CologneIt is said that natives of Cologne who are living elsewhere always feel homesick, and visitors to this beautiful city will soon understand why. Germany’s oldest metropolis, which, of course, gave its name to the Eau de Cologne, offers a mix of magnificent and romantic churches, cutting-edge modern architecture, busy shopping streets, and world-famous museums. There is much to do and see in Cologne, and with all the frequent flights and transportation options, getting here has never been easier.
The CityVisitors to Cologne will find a modern city with historic roots. Cologne is the oldest of Germany’s large cities and the impressive outline of its cathedral, a Gothic masterpiece and the most visited building in Germany, towers over all of the other buildings. The cathedral, which was started in 1248, was one of the most ambitious building projects of the Middle Ages and is still one of the largest cathedrals in Europe. The city was born as a Roman colony, hence the name Colonia, which later became Cologne, or Köln in German. Nowadays, Cologne is a metropolis in all senses of the word, both in terms of its size and of the attractions it has to offer. It is also a centre for the arts, with many galleries and large international trade fairs. The city’s skyline is dominated by the cathedral and twelve Romanic churches, as well as by five large radio and television buildings. Many printing firms and newspaper companies are based in Cologne, one of Europe’s most important media cities. Visitors will find that the majority of the sights, restaurants and nightclubs in Cologne are located in the city centre, in the Altstadt (Old Town), alongside the ring road around the city and in the Severin district to the south. Cologne’s location on the Rhine makes it the perfect starting place for romantic trips down the river. Among the more modern architectural sights, the Neo-Gothic building on Glockenstrasse is one of the most popular ones for visitors. This is where the city’s most famous product, Eau de Cologne 4711, was originally manufactured.
MuseumsBoasting a history that dates back to over 2000 years ago, this ancient city is a cultural hub rich in traditions. Historical sites can be found everywhere throughout the city, but it´s inside the numerous museums that the real gems are kept for art lovers and tourists to enjoy. The city features ten municipal museums ranging from art galleries, such as the Ludwig, to historical ones, like the Römisch-Germanisches Museum, treating the travellers with a good number of private galleries and ecclesiastic museums as well.
Do & See
Cologne's Old Town is the historical centre of the city. Highlights of this area include the Cathedral, the Roman Praetorium, the twelve Romanesque churches of Cologne, and the City Hall, which is the oldest building of this kind in all Germany. Sightseeing can be even more exciting if you go on a boat tour, a cable car, or a building with a panoramic view of the city. Nature lovers can find refuge in one of the city's parks, at the Botanical Garden, or at the zoo. Below is a list of the top things to do and see in Cologne, Germany:
For those not native to the area, it’s important to realise that a “Halver Hahn” is not a dialect term for half a chicken, but a rye bread roll filled with Gouda cheese. The regional beef dish “Rheinischer Sauerbraten” is a delicacy, which generally contains raisins and is served with delicious gravy and potato dumplings. In Cologne, you'll find no shortage of restaurants offering local specialities as well as international cuisine.
Having a coffee or tea with a piece of cake in the afternoon in a German ritual you shouldn't miss. Fruit flans, Bienenstich (a cake with almond topping and a vanilla cream filling) and Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest gateau) are just some of the sweet treats on offer here.
Bars & Nightlife
The best way to spend a free evening is in a Biergarten, where beer is served in a pleasant, open-air setting away from the streets. Of course, don't forget to try the local brewed beer called Kölsch. If you’re looking for more intense and exciting nightlife, several bars and clubs can be found in the areas outside the ring road, in the Old Town and in the Belgian District.
Shopping in Cologne can be done easily within walking distance. We suggest starting at the Hauptbahnhof, passing the cathedral and going down Hohe Strasse, a long pedestrian area with many shops. But the most popular shopping street in Cologne is probably Schildergasse, which runs south from the opera house to the Neumarkt. Just eastwards to the Hohe Strasse, the Ehrenstrasse starts off, a place for people who are looking for something fancy and hip or for an exclusive fashion brand. Not far from here, the Belgian District is well-known for new, young fashion designers. There is also no shortage of shopping centres with the Cologne Arcaden, the Opern Passagen, the Neumarkt Passage, the Globetrotter and more venues easily reachable from the city centre.