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The fourth largest city in Germany, Cologne is a hub of culture and history dating back over 2000 years. Spanning both sides of the River Rhine in a far flung corner of West Germany, Cologne found itself the unwitting victim of some of the worst bomb attacks during World War II, completely wiping out the majority of the city centre. Rebuilt in the late 1940s, Cologne bounced back and has since become an incredibly influential city.

Explore the sights of the city’s landmarks on foot or by river boat, indulge yourself in a geothermal spa, get back to nature in the Flora Botanical Gardens or the Cologne Zoo, or jump on the culture tourist bandwagon and discover one of the cities many museums and art galleries. Whatever takes your fancy, Cologne is packed full of fantastic things to do, any time of year!

The imposing twin spires of the Kölner Dom dominate the Cologne skyline. Generally considered to be the cities top tourist attraction, this stunning 11th century cathedral has a story or two to tell. Steeped in history and packed to the rafters with treasures and ancient artefacts, this is even believed to be the final resting place of one of those three famous kings who brought gifts to a baby in a manger once upon a time…

Even if history and religion aren’t really ‘your thing’, the Kölner Dom is still something to behold. The spectacular architecture and towering stained glass windows can be appreciated from afar, although the colours from the glass are best experienced from inside the vestry.

Nestled on a tiny island floating in the middle of the River Rhine, the Schokoladenmuseum Köln (known to you and me as the Lindt Chocolate Factory) lies waiting for curious chocolate lovers to flock through its doors to hear its secrets.

Learn about the ancient Aztec origins of chocolate, how the cocoa beans are processed and even watch some of the delicious treat being produced live, before the all-important taste testing!

Cologne’s lesser-known claim to fame is that it is the pioneering city of men’s fragrance. Discovered by Italian perfume maker, Giovanni Maria Farina back in 1709, the citrus fragrance 4711 originated in Cologne. Farina was so pleased with his discovery, he marketed his product as an ‘Eau de Cologne’ after his new hometown. The term has since stuck as a way to determine men’s aftershaves which have 2-5% perfume oil concentrate.

Today you can still visit the old house which served Farina as a perfumery way back when, at Glockengasse 4711. I wonder where he got the name from…

There are over 3000 bars, cafes and restaurants in Cologne so you could never argue that there wasn’t any choice! Ranging from Chinese to French and everything in between, Cologne can easily cater to the fussy holidaymaker.

Of course, ‘When in Cologne’, you will probably want to try out some of the local delicacies. German cuisine is predominantly meat, meat and more meat, served in ways unimagined. Himmel un Ääd or Heaven and Earth is a popular dish in Cologne. Mashed potato (earth) and apple (heaven)  are fused together to create a bed for cushioning Jurassic sized portions of meat, usually blood sausage and traditionally served in the beer halls.

Mettbrötchen is another popular beer hall favourite. “Mett” is the German term for raw pork sausage meat, which is layered with onions and served on half a bread roll. Once the fear of food poisoning subsides, realisation sets in that this is probably one of the most delicious (and cheap) snacks you’ve ever eaten.

One thing goes without saying, the Germans LOVE their beer! In Cologne, the tipple of choice is Kölsch which naturally, is served by the stein! It would be criminal not to party in traditional German style when in Germany, the legendary beer halls with their vaulted ceilings, long wooden tables and benches, and infectious oompah music are an institute of German drinking culture. And the best part is? The beer will just keep flowing until you put your beer mat over the top of your stein so no need to wait hours at the bar! Hurrah!

Location of Cologne

Key Facts

  • Language: German
  • Currency: Euro
  • Time Difference from UK: 1
  • Flight time: London: 1
  • When to go: Year round

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