Cologne, or KÃ¶ln, as the locals call it, is one of my favourite German cities – not too big, not too small, lots of interesting stuff to see and do. It also has its own unique culture within German, being famous (or sometimes infamous) for its strong dialect – although I can speak German fluently, “KÃ¶lsch” sounds almost like another language to me! This list of things to do in Cologne should enable you to get a taste for this special city in Germany.
Cologne at Night by James Cridland
Sightseeing in Cologne
Easily the most impressive landmark in Cologne is the Cologne Cathedral or KÃ¶lner Dom. It’s a UNESCO-listed building dating back to the thirteenth century and it’s one of the largest gothic churches in Europe. Just looking around inside is impressive enough but if you’re feeling fit you can also climb the tower for views over the Rhine River and the city of Cologne.
Cologne Cathedral by Amanda Kendle
Dating back to the times of a Roman governor in Cologne, the Praetorium is an amazing array of Roman ruins found underneath the city – in fact, just under the Town Hall. You can also see parts of the old sewer system and archaeological finds.
Cologne Praetorium by Jen Guttman
Of course, you also can’t forget the fact that Cologne lies on the Rhine River. If you cross the main bridge across the Rhine, you’ll find many thousands of padlocks have been attached to the bridge by couples hoping for good luck for their relationship. You can also cruise the Rhine to various destinations from Cologne using KD boats.
Padlocks on the bridge by Amanda Kendle
Museums in Cologne
In light of Cologne’s deep Roman ties, it’s no surprise that the Roman-Germanic Museum (RÃ¶misch-Germanisches Museum) is an impressive one, with numerous Roman artefacts from the Cologne area and along the Rhine River on display. The Praetorium mentioned above is adjacent to this museum.
Roman-Germanic Museum in Cologne by Eoghan OLionnain
For art lovers, the Museum Ludwig, easily found in central Cologne, is a must visit. It’s most famous for its postmodern art collection but it’s actually got a bit of everything from the 20th century. For those who like their art a bit older, the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum features art from between the 1200s and 1800s; both of these museums feature both local German artists and numerous famous international artists, too.
Museum Ludwig by mueritz
And finally, one museum which I’ve often been told of (given my well-known sweet tooth!) but never had the chance to visit, the Chocolate Museum (Schokolade Museum) in Cologne is trying to document the “cultural history of chocolate”. You can also see some great examples of how chocolate is made and importantly, there is a cafe offering (naturally enough) plenty of chocolate-based treats.
Culture in Cologne
Cologne is famous not only for its historical past but for its modern day culture too, and it’s well known as the gay capital of Germany. Every year, the Cologne Gay Pride parade takes place with up to a million people attending (in 2011, the parade will take place 1-3 July).
Gay Pride Parade by norbert_blech
However, the biggest parade of the year comes with Karneval. Usually held in February, Karneval can attract almost two million people with a very colorful street carnival, plenty of wild costumes, and all kinds of related celebrations.
And in late November and December, Cologne is one of the best places to come to in Europe for Christmas markets. With no less than half a dozen separate markets, you can easily spend a long weekend there and still not enjoy the Gluhwein from every Christmas market!
Traditional gifts at Cologne Christmas Markets by timo_beil
Last but not least, it’s important that you try the local German beer, named (like the dialect) KÃ¶lsch (and sometimes seen as Koelsch). There are several varieties of it, available everywhere and you’ll be well-respected if you drink the local beer rather than some other kind of German beer while in Cologne!
KÃ¶lsch beer by sights set
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