Things To Do In Cologne
Cologne is easily accessible whether you come from Germany, Europe, or anywhere around the world. It is surrounded by the River Rhine (the major trading route), the Cologne Cathedral (the central part of the city); reachable by train within ten minutes using the German Railways DB from the city center, and it is just 15 minutes away from the Cologne/Bonn Airport. It is more practical to go around the city by means of public mass transport systems like the public bus and light railway transport. A visit to Cologne is not complete without trying the boat cruise along the River Rhine. The city has many cruise ships made available for hire here. These boats are considered as the largest boat for river cruises in Europe. It can accommodate more than a thousand people on board. Cruising along the River Rhine is one of the best options to see the spectacular views and the hippest restaurants and attractions of the city.
Cologne is not just one of the top tourist destinations in Germany, it also plays host to more than one hundred trade fairs a year with an estimated gathering of 1.5 million visitors from all over the world. The city is a premier destination when it comes to huge media events and business conferences because it has 20 event places scattered around the city and within the premises of the top luxury hotels and train stations. If you want to see more, the Cologne Triangle is the ideal place to have the best view of Cologne. From the top, you will have an overview of the city at 360 degrees.
When To Go:
The ideal time to visit the city depends on your travel agenda. It is a charming city that is blessed with good weather all year round and festivals about food, beer, and wine. The peak season for tourism begins during the Karneval Festival. It is one of the biggest and most festive European celebrations that happen yearly on the Thursday before the Easter Sunday observation. The outdoor festivities and parties are best complemented by its great weather during this time. The winter season (December to January) with -20 degrees is freezing, but the atmosphere is quite festive because of the Christmas holiday season. The most exciting part about winter in Cologne are the huge open air Christmas markets where guests can shop for souvenirs and sip a hot cup of Gluehwein (a traditional beverage served in Cologne during the winter season).
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These are the attractions to explore and things to do in the city of Cologne…
Cologne Cathedral (Dom)
The Cologne Cathedral (Dom) is considered a symbol of Cologne and one of the most famous cathedrals in Europe. This colossal structure is a must see with your own eyes, because there is no picture or the picture cannot convey the grandeur of the building. Be sure to walk around the cathedral from the square in a small courtyard behind it and take a closer look at the cathedral and observe the restoration of sculptures and other items. Regardless of religion, it is extremely exciting to enter a cathedral which was begun almost 250 years ago. It has fully carved and fantastic images across its façade and this cathedral has the second highest tower in Europe. For eight Euros you can climb to the top of one of them and enjoy one of the most beautiful views you'll ever see. Around the Cathedral, there are several shops with local souvenirs and you can buy postcards of the city that was totally devastated by World War II.
The stunning architectural structure reflects not only its impressive size, but also the grandeur of its interior decoration. There are audio guides in 6 different languages. It makes an indelible impression and can be easily accessed anywhere in the city because it is just one step away from the Cologne railway station. It is surrounded by lots of shops, cafes, and restaurants. In the square there is a fountain with the major museums all around it. Like all European cathedrals, the Cologne Cathedral impresses with its size, elegance, and attention to detail. The tremendous work done by its creators is impressive, and it's quite incomprehensible how they were able to build something so big and great without the use of cranes and construction machines. The cathedral, which is a fine example of Gothic Architecture was preserved by the Allies and it is now already considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Roman-German Museum (Romisch-Germanisches Museum)
In principle, it is difficult to miss the Roman- German Museum or the Romisch Germanisches Museum because it is next to the Cologne Cathedral. It is quite possible to combine a visit to the two famous landmarks in Cologne. It is a remarkable museum filled with a lot of ancient artifacts and a mix of Roman mosaics and modern sculptures. Even without knowing German, you can understand everything.
The museum is small, although from the outside it looks great. The museum immerses you in the atmosphere during the Roman era. Here you can see elements of the home, clothing, weapons, and all that is associated with that time. The high-tech equipment and modern technology allow you to get answers to many questions. Particularly interesting is the huge collection of glassware - their decorative abstract art is of such power and talent that the abstract art of the 20th century nervously smokes on the sidelines.
