Since its founding in the 1st century under the Roman Empire, Cologne (Köln in German) has been an important city for trade and culture. Now the fourth largest city in Germany and the largest within the Rhineland Region, this municipality’s location along the Rhine continues to make it an important stop for trade in the region. This location coupled with the congenial culture, historical architecture, and plentiful activities found here, also makes Cologne one of the best parts of a Rhine River cruise.
Here are some of the highlights that visitors to this city should be sure to seek out.
Experience History in the Cologne Cathedral
The second tallest building in Cologne is also one of the oldest – the Cologne Cathedral is a Gothic masterpiece that dates back to the 13th century. The twin spires of this house of worship can be seen from the Rhine and are one of the quintessential images of this city. On a tour of the cathedral, you will be able to learn about its history while enjoying the incredible stained glass, artwork, and architectural details found throughout its massive interior, which can accommodate up to 20,000 people at once.
Classic and Unusual Museums to Explore
Cologne is home to many different world-class museums, including traditional art museums such as the the Ludwig Museum, a modern art museum which is home to work from artists like Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, and Pablo Picasso, and the Wallraf-Richartz Museum, where visitors can enjoy pieces from medieval Cologne along with various other works that date up to the early 20th century. Those interested in the city’s more ancient past can explore artifacts from the Roman Empire at the Romano-Germanic Museum and view medieval art at the 1000-year-old building that houses the Schnutgen Museum. Visitors can also learn about the history and craft of chocolate making at Chocolate Museum, athletics and sports at the German Sports and Olympics Museum, or about fragrance and colognes at the House of 4711.
A Unique Beer Within a Classic Beer Culture
One of the things that makes Cologne special is Kölsch beer, a unique brew that can only be created in this city. Made from barley, this pale ale is created using a special process that takes two months and was decided upon by a group of 24 local breweries just after the turn of the 20th century. Along with the specific brewing method, Kölsch is always served in a Stange, a straight sided, skinny glass designed to ensure that beer will remain cold throughout the entire consumption process. Given this unique history, enjoying a Kölsch at a traditional beer hall in Cologne is a must for any beer-lover.
Whether you are visiting Cologne on a Rhine River cruise, or as part of a tour of Germany, I hope that this guide has helped you plan your trip. If you would like more information about a trip to Germany, please reach out and we’ll schedule a complimentary consultation.
Kira Gartner is the owner of Blue Sky Destinations, a boutique travel agency specializing in river cruises, luxury expedition cruises and customized European vacations. For years she has helped curious travelers plan vacations that allow them to unwind, reconnect, and immerse themselves fully in a destination. Reach out to her for a free consultation - and let her start designing your dream vacation!