Cologne, perhaps Germany’s most colourful city, makes a great place for a fun cheap weekend break. From chocolate museums to charismatic breweries, cathedrals to the home of Eau de Cologne itself, the city of Cologne will keep you entertained.
Top Things to See and Do in Cologne
Cologne’s cathedral was one of the few buildings spared during the WWII bombing raids. Between 1880 and 1884, the Dom was the tallest building in the world (something to bear in mind as you slog your way up the belltower’s staircase.) This isn’t your usual cathedral, though. Look inside for stained glass windows that feature outer space and modern art.
The Chocolate Museum
Although the Schokoladenmuseum has plenty of educational exhibits, the real draw is the chocolate fountain. Brilliantly placed in front of a sweeping glass window that overlooks the river and the skyline of Cologne, the fountain allows you to embrace your inner child and scoff a load of chocolate.
Possibly the symbol of Cologne, this light and refreshing beer is served in test-tube shaped glasses across the city. Visit one of the authentic breweries, such as Cölner Hofbräu P. Josef Früh on Am Hof street, where waiters are called köbes and your bill is calculated by the number of notches on your beer mat.
The Hohenzollernbrücke Bridge
Once a fairly ugly railway bridge, the exuberant declarations of love have transformed the functional into the fantastic. Stroll along to see glitter, padlocks and handcuffs as people search for new ways to say “I love you.”
Eau de Cologne
Yep, the name does actually come from this city. The famous perfumed water called No 4711 still flows in the shop that has traded it for over 200 years. You can visit the Glockengasse shop for free.
The Old Town – Altstadt
These narrow colourful houses give some impression of what the city must have been like before all those bombers came along. Filled with restaurants and, yes more breweries, it’s a great riverside area to stroll around.
Every city has an elegant administrative building and Cologne’s Rathaus is no exception…well, except for the stone statues with their trousers around their ankles.
OK, so the tower itself is nothing to write home about but the view from the top takes in the whole of Cologne. Visit as the sun sets for the best experience…
Getting to Cologne
Several budget airlines fly to Cologne, or you can travel by Eurostar, changing at Brussels (I travelled as part of the Eurostar Explorer expedition.)
Getting Around Cologne
Most of the attractions in Cologne are within walking distance of the train station (next to the cathedral), although if your legs get tired there is an underground system as well as a network of taxis.