Day One (1/2 Day)
Wahoo, after a very early morning, we were off to Germany! After taking a while to check in to the hotel and subsequently falling asleep for much longer than anticipated, we were off to explore the city for the afternoon!
Our first stop was obviously the world famous cathedral which is definitely the best place to orientate yourself. There is one word for the cathedral – huge. Like, actually huge. Almost scary huge.
I’ve seen a lot of European cathedrals and this one is definitely up there with the best!
I took millions of photos of the cathedral during our time in Cologne and I can’t believe how much the lighting affects one building, it looks different in each photo!
Botanical Flora Gardens
After searching for food, we headed to the Botanical Gardens as we thought it would be on route to our next destination but it was a much longer walk than we expected! Although it wasn’t a bad walk by the river in the sunshine.
The gardens are beaaaautiful and definitely worth your time if you’re in the area on a sunny day!
Free Walking Tour
After spending some time in the gardens, we headed to the meet point of the Free Walk Cologne tour. I would definitely recommend this company, our guide (who’s name now escapes me) was really informative and funny! Cologne has a lot of history and given the fact it was such an important hub in World War II.
Among all of the mains sights of the city (including the cathedral), you will see lots of little bits that you may have missed while wandering the streets of the city unguided – including the narrowest house in the city (the 2nd narrowest in Europe!) & underground Roman ruins (actually located in an underground multi-story car park!).
Moan A Lot Because You Wore Silly Sandals And Now You Have Blisters
My least favourite activity of the trip.
Take a Day Trip!
We all know that I was using Cologne as a base to explore a nearby castle (standard Danielle behaviour). So on our second day in Germany, we headed to Burg Eltz and you can read all about our experience here.
I’ll shortly be writing a post on exactly how to get to the castle because the internet wasn’t very helpful during my research, so let me know if there is anything you want to know!
If castles aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other cities/towns that are an easy train ride away including:
We were hoping to go on another day trip on day three, but my feet had turned into two giant blisters, so we decided to spend the day in Cologne and try to do as little walking as possible!
I’m normally a history/nature lover while I’m travelling, choosing to avoid more commercialised tourist traps but we LOVED our time at the chocolate museum! A lot of the reviews on TripAdvisor moaned that there weren’t enough free samples – we only got 2 but they were bloody incredible!
Eat Yourself Into Oblivion
With it being ridiculously hot, we spent some time in a small beer garden near the Chocolate Museum downing steins of cold drink and of course eating my favourite – CURRY WURST!
National Socialism Documentation Centre
Yes, that does sound like a really boring building. But I can assure you that it’s not! The Documentation Centre was previously used as a Nazi prison and the information inside is a harrowing reminder of the holocaust.
The above-ground floors of the building are used as a museum and do a good job of explaining what life in Cologne was like during the war (although I don’t think the museum was quite as harrowing as places like Typography of Terror in Berlin and House of Terror in Budapest – both of which I would HIGHLY recommend).
Make sure you ask for an English audio guide, many of the displays in the museum are written in German only. The audio guide makes the experience much more poignant with the most memorable aspect for me being the room which explains how minority parties were treated, namely anybody that was gay, disabled or had mental illnesses – really awful stories!
The really harrowing aspect of this attraction are the underground prison cells. The wall carvings left my various prisoners have been preserved and notice boards translate the carvings into English – I’ve never seen anything like it and would highly recommend that you take a visit.
Eat More Food and Do Some (Window) Shopping
To get back to our hotel, we had to walk through a large shopping area (the mains streets being Schildergasse and Hohe Straße), so we spent some time window shopping (and actual shopping for plasters that would cure my broken feet) as well as getting dinner and exploring some more of the streets in the city centre.
Day 4 (1/2 Day)
Take A Stroll Across Hohenzollern Bridge
Hohenzollern Bridge is the iconic bridge that can be seen in practically all photos of Cologne. The bridge is lined with love locks and it’s lovely to stroll across here, taking a look at all of the locks and maybe leaving one of your own!
Get a View of The City From Above
After exploring all of the city at ground level, the best way to get a birds eye view is to head to Koln Triangle and pay the small 3 euro fee to reach the top of the skyscraper. This is where you will be able to get that iconic shot of the bridge, cathedral and city skyline!
Take a Cruise Down The River Rhine
Our last activity of the trip was to take a cruise down the River Rhine. There are loads of different companies which line the Rhine and run at various times during the day, we picked the one that had people queuing up well in advance of the departure time hoping that they knew more about the reputation of these companies than we did!
Tickets are cheap and it’s a great way to spend an hour. We were a bit stupid however, leaving it to our last day in the city. Our first 3 days were 30 degrees and nothing but sun… our last day was rainy, dark and windy – you win some, you lose some!
And with that, our trip to Germany was over and it was time to head back to the airport before flying back to England. See you soon Germany!
RELATED POST: Is Cologne Worth A Visit?
Looking for some more great things to do in the city?
Maybe try visiting during these times:
- Easter – Cologne Carnival – Each year, Cologne is home to the largest carnival in the German speaking area and it sounds mental! If you take the free walking tour mentioned above, they will tell you all about it!
- Winter – Christmas Markets – Cologne is known for it’s incredible Christmas markets, so there’s no better activity to get you in the Christmas spirit!
Have you ever been to Cologne? What was your favourite thing to do?
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.
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