Germany currently experience an outbreak of the Coronavirus / Covid-19 including Cologne and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.Quick Menu hide
- I Coronavirus since Reopening
- II Understand
- III Talk
- IV Get in
- V Get around
- VI See
- VII What to do in Cologne
- VIII Shopping in Cologne
- IX Eat
- X Drink
- XI Where to stay in Cologne
- XII Stay safe in Cologne
- XIII Connect
- XIV Cope
- XV Go next
- XVI History and Geography
- XVII Best time to go to Cologne
- XVIII Getting Around in Cologne
- XIX Major Attractions and Sights
- XX Shopping in Cologne
- XXI Eating Out in Cologne
- XXII Nightlife in Cologne
- XXIII Anything of local interest in Cologne
Cologne (German: Köln, Ripuarian: Kölle) is a city on the Rhine river in North Rhine-Westphalia. It is the fourth largest city in Germany with around one million residents. It is one of the nation’s media, tourism and business hotspots, and is considered one of the most liberal cities in Germany.
Cologne has a rich history, reaching back to the time of the ancient Roman Empire, when it was founded. It has remained a constantly inhabited important regional centre since. Compared to other German and European cities, the ancient and medieval Cologne was relatively large, covering most of the modern-day city centre. A wealth of architectural heritage can therefore be found across the city ranging from pre-Christian times to strikingly modern buildings, with a high concentration of Romanesque and Gothic architecture, culminating in the magnificent Cathedral (Dom).
Cologne is, however, not only a tourism destination, but on an equal note a major economic centre, a globally important trade fair location, a culture and media hotspot and a major transportation hub. This equal mix of roles and functions is permeable throughout the city and provides it with a constant inflow of various visitors, as well as a very diverse population mix. This all culminates during the traditional Karneval, and makes Cologne one of the most-visited destinations in Germany.
Cologne, made famous by the perfume that came from there, is the fourth largest city in all of Germany. It straddles the River Rhine and is home to some of the most ancient buildings and universities. There is a lot going on in this part of the world and Cologne has a really vibrant arts movement with more than thirty museums, and many more galleries, to back up this boast.
Cologne lies on both sides of the river Rhine, which flows through it in a northerly direction. The left hand, or western side, is Cologne proper with the Old Town (Altstadt), the famous cathedral and most landmarks and museums. The right side, or eastern side, used to be a separate town called Deutz – now Deutz is a neighbourhood of Cologne.
Cologne is divided into 9 districts (Stadtbezirke), numbered from 1 to 9. Stadtbezirk 1, called Innenstadt (“inner city”), is probably the one most tourists will spend all of their time in, as it contains most of the city’s points of interest. It is also the only district that lies on both sides of the Rhine, as it includes Deutz. Districts 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 are on the western bank of the Rhine, and districts 7, 8 and 9 on the eastern bank, surrounding the Innenstadt.
Every Stadtbezirk is further divided into Stadtteile (literally “city parts”, or “neighbourhoods”). The Innenstadt includes Altstadt-Nord and Alstadt-Sued, two parts of the historic Old Town of Cologne facing the Rhine, divided by the L111 thoroughfare running from east to west (with the street names Cäcilienstraße – Neumarkt – Hahnenstraße), starting at the Deutzer Bruecke (bridge over the Rhine). The Altstadt is surrounded by a ring of wide avenues running over the former city walls of Cologne. They all have street names ending with the word Ring.
The part of Innenstadt lying on the outer side of the ring is the Neustadt, or “new town”. Neustadt is further divided into Neustadt-Nord and Neustadt-Sued, also separated by L111 (Aachener Straße). Both parts of the Neustadt form a crescent embracing the Altstadt and reaching the Rhine on either side thereof. Finally, facing the Altstadt and Neustadt on the other (eastern) side of the Rhine is the Stadtteil of Deutz, which completes the Innenstadt.
History of Cologne
Cologne is one of the oldest cities in Germany, having been founded and established in the first century AD, as the Roman Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium. “Cologne” is the French version of the city’s name, which has become standard in English as well. It has a traditional, strong rivalry with the neighbouring city of Düsseldorf, the capital of North Rhine-Westphalia, although this is mostly manifested by a number of jocular references made to one another in both cities and constant bickering as to whose local beer is best (in Cologne, it is obviously Kölsch). It was Germany’s largest city at several points in history and for most of the Middle Ages it was the only place that would even register as a major city population-wise by modern standards. Today it is the fourth largest city in Germany (after Berlin, Hamburg and Munich) and the biggest that is neither city state nor state capital. Its population is around one million people.
The climate of North Western Germany is changeable, with seasonal changes and day-to-day weather often comparable to that of the England or France. Travellers to Cologne can expect the hottest time of the year to be July, the coldest is January (temperature hovering around the freezing mark) and the month with the most rainfall is June.
KölnTourismus, Unter Fettenhennen 19 (directly opposite the front entrance of the cathedral, take the U-Bahn to “Dom/Hbf”). Monday to Friday 09:00-22:00, Sa Su 10:00-18:00. The Cologne Tourist Office offers a wealth of information for the traveller who wishes to fill their itinerary with activities around the town. Ask about guide books that are available, most of which provide information for free.
The distinctive flavour to the city of Cologne is often linked to the city’s inhabitants, or Kölsche, who take an enormous amount of pride in their city. Cologne is a traditionally Ripuarian-speaking city, though this has mostly been replaced by standard German, which is now the main language of the city. English-speaking guides and information are available for many of the landmarks of the city. For tourists who speak German and wish to practice it, the citizens usually have a lot of patience with those trying to come to grips with the language. Cologne’s citizens are very friendly and jovial people, welcoming tourists of all types and with all interests.
German is of course the language of this city but it is very easy to find information in French phrasebook and English, also sometimes in Spanish phrasebook and Japanese phrasebook. Due to a large number of immigrants, Persian phrasebook, Turkish phrasebook, Polish phrasebook and Russian phrasebook are also widely spoken. Announcements in the main train station (Hauptbahnhof) are in German, French and English. Like many German cities and areas, Cologne also has a local dialect, called Kölsch, however all speakers will also be familiar with German.
Away from the landmarks, workers of the Deutsche Bahn (German railways) often speak English reasonably well, and ticket machines have a language selection feature. In general, older people in Cologne tend to have little or no knowledge of English, while younger Germans and those working in the business world tend to be more proficient. Language is rarely a strong barrier, so this should not be much of a worry for the average tourist. Just approach a friendly native with a smile on your face.
- Cologne Bonn Airport. This airport handles international and domestic flights and is a hub for the low cost [Lufthansa] subsidiary Eurowings. The airport is approximately 15 minutes by S-Bahn “S 13” (local train) to the centre of Cologne. S-Bahn fare (ticket zone 1b) is €2.80 one-way. To get to the airport take “S 19”.
- Düsseldorf International Airport, The Düsseldorf airport offers many intercontinental connections. A train ride from the airport train station to Cologne central station takes about 40 minutes. The fare is €20.00 for a ride on the fastest kind of train available, the S-Bahn is considerably cheaper.
- Frankfurt Airport , is the largest airport in Germany, served by all major international airlines. ICE (InterCityExpress) high speed trains connect Frankfurt Airport and Cologne central station in less than one hour. Standard one way fare is €67 by ICE. However there are many reduced fares available if you order in advance with prices starting as low as 19€. If you pay full price you do not have to take a specific train, but discounted tickets are restricted to the train on your reservation. Note: Trains via Koblenz, which use the slower, yet extremely scenic route along the Rhine Valley are also 30% cheaper. The ICE train takes about one hour, the slower more scenic route takes about two hours.
Cheap Flights to Cologne
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Palma de Mallorca
Travel by train to Cologne
Cologne is served by two major train stations:
- Köln Hauptbahnhof. and
- Köln Messe/Deutz, Ottoplatz 7, 50679 Köln.
Long-distance buses cannot stop in the center of Cologne. The main long-distance bus stations serving Cologne are at the train station Leverkusen Mitte (20 minutes by S-Bahn from/to Cologne Hauptbahnhof, check if you need to pay a fare on top of your long-distance bus ticket) and at Köln Bonn Airport. You can compare travel time and costs for various modes of transport on various websites.
Cologne requires all cars to have a “Low Emissions” sticker in order to drive around in the city centre Low Emission Zone (“Umweltzone”).
Autobahns A1, A4, A3, A57, A555 lead to Cologne. During rush hour the streets are heavily congested, also due to massive construction of a new subway tunnel Nord-Süd Stadtbahn, crossing half the city centre.
For cheap parking, with quick connections to central Cologne, use park and ride (“park und ride“). At some stations, parking is free when you present a validated transit ticket on exit.
