Cologne attracts a great number of British visitors at Christmas Market time, when the city is renowned for its magical festive atmosphere. Cologne is, however, worth a visit at any time of year – Germany’s fourth largest city has plenty to attract every tourist, whatever their particular interest.
Cologne’s famous cathedral dominates the city’s skyline and it is certainly worthy of all the accolades it receives. Founded in 1248, the cathedral covers almost 8,000 square metres of floor space and can hold more than 20,000 people. Due to the building’s impressive Gothic architecture, the shrine of the Three Wise Men, the outstanding stained-glass windows and the many other important works of art, UNESCO declared Cologne Cathedral a World Heritage Site in 1996. Its two massive towers have dominated the city’s skyline since their completion in 1880.
Cologne’s Old Town lying alongside the River Rhine has a distinctive charm. Visitors are drawn by its rustic narrow alleyways lined with traditional old houses. Its many breweries, pubs and restaurants invite passersby to linger. This charming area also contains a number of museums, such as the Romano-GermanicMuseum, the Museum Ludwig and the FarinaFragranceMuseum. You can also discover many monuments and fountains in Cologne’s OldTown, including the figures of Tünnes and Schäl and the Heinzelmännchen (Cologne elves) fountain. In addition to its museums Cologne boasts more than 100 art galleries.
Cologne is an excellent city for shopping enthusiasts. The pedestrianised Schildergasse is the busiest shopping street in Europe; with nearly 13,000 people passing through every hour. It even beats London’s Oxford Street into second place!
The Schildergasse offers international department stores and modern architecture, but the street has a long history; dating back to Roman times. Shoppers in need of a break head to Café Riese, family-run for over 100 years, to enjoy a coffee and a pastry. The adjacent pedestrian street Hohe Straße also offers excellent shopping and leads to the impressive cathedral.
For something a little different, visitors can take a ride on Cologne’s cable car which has been in operation for over 50 years and was the first cable car in Europe to cross a river. The cable car affords a wonderful panoramic view of the city.
Cologne is well served by flights from the UK. There are direct flights from London Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted and also Manchester and Birmingham.