Cologne, Germany is a vibrant and dynamic city with a rich cultural heritage. The history of Cologne dates all the way back to Roman times, making it one of the oldest cities in Germany. This unbroken lineage is played out in the fusion of architectural styles from classical Roman churches to sleek modern office towers and gives the city a visually exciting feel. Cologne’s locals are renowned for being friendly and this welcoming atmosphere makes a trip to Cologne an unforgettable German experience.
Things to do in Cologne, Germany
The majestic Cologne Cathedral is the heart of the city and dominates the skyline from most vantage points. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cologne’s Gothic cathedral is the number one German tourist attraction, with more than six million visitors every year. If you brave the 510 steps in the south tower to reach the viewing platform at 98 metres (322 feet) you’ll be rewarded with an amazing 360° Cologne panorama.
The cathedral isn’t the only one of Cologne’s churches worth seeing. There are approximately 250 churches within the city but its 12 Romanic churches are a tangible piece of Cologne history. Built between the 4th and 13th centuries, a wander through the magnificent churches of St Andreas, St Maria Capitol and St Gereon, to name a few, is a great way to immerse yourself in the city’s medieval history on your tour of Cologne.
Every year on November 11 at 11:11am, the city of Cologne goes a little crazy for the beginning of the Cologne Carnival, Germany’s biggest street festival, sometimes called the ‘crazy days’. If your holiday in Cologne coincides with the ‘fifth season’, or carnival season, you’ll see locals giving each other Bützje (kisses) while dressed in all kinds of outrageous costumes.
The other major annual Cologne event is the Cologne Lights or Kölner Lichter. Held in mid-July on the banks of the Rhine, the impressive Cologne Lights fireworks display is synchronised to music and is a real feast for the senses. The fireworks don’t start till late but the area of Old Town has a range of colourful entertainment to keep you busy until one of the most enchanting sights in Cologne lights up the night.
Cologne’s Old Town is the ‘heart and soul’ of the city. A walk around the cobble-stoned streets of Old Town will take you past charming terrace houses and traditional German breweries called Brauhaus, where you can sample local Cologne food and beer specialities.
At any point during your Cologne holiday, be sure to sample the official beer of Cologne, Kölsch. Light in colour and slightly sweeter than other German beers, a glass of this pale ale is a refreshing end to your day of sightseeing in Cologne.