In the shadow of Berlin and other internationally recognized German cities, Cologne begins to surface as a cool and trendy secret. This cosmopolitan metropolis offers an incredibly diverse mix of things to see and do that you won’t want to miss.
First…there’s the cathedral
Before you go anywhere else, scale the heights of Cologne Cathedral. Almost every European city has a cathedral but Cologne has gone all-out with this one and it’s utterly massive. For a while after construction was completed in 1880, the cathedral was actually the tallest structure in the world.
Whether you climb up 509 steps to the top or go underground to see the magnificent cathedral treasury in a medieval vault cellar with remains of Roman foundations, it’s well worth it to enjoy one of Cologne’s most iconic UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Explore the historic Altstadt
Cologne, with an eventful medieval past, dates all the way back to the Roman period, which means there’s a whole array of different architectural styles and histories to explore. During World War II the city was heavily bombed and most of its historic buildings were destroyed. But a small, beautiful part of the old town remains, where you’ll find colorful houses, quaint shops and cobbled streets that are reminiscent of life many centuries ago.
Shop in the Belgian Quarter
The Belgian Quarter has to be one of the coolest neighborhoods in Cologne. Full of great shops, boutiques, cafes and restaurants, you could pretty much spend an entire day outdoors here. The travel guide Chic Belgique helps you plan your trip in advance so that you can discover and experience all the new and upcoming stores in the area.
Enjoy street art in Ehrenfeld
Ehrenfeld is another of Cologne’s trendy neighborhoods. Many street artists from around the world have left behind murals and other public art pieces and the roads near Ehrenfelder Bahnhof have some truly large-scale murals for the street art connoisseurto enjoy.
See pop art at a museum
Cologne is home to over 40 museums and more than 110 galleries. Located just behind the Cathedral, the Museum Ludwig is one of Germany’s best contemporary art museums with a great permanent pop art exhibition including works by pioneers such as Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, and of course Andy Warhol.
Grab a Kölsch from a Köbes
There’s one thing that everyone in Cologne does – either in one of the iconic Altstadt breweries and restaurants, or while hanging out along the Rhine River in spring and summer. Just grab a table to enjoy the local brew – Kölsch beer. The name Kölsch is protected by law so only beers brewed in and around Cologne can bear the name. It’s a pale, straw-colored beer that is more refreshing and sweeter than other German beers. Kölsch comes in a tall, 200-milliliter glass, usually served by a Köbes, a local waiter with a long blue apron, a leather purse and a very specific kind of rough humor.
Fine dining or local Cologne foods?
Did you know there are 97 Cologne restaurants mentioned in the Michelin Guide 2018? In other words, the variety of restaurants in this gastronomic city are infinite. But if you can’t decide where to go, always go local. At the many local bars and restaurants, you can enjoy dishes like the Himmel und Äd (Heaven and Earth) named for apples (from the sky) and potatoes (from the ground) usually served with black pudding. Guten appetit!
Good to know before you go
- Cologne is Germany’s fourth-largest cityand one of the oldest cities in the country.
- The Cologne cable cars crossing Rhine river are an interesting way to see the city from a different angle. Tickets cost 7 EUR return or 4.80 EUR one way.
- There is a connection between Cologne, the name of the city, and Eau de Cologne 4711, the perfume. But what about the number, 4711? It is easier than you think, it was just the address. In 1794 Napoleon implemented a system of house numbers. So, 4711 is actually the address of the perfume’s producer. Now it’s a museum that you can visit.
- Fat Peter (or St. Petersglocke), located in the Cologne Cathedral, is the largest bell in the world– it weighs approximately 24,000 kg and its diameter is an impressive 322 cm.
- Never mention Düsseldorf. As much as Cologne locals love their city, they dislike Düsseldorf with a passion. The rivalry between the two neighboring cities goes back to the 13th century and comes to the fore at soccer matches, in the choice of beer, and in general discourse. It’s wise to not even mention Düsseldorf in conversation.
Read more about Dentsply Sirona Implants at IDS, the leading global trade fair for the dental community who takes place in Cologne every two years.