Cologne has an excellent public transport network consisting of trams, local trains and buses. Bicycles are also available for hire on the northern side of the Hauptbahnhof. Local transport systems rarely provide announcements in English, but network maps are commonly available to assist with your journey. Those wishing to explore areas away from the central city should plan their journey and potential connections before leaving.
Tickets are valid for subway, tram and regional train within the VRS-network. Trips within the city limits require zone 1b tickets (2017: single €2.80, 4-trip-ticket €11, day ticket €8.60, day ticket for 2 to 5 people €13.10). For short trips of up to 4 stops on subway, tram or bus there is also the slightly cheaper “Kurzstrecke” (short trip ticket, 2019: €2.00). One- and three-day-passes are available. A map of the network can be found at most stops, inside all vehicles (check ceilings, back entrances) and online.
Cologne’s subway and tram-system, or U-Bahn, is a mixture of systems: a subway line can go on street-level and end up as a tram or vice versa. There are vending machines or ticket-offices at larger stations The trains and buses also have vending-machines. See the public bus, tram and subway-company KVB for printable maps of the bus/tram/subway system and here for their official street map of Cologne.
Regional trains are known as “S-Bahn”, “Regional-Bahn” and “Regional Express”. Most of them don’t have ticket vending-machines so remember to buy a ticket at the station.
Student Travel Tip: Student travel (age 20 or less) can be very cheap to and from Cologne, as well as around the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia. The German rail company (DB: Deutsche Bahn) offer a ‘SchöneFerienTicket NRW’ during student holiday times and allows free travel throughout North Rhine-Westphalia on local buses, trams, U-Bahn, S-Bahn and regional trains. Prices range from around €54 for summer holidays to €25.50 for Easter holidays, but prices and times change from year to year. These tickets are available to anyone with valid student identification (student union card, enrolment card, etc.) and personal identification (passport, driving licence, etc.) The ticket is only valid for the student holiday dates of North Rhine-Westphalia and the ticket is not valid for high speed express trains.
Travel by bicycle in Cologne
Cologne has, like Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt, a Call A Bike – system. After you register for an account on-line, it will charge your credit-card a per minute fee. You can pick up or drop off one of the silver-red bikes anywhere in the city. It is also possible to rent a bike at many places; by bike is maybe the best way to go around in the city.
But, on the whole, the centre of Cologne is not that big for a city of one million. It is entirely feasible to walk from one end of the centre, say, the Rudolfplatz, to the other end, say, the Cathedral, in half an hour.
- Kölner Dom (Cathedral) (U-Bahn: Dom / Hbf). Monday – Saturday 06:00-19:30 (May-Oct: 06:00-21:00), Su 13:00-16:30. A UNESCO World Heritage List. It took over 630 years to complete this monumental cathedral. In 1880 the cathedral was finally consecrated. Cologne’s Dom is the first sight you will notice when taking the main exit from the central station. (If you don’t see it, you’ve taken the back exit.) If you are in good shape, take the 509 stairs to the top of the south tower. It takes about an hour, so wear comfortable shoes, but it’s worth the hike. Touring the Cathedral is forbidden during Mass.
- Entry into the cathedral is free but you will be asked for a donation. Admission to the tower costs (2017): €4, reduced: €2, family: €8. Admission to the treasury costs: €6, reduced: €3, family: €12 however, a combined ticket granting you admission to the treasury and tower can be purchased for (regular/reduced/family): €8/€4/€16. No luggage may be carried inside..
Fish market place and Groß St. Martin (Great Saint Martin Church)
- Romanesque Churches – Between 1150 and 1250, numerous churches were built in the Romanesque style.
- Basilica of St. Cunibert (St. Kunibert’s Church). Wonderful stained glass windows.
- Basilica of St. Severin, Im Ferkelum 29 (Tram Clodwigplatz). The oldest Christian foundation in Cologne.
- St. Maria Lyskirchen.
- St. Andrew’s Church (St. Andreas).
- Basilica of the Holy Apostles (St. Aposteln).
- St. Gereon’s Basilica, Gereonsdriesch 2. The originality of this church lie in its elliptic floor plan and the addition, in 1220, of a decagon between its towers
- Basilica of St. Ursula.
- St. Pantaleon’s Church, Am Panteleonsberg 2.
- St. Maria im Kapitol, Marienplatz 19.
- Groß-St. Martin (Great Saint Martin Church), An Groß St. Martin 9 (U-Bahn Rathaus).
- St. George’s Church (St. Georg).
- St. Cecilia’s Church (St. Cäcilien), Cäcilienstraße 29. today Museum Schnütgen
- Die Kölner Synagoge (Roonstrasse Synagogue), Roonstraße 50 (U-Bahn: Zülpicher Platz) , fax: . The synagogue is notable for its architecture that looks, well, right out of Gotham City. The Torah within the synagogue was rescued by a Catholic priest from another synagogue as it was being burned during Nazi rule. In August 2005 Pope Benedict XVI visited the synagogue, becoming the second pope to ever visit a synagogue.
- Historisches Rathaus (Historic Town Hall/Cologne City Hall) (U-Bahn Rathaus).
- Praetorium. An accessible archaeological site with the ruins of the ancient Roman Praetorium of Colonia.
- Gürzenich dance hall (U-Bahn/Tram Heumarkt). The Gürzenich is a municipal concert hall and multi-purpose festival hall
Hahnentorburg on Rudolfplatz
- ruins of Roman city walls and two towers.
- Nordtor (Pfaffenpforte) (Dom, Trankgasse). Ruins of Roman city wall gate
- Ruins of Middle Ages city walls and towers
- Eigelsteintorburg (U-Bahn Ebertplatz).
- Hahnentorburg (Rudolfplatz).
- Ulrepforte (Sachsenring, Stadtbahn Ulrepforte).
- Severinstorburg (Stadtbahn Clodwigplatz).
- Bayenturm (Stadtbahn Ubierring).
- Ruins of a small gate.
- Malakoffturm (Rheinauhafen, bus 233 stop Schokoladenmuseum).
Veedel – City Quarters
Cologne is well known for its “Veedel” or traditional neighbourhoods.
- Agnesviertel – Here, most notably in the bohemian Agnesviertel, you can find independent designers, bookshops, bars, and art galleries. There are also historical monuments, such as the North City Gate or Eigelsteintorburg in the Agnesviertel, very near to Fort X, built to protect the city from French attacks, and Agneskirche, a late neo-gothic church on the boulevardesque Neusserstraße. Neusserstraße also has a yoga school, an Aikido school, a Japanese restaurant, a well-stocked bookshop, and a range of pubs. Nearby you will find the Alte Feuerwache, where there are regular exhibitions on political topics and a surreal flea market every four weeks in summer. Opposite Alte Feuerwache is the Artclub, with regular exhibitions of contemporary art, and on Ebertplatz there is a cinema (Metropolis) which shows films in the original (mostly English, but sometimes also French or Spanish). On nearby Lübecker Straße, you will find the uncompromisingly Arty Filmpalette cinema. To round off a trip to the Agnesviertel, you might like a kölsch in the Lapidarium (right beside the North City Gate) or a coffee in Cafe Schmitz, Cologne’s grooviest poser hangout (they also do a great breakfast.) All of these great places are within a short walk of Ebertplatz U-Bahn.
- Eigelstein – around the Eigelsteintorburg, U-Bahn “Ebertplatz”
- Martinsviertel / Altstadt – Old town between Rhine, Heumarkt, Alter Markt and Dom, (Cologne Cathedral), U-Bahn “Rathaus” or “Heumarkt”
- Severinsviertel and Südstadt – around the Severinstorburg, U-Bahn “Clodwigplatz”
- Kwartier Latäng – This student neighbourhood takes it name from the Parisian Quartier Latin. It is centered around the Zülpicher Straße and provides ample nightlife opportunities, ranging from a night shop with dancefloor and toilets (Späti), to grimy indie bars. Middle Eastern food is also easy to be found here, including the famous and very popular Habibi. The neighbourhood can be accessed throughStadtbahn “Zülpicher Platz”
- Belgisches Viertel – Stadtbahn “Moltkestraße”
- Ehrenfeld – U-Bahn “Körnerstraße”
- Hohenzollern Bridge. Also called the Locking Bridge. If you walk to the back of the Kölner Dom along a straight path, there is a bridge on the Rhine to your right that is covered in padlocks. The locks are placed there by couples to show their loyalty to each other. Couples often have their names and a significant date inscribed on the locks. There are other places around the world that have “love padlocks”.
View at the Kranhäuser in the Rheinauhafen
- Rheinauhafen. This completely rebuilt area combines modern extravagant architecture with historical harbour buildings. The old Rheinauhafen opened in 1898 and became necessary due to increasing amount of freight traffic. The new Rheinauhafen is a mix of office buildings and apartment buildings and gastronomy. On a peninsula of the Rhine (1 km southern of Heumarkt) it is an invitation for a beautiful walk along the river or for having lunch or dinner.
