It’s almost a year now since we visited this lovely and lively German city, so time to take a look back at some of the things which made it so special...
1. A great hotel
Hotel Allegro is a hidden little gem on the banks of the Rhine, just a few minutes’ stroll along the riverbank from the foot of the Altstadt (old town). A small and friendly hotel with helpful staff and a very nice breakfast buffet.
2. An old town
The Altstadt is where it all happens. Packed with bar after bar after bar and a very cheery atmosphere - you’re bound to end up here every night.
3. Going to the zoo, zoo, zoo
Set aside a day for a trip to Cologne Zoo - it’s massive and well worth a visit. Baboon island and the elephant house are major attractions here, but our particular favourites were the llamas, bison, giraffes and lemurs.
Use the trams (S-bahn) which in stereotypical German style are very efficient and will get you all over the city and beyond.
5. Food glorious food
Everything from old German favourites like currywurst and local speciality "himmel & äd" to most types of international cuisine - you’ll find it here. Again lots of eateries around the Altstadt, and special mention also to the Maredo which specialises in South American food, and although it’s a chain of restaurants it’s very high quality.
6. Beer, anyone?
Or more precisely Kolsch! It’s the local beer and even if you don’t like beer you will inevitably succumb to this light and drinkable local brew, made by a variety of local breweries.
7. Shop till you drop
Cologne has an extensive shopping centre, much of it is pedestrianised and there’s a massive selection of shops here, everything from discount to designer. Saturn is the place to find CDs and DVDs for your must-have German music purchases, it’s on the top floor of Galerie Kaufhof. There is also a branch of Expo, that irresistible shop for cow fanatics!
8. The Rhine
You can’t go to Cologne without taking a boat trip on the Rhine. There’s lots to choose from and if you want to go further afield there are full-day cruises in high season.
9. The Cathedral and two great museums
It’s the first thing you see when you come out of the railway station, and its spires are a stunning sight. Also even if you're not a fan of museums you'll enjoy the Chocolate Museum and Olympic & Sports Museum.
10. Joie de vivre
Cologne’s inhabitants know how to enjoy themselves. There is a sense of fun in this city and you can feel it. I mean, what other city sticks an ice cream cone on top of a shopping mall??
If you are visiting Germany for the first time, I’d recommend that you visit Cologne. It’s clean, scenic and friendly. What more could you want from a city?