Köln – A Guide to Cologne (Köln)

Germany’s fourth-largest city with nearly a million inhabitants is located on both sides of the Rhine River. Cologne is a very interesting city with diverse architecture, plenty of museums and is home to numerous TV and radio stations. That’s why it is well known as Germany’s media capital. Cologne is also considered as the gay capital of Germany which often hosts festivals like Gay Pride or Christopher Street Day. And last but not least Cologne is well known for its Carnival which is held every year in February/March.



Kölner Dom: Kölner Dom is the heart of Cologne. With its twin spires it is one of the largest churches in the world and therefore the main attraction in Cologne. The construction started in the 13th century but wasn’t completed until 1880. The cathedral is a World Heritage Site since 1996. Inside the cathedral are many treasures like the Shrine of the Three Kings (the kings who followed the star to the stable of Bethlehem) whose bones were brought from Milan to Cologne in 1164 under Colognes powerful Emperor Barbarossa. This made the cathedral a pilgrim place and attracts about 20,000 people a day. To get a great view over Cologne, climb up the 509 steps to the top of the south tower (2,50€ admission).

Kölner Zoo: The zoo in Cologne is a very popular zoo in Germany. There are about 500 species and 7000 animals in total. You can find many types of animal here; crocodiles, snakes, elephants, monkeys, giraffes etc. The zoo is in the north of Cologne (Köln-Riehl, Riehler Straße 173) and only a street separates the zoo from the popular botanic gardens called “Flora”.

Schokoladenmuseum: The chocolate museum (Am Schokoladenmuseum 1a) located at the River Rhine is the only chocolate museum in the world and attracts 650,000 visitors every year. This is the most visited museum in Cologne and one of the top 10 museums in Germany. This museum is a must see for every chocoholic as every visitor has the opportunity to try the chocolate which is running down a chocolate fountain. The museum also offers a live production factory and will guide you through the history of chocolate. Entrance is 7,50€ per adult.

Karneval: Cologne is well known for its carnival scene. Therefore there are plenty carnival festivals. The highlights are: “Kölschfest” which is an equivalent to the Oktoberfest in Munich, “Weiberfastnacht” which is the day where the mayor of Cologne hands over the keys of the town administration to the carnival people. And last but not least the famous “Rosenmontagszug” where 10’s of thousands of people walk through the city centre in fancy dress and which attracts around one million visitors.



The classical tour is the Hop on Hop off bus tour which is about 1.5 hours long. A ticket costs 11€ per person.

There is a 90 minute guided walk tour in English which is offered by the Cologne tourist information. The tours take place every Saturday from May to October. Tickets will cost about 10€ per person.

Alternatively there is a daily English bike tour in summer which costs 15€ per person and lasts 3 hours. There is also a boat tour in summer along the River Rhine. Tickets will cost about 8€.



Hostel Köln (Marsilstein 29) is a nice, clean and affordable place if you travel on a budget. This hostel has a great location with many facilities. A dorm room will cost about 26€ a night.

A quality mid range hotel is Mercure Hotel Koeln im Friesenviertel (Friesenstr. 44-48). A doubleroom will cost about 80€. The hotel is very convieniently situated in the city centre and the staff all speak excellent English.

The luxury hotel Hyatt Regency Köln (Kennedy-Ufer 2a) is situated on the right side of the Rhine River with gigantic views onto the cathedral and the river. A night in a double room will cost about 185€.



For proper German food head to the restaurant Gaffel am Dom (Bahnhofsvorplatz 1). They serve mainly food from the regional Rhine area which is so tasty 🙂 Mains cost about 12€.

The LizBÄT (Geisselstr.6) is a good place if you fancy crêpes. They have about 50 different crêpes creations (including vegetarian options). The LizBÄT is a very cosy place and quite popular among the cologne people. A crêpe will cost about 7€.

The Vis À Vis Cafe/Restaurant (Westendstraße 8 ) is famous for its special menu days. Tuesday is for example pancake day while Schnitzel day is Wednesday.



The local beer in Cologne is called “Kölsch” which is served in skinny glasses. If you fancy one of these beers head to Früh am Dom (Am Hof 12-18). This is a very traditional German beer hall near the cathedral.

The Ice Bar (see picture left) in the Hilton Hotel (Marzellenstr. 13-17) has more than 100 different vodka variations from all over the world. The very cool thing about that pub is, that it has a bar made of ice.

The Shepheard bar (Rathenauplatz 5) is a glamorous cocktail bar which offers 190 different cocktails. The shepheard bar team is very friendly and was even voted as the “Best Bar Team” in Germany in 2004.

There are many more pubs in Cologne. Most of the popular pubs are in the quarters “Zülpicher Viertel” and “Belgisches Viertel”.



You will find everything in Cologne. Designers, vintage stores, department stores and the classic retail chains. All the big chains are along Hohe Strasse which is one of Germany’s oldest shopping mile. There are many more shops at Schildergasse and there is a big mall called Neumarkt-Gallerie. The expensive designer stores are in Mittelstrasse and Pfeilstrasse.


Insider Tipps:

Get a great view for free in Osman 30 (see picture on the left) This restaurant is on the 30th floor of the KölnTurm (Cologne Tower) (Im Mediapark 8 ). Enjoy your food at 108 meters high with a fantastic panorama view.

The most fancy way to disover Cologne is by cable car which is called Köln Seilbahn. (Riehler Straße 180). The night trips are especially interesting and spectacular with all the lights in the city.

An awesome fleamarket is held once a month in Köln- Riehl. This fleamarket is full of old antique stuff. In fact, people are not allowed to sell new products.

If you visit Cologne in the summer then cool down at the km 689 – Cologne Beach Club (see picture on the left) (Rheinparkweg 1). What you can expect: White sand, sparkling river, great views of the cathedral, lots of music and food. A true beach feeling.

You can get a glimpse of Oriental Cologne at Weidengasse behind the train station. Many people from Turkey, Greece and Iran live here and hold oriental markets with exotic spices, vegetables and fleamarkets.

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