I have totally changed my mind about Cologne. When I first visited in 2007 I thought it was the most boring of German cities. There aren’t many tourist attractions and there are better places in Germany to go shopping so I wrote it off. I did go back though, either passing through to go elsewhere or as a quick getaway from my home in Paris. Little by little, it grew on me.
Visiting Cologne Germany
Here are my top 5 tips for visiting Cologne and how to make your trip worthwhile.
Get the Best View of Cologne
If you cross the River Rhine on the Deutz Bridge you’ll get a close-up view of Cologne’s pretty Altstadt, the Old Town. Although much of the city was either destroyed during the war or knocked down to rebuild in a modern style, there are still some original buildings in this part of the city.
Looking back towards Cologne from the right bank (the Deutz area) you’ll get one of the best views of the city including that of the Dom which dominates the skyline. I suggest walking over the Deutz Suspension Bridge and then along the river towards Hohenzollernbrücke, the city’s most famous bridge. This way you get to see the historic city from all angles.
Add a Lovelock to the Hohenzollern Bridge
On your way back from the right bank, cross over the Hohenzollern Bridge and check out the 1000s of lovelocks that have accumulated in recent years. I’m not a huge fan of the lovelocks on the Pont des Arts in Paris but they seem to fit Cologne for some reason. Maybe due to its more robust construction that can handle a little extra weight.
Visit Cologne’s Festivals
Cologne’s annual Christmas market and Carnival festival are known around the world and are great events to visit in the city. There are smaller events too like the Cologne Lights show and Cologne Pride, both held in July. In general, Cologne is a very busy city with a string of popular festivals held throughout the year. It’s a large city so there is always something going on.
Have a Beer by the Rhine
For me, Cologne is all about chilling out and sitting in one of the beer gardens by the Rhine is a great place to do that. There are plenty to choose from and they are always packed with tourists and locals alike. Ständige Vertretung has one of the best locations and if you’re lucky you’ll get some free entertainment from one of the local buskers.
There are plenty of opportunities to try German specialities in Cologne and the best place for that would be one of the pubs around Heumarkt or try Cafe Wahlen for traditional coffee and cake. There’s a great choice of international cuisine too including Cuban and Mexican or if you prefer more contemporary meals head to the area around Ehrenstraße. If the weather is not too good you could always take refuge in the chocolate museum.
For more details on travelling in Germany, read our post: Road Trip Northern Germany, which provides an itinerary for places to go near Hamburg and elsewhere in the north of the country.
Those are some of my favourite things to do in Cologne but of course, it’s only a brief introduction to a dynamic city that offers something different for everyone.