Recognised as the cultural epicentre of Western Germany, Cologne is a popular tourist destination with a thriving arts scene. The city is home to more than thirty museums, an opera house and numerous art galleries that all celebrate the city’s unique history, as well as its contemporary and modern art. Although Cologne is Germany’s fourth largest city, the cultural and business centres are compact and easily explored on foot. The city centre straddles the Rhine River, affording stunning river views from much of the city.
With more pubs per capita than any other city in the country, Cologne is also renowned for its lively nightlife. Over 3,000 pubs, clubs and restaurants serve patrons Kolsch, the local brew. Along with Kolsch, the city’s most famous export is its Eau de Cologne, the perfume first made in this historic destination.
The architecture in Cologne is diverse and a popular tourist attraction in itself. On display are buildings and structures from many eras, including Ancient Roman walls and gates, medieval churches, modern buildings built during the reconstruction of the city following World War II, and new post-modern regions. The stunning gothic Cologne Cathedral at the heart of the city is one of Germany’s most popular tourist attractions.
Cologne has numerous ports located along a 2-kilometre stretch of the Rhine. The mooring points are directed by local port authorities as cruise ships enter the city. All ports are located close to the centre of Cologne on the embankment between Cologne’s central railway station and Old Town. Passengers disembark directly from their cruise ships to the ports.
As all the ports are within walking distance of the city centre, they all have the same facilities and stores close by.
Facilities near the ports in Cologne include:
- Secure parking
- Tourist information centres
- Souvenir stores
- Bank and ATMs
- Internet cafés
- Medical centre and pharmacy
- Post office.
How To Get Around
The main tourist attractions on both sides of the Rhine – including museums, cathedrals and the Old Town – are easily located on foot. Cologne also has a safe and simple comprehensive network of underground bus and tram stations. A ‘Köln Card’ allows individuals or groups of tourists to use any form of public transport for free for a small daily fee, making them an affordable way to travel the city. Köln Cards are available at ticket vending machines at tram and bus stations. Taxis or trains are required to reach the airports and several districts in Cologne, including the shopping district at Hohe Straße.
- It is a 5 to 10 minute journey to the Cologne Cathedral
- It is a 1 to 5 minute walk to Old Town
- It is a 1 to 5 minute walk to Central Railway Station.
- It is an 18 to 20 minute journey to the shopping district of Hohe Straße
- It is a 12 to 15 minute journey Cologne Bonn Airport.
- It is a 40 minute journey to Dusseldorf Airport
- It is a 35 minute journey to Cologne Bonn Airport.
- Currency – The currency in Cologne is the Euro (€). Notes come in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, and €500 denominations. Coins come in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent and €1 and €2 denominations.
- Time Zone – Cologne follows Central European Time (CET), which is 1 hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC); daylight savings changes Cologne to 2 hours ahead of UTC between March and October.
- Weather – Cologne enjoys a temperate-oceanic climate, with warm summers and relatively mild winters for Western Europe. July is the hottest month in Cologne, with temperatures reaching 36.8 degrees Celsius, but with an average high of 24.4 degrees Celsius. January is the coolest month, with temperatures ranging between -0.6 and 5.4 degrees Celsius.
- Cologne Cathedral – In the centre of the city of Cologne, above the surrounding buildings, rises the dramatic ornate spires and flying buttresses of Germany’s most visited tourist attraction, the Cologne Cathedral. Known to the locals as Kölner Dom, this gothic cathedral houses stunning stained glass windows, paintings, treasures of silver, gold and bronze, and holy relics. The most popular relic – a site of pilgrimage – is the Shrine of the Three Kings, a gold bejewelled sarcophagus believed to be the resting place of the three kings who visited Jesus on his day of birth. The south tower stairs are open, allowing visitors to climb the 509 steps to the base of the steeple, passing the world’s largest free-swinging working bell.
- Cologne Carnival – Known as the ‘fifth season of the year’, the carnival starts every November 11, from 11 minutes past 11am. The carnival lasts for a week and transforms Cologne into one of the largest street festivals in all of Europe. Activities include stalls, parades and masquerade street parties, with closing times for bars and clubs suspended during the event.
- Cologne Cable Car – The Cologne Cable car is a gondola-style lift that connects both banks of the Rhine near the Zoo Bridge. It’s a fun way to get a birds-eye view of the city. The cable way passes over the thermal baths in Rhine Park and is open daily from April to October.