Rheinpark along the right bank of the River Rhine
- Parks: Cologne has two park areas (Grüngürtel) encircling the city (instantly outside the medieval city limits) and nearly the entire town, respectively, which were set aside as public recreation areas after World War I. The inner Grüngürtel is probably more easy to reach for tourists who only stay a few days. Most notably are Volksgarten, Rheinpark, Hiroshima-Nagasaki- (colloquially known as Aachener-Weiher-) and Stadtgarten parks where thousands of people come together to enjoy the sun, play and barbecue when the weather is fine. All these parks have an associated beer garden. Be aware to dispose any packaging, charcoal etc. into the waste bins (which are unfortunately few and far between), as the city has begun to employ anti-littering patrols that will levy a stiff fine on anyone seen littering. Metro: Eifelplatz for Volksgarten, Universitätsstraße for Hiroshima-Nagasaki-Park, Hans-Böckler-Platz/Bahnhof West for Stadtgarten, Bahnhof Deutz for Rheinpark.
- Flora and Botanical Garden (Near Zoo, Tram Zoo/Flora). Admission free.
- (Near Seilbahn, Tram Zoo/Flora). Adult: 19.50 €.
- Skulpturenpark, Riehler Straße (Near Seilbahn, Tram Zoo/Flora). Admission free.
Museums and Galleries
Cologne has one of the world’s best collections of museums and galleries for a city of its size. As well as world class museums of art and archaeology, Cologne boasts two museums of ecclesiastical art, both housed in architecturally stunning buildings. There is also an ethnographic museum, a chocolate museum, the German Sport Museum and an abundance of Roman remains.
One can purchase a MuseumsCard from one of the municipal museums (such as the first five listed below). The single card cost €15, the family card, which costs €28, entitles 2 adults and 2 children (under 18) free admission to each of the municipal museums during two consecutive opening days. On its first day of validity, it can also be used as a ticket on all buses and trams on the cologne transportation system VRS.
- Museum Ludwig, Bischofsgartenstraße 1 (U-Bahn: Dom/Hbf, behind the dom) , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Tue – Sun: 10AM – 6PM. A museum of modern art, near the central railway station and the Cathedral hosts a worthy regular exhibition, as well as temporary exhibitions. Admission: € 11, concessions: € 7.50, families: € 22.
- Museum für Angewandte Kunst (Museum of Applied Art), An der Rechtschule (U-Bahn: Dom/Hauptbahnhof) , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Su 11:00–17:00. The Museum of Applied Art has a collection of popular design items, as well as temporary exhibitions. Admission: regular: €6.00, reduced: €3.50, permanent and special exhibitions: € 9, reduced: € 6.
- Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud, Martinstraße 39 (U-Bahn: Dom/Hauptbahnhof, then 10 minutes walk, U-Bahn: Rathaus, Tram Heumarkt, Bus Rathaus or Gürzenich) , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Tu-Su 10:00-18:00, Every Th until 21:00. The Wallraf-Richartz Museum is an art gallery with a collection of fine art from the medieval period through to the early twentieth century. Admission: (permanent collection and special exhibition) € 8 – 12, reduced € 4.50 – 8.
- Römisch-Germanisches Museum (Roman-Germanic Museum), Roncalliplatz 4 (Adjacent to the Cathedral’s right side from its main façade.) , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. Römisch-Germanisches Museum explores the history of Roman history in Cologne and the surrounding area. The museum’s tour guides are exceptionally dull and can make any visit seem like it lasted just as long as the Roman empire. If you can, wander around the museum by yourself. The current building is scheduled for major renovations, expect the museum to be elsewhere in 2018. Admission: € 8.00 (€9.50 including admission to the Praetorium (an excavation of various buildings)), reduced: € 4.00 / €5.
- Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum für Völkerkunde (Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum – World Cultures), Cäcilienstraße 29-33 (U-Bahn: Neumarkt) , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Tu-Su 10:00-18:00, Th 10:00-20:00. North Rhine-Westphalia’s only ethnological museum, it has a fine collection of Amerindian and Austro-Polynesian artefacts. Admission: Regular: €7, reduced: €4.50..
- Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst (Museum of East Asian Art). Art, music, books, films and culture from Asia.
- Kolumba (Diocesan museum), Kolumbastraße 4. A Christian art museum. An architectural wonder designed by Peter Zumthor and a feast for the senses; this museum, built in concordance with the ancient foundations of the shrine of Mary in the rubble contains a selection of historical and contemporary religious art. Worth visiting just to explore the spiritually inspiring spaces and the beautiful walkway through the ruins of the past.
- Schokoladenmuseum Köln (Museum of Chocolates), Am Schokoladenmuseum 1a. Tu-F 10:00-18:00, Sa/Su/holidays 11:00-19:00, last admittance one hour before closing. Chocolate Museum in Cologne. It’s a short visit but very interesting exhibits. Admission: €9, concessions: €6.50, Family pass: €25.
- NS-Dokumentationszentrum (NS-Documentation Center), Appellhofplatz 23-25. Tu-F 10:00-18:00, Sa Su and holidays 11:00-19:00, closed on Mondays. “NS” is short for National Socialist. Former headquarters of the Cologne Gestapo, with prison cells. Now the largest regional memorial site in Germany for the victims of the Nazis. Library, media and exhibitions. Near subway stop “Appellhofplatz”. €4.50.
- Käthe Kollwitz Museum, Neumarkt 18-24. Tu-F 10:00-18:00, Sa Su and holidays 11:00-18:00, closed on Mondays. Dedicated to the artist Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945), the first woman elected to the Prussian Academy of Arts. Regular: €5, reduced €2..
- Overstolzenhaus. One of the oldest extant houses in Cologne, built between 1220 and 1225, with an impressive romaneque façade. Built as a residence for a local patrician, today it houses the Academy of Media Arts.
- Kunsthaus Lempertz. The famous German art merchants and auctioneers, founded in 1845 (although the building itself is from 1952, reconstructed after the Second World War).
- Postamt (Bürgerhaus Stollwerck), Dreikönigenstraße 23. The former post office built from red brick in 1906 is now used as a theatre.
- Wasserturm. The former water tower built in 1868-1872 is now used as a luxury boutique hotel. The 11th floor (at 35 metres) houses a terrace and glass covered dining/meeting room, which can be rented out for private functions (the Michelin-starred restaurant that used to be hosted there is no longer in operation as of May 2020).
- Wolkenburg. The baroque estate was built in 1734 for a benedictine convent, but is used today by the 190-strong man choir Kölner Männer-Gesang-Verein Cäcilia Wolkenburg. It is also an event centre.
- Severinsbrücke. Completed in 1959, the cable-stayed bridge provided a relief for the Deutzer Brücke. Although not outstanding visually as such, it provides a nice view of both banks of the Rhine if you care to walk it.
Churches and other religious buildings
- Kartäuserkirche (Charterhouse church). The church belonged to the local charterhouse (a monastery of the Carthusian order) until 1794, when the monastery was closed and the church was used variously as a warehouse or a military hospital until the 1920s, when it was restored to its religious function by a local protestant community, whom it serves as a church until today. After reconstruction, it features an impressive pipe organ array with glockenspiel.
- Dreikönigenpförtchen. One of the best-hidden gems of Cologne, the small yet ornate gothic gate once led to an “immunity” belonging to the convent based at the St. Maria im Kapitol.
- St. Gregorius im Elend. Neobaroque church from the early 19th century
- St. Johann Baptist. This catholic church is one of the oldest in Cologne, predating even the famous romanesque churches, as it was founded in 948. It has seen many additions and reconstructions throughout the centuries, and was almost totally destroyed during the Second World War. Its current form is an eclectic reconstruction finished in the early 1960s.
- Former franciscan convent with St. Marien church. Nested inconspiciously between contemporary residential buildings is this impressive complex with gothic-inspired decorations
- St. Peter church, Leonhard-Tietz-Straße 6. The lesser-known next-door neighbour of St. Cäcilien
- St. Maria vom Frieden church and convent (corner of Schnurgasse and Vor den Siebenburgen). Baroque convent complex from the 17th century
- Trinitatiskirche, Filzengraben 6. This 19th-century evangelical church provides both regular religious services and serves as a venue for various cultural, especially musical, events.
Dominated by two very utilitarian land uses, the fairgrounds in the north and the actually functional freight harbour of Cologne in the south, Deutz is not without long history and much heritage and charm in its built environment as well. While the left Rhine bank is clearly the dominant one in Cologne, Deutz is where you can get the best views of it across the Rhine, and this is a reason alone to cross the river and get there, but by far not the only one.
