- Flight time from London: 1 hour 25 min
- Cologne Bonn Airport: 15km from the city centre; transfer time about 11 min
- Nearest railway station: Köln Hauptbahnhof
- Currency: Euro
Cologne is dominated by its magnificent gothic cathedral which is one of the first things you see when approaching by train. The top of the cathedral offers spectacular views over the Rhine which is just one of the reasons it is consistently voted Germany's most popular tourist attraction. Cologne is a vibrant city, famous for its carnival and its many historical gems, such as the Roman artefacts in the Romano-Germanic Museum. The city also boasts the highest density of pubs and taverns per capita. Over 3000 bars, cafes and restaurants beckon visitors to enjoy a cold Kölsch beer - the local brew. The Cologne way of life is highly infectious and that's reason enough to pay it a visit.
The Cologne way of life is highly infectious and that's reason enough to pay it a visit. It's an indescribable feeling that you immediately recognise once you arrive in the city. The locals have a distinct pride for their city and the neighbourhoods within it and are always happy to welcome visitors with open arms.
As well as the aforementioned carnival, which is a designated fifth season in these parts, there are many other events happening throughout the year. Art festivals, food markets, GamesCom and the beautiful Christmas markets all mean that Cologne is a year-round destination.
The Cathedral is not only the centre and heart of Cologne it is also the number one attraction in Germany with more than six million visitors per year. The gothic Cathedral, with its 157m high towers, was the highest building in the world when it was finally finished in 1880. It is still the third highest Cathedral in the world and it has enough space for 4,000 visitors. Every day you can visit five services and every weekend several thousand people come together to worship together. You can climb the 533 steps to the top of the spire for a closer look at the handcrafted stonework on the exterior, as well as a panoramic view of the city. On your way up to the top, you will pass the bell tower with the "Dicke Pitter" the heaviest freerunning bell in the world.
The many colourful houses and narrow cobbled streets of Cologne's charming Old Town, as well as the countless restaurants, bars and shops, make this part of the city one of the most popular places to spend some time.
If the weather is kind you should also try the cologne cable car which runs from Cologne Zoo, across the river Rhine, to the Rheinpark. During the ride, you have a beautiful view over the river towards the Cathedral.
The newly designed "Rheinauhafen" is not only for lovers of architecture but also a great excursion destination. The three 60m high crane-houses form the impressive heart of this district. The Rheinauhafen also features a mix of modern residential and office buildings interspersed with many cafés, restaurants, and galleries.
Stroll along the Rhine and have a Kölsch (local beer) in one of the typical breweries along the way.
This impressive building reveals Cologne's avid love for music. Located in the city centre, it is well worth a visit to take in the atmosphere and beauty of this magnificent concert hall.
This stunning museum is the home of one of the world's largest collections of work by Pablo Picasso. The museum is also home to a great collection of modern art from Dalí to Warhol. The American Pop Art collection rivals the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
Besides Cologne Cathedral, you can also visit the twelve Romanesque Churches which were built around 900 AC. The churches Groß St. Martin, St. Maria in Lyskirchen, Maria im Kapitol and St. Andreas are within easy reach from the city centre.
Along the Hohenzollernbrücke (Hohenzollern bridge) you will find more than 40,000 colourful padlocks, which were put there by happy couples, families and friends. The locks, which are marked with their names, are attached to the bridge and the key is thrown into the river to signify eternal love.
The most popular museum in Cologne is the Chocolate Museum which shows its visitors the history and production of chocolate. Satisfy your sweet tooth by discovering 3,000 years of chocolate history. The finale is a 10ft high chocolate fountain.
This is the Old Town which features picturesque houses, narrow cobbled streets and the famous Fish Market.
The museum was built over the famous Dionysos-mosaic and it gives a lively picture of the life of the Romans and Teutons in this area.
Visit the place where the original 4711 Cologne was developed. Not only can you buy the fragrance here, you can also look around the small museum or book a group workshop.
This museum houses a broad range of art from medieval times until the early twenties including paintings by Rembrandt and Rubens. Furthermore, it shows a big collection of impressionistic and neo-impressionistic paintings.
