Cologne in West Germany is a hub for the creative types, the culture vultures and the history buffs. There’s plenty to see in Cologne, with the city home to 20th century art and Roman artefacts. But it’s not just art that Cologne is known for – there’s fantastic restaurants and watering holes aplenty. Here’s the lowdown on what’s hot in Cologne:

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Where to Stay

For You Own Apartment: Gallery Lofts

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Set inside the former factory building that manufactured the city’s most famous export, the iconic 4711 Eau de Cologne, the Gallery Lofts will allow you to live a life of luxury in your own studio apartment.

One of the pads on offer is the spacious loft junior suite, which is kitted out with all the essentials for the modern traveller including a coffee making machine, minibar and free wifi.

However, the loft royal suite is its pièce de resistance and will provide the dose of luxury you’ve been needing. Amenities include room service, luxury care products in the bathroom and even a welcome bottle of Louis Roederer Cristal. A wellness facility will take your massage bookings, and the staff will even provide pack lunches to fuel a busy day of excursions and exploration.

For Comfort: Excelsior Hotel Ernst

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Booking into the Excelsior Hotel Ernst won’t only mean you’re in a central location, but you’ll be next to Cologne’s most famous landmark, it’s 157m-high cathedral.

This five-star option will appeal to those with a more traditional taste for luxury than an urban studio apartment. The entry-level guestrooms include stone baths that transform into a jacuzzi at the press of a button, and a complimentary mini bar.


Grab a quick drink from the stylish Piano Bar before heading out to dinner. Warning – spending the night gawping at its 30-page bar menu is a genuine hazard to your evening plans so choose wisely and quickly, if possible!

Where to Eat

For Traditional Fare: Jan von Werth

Head to Jan von Werth for some potato pancakes. They’re the most popular item on the menu for first-time visitors and a great example of German home cooking. Go one step further and tuck into the ‘Big Bacon’ pancake and enjoy alongside a bowl of sausage stew. Germans really know how to fill an empty stomach.

For Seafood: Fahrhaus Restaurant 

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You’ll have to head a little out of town if you want some of the best fish along the Rhine but the boat trip to the Fahrhaus Restaurant in Rodenkirchen, the 1,000 year old neighbourhood in the south of the city, is well worth the ride. Grab a table on the outdoor terrace and enjoy the riverside views while devouring the salmon filled sole rolls steamed in white wine. Have a go at the Altenwerder Fish Dish, too – four different fillets fried with bacon and herb butter sizzling between a baked potato.

Where to Drink

 For a Local Spot: Früh am Dom


While you may know Cologne better for its fragrant exports, the most cherished item on the production line is its local beer, ‘Kölsch’, which has been brewed in the city for more than 111 years.

Get a taste from one of the city’s authentic German taverns, Früh am Dom. Its laid back atmosphere makes the place a relaxing starting point to enjoy a drink and a bite to eat before the night accelerates towards the early hours when the real fun starts.

For a Lively Drink: Blue Shell 


As soon as the clock strikes midnight, get yourself to Luxemburger Strasse, around a 20-minute walk from the centre of town or a just a few stops on the tram. When the weekend comes the area detonates and the myriad of bars explode into life.

A fun place to begin is Blue Shell, a popular spot for the city’s local musicians, actors and writers that was a regular haunt in the 90’s for Brit Pop giants Blur when they used to pass through.

Bar hopping is both easy and essential in this part of town so see which place grabs your fancy and give it a go, whether its over the road to Schmelztiegel, great for pool, beer pong and cocktails, or Pacific Bar, an up market venue that hides a karaoke machine behind the bar. Sink enough mojitos and you might be able to coax it out.

For Banging Beats: Stiefel 

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Stiefel, located on the next road on, is unmissable thanks to its multi-coloured three-storey graffiti exterior. Music fans will love it with live acts and DJs on constant rotation. Expect a fluorescent mix of old Oasis and Smiths tunes with 90’s hip-hop.

What to Do

For a Festival: Cologne Carnival


When it comes round, Cologne Carnival turns the medieval city into an ocean of colour and mayhem, and some say it completes the Holy Trinity of carnivals, alongside the yearly celebrations in Rio de Janeiro and Venice. It all began in 1823 and the traditions that were put in place then (grand gala balls and street carnivals) are still ever-present today.

The carnival season kicks off on the 11th minute, past the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month (that’s 11:11am 11th November) and it continues right the way through to the end of Easter. The time to get to Cologne, however, is in time for the week-long street festival, coined ‘the crazy days’, and for good reason. It begins on the Monday before Ash Wednesday and it’s when the crowds hit the streets in full masquerade attire with the Kölsch in full flow. Alongside the main event are a multitude of sideshows, mini carnivals, comedy performances and late night parties to ensure that you and your mates will be partying to the very end as you conga onto the plane home.

For History and Culture: Cathedral City


If you can’t get there for the carnival then not to worry – Cologne is a beautiful city with loads to do and see. The Cathedral is without doubt the city’s pride and joy, and after centuries of construction and reshaping they’ve got it looking pretty spectacular! Entrance into the UNESCO Heritage Site is just a few euros, but to get a fuller picture of the Cathedral City combine it with a walking tour of the Old Town and get a unique feel for its history via the cobbled paths and bustling squares.