Picture the scene, it’s a cold, dark winter night and you’re stood among the crowds that have all flocked to the Cologne Christmas market. The cathedral is lit up and looming above you, you’ve picked up some souvenirs and exhausted row upon row of festive stalls that line the Rudolfplatz. Where do you go next? Easy. A traditional German Bierhaus.
Although we went in April, so it wasn’t Christmassy or wintery at all, the nights were still cold and the golden glow that shone from the beautiful German architecture of these fabulous Bierhaus’ was very inviting. At night especially you could easily find them among the maze of cobbled streets in Cologne Old Town as the crowds overspilled onto the streets outside some of them.
So while the whole world seems to be heading to Cologne for the infamous Christmas markets, an alternative thing to do, and one of my favourite’s in the German city, is go and sit for hours in one of these traditional German Bierhaus. It was incredibly cosy and heartwarming in April, so I can only imaging how festive and fabulous they are in November-December.
There is literally nothing better, in my opinion on a Saturday afternoon, or any afternoon or evening actually than sitting in a warm pub when the weather is awful. And while I am a VERY big fan of that in a proper English country pub, the German’s are up there as one of the best pub grub and pint providers in Europe.
I also love Christmas markets, and although I’ve not been to Cologne at Christmas time the market there is obviously one of the most famous with thousands of visitors every year. But let’s face it, once you’ve had a walk around, browsed some of the stalls for secret santa presents, tried some of the street food and enjoyed a mulled wine or hot chocolate you’re going to want to get out of the cold for a bit.
I would one million per cent recommend Bierhaus in der Salzgasse. It’s not the biggest one we saw in Cologne, but it’s in the beautiful old town and the walk to it alone is worth it. On top of that it had an incredible atmosphere and served only Kolsch, the locally brewed beer. You might pass a few others on your way, but I found them to have a very male based clientele. Perfect for lads or stag do’s, but for couples or girls definitely keep walking until you get to Bierhaus in der Salzgasse .
In true German style the big wooden doors welcome you in to a square room with nothing but high bar tables, beer barrels, and a simple wooden bar, all lit up by a giant wrought iron chandelier. The smell of goulash and warm pretzels will have you asking the host if there are any tables spare for bar snacks, and you’ll be lucky if there are to be honest! Instead prop yourself up against one of the barrels and catch the waiters eye for your beer.
There’s no going to the bar, the waiters each have a section and bring the good stuff to you. It’s pretty easy as Kolsch is all they serve, and they’ll tally off how many you have on the back of a beer mat. On first impressions the waiters are as intimidating as the giant portrait of a German King swigging a kolsch that hangs above the bar.
That bad lad literally looks like Henry VIII, as do some of the waiters. But they’re actually very friendly, and you’ll notice how many freebies they get from happy customers around them. They knock them back in two gulps, and will remember you if you go back the next night – which you will.
So if you’re going to do anything else as part of your Christmas market trip to Cologne this year, make sure it’s a visit to one of these incredible Bierhaus’.
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