Cologne is bustling! Tips for a city break

Tips for a city trip to Cologne

Germany's fourth-largest city has everything you need for a perfect holiday. In Cologne, you will find one of the country's largest art collections, world-famous street art, the best shops and restaurants, trendy districts to wander around in for hours. And a Brauhaus with delicious beer is always nearby. And what is even better: with ICE International you can be in the heart of the city in 3 hours. In short: go and discover lively Köln.

10 reasons to visit Cologne for a day trip

The Dom

In Cologne since: 1880 Architect: Gerhard von Rile Background: In the 12th century, relics of the Holy Three Kings were donated to Cologne, probably the mortal remains of the Three Wise Men from the East. These relics attracted so many pilgrims to Cologne that it was decided to build a new church for them. It immediately made Cologne one of the biggest pilgrimage cities in Europe. Visiting times: daily Fun facts: Its construction lasted a total of 632 years (!). The Cathedral is the largest cathedral in Germany: it is over 144 metres long, the towers are 157 metres high and its location is exactly 250 metres from the Rhine. Tip: Climb the 509 steps of the south tower for a magnificent view of the city. Anticipatory fun: Former advertiser Frank Schätzing wrote the book Death and the Devil, an exciting thriller based on historical facts about the mysterious death of the architect of the Dom.
Address: Domkloster 4 (
www.koelner-dom.de)

Column 3
Column 4

Museum Ludwig

In Cologne since: 1986 Background: The donation of a large collection of Pop Art works by the Aachen entrepreneur/art collector couple Peter and Irene Ludwig. The permanent collection includes German Expressionism, the Russian Avant-Garde, works by Pablo Picasso and the Agfa-Foto-Historama. Visiting times: Tuesday through Sunday Fun fact: The pop art collection of Museum Ludwig is the largest collection outside the United States. You will find works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. Tip: Café-restaurant Ludwig im Museum is a wonderful place to eat and to spot famous artists. The menu mainly features vegetarian and gluten-free dishes as well as organic food. Anticipatory fun: Look forward to your visit with the videos and photos on the museum's socials: Museum Ludwig on Vimeo, museumludwig on Instagram, Museum Ludwig Köln on Facebook.
Address: Heinrich-Böll-Platz (www.museum-ludwig.de)

Column 3
Column 4

Belgisch Viertel

Activities: The streets around the Brüsseler Platz are lined with small fashion boutiques, lovely cafés, trendy bars, lively nightlife and affordable restaurants. The sunny Brussels square is very popular in the summer with the locals for a delicious Kölsch beer. Background: Belgisches Viertel is named after the surrounding streets, which are named after Belgian cities or provinces. Visiting times: all year round Fun fact: In the Belgisches Viertel there are also streets such as Maastrichter Straße and Utrechter Straße. So, the people of Cologne are not strictly speaking in line with the Belgian designations. Tip: For interior inspiration, take a look at Brüsseler, Maastrichter and Aachener Straße, where you will find beautiful home furnishing shops with unique collections.
Address: visit this district from the Brüsseler Platz

Column 3
Column 4

Café Soleil

In Cologne since: 2019 Background: After years of working as a hotel manager in Paris, Tina Bells fulfilled her long-cherished wish by opening her own café. Even for the locals, Café Soleil is a hidden gem, where you can enjoy the multicultural cuisine on offer. Tina often works in the kitchen herself. Concept: Tina draws inspiration from all cultures to create a mix of vintage and Mediterranean, with regional delicacies. This is also reflected in the furnishings. Trivia: most of the fruit and vegetables come from the Apfelbacher green box, with organic seasonal produce. This explains the changing menu. Visiting times: Wednesday to Sunday Tip: Oriental-style scrambled eggs served in a rustic Turkish pan. Or the delicious vegan lavender-lemon cake. Tina also serves a great vegan breakfast. Extra tip: From time to time, lectures or mini-performances with, for example, French chansons are held here.
Address: Fridolinstraße 2 (www.cafesoleil-ehrenfeld.de)

Column 3
Column 4

Ehrenfeld

In Cologne since: 1888 Background: Ehrenfeld was once a working-class district with several metal factories, now it is a super-trendy district. The old factories and sheds have been transformed by artists and creative entrepreneurs into studios, restaurants, trendy coffee shops, workshops, pop-up shops and quirky fashion shops. On the walls of the former factories and sheds, you can see all sorts of street art. Activities: Ehrenfeld is an up-and-coming district where you will meet the citizens of Cologne and where inspiration, entrepreneurship and creativity are teeming all around you. Visiting times: all year round Fun fact: During the biennial Cityleaks Urban Art Festival, national and international artists take over the public space and turn Ehrenfeld into a creative, cultural haven. Tip: Balloni is the place to be for anyone looking for balloons, decorations, party supplies and inspiration in the broadest sense. They are located in a former factory hall in the heart of Ehrenfeld.
Address: deze wijk begint bij de imposante Centrale Moskee van Keulen (Venloer Straße)

