Cologne Essentials:

How big is Cologne?
Located along the banks of the River Rhine, Cologne covers an area of around 405 square kilometres.
How many people inhabit it?
The population of Cologne currently stands at just under 1 million.
What are the language and the currency?
In Cologne, the official language is German; however, English is also widely spoken. The German currency is the Euro (EUR), which can be divided into 100 cent.
  • Cologne Cathedral and Hollenzollern Bridge
Cologne Cathedral and Hollenzollern Bridge Relaxing on a square in Bruhl Inside St. Gereon's Church A carriage on the Rhein-Seilbahn A lock on the Hohenzollern Bridge Augustusburg Palace in Bruhl Schildergasse, a popular shopping street Cologne Cathedral and the Philharmonic Building at night

Things to see in Cologne

Chocolates in the Schokoladen Museum
What's the main attraction in Cologne?
Without a doubt, the most popular attraction in Cologne is the Kölner Dom.
Anything else which shouldn't be missed?
Sure! Maybe sure to check out the Schokoladenmuseum, where you'll feel like you've almost stepped into the realm of Willy Wonka. As well as learning about the things that go into chocolate, you'll also see how this tasty treat is made. Plus there's a free sample or two to sweeten the deal. A great way to get stunning views of the city and the River Rhine, the Kölner Seilbahn is another one of the city's most popular attractions. This cable car has been in operation for 50 years and see huge numbers of visitors each year.
What's so great about it?
This gigantic Gothic masterpiece is home to numerous towering spires and is an absolutely unmissable part of Cologne's skyline. It took over 600 years to build this stunning Cathedral, which also hosts the tombs of past archbishops, colourful stained glass windows and much more.
Say I want to hit the shops. Where should I go?
Cologne has so much to offer in terms of shopping, the question you should be asking is 'Where should I go first?' All along Hohe Straße and Schildergasse you'll come across a multitude of different stores, including both international brand names and local favourites. You'll also find some great shopping centres, including Galeria Kaufhof and Neumarkt Galerie. For something a little more alternative, check out some of the shops along Ehrenstraße.
On average how much does it cost to get into Cologne's top museums?
You do have to pay to get into most of the city's top museums. For example, it costs €9 to get into the Museum Ludwig but it is worth the cost. Here in this large modern art museum, you'll find five floors filled with permanent and temporary exhibitions coving paintings, sculptures and video installations.

Going out in Cologne

Kolsch, Cologne's famous beer
Do I need to carry my ID with me when going out?
Generally speaking, it's a good idea to carry some form of ID with you when you go out. However, chances are you probably won't be asked for it here.
Where are most of the bars found?
In Cologne, you'll find a large number of great bars and clubs scattered throughout the city. From Aachener Straße to Engelbertstraße, there are lots of different venues to choose between, whether you’re looking for a quiet bar or a rocking live music venue.
Where would you recommend?
If you fancy a cocktail or two, head towards Cubana with its long lasting happy hour. There's a large, chilled bar area inside, and outside, people congregate at tables sitting snugly under large umbrellas. On warm nights, this outdoor area is filled with chattering customers, sipping multi-coloured concoctions. For something a bit more hardcore, check out The Blue Shell on Luxemburger Straße. Here you'll here a great mix of indie, punk and metal music, along with performances by a number of well-known local and international bands. There's also a free movie night and a monthly poetry slam.
Is there anything to do that doesn't include alcohol?
There is! In fact, Cologne has a large range of cultural nightlife options to check out. For example, you can go to see a musical performance by the Kölner Philharmonie, which makes its home in the beautiful concert hall beside the Kölner Dom.
Anything else I need to know?
Cologne has a vibrant gay scene, and there are lots of popular gay bars and venues to be fund around the city. Some of these include Blue Lounge, Tanzbar, Clip and Iron Bar.

Eating Out in Cologne

Halver Hahn, a local speciality
Anything else I need to know?
Lots of places in Cologne offer traditional German fare, including dishes like Halver Hahn. Literally translated as 'half a chicken', this dish doesn't actually contain any meat. Instead, it's made up of a large piece of cheese, pickle, bread and some salad on the side. If you're looking to try out one of the local favourites, this is definitely a tasty choice.
Any places you'd recommend?
For a spot of breakfast in a funky atmosphere, check out Café Rico on Mittelstraße. Here, you can choose from a number of different breakfast specials, including the French option which comes complete with croissants, jams and more. There are lots of other dishes on offer too, along with a large selection of teas and coffees. Borsalino on Zülpicher Straße serves a lot of reasonably priced Italian dishes. Portions are large and you have a huge variety of different dishes to choose from. Staff are friendly and English-speaking, and the restaurant has a very comfortable atmosphere.
Are international cuisines well represented?
They are indeed. Along with the best in German cuisine, you'll also be able to sample everything from Mexican to Japanese, and much more.
What times do restaurants close?
In Cologne many of the restaurants also operate as bars, and therefore open until the wee hours of the morning. Other restaurants only stay open until around 11.30pm; however, it won't be hard to find somewhere for a midnight snack.
Where is the best selection of restaurants in the city?
Well, as Cologne is quite a big city you'll find lots of restaurants all over the city. However, the area with the greatest density of places to eat is probably Zülpicher Straße, along with the surrounding streets. Over in Cologne's Altstadt area, you'll also come across many different restaurants and cafés.
Is it expensive to eat out in Cologne?
While you're in Cologne, you will definitely be able to find reasonably priced food. Not only do many of the restaurants offer special deals, but you'll also find a great selection of cheap dishes at many of the city's bars, a lot of which also serve some very tasty food.

Transport in Cologne

City bikes in Cologne
Will I need to use public transport at all?
In the city centre, many of the main attractions are within walking distance of each other. However, you will have to use public transport at some stage but don't worry, as the system is pretty easy to figure out.
How many different modes of public transport are there in Cologne?
A few! The most popular is probably the light rail network of S-Bahn and U-Bahn trains running across the city, both over and underground. There are a number of different passes available of varying length and these are pretty good value, depending on the length of your stay.

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  • Posted: Tuesday, April 28, 2009
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  • Posted: Wednesday, February 9, 2011
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