After Berlin, Cologne is the second place in Germany I ever visited and it has cemented in me a belief that Germany is a country I could genuinely live in. My reasons for this include the straight forward people, hearty food, lovely language (I know I am in the minority with this), central European location, very efficient public transport and good working regulations (the last two aren’t sexy, but pretty important).
Cologne is perhaps somewhere many people would not immediately think of to visit, however it has a lot to recommend it as there is plenty to keep visitors occupied while being less full of tourists than a capital city would be and a lot easier to get around by foot. For us, after the complete madness of Amsterdam, Cologne was a bit of an oasis of calm where we really appreciated the more careful drivers of both cars and bikes!
I am not going to talk about the Cathedral in detail in my post, as I think it is already quite an obvious draw of the city, but I will just say that it is pretty spectacular and a very easy landmark to use if you are ever lost in the city.
If you are someone who enjoys a bit of market hunting, Cologne will be a treat for you. There are loads of markets to choose from and we stumbled upon a great one running along the Rhine one afternoon which stretched for ever! There was a huge variety of stalls to choose from here; Antiques, books, food (the gherkins/pickled cucumbers are amazing), clothes, furniture, jewellery…
The image on the postcard I purchased in Cologne is the famous view of the Cathedral from the opposite side of the Hohenzollern Bridge which, at over 400 feet long, spans the Rhine. The bridge itself is covered in love locks which I know can be controversial but they definitely do look much nicer on a massive, metal bridge like this one than on a pretty, old stone bridge.
I would recommend walking over in the daylight and coming back at night as I really enjoyed reading the notes on some of the locks during the day and taking photos of the Cathedral aside the Bridge at night time, before dancing back through a strangely quiet Cologne in the dusk.
Papa Joe’s Bar
This is a live jazz bar with a very cool and authentic atmosphere, awesome music, a relaxed local crowd and more peanuts than you could ever possibly want.
I always love tracking down live music, often a jazz bar, for an evening activity when travelling as it is often a cheap, but really fun way of spending a night and doing something a bit less touristy as the crowds are often more local. You also get a feeling for the kind of music they like in different places and the various ways people enjoy themselves e.g. throwing peanut shells all over the bar!
We spent one full day in Cologne visiting the famous Zoo, which was very big, well laid out and had lots to see. I know that Zoos aren’t some people’s thing, however, so what I really want to talk about is the transport we used to get there.
The Cologne cable car (Kölner Seilbahn) runs from the Rheinpark on one side of the river and close to the Zoo/Botanical gardens on the other side. The views from up in the sky were awesome and it is a good way to make time to see other parts of the city such as the Rheinpark or Sculpture park, which are on the opposite sides of the water.
As Düsseldorf and Cologne are only about half an hour away from each other on the train, if you have the time, I would recommend taking a day trip just that little bit further up the Rhine and experiencing Düsseldorf too.
When in the city, we took a sightseeing trip up a section of the river and just generally explored the city. Highlights include the fashionable Königsallee, a public book exchange and the Säulenheiligen. One thing we were recommended to avoid was travelling between Cologne and Düsseldorf by boat as the scenery between the two places was not particularly inspiring or worth the journey.
Have you visited Cologne or Düsseldorf? What did you think of them?
And what are your opinions on Love locks on bridges or on visiting zoos?
J 🙂 x