- Köln-Triangle (LVR-Turm), Ottoplatz 1 , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 1 May–30 Sep Mo–Fr 11:00–22:00, weekends and public holidays 10:00–22:00; 1 Oct–30 Apr Mo–Fr 12:00–18:00, weekends and public holidays 10:00–18:00; The viewing terrace is closed during bad weather (like storm or hail). The Köln-Triangle is a high rise building in Deutz, instantly by the waterfront. It is a part of a building complex fronted by the Rhine-facing Hyatt hotel and is hard to miss due to its prominence and quite easily accessible from both Deutz and the left bank of the Rhine (simply cross the Hochenzollern bridge from the Altstadt). On its 29th floor, it has a viewing terrace called Panorama, which is publicly accessible via a lift for a relatively reasonable fee. The terrace has glass all around it for both safety purposes and for exhibiting the names of various landmarks you can see from it. If you want to take really good photos, you may want to have a piece of cloth with you to clean the glass of fingerprints and such. Admission is €3 for a single person, every additional member of the same party pays €2 only..
- Alt St. Heribert.
- Neu St. Heribert.
- Jewish Cemetery.
- Lanxess Arena.
- Koelnmesse (southern entrance marked on the map – exit from the Koeln Deutz/Messe railway station in the direction of the Messe and follow the signs).
- Messeturm Köln.
- Bahnhof Köln-Deutz. The historic building of the station now known as Köln Messe/Deutz is an interesting piece of architectural heritage many visitors to Cologne miss as they exit the station on the fairgrounds side.
- St. Johannes church.
- Düxer Bock.
- Cuirassier Monument.
- Deutzer Drehbrücke.
- ESSO Station An der Kölnarena. You may wonder what’s so special about a gas station, but you will understand once you see its 1950s architecture with the unique structured roof and learn that it is the oldest gas station in Cologne in continuous operation.
- Deutzer Freiheit. The main shopping street of Deutz, with not only retail opportunities but also many historic buildings along the way.
Tours and excursions in Cologne
What to do in Cologne
Cologne’s strong side is its cultural life. For latest information on what is happening around in town, get the StadtRevue for €2, Kölner for €2 or Live for free.
- Karneval The biggest festivity in Cologne is the Winter carnival (or Fastelovend) in February. According to the official Cologne tourism website, “Its highlight is the street carnival taking place from Weiberfastnacht (the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, traditionally the day on which women take control of the city) to Karnevalsdienstag (Shrove Tuesday). On Rosenmontag (Shrove Monday) more than one and a half million people line Cologne’s streets to watch the parade with the mad triad – the prince, farmer, and virgin – every year.”
COLOUR Cologne party at the 2008 Cologne Pride
- Cologne Gay Pride (Christopher Street Day). – Cologne Pride is a large gay pride festival held in Cologne annually on the Heumarkt square. The event showcases music, a candle light vigil remembering those with HIV/AIDS, and on the final day of the festival a large parade is held. Recently, up to a million people have attended the events.
- Kölner Philharmonie Central concert hall. Opened in 1986. Main season September to June. Special summer shows.
- Oper Köln Operas are performed in the Staatenhaus while the opera building is being renovated. Season starts in Mid-September.
- Stadtgarten, Venloer Straße 42 (Subway to Friesenplatz, walk 5 minutes). Concert centre for jazz and contemporary music, with a cafe and restaurant inside and a large beer garden outside which dates back to at least the 1950s. (Also the site of a great Christmas market.)
- Kölner Lichter (Cologne Lights). A fireworks display on the Rhine lights up the sky between the Hohenzollern and Zoo bridges.
- Kölner Seilbahn, Riehler Straße 180. Apr-Oct 10:00-18:00. Take a ride with the Aerial tramway across Rhine river. Adults: One way €4.50, Return €6.50, Children (aged 4–12): One way €2.50, Return €3.70..
- Kölner Zoo (Cologne Zoo), Riehler Straße 173, ✉ email@example.com. Summer: 09:00-18:00, Winter: 09:00-17:00, Aquarium: 09:00-18:00. €17.50, Teenagers and students: €12, Children (aged 4–12): €8.50 (2020).
- Phantasialand. 09:00-18:00 (20:00 until late August), Rides open at 10:00, Ticket office closes at 16:00. Berggeiststr. 31-41 in the town of Brühl; Phantasialand is a fun place for children and has some fun rides for adults too. Even the Colorado Adventure roller coaster was sponsored by Michael Jackson. Summer admission (2017): Children below 4 & birthday children: free, Children 4-11 yrs. & seniors 60+: €35, Adults 12-up: €46.50. Bring passports for proof of age.
- Metropolis Cinema, Ebertplatz 19. 15.00-24.00. If you want to go to the movies while visiting Cologne and you don’t know German, this small cinema is for you. It shows movies in their native language, but mostly English. (However, most other cinemas will also show English versions several times a week, so check the listings.)
- Fishing in the Rhine
- KD Rhine River Cruise, Frankenwerft 35. Departure times: Daily: 10:30, 12:00, 14:00, 18:00; Köln-Düsseldorf offers cruises of the Rhine river around the Cologne area with an explanation of landmarks. €6.80.
- Stattreisen e.V.. This non-profit organization offers excellent tours of Cologne, led by volunteers. The prices are moderate and there is a huge list of tours, including (besides the more regular tours) Koelsch tours (for testing the breweries) or language lessons in the local dialect (again, in a brewery). Ask for English tours, some guides are willing to conduct a normally German tour in English.
- Rickshaws: environmentally friendly city tours. Rickshaws are exotic and environmentally friendly tricycles, that bring slowly and safely their passengers to their destination. By Rickshaw you will discover Cologne’s points of interest in a comfortable way.
Spa and massage
Beauty and spa treatments are popular in Cologne.
In typical German style, all sauna areas (referred to as Saunalandschaften, i.e. Sauna landscapes) are mixed (apart from the odd Damentag) and that bathing costumes are banned from them for hygienic reasons. Yup. Starkers, everybody.
Do take a bathrobe (to keep you from the cold outside the saunas) and a large towel (to put under you in the saunas, no sweating on the wood, please) with you, though.
Do not draw hasty conclusions either: mixed nudity does not make those places dens of sin, quite the contrary. Nudity is considered as the only appropriate outfit in saunas, and it all happens in a disciplined, wholesome, safe and respectful atmosphere. Possibly one of the highest forms of German civilisation one can experience.
Gawkers and bathing costume-wearers will be expelled by the staff without qualms, so don’t even think you can get away with playing the tourist who didn’t know, it won’t make a difference.
That very matter-of factly, unerotic approach to mixed nudity may well turn out to be a revelation to many visitors open-minded enough to give it a try and go with the flow.
- Claudius Therme. Large spa with pool and lots of different saunas (indoors and outdoors) next to the Rhine, north of Deutz.
- Mauritius Therme. Decent Saunalanschaft in a hotel south of Neumarkt.
- Mediterana. 11 saunas and a huge pool, in Bergisch Gladbach, East of Cologne.
- monte mare Bedburg. Large spa in the west of Cologne.
- Neptunbad. In the popular area of Ehrenfeld in an old renovated bath, to which an attractive “sauna landscape” in Japanese style on two levels has been added. Also a comprehensive fitness center.
- Saunas in public swimming pools. Some of the public swimming pools managed by the Cologne city council, notably Agrippabad, do have small Saunalandschaften too, all featuring a Damentag (ladies only day).
- Ananda Tantra Massage and Coaching, Frankfurter Str. 40. Daily 9 AM – 9 PM. Tantra massage, coaching and workshops, an open minded and liberal attitude essential because the massages include sexually sensitive body parts, however, no sexual services are given by the team of 30 female and male employees.
- Sukon – Thai Art Of Massage. Traditional Thai Massage – Institute, in the city center. Thai native massage therapists practise in the 160m² Thai-styled studio: original Royal Massage, Aromaoilmassage and Footmassage. This place does not offer any erotic massages.
Shopping in Cologne
The main shopping street of Cologne is the Schildergasse, extending from the Neumarkt. Both the Schildergasse and Neumarkt, as well as pedestrianized side streets extending from them (in particular the Hohe Straße leading towards the Dom), feature numerous department stores, boutiques and other high-profile (and, often, high-price) retail establishments. For young fashion, also try Ehrenstraße.
- Galeria Kaufhof. Germany’s largest department store chain and direct descendant of the mighty Leonhard Tietz AG has its flagship store in Cologne, where it is headquartered (although the headquarter offices have now moved to a different, modern building in Altstadt-Sued). The original 19th-century Tietz department store on the Schildergasse has been expanded with a “modern” part in the 1950s, including a multi-storey parking, facing the Caecilienstraße and now fills the entire huge block. You can find everything there, from apparel to groceries.
- Karstadt. Kaufhof’s main competitor situated themselves in a modern shopping centre north of Neumarkt, over the Zeppelinstraße.
