Cologne - a cute, relatively small but Germany's most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia is full of history, culture and fun. It may not be the most beautiful city of Germany, but definitely worth a visit if you are around.
Since we live not very far from Cologne, we planned a short day trip to the most visited places here. Well, basically we were waiting for the weather to get a little nicer, Mr. Sun to shine a little bit, rain to say good bye and clouds to peek-a-boo after the months of freezing Germany winters. We went to Cologne in mid of February as the weather is bearable but if you plan to go in peak winters, make sure you are well equiped and always check the forecast before stepping out (every other day it rains in NRW and winters become way more cold with a no show from Mr. Sun). So, Cologne turned out to be a great escape in mid-February for us.
Top things to see in Cologne in a day
Needless to say, if you plan to go to Cologne, you are going to the catheral. The city's famous Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) is the seat of the Catholic Archbishop of Cologne. Also a UNESCO World Heritage site, the cathedral is a great place to be with family and kids and learn more about the culture. With a vast space to walk around outside, you can see artisans engaged in their works of art on the street, majestic church bells resounding the area, great coffee shops (if you don't like to experiment the taste in such a short duration, you have Starbucks too), place to soak in the sun and grab a bite amongst others. While there are guided tours also, but visitors are free to explore the cathedral on their own pace. Do note that during daytime Masses and special evening events the cathedral is closed for toursts. Find more information about the catheral and its services here.
Also lovingly known as the 'Love lock' bridge. For several years now, the locks of love have been considered one of Cologne's most charming traditions. As proof of their love, couples bring and fix padlocks to the iron bars/railings of the Hohenzollerg bridge and throw the keys into the Rhein river below to ensure eternal love. This bridge is built over the Rhein river that runs across approximately 690 Kilometers. It is accessible and easy to walk with a stroller only until the other end where you will need to carry the stroller on stairs because there is no ramp. One of the most romantic sites of Cologne should not be a miss from your itenerary.
For the most beautiful view of Cologne's panaroma, head straight to the Kölntriangle from the Hohenzollern bridge. This skyscraper standing 103 m tall offers magnificient views of the Cologne Cathedral and the city from its 29th floor. Entrance to the building is free, but access to the viewing platform costs 3 euros. It can be very windy so dress appropriately.
Just a 1.5 km walk from the Cologne trainagle is the vast Rhein park walking hand in hand with the Rhein river. A great and must place to be with kids and families. Just pick a beautiful sunny day, pack your lunch, grab an ice cream from the corner where the park begins and enjoy a relaxed picnic here. You can either enjoy the beautiful view of Rhein river by sitting next to the benches along the path or spread your picnic basket on the ground and soak in the sun. This is an enormously wide spread family park spreading across 40 hectares of park land with plenty of space for kids to run around, a huge play area with all kinds of swings, almost-clean-but-less-in-number restrooms. In summers, this green oasis is a prefect location to relay or indulge in various sporting activities, for kids and adults both. You can enjoy inline skating, jogging, or ball sports and more. A quality family time here is a must on youe Cologne itenerary.
Located just next to the Cologne Hauptbhanhof, this contemporary and modern art museums is a must for art lovers. Because of its location, this museum is most visited. Unfortunately we had to miss this location due to time constraint. (Spent too long in and around the magestic Catheral 😉
Cologne zoo and the chocolate factory are also amongst other favored destinations if you are travelling with kids. However if you are visiting with a toddler, we'd suggest you to keep it simple with the above places as all of them are at a walkable distance and head on to the zoo and the cholocate museum the following day.
The best thing about the above places is the fact that all of them (point #1 to #5) are within 1-2 km of Cologne Hauptbhanhof. You just need to get out of the train station and you can see the catheral, musuem Ludwig, coffee shops and the bridge.
If you have visited Cologne earlier, tell us what you liked most in the comments section below. If you have other question or concern, we are all ears. Happy travelling and parenting.