Introducing the city

£1.00 | 1.12 €

GBP | EUR

Gasoline £1.14 | 1.28 €

One-way ticket £2.51 | 2.80 €

Beer £3.13 | 3.50 €

Main Course £8.95 | 10.00 €

About Cologne

Sitting on the river Rhine, Cologne is the fourth largest city in Germany boasting an array of attractions and breathtaking sights like Cologne Cathedral and the Hohenzolleen Bridge.

The city of Cologne was given the name Colonia Claudia Ara Aggripinensium by the Romans in 38 B.C. It’s fair to say it’s not the easiest to get your tongue around but a powerful city requires a powerful name we suppose. With a population just over one million, Cologne is Germany’s fourth largest city and proudly stands as one of the country’s major hubs for media, tourism and business.

Despite its modest size, every turn in Cologne offers something new to see. Highlights include the many diverse museums, the scenic landscape along the Rhine and signature monuments like the famous Kölner Dom, which is consistently ranked among Germany’s top tourist attractions. If you don’t fancy sightseeing, shop 'til you drop in the bustling Hohe Straße and Schildergasse shopping districts by day before drinking Kölsch with the locals in the beer halls by night. With so much to see and do, we’ll be surprised if you can do it all quicker than you can say Colonia Claudia Ara Aggripinensium. Especially not after a Kölsch or three.

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Weather

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When Should You Visit?

The summer months are the best time to visit. Even though these are the main months for tourists, the city isn’t as packed as places like Munich and Berlin. However if you're desperate to avoid the (small) hordes, September is a great alternative.

Cologne experiences a similar climate to the south east of England or northern France. July is the hottest month of the year with highs pushing just over the mid 20s. In late spring and early autumn, temperatures can reach 20 degrees Celsius although evenings can be chilly. As for winter, you can expect the city to be cold in the day with temperatures dropping below freezing at night (although it's a good time to visit the large Christmas market). Rain can come at any time of the year, with spring in particular seeing some heavy downpours.

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Travioor top tips

Shopping
Romance
Spa Rules

Insider Info

  • Hohe Straße and Schildergasse (both shopping streets) are perfect for high-street brands and designer labels but for bargain boutiques and quirky gifts, head to the trendy Belgian Quarter.

  • In Cologne for romance? Take your other half to Honezollern Bridge, Cologne’s very own ‘love lock’ bridge, where you can attach your lock with your own personal message. A cheesy gesture for some, but a romantic act of affection for others.

  • Spas and massage treatments are very popular in Cologne but be aware that all sauna areas are mixed sex and visitors are required to go in naked (in typical German style). It can be a fairly odd experience for first timers but this is the norm in Germany and the saunas are a much respected environment.

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Food and drink

Main Course £8.95 | 10.00 €

3-Course Meal £40.28 | 45.00 €

Cappuccino £2.33 | 2.60 €

Beer £3.13 | 3.50 €

The Scene

Like other German cities, expect hearty fare and meat dishes dominating meals in Cologne. If you’ve only got time for street food, grab a quick Currywurst sausage which are served from pop-up wagons and stalls across the city. Otherwise head for an eatery that serves local dishes like Himmel un Ääd (blood sausage and onions with apple-mashed potatoes) or Rievkoche (a potato pancake). Given the city’s immigrant population, there’s also a wide range of international options, from Turkish kebab shops to fine dining Italian restaurants.

There’s also a huge pub culture in Cologne with many spots to choose from. The local beer is known as Kölsch and is rather surprisingly served in a small glass (stangen) to ensure it's kept fresh and cold. Don’t worry, the waiters (known as köbes) keep them coming for as long as you can keep up.

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History

Cologne’s Story

As one of Germany’s oldest cities, Cologne’s name dates back to 50 AD when the Roman's founded Ubii Village on the Rhine and later called it ‘Colonia’ (that’s the short version anyway). It became home to the imperial governors of Rome and became a thriving trade and production centre for the Roman Empire. By the Middle Ages, Cologne was one of Germany’s most prosperous towns and boasted a significant population. In 1475 Cologne became a free imperial city before going on to become a massive hub for trade, helped by its strong economic and political status.

By the end of the 19th century (after the city’s walls had declined), Cologne entered a development period which saw it expand in size thanks to the Industrial Revolution. However, like many other cities in Germany, much of the inner city was wiped out during WWII. Although work began in 1947 to rebuild the Old Town, you can still see some remains of the damage today. Despite these events, Cologne’s strong historical past has helped establish the city as one of the country’s main media, tourism and business hotspots.

Language

Hallo | Hello
Danke | Thank you

German

German is the official language in Cologne although English is widely spoken. Many signs have both French and English translations as do announcements in the main train station. However, a little bit of German is good to get by. Below are some German basics:

  • Goodbye: Auf Wiedersehen
  • Do you speak English?: Sprechen Sie Englisch?
  • Excuse me: Entschuldigen Sie

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Need to know

+49 Dialling Code
112 Emergency Services

Get The Low-Down

  • The city is prone to flooding as it’s situated beside the Rhine, so be wary of periods of bad weather.
  • There is a very good subway and tram system in the city.
  • Beware of pickpockets around the train station, nearby square and Cologne Dom.
  • People usually leave a tip of around 5-10% for good service in restaurants.
  • Many restaurants and smaller shops or stores may only accept cash.


VISA INFORMATION

Find out about the visa requirements for Germany here.

 

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Travioor Recommends

1. Cathedral Views

Climb for one hour to the top of Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral) and enjoy spectacular city views.

2. River Rhine

See the city from the river Rhine on a memorable boat trip.

3. Local Beer

Drink the local beer called Kölsch in the array of local pubs, beer halls and breweries.

4. City Districts

View the modern architecture and historic harbour buildings as you stroll the banks of the Rhine in the Rheinauhafen District.

5. Museums/Galleries

Explore the array of museums and galleries including Schokoladenmuseum (chocolate museum).


See What's On In Cologne