COLOGNE, GERMANY: Cologne is the place where the original Eau de Cologne comes from. Although this place may not look like a typical old style European city, its history goes as further back as the Romans. It took us about little more than two hours to get there from Brussels, Belgium. I would say few hours is enough to roam around the city, have lunch, do some shopping, and take a boat ride on river Rhine.

The BEST place to park here is the one near Cologne Dom. It’s an underground parking space. You can take the elevator and it will take you right at the Dom. Also, your car will be safer than the street parking !!!

River Rhine where you can take a nice boat ride. Only 10 min walk from the Dom.

TIME of TRAVEL: We visited Cologne early September of 2011 right before my daughter’s school started. It was HOTTT and humid there. I would say may be little more than 90 degree!!!

THINGS to BUY: Cologne being the city where original Eau de Cologne came from, definitely buy it from here, which is “Farina 1709”. Another one is “4711”. Also cuckoo clocks, Bavarian bear glasses are just some of the things you can buy from all the souvenir stores in Cologne.

The factory/office of original Eau de Cologne, Farina 1709

PLACES WE’VE VISITED: We managed to visit most of the main attractions in Cologne. May be taking a boat ride on river Rhine would have been a great option, but instead we walked and then took a rickshaw to know little more about the city.

The red portion is an original pathway during the time of the Romans, which is back in 5th or 6th century.

1) COLOGNE CATHEDRAL/COLOGNE DOM: This cathedral is a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and one of the best-known architectural monuments in Germany. The construction of this Dom started in 1248 and was finally finished in 1880, with some interruption in the middle. Two towers of this cathedral measure approximately 515 ft tall. This cathedral is world’s one of the largest churches and the largest Gothic church in Norther Europe.

It’s free to enter. Spend some time inside the church to appreciate all the decorative work there. The stained glass windows, mosaic floor are breathtaking.

Cologne Dom

2) CITY HALL/RATHAUS: This is Germany’s oldest city hall that is still active. Its situated between Rathausplatz and Alter Markt. Only 5 minutes walk from the Dom. It dates back to 475 when the Romans were ruling this area. You can go inside and look around. There is also a guided tour which closes around 4 or 5 pm.

Cologne City Hall – The oldest City Hall in Germany

3) GREAT ST. MARTIN CHURCH: You can see the tower of this church from almost anywhere in the old town. The main entrance to this church is kind of hard to find, but once you go inside it’s all white and very peaceful. This is a Roman Catholic church and was erected between 1150-1250.

Most of the other old churches in Cologne were destroyed in WWII, which were later renovated. This church was also very badly damaged in WWII by aerial bombing. In 1948 restoration begun and finally in 1985 the church was open again for the worshippers.

Great St. Martin Church

4) RHINE RIVER CRUISE: We took this cruise on Rhine during our second visit to Cologne in September of 2013. Our family friend was visiting from Portland, Oregon and to give them a taste of Germany, we took them to Cologne. This is a beautiful way to get a nice view of the city in a short time.

Cologne city from our cruise boat on River Rhine in Germany
Cologne city from our cruise boat on River Rhine in Germany

Rhine River is only 10 minutes walk from Cologne Dom. The tour is organized by KD cruise tour. Ticket is 9.20 euros per adult for an hour ride on Rhine. There are at least one boat each hour for this tour. This was somewhat a big boat took us under many bridges, by many modern buildings of Colognes. You can get drinks and snacks on the boat while enjoying the view.

2 Comments on “Cologne

  1. Rafi and I are going to Dusseldorf and Cologne February 29th and staying until the 6th. Do you have any recommendations of little side trips that are close? Did you do a Rhine trip? Also, do you have any recommendations on places to eat?


    • Hello, Wow, good idea. Cologne is a beautiful city. Haven’t been to Dusseldorf yet, but heard its very nice too. While you are in that area of Germany, you can also visit Dortmund or Bonn. I think they are within an hour drive. If you want to drive some more or have 2 extra days in hand, Brussels is a great place to drop by. It will take you about little more than 2 hours may be. Or if you don’t want to come all the way to Brussels, Liege or Namur (in Belgium) should be within shorter distance.

      We missed the boat trip on Rhine river for just few minutes when we were in Cologne. They charge about 15 euros per adult for an hour or so ride. Supposed to be very nice. And about eating place, you may not want to go where we went, since we were traveling with kids…haha. We went to the McDonald’s near the Cologne Cathedral for our lunch and on the same street, there is a Turkish Doner Kebap restaurant…that’s where we had our dinner. Nothing fancy, but the food was awesome. Hope that helps. Let me know if I can help you any other way.


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