Cologne is the fourth largest city in Germany. It has a rich history and many sights and stories that warrant a visit. I had the chance to visit the city in Winter, and it's really one of those places that are just magical during that season. The best time period to visit is at the beginning of December, if you plan to go home for Christmas.
There are many reasons why you should visit Cologne this Winter, and I will list the top 10 reasons in my opinion.
1. Christmas Markets
There is nothing quite like it really. You have the main Christmas Market right next to the Cologne Cathedral, but that's not the only one. The main reason why you should visit Cologne this winter is the annual celebration of Christmas. The town lights up an transforms. Besides the main Christmas Market, you can find various other ones, spread out in the inner city. For a detailed look at the Cologne Christmas Market click here for my post from last year, that goes in depth.
2. The River Rhine
There is a river front that you can walk on, but crossing the various pedestrian bridges in the city, will also tell you why this is one of the reasons to visit Cologne. When you visit the riverside during sunset you will be rewarded with the most amazing cityscapes. At night the lights of the city reflect beautifully in the river.
3. Modern CologneThere are a lot of old things and buildings to visit in Cologne, but the city will surprise you with it's modern architecture as well. The Mediapark, for example is a great spot in the city, where the modern aspects really shine through. Definitely worth a visit. Recomended: the Cinedom movie theater and cafe inside of it.
4. Cologne at Night
On of the reasons why I love Cologne, is that you don't have to spend a lot of money (in fact you can visit this city on a budget) in order to experience it. Winter nights can be very charming. From the amazing city lights to pubs and bars that offer a cozy place to rest, drink the obligatory Kölsch (beer) and get something to eat.
5. Getting Around
Transportation in Cologne is top notch! You can get a weekly ticket at any station (electronic machines or at a counter in the Bahnhof, the train station) and simply roam the city and get to every place. There are not many lines, and the ones that are there are nicely marked and get you everywhere.
6. Cologne Triangle
For a small admittance fee (3 Euro), you can go on top of this great viewpoint. Tip: Visit Cologne Triangle during Sunset, the sights are gorgeous. You get a full 360 degree view of the city. The top of the building, where you stand, is surrounded with glass, on which you can find small printed icons of the various sights, pointed in the direction, their real life counterparts stand in.
In Brühl, a small town right next to Cologne, you will find one of the main reasons why you should visit Cologne. The Phantasialand is Germany's counterpart to Disneyland. You can find many attractions here, from thrilling rollercoasters to slow rides. Phantasialand has hotels, where you can sleep in, but a daily visit is the best option. It's open during December. During the Chrismas Season THIS is the place to be in. Tip: try the delicious Churros with chocolate sauce and take a ride on the Colorado roller coaster (but maybe not in that order).
8. Cologne Cathedral
It's quite amazing to read about this place, and how it has stood the test of time, wars and everything else. Entrance is free into the main Cathedral, and the feelings of contempt and solace are palpable. You can roam freely and explore the Church, take photos inside and rest. Tip: for a small entrance fee climb one of the two towers (not for the faint of heart, since the steps are very steep).
9. The Region
Why just stay in the city? One of the main reasons why you should visit Cologne is that you can easily visit the many towns and cities that surround it. Make a daily trip to rivalry Düsseldorf (the two cities have a love-hate relationship), or for a more romantic winter trip, visit the dreamy castle Augustusburg and Falkenlust in Brühl.
10. Shopping on the Schildergasse
The heart of Cologne is definitely the Shildergasse. Here you will find shopping centers, fast food chains, restaurants, cafes and sweet shops. Tips: visit the Galeria Kaufhof and experience a classic German shopping center, and definitely try the delicious apple cake or 'Cologne Waffle' in the Cafe Riese.
Thank you all for visiting. I hope you'll have a great rest of the day.
What are your favorite cities or towns that you have visited during winter?