Column 3
Column 4

Odonien

Background: It was artist Odo Rumpf's idea to create a free state for artists. Meanwhile, Odonien is a unique combination of open-air studio, event venue and cultural centre. Activities: There are event halls, artists' studios (including that of Odo Rumpf), a large exploration shop, an open-air stage and a lushly planted beer garden with bizarre metal sculptures. In summer, there is an open-air cinema and several festivals such as the robot art festival Robodonia. Visiting times: Wednesday to Sunday (Biergarten) and according to activity calendar Tip: The fire-spitting dragon is fantastic for young and old!
Address: Hornstraße 85 (www.odonien.de)

Column 3
Column 4

Die Fette Kuh

In Cologne since: 2011 Background: Die Fette Kuh was started with the aim of making the very best burger in Cologne: based on fairly produced meat and without preservatives. In the meantime, the burger joint is loved by locals and has reached cult status far beyond the city limits. Every burger can be ordered in a 120 or 200 gram version or vegetarian. And every burger can be ordered in a 'naked version' (without bread, but with a salad), for when you want to eat gluten-free, for example. Fun fact: Every Wednesday, the team invents a new weekly burger: seasonal, exclusive and with special ingredients. Tip: The most popular burger, according to the chef, is the BBQ Bacon Cheese. Their other speciality: chilli cheese fries. Visiting times: daily
Address: Bonner Straße 43
(www.diefettekuh.de)

Column 3
Column 4

Groove Attack

In Cologne since: 1992 Background: The three friends Heribert 'Mue' Meuser, JoJo Altevogt and Frank Stratmann moved from Wuppertal to Cologne in 1992 and opened Groove Attack. The shop was a kind of spin-off from music club Beatbox, the acid jazz jungle drum & bass club in Wuppertal, and developed from a small music shop in Cologne to a global music distributor. Activities: This is the place to be for music and record lovers. Packed with crates and cupboards, Groove Attack offers a rich selection, specialising in hip-hop, beats and samples. Visiting times: Monday to Saturday Anticipatory fun: the record shop has dozens of its own playlists on Spotify (#grooveattack).
Address: Maastrichter Straße 49
(www.grooveattack.com)

Column 3
Column 4

Stadtgarden

In Cologne since: 1898 Background: After the Cologne Musicians' Association moved into Stadtgarten in 1978, the park became the venue for concerts of jazz, soul, experimental pop and many other music styles. Stadtgarten has since become Cologne's go-to place for a tasty lunch, a delicious dinner and a place to enjoy a beer in the beer garden. But above all, Stadtgarten is the place for music concerts: more than 400 take place there every year. Activities: This is the place to be for good food, drink, meeting people and seeing lots of live music performances of different styles. Visiting times: all year round Fun fact: In 2016, Stadtgarten was named 'Venue of the year' and Stadtgarten regularly appears on the lists of the well-known American music magazine Down Beat. Tip: Since 2007, a very nice, 'alternative' Christmas market has been organised in Stadtgarten on the four weekends before Christmas and has become increasingly popular (www.weihnachtsmarkt-stadtgarten.de). Anticipatory fun: Check out the livestreams on the music calendar on their website.
Address: Venloer Straße 40 (www.stadtgarten.de)

Column 3
Column 4

Extra summer tip: Cologne's beaches

Visit a Cologne city beach when the weather’s good. Such as KM 689 Cologne Beach Club. Enjoy a delicious lunch with your feet in the sand on the Rhine bank overlooking the city.
Address: Rheinparkweg 1
, (www.km689.rhein-terrassen.de).

Column 3
Column 4

Kölner trivia

Bananas on the walls

On several walls you might notice a painted banana when wallking the streets of Cologne. This is German graffiti artist Thomas Baumgärtel's way of letting people know that he thinks these are places worth visiting.

Cologne joke with half a rooster

In Cologne when you order a Halve Hahn (=half a rososter), you will not get a grilled chicken, but a rye bread with cheese, mustard and onions. This joke, created by a Wilhelm Vierkötter, dates back to the 19th century and has been continued to this day.

Column 3
Column 4

Also fun for a visit to Cologne

  • Chocolate museum: with approximately 650,000 visitors per year, this is the most-visited museum of the city.
  • Duftmuseum im Farina-Haus: impressive museum in the oldest perfume factory in the world.
  • Manufactum: Unique department store with bread shop.
  • Volksgarten: the oldest city park in Cologne.

To Cologne by train

The ICE International train takes you directly from Amsterdam Central to Cologne. So chill!
Column 3
Column 4
Route Travel times Transfers Header Header
Amsterdam - Cologne 2.38 hours 0 Content Content
Schiphol - Cologne 2.56 hours 1 Content Content
Rotterdam - Cologne 2.58 hours 1 Content Content
Utrecht - Cologne 2.10 hours 0 Content Content

For a complete travel itinerary, consult our itinerary planner