Cologne (Köln in German), situated in Germany’s former industrial heartland of the Rhine-Ruhr valley, is often overlooked by tourists in favor of its more famous neighbors. It’s no more than a 3 hour train ride from the likes of Amsterdam or Brussels and on the German side of things, it is usually pushed aside by boundary-pushing Berlin or the festivities of Munich. However, surprisingly, considering its large size, Cologne truly is one of the hidden gems of Europe.
‘[pullquote]Ona Mor’ is a bit more upmarket but the best cocktail I’ve ever had was one of theirs[/pullquote]
It’s impossible to talk about tourist attractions of Cologne without mentioning the Cathedral. Situated right outside the train station in central Cologne, this gargantuan monolith is Germany’s most visited tourist attraction and is truly awe-inspiring in its scale. Once the tallest twin-spired structure on earth, it is hard to actually comprehend how big it is until you see it in person, and this comes from someone who walked past York Minister almost every day for 18 years. Entry is free and the inside is almost as stunning as the outside, with fascinating displays on the Cathedral’s role as a centre of Catholicism north of the Alps.
Outside the regular tourist sights, Cologne oozes with the style you’d expect from one of Europe’s major urban hubs. Trendy design and coffee shops are abundant in this modern city, especially in the outskirt districts such as Leyendeckerstraβe, now one of Cologne’s up and coming student areas. Of course, Cologne has also got the vibrant nightlife you’d expect from such a cultural hub. With Kraftwerk themselves originating from Cologne’s sister-city Dusseldorf, Cologne is well placed to deliver on what Germany does best - Techno. There are a number of fantastic venues but one particularly worthy of note is ‘Bootshaus’, voted in 2016 to be in the top 20 clubs in the world! On a more relaxed note, Cologne also possesses a wide range of fantastic bars. One I’d particularly recommend is ‘Ona Mor’, it’s a bit more upmarket but the best cocktail I’ve ever had was one of theirs hands down (unfortunately I can’t remember any of the ingredients).
If this isn’t enough to convince you, Cologne still has more to offer. You can take a romantic walk across Hohenzollern Bridge and observe the padlocks of countless lovers, visit the roof of the Cologne Tower for a fantastic evening vista of Cologne and Dusseldorf, or absorb some culture in the world-famous Roman-Germanic museum.
With easy transport links in the form of Cologne Main Station and Cologne/Bonn airport, it’s perfect for your next city-break!