Although it is Duesseldorf that brands itself as the German capital of fashion, Cologne’s Altstadt also features a wide range of high-end fashion stores with a selection of top German and global brands.
- Franz Sauer, Minoritenstraße 13, 50667 Köln.
- Apropos, Mittelstraße 3, 50672 Köln. Features a Gucci brand store
- La Belle Modehaus, Mittelstraße 20, 50672 Köln.
- Modehaus Elscheidt, Benesisstraße 36.
- Boutique 69, Pfeilstraße 31-35, 50672 Köln.
There is an abundance of record stores in Cologne, but most are hidden in non-tourist quarters.
- For a mainstream record store, go to Saturn, which opened in 1961 and certainly has the largest CD (and DVD) collection in the region. To pre-listen a record, hold it under one of the scanners spread throughout the shop. Always worth a visit. Subway and Regional Train from central station: Hansaring. The (office) building is from 1925 and was briefly the highest house in Europe (65 meters). A smaller Saturn shop is on the top floor of Galeria Kaufhof (listed above).
- Independent record stores are spread around Saturn: Cross the street for 2nd hand and punk, follow the “Ring” (boulevard) north, and you will find Jazz, Electro and HipHop at Schallschock record store. Famous alternative music-store Normal is south of Saturn, as well as Underdog Record Store (specialized in Alternative Rock, Emo, Garage and related matters) Subway and Regional Train from central station: Hansaring
- For electronic music, get off at Friesenplatz, and go to groove attack in Maastrichter street. Also famous is Kompakt record store. Both are connected to a label sharing the name, and putting out fine German electronic music. Subway: Friesenplatz
- “Mayersche” at Neumarkt is the biggest bookstore, you will find anything you want, including a selection of English books.
- On “Ehrenstraße”, you will find cheap and arty books, take a look at “Buchhandlung König” at the eastern end, buy art books at well known “Taschen” at the corner of Ehrenstraße and the Ring. Taschen was founded in Cologne in 1980 and is headquartered here.
- Travel books are bought best at “Gleumes”, between Zülpicher Platz and Rudolfplatz. They have only maps and travel books, but these from around the world.
- Books in English – “English Books and Tea”, Auf dem Rothenberg 9a, in the old town, stocks a wide range of new and secondhand books in English. It also offers a choice of teas and conversation and invaluable tourist orientation – all in English.
- Honorable mention: “Cafe Goldmund” in Ehrenfeld. A very cozy corner-café with all walls lined with bookshelves. You can buy every (second hand) book after you finnished flipping through it while you enjoyed your drinks for a small tip. Also hosts small music and poetry events. Glasstraße 2, right next to the S-Bahn station “Ehrenfeld”.
Cologne has a wide variety of restaurants, German and otherwise, as a glance in the colored pages of the local telephone book will illustrate.
Restaurant at Fischmarkt/Frankenwerft: Ständige Vertretung.
One can eat pretty well in most traditional-style Kölsch restaurants, and in fact as a visitor, you should try some of the local food, which is quite rustic, but tasty, hearty fare.
The brewery taps (Früh, Sion, Pfaffen, Malzmühle, etc., in the old town south of the Dom) are worth taking note of to that respect, although they tend to be expensive for what you get.
Places out of the way such as Schreckenskammer and Max Stark (north of the train station, the former being within crawling distance of the Station Backpackers Hostel), Päffgen (Friesenstraße) and both of Cologne independent brewpubs (Hellers Brauhaus on Roonstraße and Braustelle in Ehrenfeld) offer cheaper, better food that the old town tourist traps. Besides, most of these places have tons of atmosphere, which doesn’t hurt!
You may also experience the deadly dry wit of the Köbes (traditional name of the blue-clad waiters) in most of those places. If it happens to you, don’t get upset, just enter the game, send the Köbes packing with a dig and a smile and you’ll be all right.
You’ll mostly find typical Rheinland dishes in those traditional Kneipen. Classics include:
- Halver Hahn: nice big slab of Dutch gouda with a rye roll (Röggelchen)
- Himmel und Äd mit Flönz: fried black pudding with mashed potatoes (“earth”), apple sauce (“heaven”) and fried onions.
- Soorbrode/Sauerbraten: joint marinated in vinegar with raisins, usually served with red cabbage and a kloss (potato dumpling). The joint may be beef or horsemeat, so you may want to ask first.
- Dicke Bunne mit Speck: boiled white beans with hefty boiled bacon slices on top.
- Schweinshaxe (grilled); Hämchen (cooked): pig’s leg, usually a bit of a monster (ranges from 600 to 1400 g, including the bone)
- Rievekoochen/Reibekuchen: flat fried potato cakes usually on offer once a week, and served with a variety of sweet or savoury toppings, which may include apple sauce, Rübenkraut (the beet-sourced equivalent to black treacle) or smoked salmon with horseradish cream.
If you are looking for a snack, you can either head for one of the Middle-Eastern or Asian places, or you can make use of the traditional fast food places like McDonald’s, and Burger King. Italian restaurants in Cologne seem to attempt to aim for a higher quality than in the UK, though it is debatable whether they achieve it, and whether their prices (often 150-200% of UK prices) are justified. There are several Indian restaurants across the city, which serve a fair fare, though the visiting Brit may be slightly disappointed to find that German ‘curry culture’ is rather akin to that of the UK in the 1960s: menus are neither large and varied, nor regionalised and specialist, and although ingredients are fresh, the food without exception appears to be tamed-down for the conservative German palate and the cooks are rather hesitant to spice it up even if you ask for it. “Clay Oven” (Luxemburger Straße near Südbahnhof) and “Bombay” (near Eifelstraße tram station) do make a vindaloo that will satisfy the most hardy customer, though. More recently, Japanese and Thai restaurants have become more common; both are quite expensive.
- Hauptbahnhof – the ground floor of the central train station has a good number of cheap eateries, which include Pizza Hut to kiosks selling sausages.
- Falafel Habibi on Zülpicher Straße. They have two stores, which serve the same food (though sweetmeats may vary).
- There is an abundance of Döner Kebab and similar takeaways around the town. Generally a lot of Turkish snack bar-style places can be found just north of the main station at Eigelstein, around Zülpicher Platz and in the Belgisches Viertel, with some excellent Lebanese and Persian takeaways further down Zülpicher Straße towards Südbahnhof. Probably best now (though expensive) is Oruc Döner on Kyffhäuserstraße (near Barbarossaplatz); while the kebab is quite good though not outstanding, their freshly baked pide bread is famous all over town. There are lots of Turkish restaurants and takeaways within Kalk, Mülheim and (mainly restaurants) in the Belgisches Viertel.
- Borsalino, an Italian-style restaurant on Zülpicher Straße close to Zülpicher Platz. Very affordable prices.
- Don Camillo, Hildeboldplatz 1a. a small Italian tabula calde style restaurant. Coming from Hohenzollenring, head into Breite Straße/Ehrenstraße and take the first road to the left.
- El Inca. Görresstraße 2, near Rathenauplatz. Latin-American restaurant, open 18:00-24:00.
- Johnny Turista, Rathenauplatz. Easy-going pub/restaurant offering snacks, hot dishes and a daily changing selection of tapas; prices are lower than in most tapas bars.
- Selam. Ehrenfeldgürtel 91 (tram station Venloer Straße/Gürtel) Ethiopian restaurant, opens Tu-Fr at 17:00 and on weekends at 16:00. Good selection of mild and spicy Ethiopian dishes served on the traditional plate of injera bread.
- Farmer’s. Steakhouses with several branches on the Ring (near Friesenplatz), Wallrafplatz (near the Dom, off Hohe Straße), Kreuzgasse (off Schildergasse shopping street). At lunchtime they usually have a special, that will give you a square meal for €6-7.
- pepe, Antwerpener Straße 63 (near Stadtgarten and west of Friesenplatz). 18:00-02:00. Spanish style food, tapas and cocktails. Cool crowd, usually booked out after 19:00, make a reservation by phone or e-mail the day before.
- Unsichtbar, Luxemburger Straße 319a (at Sülzgürtel and Luxemburger Straße). 18:00-00:00. “Unsichtbar” is a play of words. Literally it means “invisible”, but the suffix “bar” also refers to being a bar. You will get your private butler, who is a blind person, and you eat in total darkness. You can choose your meal in a showroom and then your personal blind butler will lead you to the dark room where you have to smell, feel, maybe touch and of course eat your meal, but you won’t see it. You’ll have to refer to your butler about everything, whether going to the bathroom or refilling your glass. You are not allowed to smoke, use a cellphone or do anything else that could lighten up the room. The food on your plate is explained to you by using a clock-like system (e.g. “beans are on three o’clock”). It’s an excursion into the world of blind people, who are supported this way, and a really good restaurant, too. For weekends you have to book around 13 weeks in advance, but during the week you’ll get a free table (with a little luck).
