Welcome to Cologne!
Cologne, Germany, is one of the largest cities in the country and is nothing short of eclectic and fun. Although perhaps not as big of a tourist destination as others, it’s a place that takes the best of traditional German influences and makes it a modern and cool place. After WWII, many Cologners rebuilt the old structures of the city combining it with new and contemporary spaces giving the cityscape a different vibe.
Cologne is unique, hip, and cool and the locals know it. But a worldwide local seeks out what makes a city worth visiting, and Cologne is certainly worth visiting.
Germany is well known for its beer. The different regions of the country all have their specialties and every city has its own local favorites. The locals of Cologne drink Kölsch, which is a unique brew that is fermented and warm but served cold. Locals have been drinking this stuff since at least the 17th century, and the beer is even a protected geographical indication (or PGI), meaning that there are only 13 breweries in Cologne that are allowed to brew Kölsch beer.
Worldwide Local Tip: During the summer months, walk along the Rhine in the old city and visit one of the many beerhouses or breweries serving this Cologne favorite. Enjoy some local food and a Kölsch while enjoying the views of the Rhine river. Plus it is a great way to meet some locals and get some inside tips of the city.
A Can’t Miss Neighborhood
Cologne is a very young city in a way, with a lot of students and young professionals. Because of its younger demographic, you can expect a lot of great art, food, and fashion, around the city. The Brüssler Platz is one of the cooler neighborhoods around Cologne, with quaint shops and cafes lining the streets. On warmer days, the square fills up with trendy locals shopping, drinking, and being seen. The locals know how to appreciate good weather; Cologne (Germany too!) seems to sing on sunny days. Head to a cafe in the afternoon or a bar in the evening, as this area of town always has something happening.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you’re looking to do some shopping on your trip, The Belgian Quarter is the place to go. Whether you’re looking for clothes or quirky souvenirs, The Belgian Quarter is full of great places to check out.
A worldwide local knows that certain landmarks in the city are definitely worth seeing, even though they may be full of tourists. After all, cultural landmarks are landmarks for a reason! Cologne is definitely full of them, especially the Cologne Cathedral (Germany is certainly not lacking for gorgeous cathedrals). It has been the spiritual home of local Cologners for many generations, as construction on this massive Gothic church started in 1248 and only finished in 1880.
Worldwide Local Tip: The Innenstadt neighborhood is home to the old city where you’ll find a lot of Cologne’s oldest buildings and most elaborate pieces of architecture. If you’re looking to check out something more contemporary, Ludwig Museum, just behind the cathedral, has some great pop-art including many by Andy Warhol.
Festivals and Fun
If you’re looking for things to do in Cologne, Germany’s roster will not disappoint. Oktoberfest might be one of the biggest parties in Germany, but the lesser-mentioned “Carnival” is Cologne’s biggest party of the year. The street festival typically starts on November 11th and continues until Ash Wednesday, however, the biggest festivities don’t start until the Thursday before Ash Wednesday. Pubs and bars, all over the city, are filled with locals wearing crazy costumes and partying until the morning.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you’re looking to partake in the Carnival festivities, be prepared ahead of time. Although the big parties are typically a week long, Carnival attracts over a million people, so be aware that hotels might be booked ahead of time, and many of the central locations around the city will be packed with people.
Enjoy Your Time in Cologne, Germany!
Cologne’s old traditions, a mixture of modern and contemporary, create something truly unique to Cologne. A worldwide local knows that in order to understand the modern aspect, you must first experience the traditional; so head and see everything this city on the Rhine has to offer.