Cologne is the fourth largest city in Germany and a popular tourist destination for people passing to or from Holland. The city has a great cathedral, lots of wonderful cafes and international restaurants, and the historic architecture is worth taking in. Moreover, the city has a great range of museums and free activities so it’s pretty budget friendly.
1. Altstadt (The Old Town): Much of Cologne was destroyed in World War II, leaving just a tiny area of historic streets remaining. The colorful old town is wonderful to wander around, especially when you consider what it has survived. Relax with a beer by the river and join the Instagram queue to photograph the picturesque houses near St Martin’s Church.
2. Café Culture: Cologne is a popular student city and consequently offers a diverse range of cheap and hip restaurants and bars. Whether you are in need of a vegan brunch or full three-course dinner, they have it all.
3. The 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. One of the largest cathedrals in Europe, it was started in 1248 and is considered the most ambitious building project of the Middle Ages. As impressive as its 157-meter tall twin towers are the cathedral’s incredible interior. Covering an area of 6,166 square meters and boasting 56 pillars, highlights include the 12th-century Reliquary of the Three Kings created by local goldsmiths; the famous relief of the Adoration of the Kings from 1440; the Treasure Chamber with its many precious objects, including ancient reliquaries and manuscripts; and the panoramic views from the south tower, reached by more than 500 steps that pass the cathedral’s famous bells.
4. The Cologne Cable Car: Since its establishment in 1957 as the first European cable car to cross a river – in this case, the Rhine – the Cologne cable car has carried a whopping 15 million passengers. The views are, of course, the big draw, particularly those of the Old Town and Cologne Cathedral.
5. Ludwig Museum: Exhibiting art from after 1900, the Ludwig Museum was set up in the 1980s in the modern, purpose-built complex near the cathedral. The attraction came about during the 1970s after the Ludwigs, Peter, and Irene, donated a multi-million-dollar collection of 20th-century art.
6. Romano-Germanic Museum: In the war, a Roman villa was uncovered next to the cathedral when a bomb shelter was being built.This was fully excavated later, and rather than try to move the centerpiece, beautiful Dionysus mosaic, an entire museum was built around the site in the 1970s.
7. Botanical Garden: In the north of the city, next to the zoo is Cologne’s loveliest park: 11.5 hectares of sprawling lawns, individual gardens, and greenhouses around an exquisite glass palace inspired by London’s Crystal Palace and built in the 1860s. Known as the Flora, this monument was intended as an orangery and after coming through a renovation a couple of years ago now stages concerts, talks and private events.
In the north of the city, next to the zoo is Cologne’s loveliest park: 11.5 hectares of sprawling lawns, individual gardens, and greenhouses around an exquisite glass palace inspired by London’s Crystal Palace and built in the 1860s.