Cologne City Guide

Visiting Germany’s 4th largest city can really be worth your while. Cologne is notable for its very diverse and lively nightlife, while still maintaining that Old World charm by day. Centuries-old traditions are incorporated freely with modern day ideologies with interesting results. And there is always that little something for tourists who are interested in historical / architectural designs, religious artifacts, and even gastronomical wonders. Named originally as Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinesis (after Emperor Claudius’ wife Agrippina,) Cologne has transformed itself many times over to become one of the most interesting cities in all of Germany. Situated on both sides of the River Rhine, Cologne used to be a stronghold for some of the greatest conquerors of history: the Romans, Franks, Merovingian, Carolingian, French and the Prussians. However, the people of this great city has learned to cope with drastic changes and still maintained an open-minded stance to progress and development. Today, the city is home to the University of Cologne: one of the oldest universities in Europe. It is also a predominantly Catholic community which cherishes and protects its gothic churches and cathedrals. At the same time, the city also hosts the famous Cologne Carnival and other lively festivals and fairs. Speaking of which, Cologne is rather exuberant when it comes to throwing parties. The Colonge Festival alone can be a good testament to the fact. Held on the 11th of November until Ash Wednesday of every year, the festival encourages people to eat, drink and make merrry. However, the highlight of the celebration culminates on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday (locally called the Wieverfastelovend) where people from all over the world fill the streets for a hearty round of dancing, drinking and partying – and this can go on all througout the day and into the wee hours of the next morning. If you are thinking about traveling to Cologne, the best time would be during the Chirstmas season, which by the way also coincides somewhat with the Cologne Festival. Cologne is a veritable paradise during the Christmas season and there are numerous season-themed goods to buy, bargain and even barter with. However, the food is always the best selling point of the city, and it is well worth gaining those extra pounds to taste some of the offerings at the Cologne Christmas market (Borough Market) and the Smithfield Market. The month of October is also a good time to visit the city. Octoberfest here literally translates to free flowing beer festival, which is always a good festival to engage in. Additionally, this is the perfect time to patronize wine tasting tours that will not only allow you to take sips and samples of the best wines in the area, but you also get to enjoy the sight seeing trips into the city’s lush countryside. The best way to see the sights in this city is to either walk or rent touring bicycles. Since the land are of Cologne is not that extensive, these two options will allow you to tour particular sights at your leisure. However, if you are traveling to other locations, the best way to travel is by using the bus, tram or subway station. 3 day passes or short trip tickets are available almost everywhere.