10Best Reasons to Visit Cologne

  • 10 Reasons to Visit Cologne

    Cologne, Germany's fourth largest city, has a little something for everyone. Whether you're a foodie, a history buff, a shopaholic or a spa-hopper, there's a reason to visit this amazing city on the Rhine.

    Photo courtesy of mthaler

  • Market of the Angels at Neumarkt

    For the Christmas markets

    'Tis the season for holiday shopping, and nowhere is the activity more magical than in Europe's Christmas markets. Millions of visitors from around the world come to browse the markets of Cologne, including the visually stunning market at the base of the city's landmark cathedral.

    Photo courtesy of Dieter Jacobi / KölnTourismus GmbH

  • For the kölsch

    Like many cities in Germany, Cologne has its own specialty beer. It's called kölsch and it's delicious. The refreshing beverage is served in brauhaus throughout the city, where the waiter will continue to fill up your narrow, cylindrical glass until you place your coaster on top, indicating you've had enough.

    Photo courtesy of Privatbrauerei Gaffel

  • Himmel un Ääd, a Cologne specialty

    For the food

    A cold glass of kölsch is best consumed alongside a hearty plate of food, and Cologne has its own specialized German cuisine with some must-try traditional dishes. One of the most famously associated with the city is Himmel un Ääd (Heaven and Earth), a Rhineland dish made with black pudding served alongside mashed potatoes (Earth) and apple sauce (Heaven). Another popular drinking food, Kölsch Kaviar, consists of black pudding served on a rye roll with onions.

    Photo courtesy of Andreas Möltgen / KölnTourismus GmbH

  • For the cologne

    Eau de cologne is a term familiar around the world, but it all started in Cologne in early 18th century. At the House of 4711, visitors can smell the original 4711 Eau de Cologne (there's a fountain of the stuff in the lobby), browse the Fragrance Museum or learn about the perfumer's art and science at a hands-on fragrance workshop.

    Photo courtesy of Lydia Schrandt

  • For the cathedral

    The Gothic Cologne Cathedral, visible from nearly every point in the city, has a history dating back to the laying of its foundation stones in 1248, but its gigantic pair of towers wouldn't be completed until 1880. While badly damaged, the magnificent structure managed to survive extensive bombing during World War II, in part because the spires were used by Allied forces as a navigational aid. The cathedral remains Germany's most visited landmark.

    Photo courtesy of MIHAI ANDRITOIU

  • Old Town "Fish Market"

    For the history

    With roots stretching back more than 2,000 years when it was founded by the Romans in 50 AD, Cologne is one of Germany's oldest cities and brimming with history. Among the city's many top class museums, the Römisch-Germanisches Museum is one of the best, offering an account of city's Roman roots. The Kölnisches Stadtmuseum (Cologne City Museum) traces Colognes history from the Middle Ages to the present day.

    Photo courtesy of KölnTourismus GmbH

  • "Ludwig Goes Pop" exhibit at the Museum Ludwig

    For the art museums

    Those with an appreciation for the arts should put the Museum Ludwig at the top of their Cologne bucket list. The galleries, dedicated to showcasing modern art starting in the early 20th century, features an extensive collection of American Pop art – the largest outside of the United States – with pieces by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and George Segal. Kolumba, the art museum of the Archdiocese of Cologne, houses one of the oldest collections of religious art, while the Wallraf-Richartz Museum displays one of German's top traditional picture galleries.

    Photo courtesy of Rheinisches Bildarchiv, Köln, Britta Schlier

  • For the River Rhine

    Life in Cologne has always been tied to the waters of the River Rhine. A boat trip along one of Europe's most historically significant rivers takes visitors past Cologne's Old Town, and the views of the Cologne Cathedral from the river are some of the best in the city.

    Photo courtesy of tupungato

  • For the spas

    After a long day of sightseeing, there's nothing quite as relaxing as a soak in a German spa, or therme. The most famous, Claudius Therme, pulls its waters from a natural thermal mineral spring believed to provide a variety of therapeutic benefits. The spa houses several different pools with a range of features and temperatures, as well as an extensive sauna area.

    Photo courtesy of Claudius Therme GmbH & Co. KG

  • Belgian Quarter, Magasin Populaire

    For the shopping

    Cologne's Schlidergasse high street is the most-visited shopping street in Germany, with as many as 15,000 visitors an hour during peak shopping times. In the Belgian Quarter, shoppers will find a collection of locally owned boutiques and young designers with an eye for the trendy and offbeat.

    Photo courtesy of Andreas Möltgen / KölnTourismus GmbH

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