The attractions of Cologne attract crowds of tourists every year. The city is not only a famous sacred monument from the UNESCO cultural heritage list, but also a fragment of the old town located right on the Rhine, or several really interesting museums. The attractions of Cologne also include colorful and restored tenement houses, narrow streets and numerous cafes and, importantly, municipal breweries, where life goes on even after dark.
Tourist attractions of Cologne
The city was almost 90% destroyed during the Second World War, but it managed to rebuild and become attractive to tourists. Cologne offers a wide range of cultural activities and numerous city events, such as the Christmas Market, held every year during the Advent season. The city tempts with streets full of boutiques that will be of particular interest to lovers of shopping madness. On the other hand, lovers of nightlife will not be disappointed here, because Cologne is one of the German agglomerations with the most entertainment venues open until dawn, and, importantly, located in the very center of the city.
Sightseeing of Cologne
Visiting Cologne is not particularly complicated. Most of the attractions and monuments are located more or less close to each other, within short or long walks. Other interesting places can be reached by well-connected public transport. However, if we come to Cologne for a short trip, then it is worth looking for accommodation closer to the center, so as not to waste time on commuting.
You need at least two days to visit Cologne. However, in these three or four days, we will see most of the main attractions of this city in peace. The interest in this place is clearly influenced by the greater number of cheap flights and budget airlines. In this way, for example, you can spend a successful weekend abroad in Cologne.
The city can be visited practically all year round. However, experienced tourists especially recommend the end of spring or the beginning of autumn, when the weather is especially favorable for discovering new places. On the other hand, a very attractive time of the year is the carnival in Cologne, which takes place annually, one week before Ash Wednesday. Then, colorful processions of moving platforms appear on the streets. It’s fun and loud, and the local Kölsch beer is pouring from every corner.
Sights in Cologne
Below you will find a list of the most important sights in Cologne.
St. Peter and the Virgin Mary
The undisputed greatest monument and, by the way, a symbol of Cologne is the Cathedral of St. Peter and the Virgin Mary. It is primarily a perfect example of the Gothic style of architecture from the 13th century. The cathedral is also the largest church in the city and the second highest Gothic temple in the world. In addition, in 1996, the Cathedral of St. Peter and the Virgin Mary was entered on the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List.
Live, it makes an electrifying impression with its soaring form and it’s hard to miss. The more that the temple is located next to the train station. The cathedral is distinguished by twelve bells placed in its towers. The largest of them is the Saint Peter’s Bell, which also wins across Europe in terms of dimensions.
In the middle of St. Peter and the Virgin Mary, it is worth paying attention to the paintings that depict biblical scenes. Their age dates back to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. You can also admire one of the oldest Western Roman crosses – the Gerona’s Crucifix, which dates back to the 10th century. Also noteworthy is the Altar of the Magi from the 15th century and the statue of the Madonna of Milan from the 14th century. Tourists can also climb the 550 steps to the tower for a small fee, which offers a panoramic view of the entire city.
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Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud
One of the most important places in Cologne is also one of the largest museums in Germany – Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud. This facility boasts the largest collection of medieval paintings in Europe. The whole can be divided into five sections: the above-mentioned works of medieval painters, painting from the 19th and 20th centuries, and modern paintings, as well as sculpture and graphics.
Among the medieval works, it is worth paying attention to those made by Stephan Lochner and painters from the so-called Cologne School, and unique Gothic altars. When it comes to modern collections, in the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud you can mainly admire Dutch paintings, including Rembrandt and Rubens. On the other hand, 19th and 20th century painting is represented by Impressionists, German Romantics, Realists and Symbolists.
St. Martin’s Church
Another very recognizable monument in Cologne is the Church of St. Martin. Its creation dates back to the 10th century, which, however, had to be rebuilt after the devastation after World War II. St. Martin’s Church is one of the twelve Romanesque temples in the city. Its characteristic element is a massive tower located at the junction of the naves. However, the entire structure is based on a club plan.
Inside, you can see the statue of Sorrowful Christ, the Renaissance Triptych of the Magi or the statue of Saint Elifius, which is one of the oldest in the church. However, the most common souvenir from this temple is a photo taken in front of the church, against the background of colorful houses.
Attractions of Cologne
Below you will find a list of the top tourist attractions in Cologne.
One of the biggest attractions in Cologne is the famous Chocolate Museum. There you can see over three thousand years of history of the production of chocolate products. See the production machines or finally try the local chocolate. Interestingly, a kind of palm house was created inside, where cocoa trees and other exotic plants are planted.
