The towering Gothic cathedral dominates this mosaic of a city, made up of coloured houses, medieval city gates and a dozen Roman churches; where ancient monuments rub shoulders with contemporary architectural design.
Cologne (Köln, in German) is one of the oldest cities in Germany. The architectural gems scattered across the city illustrate Cologne’s unique cultural heritage. The best way to get a feel for the place is to wander round the city centre. Head for the imposing Gothic cathedral, or Dom: listed as a Unesco world heritage monument it is perhaps the most famous building in Germany. Check out the city’s historic old town with its Alter Markt square: a symbol of historic Cologne, it’s famed for its traditional breweries.
Known for its vibrant cultural scene, visiting Cologne could involve taking in a concerts at the Koelner Philharmonie (Cologne Philharmonic), or perhaps you’ll choose to travel to Cologne in April when Art Cologne, the international contemporary art fair, is taking place.
For full cultural immersion, you’ll want to visit the Ludwig Museum: a must-see in Cologne. The Ludwig is the city’s modern art museum, specialising in Surrealist, Abstract and Pop Art. Its collection includes works by Otto Dix, Marc Chagall, Paul Klee and Henri Matisse, and you can also find one of the largest collections of Picasso’s work in Europe here.
Looking for family friendly things to do and see in Cologne? Take the kids to the Schokoladenmuseum (chocolate museum) where you can learn about, and – of course – taste all manner of chocolatey delights. (You might want to have some wet wipes handy.)
If you'd like some romantic things to do in Cologne: escape the crowds with a stroll in the tranquil Rheinpark; or along the Rhine.
Cologne is also a city of festivals and parties. If you’re looking for clubbing in Cologne, you won’t be disappointed. A party highlight has to be the colourful Cologne Gay Pride event, along with the Cologne Lights (Kölner Lichter) firework display in July. The biggest event of the year is the Cologne Carnival in mid-February. For some real local culture, explore the bars and cafes of Cologne. Don’t forget to taste the local Kölsch beer, perhaps at a biergarten beside the Rhine: a perfect way to round off your visit and discover not just the art of Cologne but also the art of partying, German-style.
De gare à gare