Cologne might seem like an unexpected choice for Indigo’s December destination of the month, yet this city has a wealth of sights and things to offer tourists and seasoned travellers alike, especially in the winter months. The city is home to an impressive variety of attractions from the famous Cologne Cathedral, amazing architecture in the Old Town, numerous museums and galleries and even a chocolate factory! Cologne also has the most pubs per capita in Germany, so why wouldn’t you want to visit?
Cologne at a Glance:
Cost: Cologne is fairly affordable compared to other German cities, making it a budget friendly holiday option.
Climate: Cologne has a temperate climate. With cool winters and warm summers, it’s a perfect destination all year round.
How to get around: Rail transport is quick and easy to get from the airport into the city. However, walking or using the Lime electric scooters is the easiest way to see all the sights.
Cologne cathedral is undoubtedly the city’s star attraction and should be anyone’s first stop on a trip to the city. The landmark cathedral, now a UNESCO heritage site as well as being one of Europe’s largest, boasts striking gothic architecture which stands out against the city’s skyline, casting a dramatic shadow. Outstanding views across Cologne and the Rhine can be seen if you can climb the 500 steps up the Cathedral’s southern tower, but if heights aren’t your thing then the incredible interior and treasures inside the cathedral are something you will definitely want to see.
As you wander the historic streets of Cologne, you’ll crisscross into the historic Old Town, bursting with countless alleys and quaint houses that are now small boutiques, shops and cafes. At the edge of the Old Town, the city opens up to an expansive coastal path which will take you along the banks of the Rhine, with many restaurants and bars to enjoy. If all the walking has taken its toll, then there are countless beer houses to choose from, including the famous brewery Frueh am Dom serving refreshing beer, hearty food and toasty open fires.
Maybe you have more of a sweet tooth, and if so then there’s no place better than the Cologne Chocolate Museum that creates and sells Lindt chocolate. You’ll be taken on a journey through the history of chocolate and finally into the production room where you are met by a giant chocolate fountain, with the best part being the variety of chocolates waiting to be sampled! Once you’ve finished your tour, head over to the café overlooking the Rhine to enjoy a luxurious hot chocolate, perfect for keeping warm on those chilly winter days.
From the Chocolate Museum take a stroll or Lime electric scooter (which is so much more fun) across the Hohenzollern Bridge to the prominent KolnTriangle. The panoramic views it offers are not to be missed, with sights of Cologne stretching as far as the eye can see. If history’s your thing then perhaps a Rhine river cruise is your perfect attraction, with everything from hour-long sightseeing tours to romantic evening panoramic cruises on offer.
Of course, no December destination of the month would be complete without mentioning some of the amazing festivities that the city offers, even in the current pandemic we find ourselves in. Germany has always been famous for its grand Christmas markets and Cologne is no exception, as the magic of Christmas can be felt throughout the festively decorated city. Four million visitors flock to Cologne’s Christmas markets every year, drawn in by the seasonal food and drink, music, toys and crafts on offer. Particular highlights include the authentic German pastries, hot chestnuts and of course, copious amounts of mulled wine!
No doubt this year the situation is a little different like in many countries around the world. Unfortunately, the Christmas markets in Cologne have been cancelled this year due to the pandemic as cases are still high across Germany. A mandatory 10-day quarantine is in place upon arrival in Germany from the UK meaning festive celebrations will most likely be at home for many Brits during the holiday period this year.
However, for students on a budget, families, solo travellers and couples alike, Cologne is the perfect destination for a December getaway if you’re thinking about planning a winter holiday for next year… especially if you want to get into the Christmas spirit.
Image: Hannah Pilkington