In this Cologne travel blog I will show you how you can make the most of your time visiting the beautiful metropolis Cologne. Some places in this blog are true hidden gems, while others are the real Cologne sightseeing hotspots. To me Cologne is a perfect mixture between these two and is therefore a perfect weekend destination for everyone.
This travel blog about Cologne was written by Traveltomtom Team member Margot van der Linde. Cologne, in Germany known as Köln, was the first stopover during her road trip from The Netherlands all the way to Croatia as final destination together with her boyfriend during the summer break. Cologne is a very nice city with enough to see and do for a couple days.
Cologne is known as the cosmopolitan and modern metropolis on the Rhine. It’s the largest city of German western state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). With 95% destruction, it was one of the most heavily bombed cities in Germany during World War II. The rebuilding resulted in a very mixed cityscape. Perfectly described by Lonely Planet: ‘Cologne is like a living textbook on history and architecture.’
It has a lot to offer, because there are multiple museums for the rainy days, such as the Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum and Museum Ludwig, but also for example parks and terraces for the sunny days. The public transportation in the city is pretty well organized, so you can easily get from one place to another if the walking distance would take you too long.
What to do in Cologne
1. Kölner Dom
The most famous landmark of Cologne will be the Kölner Dom. This cathedral is the tallest twin-spired church in the world. You’ll find it together with the Hohenzollernbrücke on almost every picture of the Cologne skyline. But it’s also possible to see a different skyline, while standing on the tower of this Cathedral itself. Unfortunately it was very crowded and hot (temperatures up to 32oC/90oF) during my visit, so I skipped the (exhausting) climb upstairs.
Next to the Main trainstation and Kölner Dom is the Hohenzollern arch bridge. Here you can cross the Rhine while enjoying the free view over the city’s old town. You can only cross it by train or by foot/bicycle. For the romantics among us: If you’re in Cologne with your lover you can add a lock on this steel superstructure. But you’ll not be the first one 😉.
Instead of climbing the stairs of the Kölner Dom, I did another activity which will give you amazing views: the Rhein-Seilbahn. These cable cars bring you from the Rheinpark where you can also walk, have a picnic or relax in the Claudius Therme, to the Kölner Zoo and back. You can choose whether you want to go one way (€5), or both ways (€8).
I decided to do a single ride after a walk in the Rheinpark and walked on the other side to the city centre along the river banks which will take you about 30 minutes. Instead of going back to the city centre right away you can also add the Köln Zoo and the botanical garden Flora Köln to this activity.
4. Aachener Straße and Aachener Weiher
If you want to see a more hip and trendy neighborhood of Cologne, I can recommend the Belgisches Viertel with in particularly the Aachener Straße from the Hahnentor heading West.
Here you can find many lovely restaurants and cafes. My favorites are Moxxa for coffee and Herr Pimock for food, but all the places are worth a try. If you keep heading West, you’ll find the Aachener Weiher. This is a big pond in the Hiroshima-Nagasaki park with lots of geese swimming around and honking friendly.
Go find yourself a spot on the beach chairs of Konny’s Garten after a walk in the park, where you can enjoy the view for hours with nice drinks. I loved the relaxed atmosphere of this beer garden! It’s the perfect get-a-way from the bustle of the city centre.
5. Fischmarkt in Cologne’s Old Town
I admit this is a very touristic area of Cologne, while you maybe know that I prefer the hidden gems of a city. But the colored houses and the Groß St Martin are too beautiful to miss during your visit. There are plenty restaurants to enjoy drinks or food here and you can walk in the narrow streets of this old part of the city.
If you’re looking for a hidden craft beer cafe close to this neighborhood, I can recommend Craftbeer Corner Coeln. This place has a cute balcony where you can enjoy your drinks.
How to get there
Bus, car, train, boat or airplane, you can come to Cologne with almost every vehicle you can think of. Right in the city centre is Köln Hauptbahnhof for the trains and buses, the Rhine runs right through the city for people that want to arrive by boat and within 20 minutes you’ll be from Central Cologne to Cologne-Bonn airport. So in terms of accessibility, nothing should stop you from visiting this city!
Also on Traveltomtom: best way to get from Aachen to Cologne.
Where to stay in Cologne
It depends on your budget where it’s the best to stay during your city trip to Cologne. I’m always looking for the, in my opinion, best price/quality. That’s why I decided to not book a room in Central Cologne, but in a city close by named Leverkusen. There is a direct train connection which brings you in approximately 15 minutes from one city to the other. I stayed in Nikii City Hotel in Leverkusen.
If you want very good coffee in the morning before taking the train from Leverkusen to Cologne I can definitely recommend Espresso Perfetto close to the Leverkusen train station.
Road trips in Germany
Germany is a country that will fit perfectly in your itinerary for a road trip in Europe! Traveltomtom wrote a blog about it: my 3-week road trip through Germany, Austria and Italy. The well-maintained German highways can bring you directly to Denmark, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and The Netherlands. Drivers are free to go as fast as they want in de-restricted sections of the famous German Autobahn. This should sound like heaven for the speed devils among us, but do know that traffic jams and roadworks are also common in Germany.
I hope all the above tips are helpful for your next trip to Cologne! I’m sure there is way much more to explore during a city trip to this lovely city, but at least with this Cologne travel blog you got an idea where to start now.
Thank you so much for reading! May you have any questions or other recommendations for Cologne please leave us a comment below.
Enjoy your trip to Cologne!