The dark side of this sweet industry is also not avoided.
From the information contained inside, you can learn about the not entirely fair side of this business and the exploitation of the poverty of third world countries that live off the cultivation of cocoa trees. This allows you to become a conscious consumer who chooses chocolate products marked with the fair-trade mark. Importantly, after the visit, each visitor is given a local chocolate bar, which is already included in the ticket price.
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Another highlight for tourists in Cologne is the Hohenzollern Railway and Pedestrian Bridge. It leads straight to the city’s main station and is one of the most characteristic architectural features in its landscape, made of large iron arched spans.
The Hohenzollern Bridge is also one of the favorite places of couples in love. It is here that metal padlocks are attached to the steel barriers separating the railway tracks from the footbridge. They are supposed to symbolize the indissolubility of a couple’s relationship, and after pinning, the key is thrown into the river flowing under it. There are thousands of padlocks and, unfortunately, despite their charm, they add a lot of extra kilos to the entire structure.
The Perfume Museum in Cologne is another tourist attraction in the city. This is where the international name – cologne comes from. The museum is located in production rooms from the 18th century. The history of the perfume company founded in 1709 is shown here on several floors.
Its founder was the Italian perfumer Giovanni Maria Farina. It was he who created and, above all, produced, using the distillation method, one of the most recognizable scents of cologne.
You can see old documents and photos here, as well as the entire development of perfumery over the centuries.
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Kranhäuser – cranes houses
An interesting place, especially in terms of the photogenic landscapes of Cologne, are the local crane houses. They are made up of three large glass buildings facing the Rhine, whose shapes resemble port cranes. They house cheap apartments and offices. Crane houses can be found in the Rhine district of Rheinauhafen.
The entire revitalization of this area was initiated in the 1990s.
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Another interesting place in Cologne, also in terms of views, is the KölnTriangle skyscraper. Its characteristic, over 100-meter-high building is visible from most places in this city. It is in this skyscraper that a viewing platform has been created on its top especially for tourists. You can see the panorama of the whole Cologne from it, and above all, it is a good place to admire the Cologne Cathedral in all its glory.
Interestingly, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has its headquarters in the KölnTriangle skyscraper.
An interesting place in Cologne, in terms of history, is also the Romano-Germanic Museum. Created exactly on the spot where a well-preserved mosaic floor was discovered, showing scenes from the life of Dionysus. It used to decorate the dining room in the villa of a Roman patrician. The mosaic was made of pieces of limestone, ceramics and glass. In addition, in the Roman-Germanic Museum, you can see archaeological collections from the entire city, from prehistoric and medieval times. Among them, there is also a rich collection of Roman glass.
What’s worth seeing in Cologne?
See what else is worth seeing and visiting in Cologne.
Nazism Documentation Center
One of the places worth seeing in Cologne is the Nazism Documentation Center. It is primarily one of the memorial sites for the victims of National Socialism in Germany. It was in this building that the Gestapo headquarters in Cologne was located until 1945, where many people were executed. On site, in 10 prison rooms, you can see drawings and inscriptions made by the convicts.
At the permanent exhibition, you can see the political and social life that took place in Cologne during the Nazi era. Both how the Nazis came to power, and what was the propaganda apparatus at that time, as well as the ordinary everyday life of the local inhabitants. With racist persecution and genocide of local Jews and other intolerant nations.
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The Cologne Zoo is one of the oldest and most beautiful zoos in Germany. There are over 10,000 animals here, including birds of paradise, tapirs, lions, penguins and generally popular lemurs. The runs here are spacious and quite interestingly arranged. The zoo in Cologne can be divided into seven zones: primeval forest, elephant park, baboon rock, rainforest, hippos, raccoons and meerkats, and an aquarium.
The latter is located on the other side of the entrance to the zoo, outside the park. However, it cannot be overlooked. There you can see a coral reef, piranhas, jellyfish and, most interestingly, underwater species of animals that live in various sections of the river Rhine.
People interested in modern art will surely like the Ludwig Museum. It boasts one of the largest collections of pop art, as well as surrealism and expressionism. You can admire works by Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Roy Liechtenstein and James Rosenquist. The collection includes not only paintings, but also sculptures and graphics.
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It is also worth taking a look at the official website of the city of Cologne.
Tourist map of Cologne attractions
On the following map of Cologne’s tourist attractions you will find all the most important sights and interesting places in Cologne:
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