Germany, being one of Europe’s largest countries, offers a great variety in landscapes. The beautiful mountainous range of the Bavarian Alps in the South, sandy plains and rough coastlines along the North Sea and Baltic sea in the North, lush green hills of the West, picturesque valleys of the Rhine and Mosel, and agriculture areas of the East make Germany a treasury of diversity.
Germany has a long and rich cultural history with many World Heritage sites to explore nowadays. It is a big, populous country with over 83 million inhabitants and a global leader in several scientific and technological sectors.
Did you know Germany is in the top 10 list of most-visited countries in the world? Most tourists come to Germany for the culture, countryside and outdoor activities , and the German cities. You can marvel at architectural masterpieces in modern cities, but there are also endless historical, charming cities and towns to take you back to medieval times.
Furthermore, Germany offers a wide variety in food and drinks.
A few of German’s most popular travel destinations are: the vibrant capital city of Berlin, the historic city of Munich, the fairytale castle Neuschwanstein, the historical Port of Hamburg, the picturesque town of Baden-Baden in the Black Forest, the Rhine Valley, the gorgeous Konigssee, beautiful historic Cologne, the romantic Rothenburg, and the Berlin Wall.
In summary, Germany is a very enticing travel destination!
For more tourism information, visit the German National Tourism Board: https://www.germany.travel
Some facts about Germany
Fact: Many renowned music composers originated from Germany. Among them are Ludwig Van Beethoven, Johann Sebastian Bach, Johannes Brahms, and Robert Schumann.
Fact: Daylight Saving Time or DST was first adopted in Germany.
Fact: Universities in Germany offer free education for locals and internationals.
Fact: Germany houses the Spreuerhofstraße, the World’s Narrowest Street located in Reutlingen, Germany.
Fact: The fairy tales we know today, like Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, and Rapunzel, came from the minds of two German siblings, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, also known as the Grimm Brothers.
Fact: Similar to its neighbour countries like Austria, according to their law, Sundays should be a rest day and shops should be closed on that day.
Fact: Germany gave birth to numerous world’s first, such as the first magazine, first Christmas tree, first accordion, and first contact lenses.
Fact: Soja Wurst is the first meatless sausage, which Konrad Adenauer invented, Cologne’s mayor, from 1917 to 1933.
Fact: Germany is among the world’s largest producers of automotive today. Did you know that the very first automobile in the world came from Germany in 1988?
On a lazy Saturday morning in August at 9:30 am, we decided we really should go somewhere. Anywhere. At instant. We had just arrived back home from a road trip to Austria, Italy and France. We didn’t have to work and the kids didn’t have to study. We looked some travel destinations up on the internet. The moment Cologne’s Cathedral popped up, we decided to drive to Cologne for one night. We booked a hotel and prepared food for the car ride. By the amount of food consumed in our car, I would swear there is a not yet discovered amount of calories being burnt when looking out of car windows. The appetites are insatiable! We took care of our kids, cleaned and packed and at 1 pm we were ready to go! My husband drove 3hrs and we arrived around 4:30 pm at our hotel. We freshened up quickly and walked to the City Centre.
If you want a more lively impression of Cologne, have a look at our video in Cologne: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CJM2_NrJOJL/
Köln, widely known as Cologne, is the largest and the most densely populated city of North-Rhine-Westphalia state and also the fourth largest city in Germany. Cologne was founded over 2000 years ago. The first Eau de Cologne ever was produced here in 1709. In the Old City, cobbled streets and cozy stores transfer one back to times passed long ago.
In Second World War this city was amongst the most severely bombed , nowadays it is restored in original status. You can still see photos of the ravages around the magnificent Cathedral.
Strolling along the Rheine river, you will meet all sorts of people and the atmosphere is vibrant and happy. Music bands play at several sites. It was very easy for us to walk from one landmark to another. Let me share with you some of Cologne’s sites of interest.
The reason we visited Cologne, was without a doubt the Cathedral! Did you know the Cologne Cathedral attracts more than 6 million visitors a year and is the most popular tourist destination in Germany? It is also the third tallest church in the world! The cathedral was declared as a World Heritage Site in 1996 and it took 632 years to build! With its massive Gothic architecture, it is visible from almost every part of the town. We were completely enchanted by its exquisite exterior design and palatial scale! Our kids somehow identified a playground in a small slope close to the Cathedral and started sliding down, probably a hundred times.
Cologne’s Old Town
Cologne’s Old Town is home to many historic churches including Cologne Cathedral, charming former merchant homes, the historic City Hall, narrow alleyways, shops and many museums and art galleries. Alter Markt and Heumarkt are surrounded by cafes and restaurants and great to hang out!