- Landhaus Kuckuck, Olympiaweg 2 (near Müngersdorfer Stadion (Aachener Straße)). Tu-Sa 12:00-23:00; Su 12:00-18:00. Exquisite German, but also international meals.
- Fischers Weingenuss & Tafelfreuden, Hohenstaufenring 53 (between Zülpicher Platz and Rudolfplatz). Exquisite French-like and modern food, great arrangements of wine and cheese. After noon you can get (quite) cheap 2-way dishes of the day including water or a glass of wine. You have to book (quite early) in advance and a menu will be created on your wishes.
Typical Cologne beer is called “Kölsch” and served in bars around town in small glasses, called “Stangen”, of 0.2 L. That way the beer is always fresh and cold. Don’t worry, waiters will be fast to bring you a new one once your old one is (almost) finished. In more traditional bars and especially the breweries, the waiter (called “Köbes” in local language) will even hand you a fresh Kölsch without being asked, so it is easy to lose track of how much you drank. He will put a pencil line on your coaster for each beer that you drank, this will be the basis for your bill, so do not lose it! To stop the beer from coming, leave your glass almost half full until you have asked for the bill or put your coaster on top of your empty glass.
If you buy bottled Kölsch, take either Reissdorf, Früh, Gaffel or Mühlen, which are rated highest by Cologne citizens. Those looking for a beer with a little more bitterness might like to try Küppers (there are about 30 more brands).
There are so many bars and pubs to choose from that you could spend most of the night going from one bar to the next. A really great bar is the Irish Pub, Flanagan’s, in Altstadt down below a building. Almost everybody speaks English in there if that’s what you are looking for, and they have a really great Karaoke night on Sundays. The clientele is very friendly.
- For traditional breweries, head to the Altstadt around the Dom, where the Früh Kölsch brewery is the most famous with visitors and locals. You will find a younger crowd at Hellers Brauhaus on Roonstraße, near metro station Zülpicher Platz or Brauhaus Pütz on Engelbertstraße close to Rudolfplatz. Furthermore the Päffgen, on the all-bar street Friesenstraße close to the Friesenplatz, and the Mühlen near Heumarkt are traditional brewery pubs but less touristy than the “Früh”. Also recommended is Sion, which is a lesser known brand, but hailed to be very good, although some beer enthusiasts have found it lacking character from 2007 on. Most Altstadt pubs are somewhat scorned as “tourist traps” by locals, however: prices here are usually higher than e.g. on Zülpicher Straße.
- There are a lot of modern bars and lounges all around town. More mainstream ones are on Zülpicher Straße. For something more independent and funky on this street, try Umbruch (funky) or Stiefel (punky). The Low Budget on Aachener Straße next to Moltkestraße metro is a nice, unassuming, punky bar which features a fine selection of drinks and often hosts concerts, poetry or cabaret sessions.
- A lot of stylish places are in the so-called Belgian quarter between Aachener Straße and the Ring, e.g. famous M20 or the Hallmackenreuther.
- A secret Tip are the Bars of the alternative Szene in Cologne. Those you may find the most in Ehrenfeld, like the “Sonic Ballroom”, and in the Südstadt, for instance the “Tsunami Club” and the little pub “Lotta”, but also in the famous Kwartier Lateng, which is near the University of Cologne, around the Barbarossaplatz, at the Zülpicher Straße and the Kyffhäuser Straße. If you are searching for something more rough, you may find some nice places to rock and roll, on the Schäl Sick in the cityparts Kalk, east from the Kölnarena, like the little Trash Chic bar in the Wiersbergstreet, and in Mülheim, north from the Kölner Messe the little St. Pauli fanszene pub called “Limes”, at the Mülheimer Freiheit street, near the Wiener Platz. But, this places are better to be known visited by the younger and not so rich people. So take care of your pockets.
- Cafe Oscar (Oscar Bar & Cafe), Hohenstaufenring 25 (at the Zulpicher Platz S-Bahn stop). Awesome Italian restaurant that has a long running special of cheap cocktails after 17:00 most nights, and pizza and pasta dishes for €3-4 daily before 18:00. Great place for lunch or an early dinner, and also a good base to kick off a night out. Staff are very friendly and generally speak English, and the food is excellent, as are the cocktails.
- Früh am Dom, Am Hof 12 – 14 (Just south of the cathedral, behind the Domhotel). Früh am Dom is a great place to try the local Kölsch brew.
- Brauhaus Gaffel, Alter Markt 20-22. 11:00-01:00.
- Brauhaus Sion, Unter Taschenmacher 5 (Altstadt).
- Brauerei Päffgen, Friesenstraße 64-66.
- Brauerei Malzmühle, Heumarkt 6. 10:00-22:00. visited by Bill Clinton
- Lommerzheim, Siegesstraße 18 (in Köln-Deutz (across the railway bridge)).
- Ausschank Pfaffen Brauerei Max Päffgen, Heumarkt 62.
- Jeck – dä kölsche Keller (Jeck), Große Neugasse 42, 50667 Köln (close to the rhine, in the old city). Sa Su 20:00-03:00. Only local music is played in the Jeck.
- Alter Wartesaal. Nifty bar and disco beside the central station: various events & exclusive parties.
- Club Bahnhof Ehrenfeld & YUCA („Your Urban Club of Arts“), Bartholomäus-Schink-Straße 65/67 (Directly at the S-Bahn station “Ehrenfeld”. Also close to U-Bahn stop “Venloer Straße/Gürtel”.). Club complex in Ehrenfeld. Parties and concerts. Devoted to a variety of international styles including hip-hop, jazz and Latin music.
- Bootshaus, Auenweg 173 (right side of the river near the Zoobrücke bridge). Serious clubbing. In an old harbor storage facility, but very modern inside. One of Germany’s top clubs.
- Gebäude 9, Deutz-Mülheimer Strasse 127. Concerts. International flavor. Alternative crowd. Quite popular. Inside a defunct factory site on the right bank of the river.
- Die Werkstatt. Houses clubs and concerts in an industrial area in Ehrenfeld.
- Subway. Various parties from Hip Hop, Electro to Indie music with a hip but laid back audience (Moltkestraße metro – next to Rudolfplatz).
- Blue Shell, Luxemburger Str. 32. Small old dance and night club, loud and crowded. Rock concerts, music contests, poetry slams, parties, bar sounds.
- Artheater, Ehrenfeldgürtel 127. Ehrenfeld club. Not a great building but the clubbing area is fine. Club books good DJs and artists. In walking distance of Club Bahnhof Ehrenfeld.
- Bar Orange – on Sudermannplatz, near Ebertplatz. Great atmosphere and great cocktails, or just a beer and a lively chat with Milan, the resident philosopher, or Rainer and Arash, experts on local goings on.
- Blue Lounge Party. Every third Saturday, at the Bürgerhaus Stollwerck in Dreikönigenstraße 23. Starts at 22:00, tickets €5. Percussion, Brazil, balearic and deep house, techno, trance. A must for people who like this kind of music.
- #TAUSEND Bar. Aachener Straße 57 (Moltkestraße metro): various events & music, nice bar styled by design students from the Köln International School of Design (KISD).
- 3Klang. On Ehrenfeldgürtel 127, metro station Venloer Str./Gürtel. Every third Friday, 22:00-05:00.
- Blue Lounge Bar. On Mathiasstraße, lesbian bar. Off-shoot of the very successful party mentioned above.
- Basswerk Session, bi-monthly, the second Saturday at Gebäude 9, Deutz-Mülheimer Straße 127-129 (tram 3 or 4, stop at KölnMesse/Osthallen), 23:00–05:00. Long-running and popular drum ‘n’ bass party in a defunct funky factory hall. Resident DJs often invite renowned guest DJs from the international d’n’b fringe. Alternates bi-monthly with the similar “Phonogenic” party in the same venue.
- Art of House Party. Once a month, the second or third Saturday at Stadtgarten in Venloer Straße 40 (Hans-Böckler Platz metro): nice and really crowded house party, guests around 25.
- Funky Chicken Club. Every Friday at Opernterassen next to the opera (Appellhofplatz metro): Cologne House Party in a beautiful venue, always crowded, good House and Electronic Music.
- Apropo. Good parties on Fridays and Saturdays with Soul, Funk, Disco and Hip Hop, a cosy venue in Im Dau 17 (Ulrepforte or Severinstraße metro) easy guests from 20 years on.
- Sixpack In the vibrant Belgisches Viertel (Aachener Straße 33 – next to Rudolfplatz) you should be aware to wait long or even get rejected especially at a late hour. Mixed music from Electro to Indie with a huge variety of bottled beer.
