By Johanna Menzel
Cologne on the Rhine is world famous for its carnival. But that Cologne is not only worth a trip for carnival is proven by our blog about the most beautiful places and sights of the city. Cologne’s serenity, its friendliness and the charm of the city will not let you go. Moreover, the Cologne Bay often provides a pleasant climate and a few more sunrays during the day. You will have a chance to see amazing medieval Gothic architecture, beautiful cathedrals, and stunning views of the Rhine river. No matter what you like, how you like to celebrate, what you believe in and what you do – you can do it here. On 11.11 at the latest, everyone will be lying in each other’s arms and singing. We have 11 tips for activities in Cologne for you and will explain why the number 11 is so important in Cologne!
1. Cologne Cathedral
Of course, we have to start with the Cologne Cathedral, as this is THE symbol of the city. You can’t avoid taking a look at the cathedral, as this Gothic masterpiece can be seen from almost any place in Cologne.
Whether you are a believer or not doesn’t matter in principle – when you see the imposing 157 m high twin towers towering up into the sky in front of you, a moment of awe is inevitable. Both from the outside and the inside, the cathedral is simply breathtakingly beautiful, and if you actually take all these endless steps upwards, you can enjoy a great view over the whole city.
Cologne Cathedral, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the most visited landmark in Germany, and the gilded Three Kings’ Shrine is what attracts the masses.
2. Hohenzollern Bridge
The Hohenzollern Bridge (German: Hohenzollernbrücke) is the second biggest tourist attraction in the German city of Cologne. For many years there has been a ritual in Cologne: couples in love attach a small padlock to the railing of the Hohenzollern Bridge to swear – quite romantically – eternal love to each other. If you pass the Hohenzollern Bridge by train or on foot, not only the Cologne Cathedral catches your eye, but above all thousands of small and colorful padlocks: couples in love inscribed these with name and date and attached them to the railing of the bridge to swear eternal love and loyalty to each other. The key is traditionally thrown into the Rhine together.
For the best view of the padlocks you should visit the bridge on a romantic walk or by bike, as there is no train stop on the bridge and you only have a few moments on the train to watch the padlocks sparkle.
3. Rhine bank and Rhine promenade
When the weather is good, the Rhine promenade is one of the most popular meeting places in Cologne. Between the Zoo Bridge in the north and the Severinsbrücke bridge, cyclists, walkers or inline skaters cavort, who want to do a little sport with a view of the Cologne skyline. This is also the starting point of the boat tours so popular with tourists, during which you can get to know the surrounding area of Cologne from the water.
Thanks to its unique mixture of pubs, shops, breweries and squares, embedded in nested alleys, the Rhine bank in the old town is a tourist magnet at any time of year. Numerous quaint pubs and restaurants invite you to linger.
Its heart: the majestic open staircase, summer’s “the-place-to-be” before nightfall. From here you can enjoy a panoramic view of the cathedral or take pictures of the old town with its historic houses.
4. Drinking a famous beer from cologne: Kölsch
Traditionally the Kölsch beer is served in thin 0.2 glasses (sticks), which is due to the fact that the beer quickly peels after pouring, i.e. loses its fresh taste and also its head .In Cologne, it is quite normal to go into a pub in the evening and drink a few Kölsch. By “normal” standards, the mini-mini-mini glasses are best emptied in one go and are part of almost every evening’s entertainment. Until the second half of the 19th century there were about 100 breweries in Cologne, today there are about 32, which you can visit on a guided tour or explore the many pubs and breweries that can be found throughout Cologne on your own. And if we say many, we really mean many: Cologne is the city with the most pubs per person in Germany. A cool Kölsch can be combined with solid food, such as “Himmel un Ääd” (Heaven&Sky: black pudding, fried onions, and mashed potato with apple sauce) or a simple “Mettbrötchen” (ground pork roll). Good to know for particularly thirsty guests: If the Kölsch is empty, a new one is served immediately. Unless you put the beer mat on the empty glass.
5. Celebrating the “fifth season” in Cologne at the Cologne Carnival
The Cologne Carnival is one of the world’s largest and most famous carnival celebrations. Leave the city or join in the celebrations – there is not really another possibility when the jesters make the streets unsafe again. The Cologne Carnival is almost as old as the history of the city itself. However, it is only in the last 190 years that people have been celebrating as organized as they are today. Traditionally, the “fifth season” (carnival season) is declared open at 11 minutes past 11 on the 11th of the 11th month November. The Carnival spirit is then temporarily suspended during the Advent and Christmas period, and picks up again in earnest after 6 January, Epiphany, in the New Year. The time of merrymaking in the streets is officially declared open at downtown square “Alter Markt” on the Thursday before the beginning of Lent. Street carnival, a week-long street festival, also called “the crazy days”, takes place between Fat Thursday (Weiberfastnacht) and Ash Wednesday (Aschermittwoch). The highlight of carnival is Rose Monday (Rosenmontag), two days before Ash Wednesday. All through these days, Cologne folks go out masqueraded. The typical greeting during the festival is “Kölle Alaaf!”, a Kölsch phrase.
