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Cologne City Guide {What to Sip and See}

Author: Alice Chorley

You spoke and we listened, a few weeks ago on Charlotte’s thought provoking post about the future of online media, some of you mentioned that you’d like some more travel content. So here’s a city guide for you!

“Collect moments, not things” is a phrase I feel that I live by. A beautifully wrapped present it a wonderful thing to receive, but for me a trip away or an activity where you can actually spend precious time with your favourite person is honestly priceless. It was one of my best girls’ birthdays at the end of last year so I whisked her away for the weekend to Cologne. We reminisced about hilarious German exchange trips we went on together as teenagers and the fact that we can remember every word of 15 year old JLo songs but not how to say ‘where is the train station?’ in German. Please tell me we’re not the only ones?

Full disclosure: I went onto skyskanner and typed ‘everywhere’ into the destination so it came up with flights in cost order first. Such a good tip if you’re looking to go away but not break the bank!

Cologne {Where I stayed}

Okay, bear with me, we stayed in a hostel. But it was a cool hostel. I suppose really the only downfall to Cologne is that they don’t really have Airbnb. I mean, they do, but there aren’t that many and therefore they are quite costly.
I found Hostel die Wohngemeinschaft in a Guardian article and I booked it pretty much immediately. All the rooms are styled differently with the communal areas full of of recycled gorgeous, 60’s and 70’s pastel velvet furniture. We were in a ‘Shakespearean’ style room with pods, dark panelled walls and red velvet curtains, but there are lots of other different options from a space ship theme through to the prettiest boudoir. The beds were incredibly comfortable, quite spacious and even had a little shelf and a plug by the headboard. Lightyears away from the hostels I stayed in whilst on my gap year!

Cologne {Where I ate and drank}

On our first full day (after meeting some locals the night before and potentially getting a bit excited the hostel bar was playing old school Jennifer Lopez, as above) we had a much needed brunch at Cafe Buur (they don’t have a website but they do have a gorgeous Instagram page) It was literally opposite the hostel so I would highly recommend it if you do stay in that area. The cafe had the perfect mix of creative (and instagrammable, obviously) ways to serve food but it was hearty, healthy and delicious and set us up perfectly for a day of exploring.

Cologne is known for Kölsch, which is particular type of beer brewed in the city and consequently there are quite a few ‘brauhaus’, which is a German pub where the beer is specifically brewed. My favourites were Peter Brauhaus, Fruh am Dom and Haxenhaus (yes we did have to try quite a few, y’know, for research). The brauhaus are fun places and I would highly recommend for a slice of Cologne hospitality. The good thing is that Kölsch is that generally it’s served in 1/3 glasses so you can definitely do a mini tour without feeling the effects too much the following day.
One tip I would bestow is that because the beers are quite small, and therefore cheap, they don’t always take card. The waiting staff will also essentially keep coming round and giving you more beers (they write a tally on your beer mat) but when you are finished you just pop the beer mat on top of your drink and they give you the bill.

Finally, on the last day we had an hour or so before we had to leave for the airport so I was delighted when we stumbled across Wurst Case Szenario. I love a pun and I’m a sucker for some cute branding so this place immediately caught my attention. It was perfect for a snack for us (we shared a Rostbratwurst and a Currywurst, when in Germany and all that…)

Cologne {What I did}

If there is one thing I would recommend, above everything else, would be to go to the cathedral. I’m not saying this is groundbreaking insider knowledge because basically every blog you read will say to go and there is good reason for this.
The cathedral was bombed a staggering 14 times in WWII so it’s something that the Kölner are incredibly proud of and you can see why. UNESCO World Heritage Sites have referred to the cathedral as “a masterpiece of exceptional intrinsic value”, so you can’t really argue with that.

The interior of the building is just as beautiful as the outside too, with the incredible stained glass windows creating the most beautiful ethereal rainbows on the grey stone, so do make sure you actually go inside.
Just a word of warning, it does get quite narrow and steep at one point and there are many, many steps (509 to be precise) but I promise it’s worth it.

My friend I went away with is an architect so we spent a lot of time walking around and just looking…up. The city has 12 Romanesque churches so it’s definitely worth pinning them on a map, grabbing a hot chocolate and taking in the breathtaking buildings.
We also walked along the Hohenzollern bridge, which crosses the Rhine and has beautiful views of the city. Since 2008 people have placed love padlocks along the bridge so it was a delightful and heartwarming to walk across and read all the messages of everlasting, passionate and unrequited love.

And finally, I couldn’t not mention the Lindt Chocolate Museum. If, like me, you have a sweet tooth (although I would also say I love savoury food so I’m not sure what that says about me) you can’t go to Cologne without visiting the museum. It’s possible to buy a ticket to just walk round the museum or hop onto a guided tour, all of which have different ‘themes’ from sustainability to how chocolate is actually grown. The cafe and the shop are also worth visiting. I mean, it’s a SHOP FULL OF CHOCOLATE, what more do you need to know?

All in all, we loved Cologne. It was the perfect place to spoil my girl. We came back with souvenir beer mats, boxes of chocolate, full bellies and unforgettable memories.

Have you been to Cologne and want to add to my list? We’d love to hear if so. Or are there any cities you are visiting this year and you’d like some tips? Please comments below!

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4 thoughts on “Cologne City Guide {What to Sip and See}

  1. Sounds like a really great weekend away. I’m going to be planning my sisters hen party and I’m wondering about a quirky, cultured weekend away. Not sure where yet though. Thanks for the skyscanner tip – AMAZING! x

    1. Sarah it was lovely and I think would be great for a hen do because it’s quite unusual. I had my hen do in Lyon for a similar reason – flights were cheap – so take a look there too! We did some lovely wine tasting x

  2. I went to Cologne a few years ago on a work trip and really enjoyed it. A couple of things I remember…
    Non-alcoholic Kölsch is also available – I was pregnant when I went, but I didn’t miss out!!
    Depending on the sort of trip you’re looking for, just be aware of Carnival dates (think it’s this week this year) – I understand that the city gets a bit crazy – I purposely avoided these dates (see above!!) – find out more here: https://www.cologne.de/events/cologne-carnival.
    I loved riding on the trams – a really good way to see a bit more of the city!

    1. Ah good to know about the non-alcoholic beer, Amy, thank you! A couple of locals mentioned the Carnival actually, they were very proud of it. It sounds pretty full on!

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