Cologne, or Köln in German, is the largest city of North Rhine-Westphalia and the fourth largest city in Germany. It has a rich centuries-old history and many sights that warrant a visit. If it’s not for the stunningly beautiful gothic Cologne Cathedral, then why not visit Köln for their local beer called ‘Kölsch’? We’re lucky enough to call Cologne our home which is why we want to introduce this beautiful city to you and convince you to visit Cologne somewhat soon.
We’d hands down recommend Cologne for couples on a weekend getaway, backpackers on a budget or a simple day trip when exploring the surrounding area. Köln can be combined with a visit to Drachenburg Castle, Linz am Rhein, Mainz or Eltz Castle. Whatever you choose to visit, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Let’s fall in love with Köln – 11 reasons to visit Cologne
If you love city trips and love exploring foreign destinations, Cologne is the perfect place for you. Tabitha was lucky enough to be born and raised in this magnificent city and whilst Florian was born in Bavaria, he soon fell in love with Köln and its character.
Today we’re going to show you eleven reasons why you shouldn’t skip on visiting Köln in Germany.
Cologne’s Old Town
Countless monuments and fountains that adorn the area along with many ancient ruins and artefacts – that’s Cologne’s Old Town. Many of the traditional old houses – luckily – got preserved and are now home to boutique shops, cafés, restaurants or galleries.
The most famous spot in Cologne’s Old Town is Im Martinswinkel, four colorful houses not far away from the Rhine River. You’ll find them when searching for Im Martinswinkel in maps. Be sure to arrive early since it becomes very crowded once the shops are open. Plus, after 11am, the houses are in shade.
Of course, this had to be part of this post. If you’ve ever been to Cologne, you may know how special the cathedral is to locals. We oftentimes call it ‘Bahnhofskapellchen’ which can be translated to train station chapel. The Cologne Cathedral got this name due to its location nearby the Cologne main train station.
Also, it’s obviously Cologne’s most famous landmark and one of the largest cathedrals in Europe. Built from 1248 on, it was considered the most ambitious architecture project of the Middle Ages – and still isn’t done.
People in Cologne
Did you know that we have our own constitution law? The Kölsch Grundgesetz is a set of 11 rules that guide locals through life. You may know these rules from Cologne Christmas Markets where they’re printed on mulled wine mugs. Examples for Cologne laws are that you shouldn’t regret bygone times and keep a sense of humour.
Cologne’s local beer, the Kölsch, is an integral part of the city’s culture and you can find so many different breweries that all brew their very specific Kölsch. For example, Reissdorf Kölsch is one of the most established ones, but there are also smaller breweries like Malzmühle or Päffgen. Traditionell, Kölsch is served in 200ml glasses known as Stangen. Be sure that locals will passionately discuss their favorite brand at the bar.
Speaking of beer, every year, Cologne hosts one of the largest festivals in Germany. The Carnival season is rung in on November 11th and ends on Ash Wednesday in February or early March. The main celebrations last for one week from Fat Thursday to Ash Wednesday and approx. 1.5 million people visit Cologne for Carnival.
Cologne is set on the Rhine River and throughout the city you’ll find several picturesque spots that are perfect for a picnic or summer BBQ. Please be sure that you don’t disturb the residents and only BBQ where it’s allowed. Moreover, you should definitely know that swimming is prohibited in most places and that you absolutely should follow this advice since the current can get very strong.
If you like what you’ve read so far, why not schedule your visit for the annual Rhein in Flammen festival? It’s a firework festival where the riverside firework display completely illuminates the city.
Ever heard of Bootshaus, one of the best clubs in the entire world? Cologne has a buzzing and diverse nightlife scene, so even if you don’t like electronic music, you’ll find a location that you’ll love! You can expect techno and electro clubs as well as Irish pubs, punk-rock shacks, cocktail bars or typical hit clubs. Even if you don’t like clubbing or going to a bar, there’s a beer garden for everyone. If this aren’t multiple reasons to visit Cologne yet, then I don’t know either.
It’s the gay capital of Germany
You probably didn’t know that, did you? But nationwide, Cologne’s residents are known for their tolerant and liberal attitude. There’s also a gay pride festival in July and Cologne has hundreds of gay bars and clubs as well as a gay Christmas market.
Breweries or Brasseries
When in Cologne, make sure to stop for traditional food at one of the breweries you’ll find. Win-win if you always wanted to try a good Kölsch as well, but also fine if you don’t like alcohol at all. We promise, you’ll love the relaxed vibes of the places, the delicious German food and probably even a good Kölsch beer.
Did you know that “Dringst eene met?” Is the local motto meaning “do you want to drink a beer with me/us?”. That shows how welcoming and open-minded the Cologne residents are. This saying is also used in a carnival song where an older man gets asked to drink a beer with them as he can’t afford a Kölsch himself. I love this mindset. Really.
Visit Rheinauhafen, Cologne’s youngest district
One of the cities newest districts is the already famous Rheinauhafen. It’s directly located at the Rhine promenade with short distance to the inner city. It’s the perfect place to discover the some of the coolest buildings of the city, the Crane Houses. They’ve been built in the early 2000s and each building is about 62m high.
If you want to live here, be sure to bring some money. A 120 sq.m. apartment costs around €1.7 million. No wonder footballer Lukas Podolski has the best penthouse in it, right?
Cologne is also well-known for its world-class museums. Every year, the city hosts one of the coolest festivals: the museum night. Here, you can explore, party and enjoy the museums in the middle of the night. It’s usually filled with DJs, lots of people and hence the museum becomes the place to be. Costs are usually around €22.
We also have two recommendations if you’d like to explore the local museums: Museum Ludwig and the Wallraf-Richartz Museum.
Museum Ludwig is known for an excellent gallery focusing on modern paintings and covers a wide range of European art. Plus, it holds one of the largest Picasso collections in Europe.
Then, the Wallraf-Richartz Museum is a dream for impressionist art lovers. It features some of the most popular artists like Van Gogh, Monet, Cézanne, Renoir, and Manet.
11 Reasons to visit Cologne Travel Tip: Kölncard
Apparently, every city has its very own card – and so has Cologne. With the Cologne Card, you can get free access to trains and buses and you’ll get up to 50% discount on guides, museums, attractions, and even shopping or restaurants.
The card is valid for 24 or 48 hours from its first use. It can be purchased online or at the Cologne Tourism Shop.
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