Cologne, Germany — a must-visit for travelers
Climate & Temperatures in Cologne, Germany
Juli/August: up to around 30 C / 86 F.
Winter: around freezing point. Due to the low elevation there’s only a very moderate amount of snow falling during winter.
The climate in general is moderate warm during summer and moderate cold during winter.
Best time to travel / Season
The best time to travel to Germany is probably during Spring/Summer.
Cologne, Germany, Visitor Info & Getting Around
Conrad Adenauer Airport Köln-Bonn
Kölner Verkehrs-Betriebe AG
Kardinal-Höffner-Platz 1, 50667 Köln
Cologne – Overview for travelers
Cologne is one of Germany’s best-loved cities. With its cathedral, churches, museums, the River Rhine, and a host of exciting events, it draws over 100 million visitors every year. A large number of them depart deeply impressed not only with the city’s many attractions but also with the celebrated Cologne way of life. And the “Cologne way of life” is highly infectious – reason enough to pay Cologne a visit!
Germany’s fourth-largest city boasts a long and colourful history. For the past 2,000 years, Cologne has served as a melting pot for a host of nationalities. First the Romans, then the French, came to Cologne. They were followed by emigrants from Eastern Europe and Turkey, and by urban newcomers from the German provinces such as the Eifel and Westphalia. Today, their descendants all live together in the city’s 86 boroughs. This has given rise to a mentality that grants everyone the right to live as he or she sees fit – an attitude expressed in one of the many sayings typical for the city: “Jede Jeck es anders” (“It takes all sorts!”).
The people of Cologne are outgoing, down-to-earth, tolerant, always ready for a party and often a little irreverent. All this is accompanied by a highly developed sense of local patriotism, which the people of Cologne delight in cultivating. No other place in Germany has so many songs – there are tens of thousands of them – and so many musical groups extolling the city’s virtues in the distinctive local dialect. Famous groups include Bläck Fööss, the Höhner, Kasalla or Brings. Their concerts help to project Cologne’s reputation way out into the world beyond the Rhineland. In the city itself, it is not only in concert halls and at the famous carnival that such songs are heard: the people of Cologne also delight in celebrating their affection for their beloved city in the football stadium, at ice hockey games of the local team, Kölner Haie, and basically every time there’s a party.
Some are inclined to disparage this somewhat uncritical devotion as “Colognomania” and excessive self-regard. Yet it is clear that many visitors to Cologne keep coming back precisely because of the city’s outgoing and open way of life and its affectionate and partygoing mentality. The carnival, which plays a major part in social life, is also an opportunity to celebrate Cologne’s idiosyncracies. Not for nothing is Cologne the traditional stronghold of the German carnival. There are 160 carnival associations and countless clubs in which the people of Cologne celebrate the “fifth season” of the year. More than 10,000 revelers take part in the traditional Rose Monday parade, and more than 8,000 in the popular “Schull- un Veedelszöch” parade the day before.
“Drink doch ene mit” (“Come join us for a drink!”) is another popular Cologne saying – particularly in the city’s brewhouses with their unique atmosphere, where communication is easy, social differences are meaningless, and people can drink and have fun together. “Kölsch”, the local brew, is drawn from the barrel as quickly as it can be drunk; the waiters – known as “Köbes” – make casual remarks. And it’s then that visitors begin to appreciate why Cologne is more than just a city on the Rhine – why it is a delightful city with a warm and infectious way of life: why “Cologne is a feeling!”
Culinary Cologne: Cologne’s culinary diversity
Cologne has more than 3,000 bars and restaurants representing a wide variety of cuisines that offer something for every taste. In addition to the down-to-earth cooking of the typical kölsch brewery restaurants, there’s a whole range of attractive restaurants with creative and interesting cuisine.
Visitors will enjoy exploring Cologne’s numerous speciality food shops, choice culinary events and lively bar and pub scene, as well as its top-class hotel restaurants and bars — not to mention its many cafés with urban flair or a cosy neighbourhood atmosphere. Cologne’s culinary diversity is rounded out by top-class restaurants with outstanding credentials (Michelin stars and Gault & Millau points), original food shops, farmers’ markets and food-themed museums featuring everything from mustard to chocolate.
