A wonderfully detailed cathedral and excellent local beers and beer halls are what Cologne is best known for. But this city was founded by the Romans, so if you peel back the layers of post-war concrete you can see traces of all sorts of architecture, and a long and colourful history. Book one of our recommendations for the best places to stay in Cologne and all this will be a stone's throw away.
Cologne also has a reputation for being one of the friendliest, and liveliest, cities in Germany. It's not clear where this reputation stems from, but maybe it's the good cheer flowing out of the beer halls? Some of the best beer halls are in the Altstadt, the older part of town, and along the river, so you can combine several of Cologne's pleasures very easily by sitting outside with a stein enjoying the view.
Cologne is also one of Germany's business centres, so some of the best places to stay in Cologne are actually business hotels. As well as the big brands in hotels, Cologne also has smaller boutique options, hostels and even campsites.
Regularly voted the single most popular tourist attraction in Germany, Cologne Cathedral, or Kölner Dom's wonderfully detailed spires are the first thing you'll see if you arrive in Cologne by rail. Otherwise they're the thing you'll walk towards to get your bearings. Very Gothic and very German, this building sustained fourteen hits by aerial bombs during WW2, but its twin spires survived to stand tall. The rest of Cologne was famously flattened.
The inside of the cathedral has even more wonders than the outside. It houses the 'Shrine of the Three Kings', an ornately cast multi-tiered gold sarcophagus containing the bones of the three wise men. And a wealth of important art and relics.
If you've the legs for it, it's worth visiting the top of the tower - there are 509 steps.
If you really want to experience the wonder of the Dom attend a service. On Sunday mornings there are services on the hour until midday, and then at five o'clock and six thirty. On other days of the week there are services at seven fifteen, eight o'clock and nine, and then at six thirty in the evening.
Because the Dom is across the road from the train station many of the best places to stay in Cologne are close enough to the Dom to make an early morning visit a matter of a short stroll.
Within walking distance of the cathedral are many of Cologne's other great churches and important buildings. Considering its size, Cologne is rich in museums. It's got:
⁃ two religious art museums,
⁃ a modern arts museum
⁃ and a design museum,
⁃ a fine art and medieval art museum,
⁃ a Roman history museum (Cologne also has the remains of its original Roman wall),
⁃ an ethnological museum,
⁃ and a chocolate museum. Among other smaller museums.
Local beer is called 'Kölsch', and traditionally served in 200ml glasses, so that you're always drinking it fresh and cold. Beer hall waiters are generally quick to serve you a fresh drink and the usual way of marking out your bill is via the marks waiters leave on your coaster.
If you want to buy Kölsch to take away the main brands are Reissdorf, Gaffel, Mühlen and Früh, but there are at least 30 other local brews.
Some of the local breweries serve excellent traditional food too. Local Rhineland classics include fried black pudding, red cabbage, boiled bacon, white beans, flat fried potato cakes and beef or horse meat joint marinated in vinegar and sultanas. This is Germany so it's heavy on the meat, especially sausages in a wide variety.
Some of the best bars and breweries are south of the cathedral, so this is one of the best places to stay in Cologne if you're planning on enjoying Cologne's hospitality to the full.
A small contemporary hotel with chic rooms and one self-catering apartment. Lovely breakfast terrace, bar, and warm friendly atmosphere. Family friendly too.
Wonderfully unusual hotel, previously a red brick water tower. Chic contemporary interior design throughout spacious rooms. Fabulous roof top bar and restaurant, breakfast garden, and spa. Trendy, stylish, luxurious.
Uber cool and a super artsy chic hotel located on a quiet street of Mülheim. Unique and amazingly creative art can be seen in the hallways and rooms. They also offer apartments with kitchens for long term stays. Rooms are airy with comfortable bedding and clean designs. Fashionably elegant.
Cologne (Bergisch Gladbach)
A spectacular Baroque castle with panoramic views over Cologne. Five Star luxury includes magnificent classical rooms and suites, a three Michelin starred restaurant, top of the range spa, golf course, private chapel, and artworks. A luxury destination filled with grandeur.
Cologne (Dreikönigenstraße 1-3)
Magnificent displays of art and sculptures at the hotel. Rooms are chic with wooden floorings and bathrooms have natural marble. In a great location close to the Old Town and shopping areas. The restaurant overlooking the courtyard houses valuable paintings found during restoration work.
This old neo-Gothic style library building now houses a contemporary hotel, offering luxury accommodation and a private art gallery. Set in a relaxed neighborhood with fantastic links to the city. High ceilings and trendy bar area. Close to exciting local restaurants.