Situated on the river Rhine, Cologne has a reputation as being one of Germany’s most liberal cities. It’s dominated by its huge Gothic cathedral, whose twin spires tower over the city. It’s one of Germany’s most visited attractions, and you can really see why. There’s a lively museum scene in Cologne, with a number of exceptional art galleries too. The people are well known for their love of life and open minded outlook. Pop in for a cold one at one of the local beer halls in the old town, or Altstadt, or visit during carnival, and you’ll experience the warm welcomes first hand. With a mix of ancient architecture dating from the Roman period right through the middle ages, Cologne is a town with a long history and big future.
Areas & Neighbourhoods in Cologne
Altstadt - Narrow alleyways and colourful buildings characterise the old town, and it’s a popular location for tourists. Stroll the streets and take in the picturesque views of the city’s ancient hub.
Central/Cathedral - The area around the cathedral is the major tourist destination. A visit to the cathedral is a must, as is Museum Ludwig. It’s also great for shopping.
Rudolfplatz - The hippest area of town where you’ll find cool cafes, bars and restaurants. A young, vibrant and open minded area where anything goes.
Belgian Quarter - One of the more upmarket and trendy areas of the city. Boutiques stocking high-end fashion labels mix with junk stores selling vintage goods, with plenty of street art to check out too.
Things to See in Cologne
You can’t ignore the cathedral, in any sense of the phrase. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Germany’s most visited attractions, this Gothic masterpiece is as beautiful as it is imposing. Construction began in the 13th century but wasn’t finished until 1880. Walk across the Hohenzollern Bridge, covered with ‘love locks’, or appreciate the street art in Ehrenfeld. Art lovers will also relish the chance to explore the Museum Ludwig, and foodies should visit the Chocolate Museum. At night, check out the beer halls of the Altstadt or the more bohemian bars around Rudolfplatz and the Belgian Quarter.
Things to Do in Cologne
Visit in February to experience the Kolner Karneval, a huge winter festival with a street party to match. The city’s Gay Pride festival is another major event, celebrating Cologne’s liberal and inclusive atmosphere. Also during winter, the city comes alive with traditional German Christmas markets, the most famous being at Neumarkt. If you’re in the mood for relaxation, spend the day at the Claudius Therme, where you’ll find indoor and outdoor pools, saunas and steam rooms. Take a ride on the Kolner Seilbahn, an aerial tramway that crosses the river, and the only one of its kind in Germany.
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