Cologne (KÖln)is the largest city in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany and is situated on the Rhine. Cologne is a cultural center and university town and is great fun at night with more than 70 clubs plus bars and restaurants.
1. A walk across the Rhine
The Hohenzollern Bridge is very distinctive as it has three-tiered arches and crosses the Rhine near the cathedral. It was built in the early 20th century and re-built after the Second World War and takes trains and pedestrians across the river. It is the perfect way to enjoy walking over this mighty river especially as there are good views of the illuminated cathedral ahead of you.
2. Place a ‘love lock’ on the bridge
There are thousands of padlocks on the Hohenzollern bridge with a total weight of more than two tonnes! The locks are fixed to the bridge by lovers with their initials engraved on the padlock. The idea is that once the padlock has been securely fastened to the bridge, the key is thrown away, signifying unending love.
3. Admire Cologne Cathedral (KÖlner Dom)
The twin spires of the beautiful cathedral dominate the skyline and as the cathedral is open to visitors until 9.00 pm, it is rather special to visit early in the evening and climb the 500+ steps to the observation platform as the sun begins to sink. The cathedral was ‘under construction’ for nearly 500 years and was not completed until 1880. It is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and is a marvelous example of Gothic architecture with beautiful stained glass windows. It is the tallest twin-spired cathedral in the world.
4. Wonder at the KÖlner Lichter
In July, the night-time sky is lit by a fantastic light show and fireworks display which everyone enjoys. The display is with synchronized music and begins at 11.30 at night (in 2019 it will take place on Saturday 13 July) on the banks of the Rhine. This event is free of charge and very popular so people start taking their place on the river banks and other key places earlier in the day – those who know go on one of the special boat trips as this does give spectators’ the perfect view of this breathtaking show!
5. Dance till late at the King Georg Night Club
Step into this popular diskotek and it could still be the 1970s! With bright red décor and classic pop elements it is really popular especially when there is a live band – either local or foreign- performing. Another fun club with the feel of the 70’s is Diamonds which organizes excellent theme nights.
6. Explore the Belgian Quarter
Known for its good restaurants and bars, the Belgian Quarter in the city is easy to spot as all the street names are of Belgian cities!
7. Find winter magic at the Christmas Market
The Kölnner Weihnachtsmart – Cologne Christmas Market – is one of Europe’s best with a huge area near the city’s cathedral filled with more than 150 Christmas stalls, activities and fairy lights! In Heumarkt a skating rink is erected and in Rudolphplatz there is a children’s Christmas village. For young and old alike, it certainly captures the Christmas magic and this is emphasized when you sip a mug of warming glühwein (mulled wine) and enjoy a liebkuchen or two or bag of hot toasted chestnuts. The market attracts visitors from all over Europe and takes place every day in December leading up to Christmas Day.
8. A glass or two of Kölsch perhaps
This excellent light beer is the local one and can be enjoyed all over the city, but most visitors find themselves drawn by the Früh am Dóm a sizeable Brauhaus (beerhouse) where there is good food traditional Kölsche food as well as Kölsch beer and a lively atmosphere.
9. Visit a very stylish bar
Seiberts Classic Bar & Liquid Kitchen has a reputation for being the place to enjoy an elegant drink and certainly with its high ceilings, dark velvet curtains and twinkling chandeliers it has a lovely atmosphere. Its bartender has won the international ‘Bartender of the Year’ three times plus the bar has won mixology awards. The bar is listed as one of the ten most influential bars in Europe.
10. Good jazz at Papa Joe’s
Papa Joe’s is one of the oldest jazz clubs in Germany and is not the largest, but having said that, it has great live music with live jazz and swing bands every night and on a Sunday afternoon. Entrance is free and there is good food and drink too.