Where to stay in Cologne
Cologne is an internationally important trade fair city, with expansive fairgrounds in Deutz. The hotel rates rise multi-fold during important fairs. If you do not have to, try not staying in Cologne during those. Alternatively, you can try finding accommodation in Duesseldorf, which is a short train ride away and is usually not affected by the rate hikes (but has its own trade fair calendar, so mind it as well).
Campingplatz der Stadt Köln. Rhineside camping site with a view of the Dom and city centre, the low drone of the nearby highway bridge does distract from the otherwise peaceful locality. It is right by a cycle and walking trail into the city and is an ideal family site (although there aren’t many activities for children), rates are very reasonable and the owner speaks English. Getting to the site is a little difficult, take the tram/train to Rodenkirchen and walk over the bridge, when on the other side turn downriver and the campsite is on the right, there is a restaurant nearby. Adult €6.50.
- Camping Berger. Another Rhine-side camping site, nearer public transport. With 125 spaces, supermarket, playground and a restaurant. Rates are reasonable (€7.50 for adult per night).
- Station Hostel, Marzellenstraße 40-48 (across from the main station). Basic rooms and facilities and the breakfast is extra but good value nonetheless. They also have storage lockers (deposit) if you want to keep your valuables somewhere safe.
- Jugendherberge Köln-Deutz, Siegesstraße 5 (near railway station;) , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Hostel 404, Neusser Straße 404.
- Black Sheep Hostel, Barbarossaplatz 1 (four stops by subway 16/18 to Barbarossaplatz; ticket:Kurzstrecke). Creative new hostel in the middle of nightlife – small breakfast included.
- Weltempfänger, Venloer Straße 196 (next to Piusstraße subway station). In a relaxed and bohemian neighbourhood, the hostel has got a nice bar and friendly staff.
- Die Wohngemeinschaft, Richard-Wagner-Str. 39 (short walk from Rudolfplatz). 16 rooms. Also has a busy, comfortable bar and a small theatre. Not far from two nightlife areas to the north (around Brüsseler Platz) and south (around Zülpicher Straße).
- Köln City Appartments, Heumarkt 59; 50667 Köln , ✉ email@example.com. 30sqm newly renovated great bright rooms, bathroom and toilet are separated. There are 7 apartments available. 10 minutes to the fair and the Cologne main station. 17€.
- Ameron Hotel Ascot Cologne, Hohenstaufenring 95-97 , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. This 4-star hotel in the city centre, not far away from the cathedral and a 5-minutes walk from the Friesen quarter. Single from €80, double from €100 (incl breakfast buffet).
- Esplanade Hotel, Hohenstaufenring 56 , ✉ email@example.com. This privately-run, 3-star hotel is 2 km from the cathedral and a 10-minute walk from Friesenstraße. Single from €90, double from €120 (incl breakfast buffet).
- Meininger City Hostel, Engelbertstraße 33-35 (near Zülpicher Platz).
- NH Koeln Mediapark, Im Mediapark 8b. From €72.70.
- Best Western Grand City Hotel Köln (formerly Four Points by Sheraton), Breslauer Platz 2 , fax: . The Grand City Hotels chain, focuses on budget-oriented hotels in Germany, and is a part of the Best Western network. The hotel’s building is anything but pretty and the room appointments somewhat outdated, but this is made up for with free Wi-Fi and a convenient location. € 61.
- Drei Könige am Dom, Marzellenstraße 58-60. €85.
- Königshof Swiss Quality Hotel, Richartzstraße 14-16 , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 3-star hotel 500m away from the railway station and 13 km from the airport. from €121 (2020).
- Holiday Inn Cologne-Bonn Airport, Waldstraße 255.. Within walking distance of the airport (unless you have a lot of luggage), but they run a shuttle. Sometimes you can find a decently-priced room here when prices in town go through the roof. Nothing (but the airport) in walking distance. €99-250.
- Cologne Marriott, Johannisstraße 76-80. A short walk from the railway station, the Cologne Marriott is surprisingly small, modern, and personal. Rooms are not huge, but they’re immaculate and well appointed. Fou, the in-house “crazy brasserie”, serves great breakfasts and casual French, while the excellent Executive floor lounge with breakfast, dinner and drinks is worth paying the extra for. €130-200.
- Hilton Cologne, Marzellenstraße 13-17 (200 m from central station). Modern Hilton hotel in the centre, convenient for sightseeing. Prices go through the roof during trade fairs in Deutz. €115-400.
- Hyatt Regency Cologne, Kennedy-Ufer 2A (in the old town) , ✉ Cologne@hyatt.de. 5-star hotel. 306 rooms and suites with views of the River Rhine. Host to gourmet restaurant “Graugans”, 13 conference rooms and a spa.
- Im Wasserturm, Kaygasse 2. A luxury hotel built inside of a 130-year-old water tower. It has a designer interior and a rooftop restaurant with stunning views. Price: €180-840 per night
- Pullman Cologne. Some rooms feature Nespresso machines and a glass partition between bedroom and bathroom. The top-level bar George M offers sweeping vistas of Cologne from its 12th-floor location.
- Radisson Blu Cologne, Messe Kreisel 3. Restaurant, bar, gym, spa.
- Savoy. A family-run 5-star hotel with a huge spa area and a very nice rooftop bar. It’s very close to the main station (exit Breslauer Platz, turn left, ~100 m) and has very good weekend offers. Known as the place of choice for many (German and international) celebrities.
Hotels Cologne: Popularity
|Hotel||Stars||Discount||Price per night, from||Choose dates|
art'otel cologne by park plaza
Mercure Hotel Severinshof Köln City
Courtyard by Marriott Cologne
Lindner Hotel City Plaza
Steigenberger Hotel Köln
CityClass Hotel Residence am Dom
Criminal activity in Cologne is similar to other big cities. Tourists should take normal safety precautions, particularly in the city centre, where pickpockets are known to be active. Also, be careful on the Ring, which is full of clubs and night-time crowds in the streets. Day and night be careful in outlying neighbourhoods like Chorweiler, Porz, Seeberg, Ostheim, Bocklemünd, Ossendorf, and Vingst. In general, stay away from drunk people. At street crossings, watch the trams.
- hotspot.koeln. Since 2014 free city Wi-Fi (“WLAN” in German) is available in many public spaces and in public buildings. To use it you must find a signal (for a map follow the link), tick a box and click past two messages.
- Free Wi-Fi is also available in many bars, restaurants and cafes.
- The free Wi-Fi on ICE trains and at the station identifies itself as “Telekom”.
- Telekom HotSpot. Commercial (fast) Wi-Fi service. A “HotSpot Pass” costs €4.95 a day.
Holy mass in Catholic churches near to the central station:
- Dom, Domkloster 3 (next to the central station). Su 07:00, 08:00, 09:00, 10:00, 12:00, 17:00, 18:30; Monday – Saturday 06:30, 07:15, 08:00, 09:00, 18:30
- St. Andreas, Komödienstr. 8. Su 09:00, 11:00, 18:00; Monday to Friday 12:05; Sa 09:00, 17:00
- St. Mariä Himmelfahrt, Marzellenstr. 26. Su 11:00; W Th 10:30; Sa 17:00, 18:30
- Minoritenkirche, Kolpingplatz 5. Su 09:00, 11:00, 16:00; Tu-F 99:00
- Bonn — the former capital of West Germany is due south and easy to reach by train or Stadtbahn (Regional Express 5; MittelRheinBahn MRB 48; U-Bahn line 16 and 18; also ICEs, ICs, and EC’s ).
- Brühl — almost a suburb of Cologne, contains the Augustusburg Palace which has been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The palace is one of the key works of Balthasar Neuman, and contains one of the finest Rococo interiors in the world, the highlight being the main staircase. Also in the grounds is the magnificent hunting Lodge of Falkenslust. Brühl can be easily reached by train in around 20 minutes from Cologne. The theme park of Phantasialand is also in Brühl.
- Königswinter — A small town reachable by train.
- Ruhr (Ruhrgebiet) — If you are interested in heavy industry this might be a worthwhile trip. It is about 100 km north of Cologne. The region, which was the center of mountain (coal and steel) industry in Germany, is going through a structural transformation and proudly presents its industrial past on the Industrial Heritage Trail.
- Zülpich — a small town southwest of Cologne dating from Roman times. It has a newly opened museum centered on Roman baths and bathing culture. It is also a gateway to the forested hills of the Eifel region.
Due to Cologne’s proximity to the German-Belgian-Dutch border, weekend trips to foreign destinations are easy to arrange. Thalys operates high speed trains to Paris and Brussels, and Deutsche Bahn to Amsterdam, making each city only a few hours away. You can also travel to Maastricht (a city in the Netherlands with a beautiful city centre where the Maastricht Treaty of the European Union was signed in 1992) for a low cost by taking a train to Aachen then by bus to Maastricht.
