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Christmas shopping is one of the most time-honored American traditions, but there are some places that put the United States to shame. This is the case in Germany, where the country's Christmas markets have become legendary. One standout for this yuletide shopping tradition is the city of Cologne, which has become a staple of many winter tours of Germany.
The appeal of Cologne during the holiday season is hard to deny. There are six markets that spring up throughout the city, but the one in front of the iconic Cologne Cathedral stands out from the rest. For starters, the cathedral is among the most recognizable structures in Europe and during the holiday season it is home to arguably the biggest Christmas tree in the region.
Once the tree comes up, around 160 pavilions come with it, each has its own specialty. Whether you're looking to pick up some local candy, native wine or anything in between as a Christmas gift, you'll certainly bring home a piece of Germany.
Though the market located the Cologne Cathedral may be the city's most famous, it's not the only one you can visit during your Germany tour. The Christmas Market on the Alter Markt, for example, is just about 650 feet away from the cathedral, but offers a different experience. Specifically, the market on Alter Markt is known for its puppet theater and Santa Claus' grotto.
Look down in wonder at Buckingham Palace, the Palace of Westminster and St Paul’s Cathedral from your glass-walled pod on the London Eye, then gaze out over the Louvre and the Champs-Elysees from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
The scent of rich pine forests lingers in the breeze as the 13th-century ruins of Turaida Castle are revealed before your eyes in the lush Gauja River valley in a medieval sanctuary untouched by the march of time.
The aroma of dark roasted Viennese coffee hangs thick in the air as you tread the cobblestone laneways and bask in the elegant architecture, atmospheric cafes and refined restaurants in one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe.
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