Cologne Triangle/ Koeln Triangle
The Cologne Triangle/Koeln Triangle is the perfect place to view the whole city. It is located opposite the Cologne Cathedral (on the opposite shore). This building is the second highest in Cologne on the right bank of the Rhine and is considered an excellent viewing platform. For a small price you can climb up to the 28th floor and have a sweeping panorama of the entire Cologne City in front of you.
In the glasses along the perimeter of observation, there are graphic clues that you need to check out. It has silhouettes of the buildings and their titles; a very good idea to help the tourists configure the other attractions surrounding the area. From 11 in the morning until ten at night, you can admire the beautiful Cologne from a height of 100 meters. It has excellent views of the Cologne Cathedral, River Rhine, Ludwig Museum, Hohenzollern Bridge, Opera House, Old Town, etc.; the admission fee is only 6 Euros (as of June 2015).
The Hohenzollern Bridge was built in 1907-1911 and today, it is the best platform from which you can take pictures of the Cologne Cathedral. The heavy steel construction is fully consistent with the industrial look of the city. The majestic bridge connects the two banks of the River Rhine, right in the heart of Cologne. Hohenzollern Bridge is also known as the famous lover’s bridge in Germany. Couples hang in their locks on the screened fences and throw the keys in the river as their sign of everlasting love and vow to each other. It is necessary to cross the bridge to the other side of the Rhine to admire the magnificent views of the Cathedral and the old Cologne. It is better to do it early in the morning or late at night when there are less tourists and honeymooners occupied by hanging their snaps on the steel fence of the old bridge.
The first locks began to appear in 2008, and today there are almost an estimated 155 thousand locks with personal inscriptions and regarded as a symbol of love or “Padlocks of Happiness”. The total estimated weight of these locks ranges from 15-20 tons. In contrast to Paris' City Hall, which prohibits a couple to perpetuate their relationship by hanging locks on the bridges over the Seine, the owner of the bridge Deutsche Bahn allows all kinds of couples to hang their locks to signify their union. Be prepared to see newlyweds or same sex couples kissing on the bridge after throwing their keys to the River Rhine.
Historic Old Town Of Cologne
The Historic Old Town Of Cologne is the central part of the city where you can find the Old Cathedral and explore the adjacent streets including the fishing area on the waterfront. Despite the fact that most of the city was destroyed during World War II, the buildings here were renovated and look authentic. It is interesting to see the preserved 13th-century buildings after so much destruction. Everything is very clean and it is clear that the residents of the town can relate to the history of their city and vow to preserve its authenticity.
In the evening, there are cleaning machines and people with brooms actively and quickly scurrying about on the main lanes. The old town is divided into two parts: the north and south. In the center, you can move easily by tram or bus, but it is advisable to walk the back streets, not the flow of tourists to the major streets. In most of these corners and narrow streets you can find many interesting things, such as the store of the Nutcracker and newfangled shops. If you come to Cologne, you cannot bypass the Historic Old Town - all the fun is concentrated here!
Inside the Koelner Zoo, the animals are well maintained and kept in large enclosures. It can fit 12 elephants in huge size, same with the hippos and exotic birds on the large indoor hangar. Kids frequent the cages of the cute meerkats and penguins. Every Monday, the entrance ticket gets discounted from 14 to 11 Euros. You need to plan a full day to see everything.
The park is huge with lots of flowers, exotic trees, and animals living in their own habitat. In addition to the zoo, there is an aquarium and a terrarium, several huge playgrounds (there are little carts for skiing), as well as cafes and restaurants where you can drink coffee and eat lunch. At the entrance booth, they will photograph you on the interesting parts of the zoo, and when you exit you will have the opportunity to purchase your own photos designed with a commemorative inscription at reasonable prices.
Rheinseilbahn is the official cable car across the Rhine from Cologne Zoo to the Rhein Park. This cable car transport was built to connect one side of the Rhine River to the other. It covers the border of the park and the zoo. Nearby there are cafes and fine dining restaurants. The road runs at an angle to the river and crosses the highway. Each carriage has 4 rooms, but can accommodate 1 to 4 people.
