Cologne lies on the banks of the Rhine River and is Germany’s fourth largest city. Its long and fascinating history has given the city a distinctive charm; a towering cathedral, medieval marketplace and grand old buildings sit alongside modern office blocks. Cologne is a hot spot for tourism, as well as media and business. It is famous worldwide for the scent Eau de Cologne, first produced here in 1709. It’s also known as being one of the most liberal cities in Germany.
One of the most popular areas for visitors is the picturesque Old Town, which was almost completely reduced to rubble during World War II. Cologne was one of the most heavily bombed cities in Germany, but it has been painstakingly rebuilt. The historic center, including the Alter Markt (Old Market), has been restored to its pre-war heritage and the surviving old buildings, such as the famous Cologne Cathedral, carefully preserved. A more modern attraction, but still one of the oldest of its kind in Germany, is the Cologne Zoo.
Cologne today is known for being a major cultural center and is famous for its Winter Carnival, held in February. There’s also plenty of activity throughout the year thanks to the city’s vibrant arts scene, countless galleries and more than 30 museums. The Museum Schnütgen houses an extensive collection of medieval art in an 11th-century Romanesque church. Visit the Museum für Angewandte Kunst (Museum of Applied Art) and browse through thousands of design objects, from a Mies van der Rohe chair to a retro vacuum cleaner.
If you want to practice your German, Cologne is a great place to do so as the locals are known for their welcoming nature. English is also widely spoken here, especially by younger people, and tours and information in English are available for all of the city’s main attractions.
Getting around Cologne is easy with the efficient and affordable public transport network, which includes trams, buses and trains. There is an English language feature on ticket machines. Renting a bike is another great way to see this city; rentals are available from the northern side of the main train station.
Shopping, Skyscrapers and Museums
Marvel at the Gothic architecture and the shrine of the three wise men at one of the largest churches in the world.
The city’s former marketplace is now a lively spot known for its café culture and carnivals.
Over 900 years of history are built into the stones of Cologne’s governmental buildings, where structures from throughout the centuries form one stunning landmark.
Feel like a rock star as you jump to the front of the line for an upbeat, modern experience among the Gothic buildings of Cologne's historic, Roman center. This hotspot houses rare pieces of authentic music memorabilia—including Eric Clapton's guitar and a vest signed by Bruce Springsteen.
Take advantage of this combination of an 1-hour sightseeing cruise on the Rhine and 1-day of hop-on hop-off bus pass to explore Cologne at your leisure. Visit every attraction on your sightseeing list and enjoy excellent views of the ancient Roman city from the boat.
A must-have while in Cologne, the KölnCard gives you freedom to explore the city at your leisure for 24 or 48 hours. Public transport and a handy booklet with map are also thrown in to make your stay even more enjoyable.
One of Europe’s most appealing skylines appears on the horizon as you cruise the Rhine River in Cologne aboard a spacious vessel. Admire sights such as the mighty Cologne Cathedral and the leafy riverbanks, and listen to engaging and informative stories about the city on your headset.
Cruise down the Rhine River from Cologne to the summer resort town of Königswinter. See the majestic Siebengebirge hills and the epic Drachenfels Rock from the riverboat. Take an optional ride up to the summit on railcar, and then choose between leisure time activities in Königswinter.
During your 3-hour dinner cruise aboard a comfortable boat, enjoy taking in Cologne’s beautiful sights along the Rhine River at night. See top attractions such as Cologne’s historic old town, the University of Cologne and the Chocolate Museum.