Cologne is a commercial centre and river port in western Germany on the Rhine River. It’s Germany’s oldest city dating back over two millennia. Dominated by the soaring towers of its rustic cathedral, Kölner Dom, the city is a little heralded corner of Germany that hides numerous photogenic medieval and Roman features among its many charms. It’s a refined city, a place where Belgian-style chocolate shops integrate the epic beer halls, and the angular pastel houses along the banks of the Rhine give the centre an almost fairy tale vibe.
Cologne Cathedral || Kölner Dom
Cologne is rammed full of churches with twelve ornate Romanic examples tucked within the Medieval city walls alone. However, it’s the city’s monumental cathedral that easily steals the show, and for good reason – it’s the largest Gothic church in northern Europe, boasting the second-tallest spires and biggest façade of any church in the world.
– UNESCO commenting on Cologne Cathedral
There’s more to Cologne than its impressive cathedral. The Fish Market, the City Gates, the City Hall, the Praetorium and the Roman Tower all offer outstanding examples of the Cologne of old, while you can pick up a thorough explanation of it all at the impressive Römisch-Germanisches Museum, which gives a full account of the Romans along the Rhine, as well as housing its own mosaics.
But the city’s not all about history. There’s plenty in the way of off-the-wall modern architecture here & while it may be Germany’s oldest city, Cologne is far from stuffy and goes out of its way to run with the times. None of that ancient charm’s been lost, though, and you can spend hours exploring the side streets eyeing ornate buildings and snacking on spectacular chocolate. Alternatively, bring a strong painkiller and dive into the tumultuous nightlife. And if you’re here for Christmas you can stroll at three different authentic Christmas markets: one at the cathedral, one in town centre and one at Alter Markt near the river.