Cologne — cultural hub on the Rhine, home of the iconic Cathedral, Kölsch and Carnival

view of Cologne

Covering both banks of the Rhine and home to over a million people, Cologne is the largest city in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.


Things to see and do

Cologne Carnival

Carnival-goers in Cologne

Once a year, the streets of Cologne are filled with people in colourful costumes, and the entire city turns into one big party. The Carnival season (known as the ‘fifth season’ in Germany) starts in November, but the main celebrations take place from Fat Thursday to Ash Wednesday each year, traditionally marking the start of lent. People stream in from all over the world to dress up, see spectacular parades featuring elaborate floats, and generally have a good time! The lively Zülpicher Straße, home to lots of bars, is a great place to start.

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Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral with the Old Town

The Cathedral (Kölner Dom) is the city’s most iconic landmark, and attracts more than six million visitors a year — making it one of Germany’s most popular tourist sites. Today, Cologne Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne, and has also been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As well as the Cathedral itself, you can also take a look at its Treasure Chamber (Schatzkammer), which contains a whole range of beautiful objects — some of which date back to the 4th century. Another must is a trip to the top of the Cathedral tower — at 533 steps, it’s quite a climb, but the summit provides visitors with wonderful views of the city.

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The Chocolate Museum

Chocolate Museum in Cologne

Chocaholics take note — if you’ve always wanted to learn more about how chocolate is made, then treat yourself to a visit to the Imhoff Chocolate Museum, located on an artificial island in the Rhine. As well as finding out about how chocolate is produced, you can sample the museum’s enormous chocolate fountain.

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Kölsch beer

A tray of Koelsch

Kölsch or Koelsch is a local speciality, brewed in Cologne or close proximity. There are thirteen breweries producing Koelsch to exacting standards. In comparison to other German beers, it has something of a milder flavour and is served in tall skinny glasses — why not try it for yourself?

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Culture and arts

Romano-Germanic Museum in Cologne

If you are interested in concerts, sport events or arts, then Cologne is the city for you. The Romano-Germanic Museum is a particular highlight — here you can take a look at a variety of Roman artefacts and learn about the founding of the city.

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British-German Town Twinnings

Town twinnings between British and German cities play an important role in promoting cultural exchange. Cologne has been twinned with Liverpool in Merseyside since 1952.