It passes by the Claudius Spa, a famous thermal spa facility (for swimming pools, including a nudist area) and a park with the Rhine beaches. While the cabin is moving slowly over the river, you can shoot great panorama shots of Cologne City. The 15 minute breathtaking ride is an excellent opportunity to see the city from a bird's eye-view. The trip is short, but it is enough to admire the city from this height.
National Socialism Documentation Center
The museum has a large amount of information on the activities of the Gestapo, but in German language and the image is not very exciting to watch. In the basement of the prison cells is where the prisoners were once kept. You can still see the prints with copies of their letters from the walls. In the yard, you will tour a place where about 400 prisoners were shot.
The location of the National Socialism Documentation Center may seem scary and the impression a bit morbid, but now everything is so clean, bright and tidy; it looks more like a normal museum than a former prison cell. The fear, the anger, the pain - this is what you will experience here, but it is necessary to understand and feel the horror of those times. It is mandatory to take the audio guided tour for €2, it is more informative.
Botanical Gardens Flora
The Botanical Gardens Flora is a very nice park, especially in the summer when everything is in bloom. Most liked is the exhibition of camellias. What's nice about the park; it's clean and well maintained with free admission. On its territory you will find a pond, benches, and greenhouses planted with succulents and tropical plants.
The nature park can be enjoyed in any weather, but get ready for a high humidity during the summer season. The area is very extensive, has a different theme areas, and the famous conservatory. It hosts a variety of events, exhibitions, etc. Despite the fact that the Botanical Gardens Flora is a favorite vacation spot of the townspeople, there are no crowds, and you can safely enjoy the wonderful colors and views of the park.
Chocolate is the most powerful remedy for stress and a visit to the Chocolate Museum makes this quote more interesting. Upon entrance, you will be greeted by the sweet smell that permeates the atmosphere of the whole museum. The 25 Euro family ticket, tells of how, where, and in what volumes the planters grow the cocoa beans, the methods of collection, and transport. The large amount of the photographs and texts are in German. There is a small greenhouse with recreated tropical climates to show how and where they grow the cocoa beans and other plants. The second floor features a mini chocolate factory, which it the interesting part of the tour. Behind the glass, you can observe how the German chocolate bars and figures are manufactured. At the entrance, the children get a few of these as a gift.
Here you can order your own recipe for chocolate and choose something from the vast amount of toppings (nuts, spices, sprinkles, etc.). An employee of the museum gives all the kids with small wafers dipped in their chocolate fountain. Children can come to the fountain more than once. At the next hall, you will learn about chocolate history and how the Aztecs developed the "Drink of the Gods" during the Middle Ages. There is a chocolate shop on the next floor where you can shop for the products of famous brands like; Mars, Kinder Surprise (in the window of a large box with figures), Lindt (displays their huge candy from the ceiling), Milk (colorful figure of a life-size cow), and Ritter Sport.
Fragrance Museum Farina House
It is a lovely museum about the famous Cologne water. The store offers a variety of options packages and containers with this wonderful perfume. The aroma of the scents you can purchase here at the Fragrance Museum Farina House is very light, floral, unobtrusive, and ideal for everyday use. The small bottle of cologne water is the best souvenir to friends and relatives instead of the usual magnets and key chain. It is necessary to go to this store museum to look at the characters in period costume and learn something new about cologne making and their latest product called the “Russian Leather”.
It is quite difficult to specify what are the most interesting places to see and things to do in this city; it is very modern, innovative, tolerant and versatile on its own. In general, Cologne is a feeling and you need to enjoy the entire city, watch the people and immerse yourself in their way of living while discovering the little surprises of its every corner. Making your own perfume or Eau de Cologne, go cruising along the Rhine River, engage in the castle watching adventure, visiting a cheese factory, and having a glass of cold beer after a tour is just a few of the typical things to do and how an ordinary day goes by in Cologne City.
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