6. The most delicious museum in the world: The Chocolate Museum
Like in paradise: never before has a visit to a museum been so delicious! Operated in collaboration with the Lindt & Sprüngli chocolate brand, the Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum is one of the world’s top attractions in its field. Especially during bad weather, the chocolate museum at Rheinauhafen is always worth a visit. All those who can’t keep their hands off the sweet temptation at home are guaranteed to feel like in paradise here. Besides the usual exhibition that shows the path of the cocoa bean from the plantation to the chocolate factory with the chocolate fountain as a highlight, the additionally offered courses around chocolate are especially popular. Here, young and old with a sweet tooth learn how to create their own pralines or make delicious chocolate bars themselves.
Opening hours: Open daily from 10:00 to 18:00; Last admission one hour before closing. Production ends about 30 minutes before museum closing.
Note: Closed January to March and in November on Mondays!
You can buy tickets for your visit on the official website.
7. Floating over the Rhine
This special trip should not be missed by anyone travelling to Cologne between March and November: During these months, the almost 60-year-old Rhine cable car shuttles back and forth between Cologne Zoo and Rheinpark. On the almost one kilometer long stretch, the gondolas float over the Rhine at a good 10 km/h. There is even a golden wedding gondola for those newly in love, in which registrars hold weddings.
8. A shopping tour at “Schildergasse”
Go shopping in Schildergasse, not only one of the most popular shopping miles in the cathedral city, but also one of the busiest shopping streets in Europe. In this shopping street you will find international department stores and modern architecture. Since Schildergasse is a designated pedestrian zone, there is no car and traffic noise to disturb you while you shop. But it’s not quiet at all: in many shops customers stroll from shelf to shelf to loud music. An estimated 13,000 people pass by every hour and admire the high-priced designer brands and landmarks such as the Antoniterkirche, Cologne’s oldest Protestant church, and the impressive Weltstadthaus designed by Renzo Piano by Peek & Cloppenburg.
9. Cultural highlight in Cologne: The Museum Ludwig
Not far from Cologne Cathedral is the Museum Ludwig, one of the most important exhibition venues for modern art in Europe. Since its foundation in 1976, extremely exciting works of art from the 20th and 21st centuries can be admired here. Especially the Pop Art work and the historical photographs are absolutely worth seeing. In addition, a cinema attached to the museum is dedicated to contemporary film culture outside the mainstream – many a culture vulture has already been able to get enthusiastic about art here. Among the many Picassos and the extensive collection of Russian Avant-Garde pieces, there are iconic examples of Pop Art, like Warhol’s “Brillo Boxes” and “Maybe” by Roy Lichtenstein.
10. Botanical Garden
A visit to the Cologne “Flora” is an absolute must on every city trip to Cologne, because that is the name of the botanical garden in Cologne. 11.5 hectares of extensive lawns, individual gardens and greenhouses around an exquisite glass palace inspired by London’s Crystal Palace and built in the 1860s. Admission to the botanical garden, which is directly adjacent to the Cologne Zoo, is free.
Are you staying a little longer in Cologne and would like to get out of the city for a while? Are you an adrenaline junkie? If you answered both questions with ‘yes’, then we have the perfect experience for you: roller coasters, water rides and fantasy await you at the amusement park Phantasialand. The fantasy reigns in Phantasialand. In the amusement park near Cologne you’ll cross dreamy, exciting, exotic and mysterious theme worlds. Without a passport you travel to Mexico, China or Africa. Phantasialand offers world record-holding attractions for young and old.
Among the park’s thrill rides is Taron (the world’s fastest multi-launch coaster), Black Mamba and a themed Mine Train roller coaster called Colorado Adventure, which runs among some mountains in the park’s Wild West section and was opened by Michael Jackson. Themed orientated snacks and restaurants are waiting for you. So are the several artistic, impressive and unique shows. Get your tickets for Phantasialand on their official website.
Are you looking for more adrenaline rush in Germany? Then you should definitely read our blog about the famous Europark and the easy arrival with a Fly Aeolus air taxi!
Could we spark your interest in the carnival city of Cologne? Would you now like to try the famous beer in a mini glass or immortalize your love forever with a padlock at the Hohenzollern Bridge? Then let’s go, book your private jet flight to Cologne now! Unlike with a commercial flight you save time and stress, you fly from a small airport, which is usually only 20 minutes away from your home and you decide the departure time yourself! In our price calculator you can calculate an individual offer for a flight. If you have any further questions, please call us at +32 (0)3 500 9082 or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you need more inspiration for your next trip, do check out our blog about the most beautiful destinations in Germany.