Cologne - Introduction:
Cologne, which lies on the banks of the river Rhine, was founded by Romans in 38 BC and is one of Germany’s oldest cities.
Köln, as it is called in German, is famous for the Cologne Cathedral and one of Europe’s oldest universities, as well as its vibrant contemporary art scene. The city is proud to have more than 30 museums and 100 galleries with world-class collections.
Cologne was heavily damaged in World War II; Allied bombings wiped out 90% of the city center, reducing its number of inhabitants from 800,000 to 40,000.
Today, Cologne is again the fourth biggest city in Germany with over a million inhabitants and an interesting mix of restored historic buildings and modern post-war architecture.
Cologne Main Train Station:
Cologne’s main train station (“Köln Hauptbahnhof") is conveniently located in the heart of the city center, just a stone’s throw away from the Cologne Cathedral; you will see the impressive building right away when you leave the station.
Cologne's main train station is a busy railway hub in Germany, connecting you easily with many German and European cities and offering plenty of fast ICE trains.More about German Train Travel
Cologne - Getting Around:
The best way to get to know Cologne and its attractions is by foot. Many interesting sights are within 30-minute walking distance in the city center; make the Cologne Cathedral your point of orientation and explore the city from there.
The Cologne tourism office, which is located right across the Cathedral, offers guidebooks and free city maps.
Cologne Sights and Attractions:
You already guessed it - the Cologne Cathedral, a UNESCO world heritage site, is the city's famous landmark and one of the most important architectural monuments in Germany.
For more great (and free) sights, check out my list The Best Things to Do in Cologne.
From historic exhibitions, to modern art, read about the best 5 museums in Cologne here.
Cologne - Where to Stay:
The Statthaus, built in 1860, offers furnished apartments and vacation rentals in walking distance to the Cologne Cathedral. The former monastery is a charming and unique place to stay, and the prices are unbeatable - apartments start at 55 Euros.
Cologne is home to one of Germany’s most popular shopping streets, the Schildergasse. This pedestrian street, which dates back to ancient Roman times, offers international department stores, cafes, and modern architecture. The adjacent pedestrian street called Hohe Straße leads you back to the Cathedral.
Looking for a unique souvenir from Cologne? How about getting a bottle of the famous Eau De Cologne 4711; you can buy the perfume in the original house on Glockengasse, where it was invented over 200 years ago.
Cologne - Going Out:
A must-see is Cologne's traditional street parade on Rose Monday, which draws over one million carnival revelers and is broadcasted live on German TV. Cologne Gay Pride, is one of the largest gay and lesbian events in the country. Highlight of the festivities is the colorful gay pride parade with more than 120 floats and over a million participants and spectators.