Cologne is one of Germany's oldest cities. It is the 4th largest city in the country, and the biggest in the metropolitan region called Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan. Among the things the city is famous for is being one of the most liberal cities in Germany, the most number of pubs per capita, the gloomiest city with only 1427 hours of sun per year, and the most flood-prone city in all of Europe.
Cologne is situated on both sides of the Rhine River. Its highest point is the Monte Troodeloh, which lies at 118 meters above sea level. It has 9 districts and 85 city parts, all lying in the larger area of the Cologne Lowland - a cone-shaped are of south-east Westphalia.
How to Reach (Transport)
- By Plane - The city is served by 3 airports - the Cologne Bonn Airport, the Dusseldorf International Airport, and the Frankfurt Rhein Main International Airport. The Cologne Bonn Airport offers international and domestic flights provided by low cost airlines and can be reached within 15 minutes from the city center through the S-Bahn tram system.
The Dusseldorf Airport, found 40 minutes from the city center, offers intercontinental connections.
The Frankfurt Airport, which is the largest in the country and located in Frankurt, provides destinations to all major cities in the world. Residents of Cologne frequently use this airport for flights outside of Europe.
- By Train - There are 2 major train stations in Cologne - the Koln Hauptbahnof, and Kold-Deutz. Direct trains are available to Amsterdam, Brussels, and Paris through the ICE high speed trains.
- By Bus - Direct trips to Serbia and Denmark are provided by regional buses. Private bus lines also offer trips to all major cities in Germany.
- By Subway and Tram System - The U-Bahn provides the easiest and fastest way to get around the city. The S-Bahn provides trips to and from the regional areas.
The best months to visit Cologne is during September and October. Autumn season is the best time due to having the most pleasant weather for sightseeing. This is also the peak season for tourists so hotels are mostly booked during this time and prices tend to be at their highest. Spring and summer are pleasant but get unbearably humid. May is also another popular time to visit the city due to the opening season of beer gardens.
Culture (Fairs and Festivals) and Traditions
- Cologne Carnival - This festival is one of the largest street festivals in Europe. Hundreds of thousands of spectators and performers gather during this event, with the highlight being the Women's Day Carnival happening every Thursday before Ash Wednesday. Live shows, street performances, and bazaars all take place during the events. It kicks off every year on November 11, 11 minutes past 11am.
- Cologne Gay Pride - One of the city's most attended annual festivals, it occurs annually at the Heumarkt Square. Plenty of live music, a candle-lit vigil for the sufferers of HIV/AIDS, and a large parade are among the activities.
- Christmas Markets - The city is filled with Christmas markets from November 24 to December 23 every year. The biggest ones are found at the Cologne Cathedral and the one at Neumarkt. Popular smaller markets include the fairytale market and the medieval market. Millions of people from around the city and from all over the world visit the city during this time, where everything imaginable is put up for sale - from bakery goods, to traditional beer and regional wine, to toys, decors, arts and crafts, and just absolutely everything.
- Cologne Cathedral or Kolner Dom - This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the most visited landmark in Germany, with over 20,000 visitors per day. It is one of the best examples of German catholicism and Gothic architecture in Europe.
- 12 Romanesque Churches - The city is littered with 12 Romaneque churches that are worth the visit. The St. Kunibert is famous for its stained glass windows; the St. Andreas is famous for its 14th century frescoes and being the burial place of Albertus Magnus; and the St. Aposteln for its controversial paintings from the 1990's.
- Agnesviertel - This famous traditional neighborhood is the best place to spend a full day in Cologne. It has a unique bohemian flair with all its independent designer shops, bookshops, bars, pubs, art galleries, historical monuments, cafes, occasional flea markets, and many studios that teach yoga, Aikido, and many other things. Monuments include the North City Gate and the Agneskirche, a late neo-Gothic church.
There are over 250 hotels in Cologne, as well as many budget accommodation such as hostels and mid-price hotels. Camping sites are also popular places to sleep in for many budget travelers.
Last Updated : October 21, 2014
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