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Shopping in Cologne

Shopping in Cologne covers pretty much all bases: you’ll find all the main chains here, both international and German, plus a sense of history and remembrance and then a sharp eye that’s looking towards the future. Design, innovation and character are prized possessions in Cologne - and the boutique shops reflect that. The city also has a passion for open air markets – something that only intensifies in the run up to Christmas. The abundant distribution of coffee shops and Brauhäuser also helps to relieve any potential shopping fatigue.

Key areas

Most of central Cologne's shops are between Rudolfplatz and the Dom. Rudolfplatz, Mittelstraße, Ehrenstraße, Pfeilstraße and Benesisstraße are home to smart clothes, jewellery, home furnishings and antique boutiques. Ehrenstraße leads into Breite Straße, another smart if not so exclusive street, as it heads back towards the Dom. The main shopping street is Schildergasse which runs parallel to Breite Straße, and leads on from Mittelstraße via Neumarkt, Hohe Straße and back to the Dom.

Markets

The most dazzling markets in Cologne have to be the Christmas Markets that start sprouting up, drenched in lights, Glühwein and festive cheer each year. Christmas markets include the Alter Markt in the Old Town, the Cathedral Markt, the Märchenweihnachtsmarkt or fairy tale Christmas market on Rudolfplatz and the "alternative" market that stocks Moroccan moccasins at Stadtgarten.

If you're not in town at Christmas time, though, you can still find outdoor markets to keep you busy. Flea markets regularly sprout up at Alter Markt, while fresh food and veg stalls line Wilhelmsplatz from Mon-Sat.

Shopping centres

Shopping centres with more than 100 shops are Köln Arcaden and Rhein-Center Weiden.

Neumarkt itself is a smart shopping centre based around the Neumarkt Galerie mall. Cologne's pedestrianised Schildergasse is one of Germany's busiest shopping streets lined with national and international brand outlets. Look out for Renzo Piano's stunning glass flagship building for the Peek & Cloppenburg clothing department store.

Galeria Kaufhof (Cologne's best general department store alongside Karstadt, on Breite Straße) is located in Hohe Straße, a popular shopping street, which hosts several fashion, multimeda, shoe, cosmetics and jewellery stores.

Opening hours

Shops on Schildergasse and Hohe Straße are open Monday to Saturday 1000-2000; elsewhere 1000-1800 is the norm.

Souvenirs

Cologne's most famous product is Kölner Wasser (Eau de Cologne) with two shops worth noting. The Dufthaus 4711-Haus at Glockengasse 4711 is where you’ll find the fluid that spread the fame of the city across the world. Eau de Cologne was once the secret of a Carthusian monk before he gave the recipe away as a wedding present back in 1792. The newlyweds took this healing tonic, bottled it and sold it. When the French arrived in 1796, they renumbered the houses to strive for a sense of order. The Eau de Cologne shop was designated 4711 and a global brand was born. Today, you can stock up on both history and the pungent smell in the original shop and even drink from the fountain itself.

Germany is one of the world's leading processors of cocoa beans, a fact reflected in the mind-boggling array of top-quality chocolates in the shop of the Imhoff Stollwerck Chocolate Museum.

Tax information

Refunds are available for those who reside outside the EU, although the rules can be complicated. For help, visit: www.globalblue.com/destinations/germany/cologne/.