Nestled on the western fringes of Germany, Cologne is the fourth largest city in the country and a popular tourist destination. The city was founded by the Romans in 38 BC and given the lofty name Colonia Claudia Ara Aggripinensium. It grew into a major trading centre, a tradition that continued in the Middle Ages and is upheld today.
The city bustles with life and has an aura of its own. There’s an incredibly diverse mix of great beautiful cathedral, world-renowned museums, amazingly cute cafes and aesthetic architecture. Cologne is like a living textbook on history and architecture.
Cologne is well-connected when it comes to public transport: Trams, buses etc. There are plenty of options available. Also please keep a navigator app always on – it will help. As of July 2019, Uber has resumed operating in the Cologne metro area.
For staying there are loads of options available for both luxury and budgeted hotels. Now, there is not much difference in prices when it comes to staying in the main city or little far off.
But, if you want really cheap and affordable accommodation, you can lodging near the park belt on the city’s west side, known as Little Belgium, The area is east of Hiroshima-Nagasaki park. There are also many Airbnb options available in the city.
Now, let me tell you about the places that you need to visit at any cost when in Cologne. I am listing them down:
- Cologne Cathedral: Near the left bank of the Rhine, Cologne’s towering landmark, the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Mary, is a masterpiece of High Gothic architecture, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the largest cathedrals in Europe. It is an incredible interior with glass window painted in so many different colors! You have to see it to believe it.
- Ludwig Museum: Exhibiting art from after 1900, the Ludwig Museum has a beautiful collection.
- Cologne’s Old Town: City’s old town comprises of beautiful old churches such as Great St. Martin, traditional old houses – many of them are now boutique shops, galleries, cafés, and restaurants. It runs along with the pleasant paths of the Rhine, and upholds such great views of countless monuments and fountains, and ancient ruins and artifacts.
- Groß St. Martin: Part of the skyline since the 12th century, this crossing tower of Groß St. Martin is stunning. The church’s interior is typical of a Romanesque place of worship, with solemn architecture and decoration.
- Botanical Garden: In the north of the city, next to the zoo is Cologne’s loveliest park: sprawling gardens and greenhouses around an exquisite glass palace inspired by London’s Crystal Palace.
- Cologne Cable Car & Bird’s-Eye Views of Cologne: The Cologne cable car is the best to have a bird’s view of the city
- Chocolate Museum: If you are a chocolate lover like me, you need to visit this place. There are displays of amazing chocolates, collections of molds, antique chocolate boxes and wrappers, chocolate fountain, and also, you can watch chocolates being made. Not just that, you can even design your own chocolate bar!
- Altenberg Cathedral: Built in 1259, its richly furnished interior includes Gothic stained glass and many tombs of princes and abbots.
- Cologne Zoo: Established back in 1860 Cologne Zoo has the distinction of being one of the oldest as well as one of the most up-to-date animal attractions. The zoo has more than 700 species, and specialises in primates like bonobos, gorillas, tamarins, orangutans and the endangered golden-bellied capuchin.
- Boat Trip on the Rhine: On the left bank of the Rhine at the Hohenzollern Bridge are jetties where you can board a boat for a cruise along the storied Rhine River. There are three companies offering panoramic tours of the city (KölnTourist, KölnDüsseldorfer and Colonia). You can also book a tour online
The city has so much to offer right from food to history to culture to monuments, that even 1 week is not enough to see it all. And you need to live there to completely imbibe and understand its culture and live it!
I loved the city. Do comment if you plan a trip to Cologne!