The Hohenzollern Bridge is an iconic, well-designed arch bridge crossing the river Rhine and accessible to rail and pedestrian traffic. It is the second biggest tourist attraction in the city of Cologne. Visitors, specifically couples, attach padlocks on the bridge’s railings as proof of their endless love. Then, they throw the key into the river below. Love locks are now banned on other bridges because of their weight, such as on the Pont des Arts in Paris, Luzhkov Bridge in Moscow and on Vecchio Bridge in Florence. The love locks have added more than two tonnes of weight to the Hohenzollern bridge already. The bridge changes colour by night.
Great St. Martin Church
Groß St. Martin is the most remarkable amongst Cologne’s Romanesque churches. Its foundations rest on remnants of a Roman chapel from 6 AD. The current foundations date back from circa 1200. It was severely damaged during the Second World War. Fortunately, its striking patterns and intricate details are completely restored to its original grandeur. Surrounded by colourful houses and the lovely Rheingarten park, the Church of Great St. Martin has a sophisticated look.
Kaiser Wilhelm II Equestrian Statue
In the Western part of the Hohenzollern Bridge you can find the equestrian statue of Kaiser Wilhelm II, German’s last emperor.
Europa Rad Köln
If you want to see Cologne’s view from above, you can ride a Ferris wheel located along the Rhine banks (next to the Chocolate Museum); the Europa Rad Köln. It is a great way to enjoy the sunset with several landmarks in the background.
Cologne’s City Hall
This is the oldest City Hall in Western Germany. Various architectural additions over 9 centuries have created a curious patchwork of exquisite design. This historical building just South of the cathedral is simply beautiful!
For more information about Cologne, visit the Cologne Tourism Board: https://www.cologne-tourism.com
We stayed one night at Novotel Koln City Cologne. This is a luxurious hotel in the heart of Cologne and at walking distance from several sites of interest.
Cologne offers a wide variety in cuisines. As we stayed in this city for one night, we only visited Peking am Dom.
Peking am Dom
Peking am Dom is famous for its Chinese food. With a comfortable ambiance, this family-friendly restaurant offers various tasty dishes. We enjoyed our dinner here.
This restaurant is known for serving haute cuisine with exceptional presentation and flavours in a French-style atmosphere.
In this bar with outdoor seating you can have a taste of German and European cuisines. There are meals for children and vegetarians.
Café Reichard offers a dessert paradise with a view of Cologne Cathedral. This place is great for families with kids, because of the many desserts and traditional pastries.
A small ice cream parlour located in Cologne’s Old Town serves a variety of ice cream flavours at an affordable price. The ice cream is delicious and definitely worth trying!
The KölnCard is an easy and inexpensive way to explore Cologne. The ticket includes free travel on public transportation within Cologne and up to 50% off at many museums, restaurants, shops and cultural attractions. Here are options to explore Cologne:
We explored Cologne walking, which was really nice and a good way to enjoy the sites of interest and experience the cozy atmosphere. If you want to know the history of different city highlights, you can get a walking tour to learn more.
A famous way to get around Cologne is by bicycle. Try renting a bike at any bike shop scattered across the city. There is also a Call a Bike system, where you can book a bicycle of your choice online. All you need to do is register an account, book a bike, pick it up and then drop it off at the specified location once you are done.
Another easy and affordable way of getting around Cologne is to ride a subway, tram or bus. You can purchase tickets online, at ticket vending machines and at ticket offices. There are also tickets available for singles or groups planning to stay for 24 hours or 48 hours. These tickets are beneficial to save transportation costs and you can even get up to a 50% discount at their valid and official partners.
There are many taxi services, which let you go around the city without exerting much effort. Payment options are flexible depending on the taxi company you choose.
Several car rental companies are dotted across the city, making it easy to get around Cologne by car. Renting a car is ideal if you plan to stay in Cologne for over a week or plan to explore downtown and other city parts freely.
Crowded Tourists Spots
Colognes’ landmarks are crowded landmarks at any time of the year, even during the pandemic when we visited. Many, too many tourists gathered around the Old Town and every touristic site was crowded. There was a long waiting line in front of the Cathedral.
Similar to other busy cities, Cologne suffers from traffic congestion. We stayed in Cologne for a night and we explored walking, which was excellent.
Driving a car in Cologne is not advisable, as parking spaces are limited. Besides on-street parking, several car parks are available in the city. However, on-street parking and car parks can be quite expensive. If you want cheaper parking, you can try the park and ride system in the city center’s outskirts.
We were grateful for the opportunity to travel and see the exquisite, world famous Cathedral during the COVID-19 pandemic, even though it was fairly crowded (a bit too much considering the pandemic!). We strolled along the medieval market place and marveled at historical buildings in this charming city.
A few months later, we were in a strict lockdown, the schools closed, only the essential shops were open and we were not allowed to travel abroad. The vaccine was developed and the Corona-virus must have sensed it was near to extinction! The virus took a tremendous leap and guaranteed an enormous rise of infections globally, to make sure we would never forget about its existence… It had been a great weekend in Cologne strolling around the city when we were still allowed to!
If you are inspired to visit Cologne, I would love to know! Please leave a comment below.
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