A vital aspect of the Cologne lifestyle and local culture will greet the visitor at any one of the city’s many breweries. Here everything revolves around kölsch, a top- fermented beer that may be brewed only in Cologne. The term “kölsch” also applies to Cologne’s lifestyle and its local
dialect. Kölsch is served by a waiter known as a Köbes in typical tall cylindrical glasses called Kölsch-Stangen. The brewery restaurants, or Brauhäuser, serve traditional fare that is hearty and down to earth. Some of the dishes may require getting used to — such as Halver Hahn (half of a rye bread roll topped with a thick slice of mature Dutch cheese and mustard) and Himmel un Äd (Heaven and Earth), which consists of mashed potatoes with fried black pudding and applesauce. Another ironically named dish is Kölscher Kaviar — a piece of black pudding with mustard and a rye bread roll. The name probably originated among Brauhaus regulars as a parody of the upper classes.
Cologne natives have always loved to eat well, and that’s why the city has countless traditional food shops, ranging from bakeries to cheese merchants, coffee roasteries and butchers. There are also delicatessens that offer speciality items and local delicacies. Streetfood festivals and
weekly markets invite visitors to stroll along and make their own discoveries, and tastings and cooking events enable foodies to expand and refine their culinary repertoire under professional guidance. Visitors can create their own cocktails, attend barista courses or participate in wine or
whiskey tastings. A visit to the chocolate, mustard or wine museum offers fascinating insights into multifaceted worlds of taste, and special shops such as an artisanal sweets maker and a liquorice “pharmacy” are sure to delight visitors with a sweet tooth.
The famous Kölsch way of life, which is open, friendly and communicative, is reflected in Cologne’s wide variety of culinary establishments. The city’s international cuisine is dominated by Italian and Mediterranean restaurants, but countless other nations, ranging from Ethiopia to Vietnam, also cultivate their culinary arts in Cologne. In addition, Cologne natives and guests alike can celebrate German hospitality in the countless bistros and cafés offering delicious snacks and homemade cakes. In recent years, a growing number of restaurants with sophisticated and creative cuisine have expanded Cologne’s culinary portfolio. At last count, 11 top-class restaurants in Cologne had received Michelin stars.
11 good reasons for Cologne
Central: Optimal accessibility, located at the heart of Europe
- Cologne/Bonn airport: sixth-largest passenger and third-largest air freight hub in Germany as well as destination for flights of numerous airlines all over the world
- Frankfurt and Düsseldorf airports are less than an hour away
- Cologne is quickly reached via Thalys trains from Brussels (1h47) and Paris (3h14) and via Eurostar/ICE trains from London (4h11)
- Centrally located on the Rhine, second-largest inland harbour in Germany
Historic: 2,000 year-old heritage, Germany’s oldest major city
- Roman historical sites such as the Praetorium (Governor’s Palace) or the world famous Dionysos mosaic in the Romano-Germanic Museum
- Medieval city gates, medieval town hall and the Archaeological Zone
- Cologne City Museum with exhibits dating from the Middle Ages to the present
- The NS-Documentation Centre (EL-DE House) is Germany’s largest local memorial to the victims of National Socialism
- Today, with over one million inhabitants, Cologne is Germany’s fourth-largest city
Cultural: One of Europe’s foremost cities of arts and culture
- Home to 240 churches, including the 12 large Romanesque churches
- More than 40 museums including the Museum Ludwig, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Romano-Germanic Museum, Museum for Applied Art and Kolumba
- The Cultural Centre at Neumarkt: the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum – Cultures of the world and Museum Schnütgen form an architectural ensemble
- Over 130 galleries, 1,100 professional artists, 200 professional musical ensembles, 170 record labels, 70 theatre and cabaret ensembles
- lit.COLOGNE is one of Europe’s largest international literature festivals
