Cologne’s Gothic city skyline is dominated by its famous cathedral, but look a little closer and you’ll quickly discover the city also boasts a range of art museums, ancient medieval architecture and classic German restaurants and beer halls. The streets showcase the local culture, particularly during the Carnival festivities, football season and the renowned Christmas markets.
Things to do in Cologne
You’d be amiss not visiting the 14th-century Cologne Cathedral during your holiday. This towering Roman Catholic cathedral features two distinct spires, eleven church bells, priceless Jewish tablets and other revered treasures. If you haven’t got your fill of historic architecture, tick off Cologne City Hall, which overlooks two public squares and features various structures dating back to the 14th century.
Make a beeline for Old Town, take a seat in a traditional Brauhaus and order a pork knuckle and the city’s own brew, Kölsch. Save time for a leisurely stroll down the cobblestone laneways, which pass homes of yesteryear and lead you down to the picturesque Rhine River.
Those with a sweet tooth will love the riverside Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum, where you can explore the entire history of chocolate, see actual cacao trees, drink from a three-metre-high chocolate fountain and watch the process of making chocolate bars. Don’t miss out on the informative river cruise, which takes you past some of the city’s biggest sights and under scenic bridges.
Feel like a day trip? Take the 30-minute drive or 60-minute bus ride out to Phantasialand in neighbouring Brühl. This popular theme park boasts thrill rides, such as a drop tower, along with themed lands, including China Town, Mexico, Deep in Africa and Berlin.
Getting around Cologne
Bike tours and rentals are ideal if you want an active and immersive holiday. If you’re short on time, use the U-Bahn and S-Bahn trains, which complement the city’s bus and tram lines. Cologne’s city centre is a low-emission zone, so it’s best to forget about driving and hail a taxi instead.