The gallery that launched Cologne as a centre for art.
An excellent gallery for both modern and experimental art which displays contemporary European, particularly German, painters.
Located in the heart of Cologne's Old Town, the 700-year-old Haxenhaus keeps the city's traditions and history alive. The interior consists of old furniture, tavern rarities objects which tell the many myths and stories of Cologne's history, while the menu offers a modern twist on classic dishes. Enjoy specialities such as”Kölner Haxe“ (Knuckle Cologne-style), homemade bratwurst and of course the traditional beer of Cologne, Kölsch. Haxenhaus also offers a variety of generous and filling vegetarian options, seasonal specialities and group menus.
This Cologne favourite by the Dom is a great choice to get a taste of traditional German dining. Enjoy a local brew and dine on hearty Rhineland meals of meats and vegetables. Locals say every visitor to the city must eat at least one meal here to get a flavour of the city.
This restaurant is located in Cologne's city centre with a beautiful wooden interior and a leafy open-air terrace serving excellent Rhine and Moselle wines as well as tasty regional cuisine.
A very popular restaurant with locals and tourists alike in the heart of Cologne. The Sunday brunch will fill you up until supper.
If you speak any German, you will be confused to know that this dish isn't half a chicken (it's literal translation). Instead, it's a buttered rye roll with cheese and mustard inside.
A delicious Rhineland speciality. Beef tenderloin is marinated in a sweet and sour sauce and then roasted. It's usually served with potato dumplings and red cabbage.
These potato cakes can either be eaten as an accompaniment to a meat dish or on their own with toppings such as smoked salmon or apple.
Germany's love of minced meat is obvious to all Cologne visitors. This local bite consists of raw pork mince spread on a roll with raw onions on the top.
Translated to mean 'heaven and earth', this is a side dish featuring apples (heaven) and potatoes (earth). It's typically served with blood sausage.
The local beer is served everywhere in Cologne and, if you're a drinker, you shouldn't leave without at least sampling it. It's poured in a traditional 'test tube' glass and comes in a 200ml serving. Visit one of the brewhouses around the cathedral for an authentic taste and authentic atmosphere
All the big department stores and designer shops can be found on Hohe Strasse and Schildergasse. A variety of stylish boutiques are located on Ehrenstrasse and Breite Strasse, whilst Mittelstrasse and Pfeilstrasse are popular for their exclusive designer outlets. Cologne is also emerging as the capital of contemporary art in Germany, and, lately, the city seems to be brimming with galleries.
One of the world's most famous perfumes has its home in Cologne - 4711 Original Eau de Cologne. Visit the original store and museum at Glockengasse or take part in one of their fragrance workshops.
This is the most popular shopping street in the city, with many clothes and shoe shops.
For more exclusive shops, head to Neumarkt Passage at Neumarkt Square.
Apostelnstrasse is a small, yet elegant shopping street in the heart of Cologne.
One of Germany's leading clothing retailers is situated in a very uniquely designed building.
As one of Germany's main cultural centres, Cologne has a variety of fine arts and nightlife options. With more than 70 clubs, most of them open into the early hours, countless bars, restaurant and breweries, there is something for everyone. No other German city has as many pubs per head.
The main nightlife areas are the Old Town, the Friesen Quarter around Friesenplatz, the fashionable Belgian Quarter, Südstadt district around Alteburger Strasse and the multicultural up-and-coming district of Ehrenfeld.
Klimperkasten: An intimate jazz and piano bar with live music every night.
Papa Joe's Jazzloka: The most popular day for this jazz club is Sunday with live music starting at 4pm.
Päffgen Bräuhaus: A 110-year-old bar, which serves the famous regional beer along with hearty regional cuisine.
There are food markets popping up all over Cologne at the moment. One of the best is the meet & eat market on Rudolfplatz. It's there every Thursday from 4 pm to 9 pm.
This 35-acre urban park is a great place to relax in the sunshine with a BBQ or picnic. There's a beer garden to help quench your thirst and a lake where you can rent pedalos.
The beer garden of this luxurious new hotel offers excellent views across the Rhine and of the famous Hohenzollern Bridge.
© Fred. Olsen Travel.
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