Distinction: Cologne Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Germany’s largest cathedral, the world’s third tallest and over 765 years old
- A World Heritage Site since 1996; the Cologne Cathedral is the world’s purest and most complete example of a High Gothic cathedral, according to UNESCO
- Home to the reowned Shrine of the Three Magi
- Since 2007: The south transept window, which consists over 11,000 colourful squares of glass, was designed by the Cologne-based artist Gerhard Richter
- Germany’s most visited tourist attraction with 6.5 million visitors a year
Successful: Outstanding location for science and business
- With more than 100,000 students at 16 state and private universities, Cologne is the third-largest university city in Germany
- Two Clusters of Excellence: CEPLAS (plant sciences) and CECAD (Cellular Stress Responses in Aging-associated Diseases)
- Leading research institutions such as the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the European Space Agency (ESA) and four Max-Planck-Institutes based in Cologne
- A seat of industry with major chemical, pharmaceutical, automotive, machine and plant production, service, logistics and biotechnology companies
- Media city: home to large TV stations such as WDR and RTL, several radio stations and more than 70 publishing houses
Stimulating: center for conventions and trade fairs
- Koelnmesse: hosting on some 80 trade fairs and exhibitions every year; more than 53,500 companies and around 3 million visitors from 221 countries
- Leading trade fairs: Anuga, ART COLOGNE, dmexco, FIBO, gamescom, International interiors show imm cologne, ISM, Orgatec and photokina
- 174 attractive conference venues and 300 hotels with 32,000 beds available
- In 2017, 49,521 events with 4.003 million participants took place
Eventful: Top events throughout the year
- Annual events: carnival, lit.Cologne, Eight Bridges – Music for Cologne, Romanesque summer, ColognePride, SummerJam, Cologne Lights, c/o pop, RheinEnergieMarathon, long nights of the Cultural Institutions, Christmas markets
- Superlative concert venues: RheinEnergie stadium (50,000 seats); Lanxess arena as Germany’s largest multi-purpose arena (20,000); Philharmonic hall with perfect acoustics in space that’s been modelled on amphitheater (2,000)
Cosmopolitan: Open-minded and multicultural lifestyle
- People from 182 countries and 250 distinct cultures live in Cologne
- Over 200 foreign cultural initiatives, five international cultural institutions, 22 partner cities around the world (including Beijing and Rio de Janeiro)
- A diverse food scene: more than 3,000 gastronomic establishments, high number of pubs and numerous gourmet restaurants
- Cologne is home to a large and vibrant gay and lesbian community
Traditional: Carnival and Kölsch culture
- The world-famous Cologne carnival – also known as the “fifth season”; one million spectators at the Rose Monday Parade, the highlight of carnival season
- Around 25 brands of Cologne’s local top-fermented beer “Kölsch”; served in the brewhouses by waiters known as “Köbes” in Cologne’s traditional Kölsch bars
- Local food specialties include “Halver Hahn” (“Half Chicken”: a rye roll with butter, mustard and Dutch cheese) or “Himmel un Äd” (“Heaven and Earth”: black pudding, fried onions, mashed potatoes and applesauce)
Modern: Trendy neighborhoods and shopping areas
- The Rheinauhafen, Cologne’s historic waterfront district with boulevard, architectural highlights, galleries, showrooms and restaurants
- Small exclusive designer boutiques and studios sell off-beat fashions and accessories in the “Belgian Quarter” or Ehrenfeld neighbourhood
- Schildergasse and Hohe Straße are two of Germany’s favourite shopping streets
Compelling: Metropolis with a unique range of attractions
- Special: the Chocolate Museum, German Sports and Olympic Museum, Farina Fragrance Museum, House 4711 on Glockengasse
- The Odysseum: 5,500 m² of science and fun for the entire family
- Cologne Zoo: the third oldest zoo in Germany; home to a 20,000 m² elephant park and the hippodom, a replica of an African river landscape
- Incredible river views that are best enjoyed on a boat tour or a ride with the cable car
Interested in learning more about Cologne?
All our Cologne-related articles are located under the TAG Cologne: Cologne, Germany