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Cologne Cathedral and Hohenzollern Bridge
Cologne Cathedral and Hohenzollern Bridge, © Can Stock Photo / hiro1775

Cologne is referred to in German as Köln or Koeln.  It's also referred to as the jewel of the Rhine.  The city has a population of about 1 million and was founded in 38BC.  It is best known for the imposing Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom).  It also has Germanic and Roman ruins, plus more than 30 museums.


Cologne is a summer tourist destination.  Average temperatures peak in July and August at 80 F (26 C), while lows are about 55 F (13 C).  By December and January average highs are 40 F (5 C) and average lows are just below freezing.  Rainfall is highest in July while August sees less rainfall than most months.  August is the best month to visit Cologne for good weather.  June is an excellent choice for avoiding the height of the tourist season.


Cologne is a standard stop for Rhine (Rhein) River cruises.  Cruises approach from Amsterdam and Rotterdam to the west or from Koblenz to the east.  Other nearby cities include Bonn and Dusseldorf.  Colgne is easily accessible by train.  The train station is located downtown beside the Cathedral.  Many of the things to see and do are concentrated in the downtown area near the station.

Botanical Garden, Cologne, Germany

Floral and Botanical Gardens

Attractions in Cologne:

Things to see and do:

  • Walk around the Old Town to see the Cologne Cathedral, Gross Sankt Martin, City Hall (Rathaus), most of the museums and the shopping district on Hohe Strasse and Schildergasse.  The train station is located right beside the Cathedral.  

  • Cross the Hohenzollern Brücke (bridge) to the side opposite downtown and stroll the Rhine Promenade.  Then return by the Deutzer Bridge.

  • Rent a bike and cover downtown, the Rhine Promenade, the Rhinepark and catch the Seilbahn cable car to the Botanical Gardens and Zoo.

  • Cologne Cathedral/ Kölner Dom - the highlight of Cologne, located downtown on the Rhine at the Hohenzollern Brücke (bridge).  Construction started in 1248 and completed in 1880.  There is no charge for entry.   It's 500 steps to ascend the South Tower for views of the city.  Many river cruise companies dock nearby.  The Cathedral escaped World War II unscathed despite the fact that the Old Town surrounding it was leveled during fighting.  The Americans occupied the cathedral side of the Rhine and the Germans blew up the Hohenzollern Bridge to defend the opposite bank.

Gross Sankt Martin and Cologne Cathedral, Germany

Gross Sankt Martin and Cologne Cathedral, © Can Stock Photo / pzurek

  • Gross Sankt Martin - the bell tower on the river near the Dom.

  • Kolner Seilbahn (Cable Car) - a journey over the Rhine (Rhein) between the Rhinepark and the Zoo / Floral & Botanical Gardens. The cable car has views of the city, the river and the Cathedral. Thc cable car doesn't operate in winter.

  • Take a day cruise on the Rhine (Rhein).

  • Visit the City Gates and Walls of Hahnentorburg - near the Rudolfplatz tram.

  • Museum Ludwig - modern art, including Picasso, Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali

  • Wallraff-Richartz Museum - Rembrandt and Rubens.

  • Claudius Therme - thermal baths overlooking the Rhine in the Rhinepark.

  • Visit the Imhoff-Schokoladen Museum, a chocolate museum.

Cologne Cathedral, Kolner Dom, Germany

Cologne Cathedral, Kolner Dom, © Can Stock Photo / pzurek

  • Deutsches Sport and Olympia Museum - tributes to the 1936 Berlin games and the 1972 Munich games.  Adjacent to the Schokoladen Museum.

  • Römisch-Germanisches Museum - Adjacent to the Dom and featuring Roman and Germanic artifacts, including Poblicius tomb and the Dionysus mosaic.

  • Documentation Centre - history of the Third Reich in Cologne.

  • Haus 4711 - free museum for famous perfume.

  • Botanical Garden and Zoo

  • Peters Brauhaus - the most popular bar in town.

Stained glass at the Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral, © Can Stock Photo / tupungato

Cologne Tours:

Hotels in Cologne

Hotel Ibis Koeln Am Dom - hard to beat this location, right beside the Cologne Cathedral and the main train station.

View Cologne map

View Cologne Pics

Next Stop Up River - Koblenz

Next Stop Down River - Rotterdam