Friday, July 20, 2012

36 Hours in Cologne

36 Hours in Cologne, Germany

ONE of the oldest cities in Germany, Cologne has been drawing visitors since at least the year 50 A.D., when it was officially founded as the Roman outpost of Colonia. Today the big attractions are the city’s ancient (and gargantuan) cathedral, vibrant night life, a great native beer called Kölsch, and eau de cologne, invented here in 1709, not to mention the ever-present Rhine River. But the city the Germans know as Köln is hardly resting on its former achievements. New surprises just keep showing up. After crossing off bucket-list items like exploring the cathedral and crawling through legendary Kölsch pubs, you can easily spend an entire weekend focusing on the shops, restaurants and hotels that have opened (or reopened) within the past few years.

Day 1: Medieval Churches

Where else to begin your journey through Cologne than the glorious Kölner Dom, the city’s twin-spired cathedral that miraculously escaped unscathed from the bombing raids of World War II. Packed with art treasures, work first began on the building in 1248 and wasn’t complete until 1880. Inside, the building is a symphony of light and space thanks to the flying buttresses, stained-glass windows and richly carved choir stalls. Many other medieval churches fill the old city, including turreted Gross St. Martin above Fischmarkt and the lovely church of St. Ursula. For a view of Cologne’s towers from the Rhine, take an atmospheric afternoon or evening dinner cruise.

Day 2: Cologne Museums

Cologne is a cultural gem, and not only because of its churches. See sculptures, tombs, mosaics, ruins and entire bits of wall from Roman times at the Roman-German Museum. Trace the history of art by admiring the Wallraf-Richartz Museum’s collection of Dutch masters, medieval treasures at the Museum Schnütgen, and 20th century and postmodern art at the Museum Ludwig. Cologne’s history is unraveled at the Kölnisches Stadtmuseum, the city’s Third Reich experience at EL-DE Haus, and gorgeous textiles and designs are displayed at the Museum of Applied Arts.

Day 3: Cologne Cuisine

There’s much more to Cologne’s dining and wining scene than raucous beer halls with oompah-pah bands and sauerkraut – though there’s a lot to be said for spending a night drinking arm-in-arm with your neighbors at a tavern. The local beer is called Kölsch, and the food you’ll encounter in beer halls and regional restaurants includes hearty blood sausage, potato pancakes with apple sauce, and open sandwiches on pumpernickel bread. Step outside the beer taverns and the world is your oyster, from Japanese sushi and Middle Eastern falafel to crepes, pizza and pasta.

Hotels in Cologne
Sightseeing in Cologne


  1. Thank you for the information you provide about Cologne. 2 years, and I have lived in Cologne trip notes "here" I wrote.