Cologne is filled with a wide range of things to see and do, including a host of museums and churches, along with more unusual places of interest such as the padlock-covered Hohenzollern Bridge. During your stay, you’ll have no trouble filling your days with interesting and unique attractions.
Without a doubt, Cologne’s number one attraction is the towering Kölner Dom or Cathedral. An integral part of Cologne’s skyline, this Gothic masterpiece is visited by huge numbers of people each day. Cologne is also home to 12 stunning Romanesque churches. One of the most popular of these is St. Gereon’s Church, which often holds musical events.
In terms of museums, one of the most important is the Museum Ludwig. Set over five floors, this expansive modern art gallery is filled with a great collection of paintings, sculptures and video installations. For something a little different, check out the Schokoladenmuseum. This chocolate museum is a haven for sweet-tooths of all ages, with free samples given out as you wander through.
There are a couple of places where you’ll find great views of Cologne, namely from the Kölner Sielbahn and from the top of the Köln Triangle. The Sielbahn is a network of cable cars stretching across the River Rhine, which has been in operation for over 50 years and still ferries large numbers of passengers to and fro. Stretching up 29 stories, the Köln Triangle’s viewing platform offers a panoramic view of the city below.
Am Domhof, Aldstadt Nord, Cologne, Germany
A Gothic masterpiece, the Cathedral is Cologne's most notable attraction and its numerous spires tower over the city. Construction on this giant church began in 1248 and was completed 600 years later in 1880. Climbing up 509 steps in the tower will take you to St. Peter's Bell, while inside the Cathedral itself you'll see marvellous examples of stained glass, tombs of archbishops past and much more.
Open daily 6am-7.30pm; admission to cathedral free, to tower and vaults 5euro.
Bichofsgartenstrasse 1, Cologne, Germany
Founded in 1976, this expansive modern art museum spreads out over five different floors. With both permanent and temporary exhibitions, it includes paintings, sculpture, video installations and much more. Lots of windows and natural light make it a pleasant museum to stroll around, and the pop art collection in the basement is especially worth a look.
Open Tues-Sun 10am-6pm, closed Mon; admission â‚¬7.50.
Rheinauhafen 1a, Cologne, Germany
You'll feel like you've been gifted your very own golden ticket when you get to wander around this museum and see the delicious chocolates being made. Equally educational and enticing, here you'll learn the history of this most beloved treat.
Open Tues-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat-Sun 11am-7pm, closed Mon; admission €6.
Riehler Straße 180, Cologne, Germany
For something a little different, why not take a trip on the cable railway that crosses the Rhine. This network has been in operation for around 50 years and is still going strong today. It's a very popular way to see Cologne, with great views of many top sights visible from inside the cable cars.
Open Apr-Oct 10am-5.45pm; admission €6 for return trip.
Ottoplatz 1, Deutz, Cologne, Germany
One of the best ways to get a birds-eye view of Cologne, the Köln Triangle Tower viewing platform is over 100 metres tall or 29 stories high. The tower was opened in 2006 and today provides lots of visitors with the opportunity to experience the striking panorama of the city below.
Open daily Apr-Oct 9am-10pm, Mov-Mar 9am-6pm; admission €3.
, Cologne, Germany
All along this long, winding, pedestrianised street you’ll find a huge number of stores, both local favourites and top international brands. It's a great place to check out if you're looking for clothes, shoes, jewellery, electronic goods, household items and cosmetics. Shops to be seen here include H&M, Zara, New Yorker, Esprit, Fossil, Lush, Swatch and more.
, Cologne, Germany
Cologne's slightly more alternative shopping street, Ehrenstraße is home to many clothing stores including top designers like Ben Sherman and Tommy Hilfiger. Other stops like American Apparel are popular with younger consumers, while top-notch cosmetics are available from the world-renowned Mac. You'll see lots of people wandering along this narrow street, taking in the colourful shop front and stopping to spend a euro or two.
Richmodstraße 8, Cologne, Germany
Under the domed roof of this shopping centre, you'll find around 70 different shops offering everything from books to jewellery to sports equipment, with lots of local brands apparent. The building is unmistakable, thanks to the upside down ice-cream cone sticking from the roof, and the centre tends to be quite busy.
Open Sat-Thurs 9am-8pm, Fri 9am-9pm.
, Cologne, Germany
Another one of Cologne's famous shopping stretches, Schildergasse sees crowds of people walking along every day to check out the multitude of stores lining both sides of the street. German brands such as the Kämpgen shoe store rub shoulders with well-known names from around the world like Benneton and C&A.
, Cologne, Germany
Mere moments from the Kölner Dom and the Hauptbahnhof, this bridge transports rail and pedestrian traffic across the River Rhine. Rebuilt after WWII, it offers great views of Cologne and of the River. Most interesting of all though, are the large numbers of padlocks that have been attached to the railings along the bridge. Inscribed with names, dates and pictures, it’s a real treat to wander along and check them out.