some dinner in this exciting town.
At less than 2,5 hours from Brussels, Germany’s 4th largest city Cologne (after Berlin, Hamburg and München) is located in Nordrhine-Westphalia, between Düsseldorf (45km) and Bonn (25km). It is the largest city in the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region (in short Ruhrgebiet), Germany’s largest metropolitan area. It is home to many industries, universities, museums and it has the country’s 7th largest airport. In fact, Expat Club travelled there 3x before to see the operations of the mega UPS facilities.
The city was founded in the first century AD as the Roman Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium and served for a long time as the main military capital of the Germania Inferior province. Being located on the Rhine River, it logically has been an important trade city and was a primary member of the Hanseatic League. During World War II it was very heavily bombed. Only few buildings survived, one of which was the Cathedral. After the war, the city was rebuild quickly in a unique mixed style that is still recognisable today.
Upon arrival we split up the group in two or three smaller ones and follow an official local guide who takes us through the various parts of the “Alt Stadt” (old town). Moreover, we learn about the city’s history that spans two millennia, including the dark days of the Second World War. As you may know, Cologne was bombed heavily and there was hardly anything left of the old town. Fortunately thanks to great reconstruction efforts in the postwar period the city has regained much of its former glory.
After our guided tour we have lunch in a typical local restaurant, namely Peter’s Brauhaus. They serve a range of finger-licking dishes and of course have their own house beer (Kölsch). Joining is optional, but we can greatly recommend doing so, because food is very good and affordable. Also, this is a great way to socialise with fellow travellers.
After lunch and the visit to the Kölner Dom, you are invited (optional) to join on a nice Rhine River cruise. So for those who would like to view Cologne from the water, hop on board, because we are going to make a 1-hour boat ride. It takes us along the Old Town and the modern waterfront. It’s a time to relax and unwind, and of course to socialise with other passengers. We have reserved a special Expat Club section on the boat. Rest assured there is more than enough time to visit the Christmas markets after we return. Joining us is optional.
A main reason to travel on this particular Sunday is that the shops in downtown Cologne are open! In fact, did you know that virtually everything is cheaper in Germany than in Brussels? Clothes, shoes, toiletries. If you would a bit of shopping, you would instantly earn your money for this trip back. That’s a great deal!
Although the guide takes us to the Cathedral, we won’t actually go in there until after lunch. This famous World Heritage site dominates the skyline of the city with its 157,4 meters high twin towers. Being Germany’s most visited attraction it receives over 20.000 visitors per day. Its most famous work of art, the Shrine of the Three Kings, is said to contain the remains of the three wise men who visited baby Jesus after his birth.
Besides the Shrine, there are several other reasons to visit the Dom, such as the magnificent stained glass windows, the “flying” buttresses, the opulent Treasury and of course the 533 steps leading to the magnificent panoramic view at 100 meters height. During the climb you will pass by the “d’r Dicke Pitter” the largest freely swinging bell in the world, weighing 24 tons!
Without a doubt Cologne offers the best Christmas Markets you can find. Every place Expat Club visits has something unique. Monschau is small and idyllic. Strasbourg has the oldest markets in an incredibly beautiful town. Canterbury has an Charles Dickens atmosphere. And Düsseldorf combines it with outstanding luxury shopping. But if you really come for the market stands themselves, nothing beats Cologne. Besides, it has not less than 7 huge markets that you can choose from.
In the early evening we may gather around one particular Christmas market stand for some socialising while enjoying hot mulled wine and typical Christmas dishes. It will be a great way to get to meet more people in our group. Oh, and when it comes to food, we assure you that it is virtually impossible to go back to Brussels with an empty stomach. There will be food in abundance!
We will be travelling with a comfortable 4* luxury coach from Lauwers Reizen. The seats are configured in Princess Class, which means you will have extra leg space and can recline your seat. This way you can get some extra rest. All seats have footrests as well. There is a (small) toilet on-board and a DVD system with three flat screens, so we can show you a nice movie or documentary outbound and/or inbound journey.