History and Geography
As Cologne straddles the river, it is primarily flat. It is thought that the first people to settle in the area date back to around forty years before Jesus was born. It was the Romans who founded Colonia, as it was known then, so there are many sites which are being excavated to find treasures from that time. One of the more recent large finds was a nineteen hundred year old boat.
During World War Two, Cologne was pounded by more than two hundred and sixty air strikes which killed around twenty thousand people and, eventually, the city centre was reduced by a staggering ninety five percent. The Jewish population had been removed by the Nazis and all the synagogues had been demolished. Even twelve of the Romanesque churches had been destroyed taking with them a mass of cultural treasures. However, a massive rebuild started soon after the war ended, which now sees Cologne being an ultra-modern city albeit with several ancient buildings that were refurbished.
Best time to go to Cologne
Since Cologne has a very temperate climate, the winters are a little mild and the summers are warm. May to September are the warmer months, but these seldom get higher than 24°C (75°F).
Getting Around in Cologne
Cologne is typically German in style and the emphasis is on bicycling to get around. There is a network of cycle paths all over the place and cycle priority crossings as well. Even on some of the one way systems, cyclists are allowed to traverse in either direction which is more than can be said for other modes of transport!
There is an excellent rail system with trains running between the Central Station to Bonne Airport or high speed trains to Amsterdam, Paris and Brussels. Trains also run to Frankfurt and Berlin with some connecting to the Channel Tunnel which takes people on to London.
Being on the river, there are river cruises all along the Rhine and this makes for exceptional photo opportunities. There are docks here too making it one of the busiest inland ports in Germany.
The bus system around the city is really good, and there are trams too, and local trains that zip people from place to place. Find bicycle hire places on the north side of the Hapuptbahnhof. One to three day passes are available for people who want to use a mix of subway, tram and bus to get around to the major attractions.
There is an airport here, shared with Bonn, so getting to Cologne is exceptionally easy.
Major Attractions and Sights
When people are on holiday, museums are always the place to head for. Cologne has the Wallraf-Richartz Museum which opened its doors in 2001. It has many fine paintings which date from the last seven centuries. It also has one of the best collections of Medieval paintings which are well worth the visit, along with some exceptional Monet and Rembrandt examples too.
The Cathedral (Kölner Dom) is absolutely stunning – very deserving as being one of the most recognizable cathedrals in the world. It is Gothic in style and the climb to the top of the south tower is only for the fit. From here, get a magnificent vista of the city down below. Indeed, the cathedral is probably one of the most visited places in Cologne.
If there are kids along on the holiday, taking them to the Cologne Zoological Garden is a great idea. There is the aquarium, the Jungle House, the Owl Monastery and the Elephant Park among other attractions. Monkey Rock is a must and the kids will love the antics that these adorable creatures get up to.
For a very different experience, try out the Claudius Therme. This is a collection of thermal baths that will make the user feel enriched and revitalized. It is a natural mineral thermal spring which means the water is always warm, no matter if it is an indoor bath or an outdoor one and a great way to relieve stress at the beginning or end of the holiday.
Hohenzollern Bridge is a must for lovers of all ages. Although it takes the trains over the river, people who walk the bridge have begun adding padlocks with their initials on to show how much they love someone. This is a great way to leave behind a reminder to others that love will always prevail!
Another great treat is the Chocolate Museum. People get to learn everything about this delicious delight but, best of all, they also get to dip wafers in the famous chocolate fountain as well. Visitors are also treated to a lovely cup of hot cocoa in the café on site, and these rounds off the visit in a very sweet way.
Cologne will always have its dark reminders of World War Two. In this instance, those who are interested in the history should visit the Gestapo Prison which has been preserved in its original state. People can learn about the Nazi movement here or just remember the trials and tribulations that the Holocaust victims went through. It is a good reminder that everyone not forget about that time.
This fair city has its share of lovely green spaces where people can just chill out after a long day of sightseeing. There are beer gardens and great scenery to ensure that visitors have a chance to relax. The Japanese Gardens in Dusseldorfer Strasse is particularly charming and features a teahouse, wonderful statues of Buddha, lanterns, and very attractive bridges and ponds scattered around. Try to visit when the cherry trees blossom in spring for a perfect photo opportunity. Autumn brings yet another photo opportunity when the maple leaves all shades of gold and red.
Another great place to visit is the Sculpture Park which displays pieces from both local and international artists. The sculptures change every two years, so even those who visit regularly get a chance to see something new. The cool thing about the park though is that as recently as 1997, this was just a derelict space doing nothing at all. The sculptures have really breathed new life into the area and it is popular with tourists and locals alike.
Even after a full day of sightseeing around Cologne, it is good to know that people can find a place to sit and relax while they are getting their second wind. Visiting one of the parks mentioned is the ideal way to people watch too which is always interesting in a foreign city. Take this opportunity to watch the world go by!
Shopping in Cologne
Although Cologne has all the designer shops etc that people come to expect from a city, trawling through the Veedel (City Quarters) is far more interesting. These are traditional style neighborhoods where bookstores, designer shops and art galleries are bunched. Dotted around are interesting monuments to photograph, and one of the best is the North City Gate (Eigelsteintorburg) which was made to keep out the French in years gone by. In summer there is a very popular flea market every month where all kinds of oddities can be picked up.
Of course, no one could come to this fair city without buying a bottle of the ubiquitous cologne that the city is famous for. Bottles are available from practically every tourist site so treat the family to one.
Eating Out in Cologne
German food is renowned for being extremely tasty. There is schnitzel and lovely potatoes seemingly in every local dish. Breakfast includes something called Butter Cake that is absolutely delicious and it can be bought from bakeries for a take home treat.
Cologne has an absolute vast variety of restaurants and eateries, cafes and fast food joints etc to choose from. The specialty is the outdoor eateries – even in winter – where life on the street can be observed while the food is being cooked.
‘Banker’s’ is probably one of the better known eateries and is situated near the St. Andreas church. The name came from the many clerks who take lunch there, but it has since become a haven for tourists too. Expect to find simple but tasty food from baguettes to Italian pasta and everything in between. They even have Mexican style tapas on offer as well so these little snacks are ideal when having a few drinks.
Food served in Cologne ranges through Japanese, Chinese and Indian through to Mexican so there is bound to be something for even the fussiest of people to tempt their palate. High class restaurants to bistros and sandwich shops all do the same thing – serve up great and delicious dishes. Don’t forget to try the local beer here as it is unlike any other.
Nightlife in Cologne
Whenever people are in a foreign city, they really crave to do something that the locals do in the evenings. In this instance, that would be to partake of a kölsch, the famous local beer served up everywhere. There are nightclubs all round the town but the fashionable people opt to visit the Belgische Viertel or the University Quarter around the area called Barbarossa Platz.
Früh am Dom is a great brauhaus where everyone seems to congregate. Although the place always seems to be bustling, the service is still good and the food excellent.
For something a little more up market, try out the Rosebud which has cocktails of all descriptions. This bar is definitely for the elite to be seen and it has some great entertainment in the form of jazz music. Although the décor is a bit wanting, try plum colored chairs with zebra print cushions, it is the ‘in’ place that people like to gather in.
One of the best loved clubs in Cologne is the Alter Wartesaal which is a former waiting room under the Central Station. Good to look at from the outside, the party atmosphere inside is what people are attracted to.
Anything of local interest in Cologne
There is a whole host of things that only happen locally in Cologne, one of these is the Cologne Pride party. Gays and lesbians come out onto the streets to do their thing while amazed onlookers are welcome to join in.
There are beer and wine festivals and a full blown Carnival season which sees parades taking over the streets from one end of the city to the other.
There are some rather unique events too. For example, in January, Musik in den Hausen is a festival that sees local homes open to concerts as well as public venues like parks and music halls. Anything from improvised to jazz and classical music is on offer and lets visitors sample some real German hospitality.
February sees the beginning of the Carnival season where the busy markets come alive with all kinds of fun and games. Floats and parades are the order of the day and the streets are full of locals and visitors celebrating with the people on the floats.
In mid May, wine lovers will have something to look forward to since Neumarkt offers everyone a chance to taste a tipple or two. German wines are very reasonably priced and most people come along just for the fun of this week.
August sees the Ringfest swing into action with more than one thousand bands taking part. Along with the music, locals take the opportunity to set up dozens of food stalls so visitors don’t have to go hungry.
The comedy festival is held in October and it attracts international artists from all over. It is held in several different venues around the city and the comedians compete to win the Comedy Cup at the end of the festival.
Germany is famous for its traditional Christmas markets and Cologne usually plays host to four. Visit at this special time of year to enjoy an entire theatre of entertainment in the form of many stalls selling traditional and modern gifts, intricate and beautiful (and often unique) Christmas decorations, handicrafts and of course tasty treats and warming drinks.
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