Cologne is full of exciting attractions besides the seasonal Christmas Markets.
The one that stands out above the rest has to be the imposing cathedral.
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Cologne Cathedral towers above everything else and features intricate decorations. It is a handy navigational tool as you only need to catch a glimpse of the towers to orientate yourself.
The cathedral has been undergoing external renovation work although the scaffolding does not detract too much from the majesty of such a building.
Cologne Cathedral is open to the public and is a very solemn place as you might expect. I went inside early on a Saturday morning where only a small handful of people accompanied me. Stepping through the door is like stepping into a different world. The hustle and bustle outside deadened. All that remained was unbroken peace.
Through the dim light inside the cathedral, you can make out its intricate detailing. The scale is incomprehensible. Even if you are not a religious person you should take a look inside if you can.
The main shopping streets are Hohe Straße and Schildergasse. Both are busy pretty most of the time and are home to major German and International high street brands.
Hohe Straße stretches from the Cathedral to meets Schildergasse. The road continues onto the very trendy area at Neumarkt. Here you will find a shopping centre (look for the ice cream model on the roof). The centre is where you will find outdoor sports retailer, Globetrotter, famed for having a large pool for customers to test kayaks before making a purchase. The novel concept is somewhat surreal but at the same time ingenious.
To the East of the Rhine river is Köln Arcaden which is a massive indoor shopping centre full of the major brand names you would expect to find.
Not just any bridge, the Hohenzollernbrücke Bridge is the main railway bridge leading from Cologne Hauptbahnhof. It features pedestrian walkways either side of the bridge.
The significance of why the bridge is a key tourist attraction is not only its architecture but the fact that it has become synonymous with romance. Why? Thanks to the apparently recent explosion of couples who have flocked to add their "Love Lock" (a padlock inscribed with the couple's names and a date) to the metal railings either side of the bridge.
There are easily thousands of locks lining the bridge symbolising the eternal love between partners. Interestingly, several of the once-happy couples appear to have tried to rescind their act of love!
The padlocks can be thought of as an evolving work of art although it is easy to view it as littering, vandalism or criminal damage.
The bridge glows in orange at night which makes for great photographs, in particular with the white illuminated cathedral and the vibrant blue coloured Musical Dome, an events theatre.
The River Rhine
There are endless stunning views over the River Rhine to be had, and during the summer months, short cruise tours let you experience the river much more closely. In winter there is less on offer.
KölnTriangle Observation Deck
As I walked back to my hotel from the Köln Arcaden (a six-mile round trip I might add), I caught a glimpse of the word "observation" and went to find out more. This very discreet attraction doesn't scream or shout as loud as other attractions.
For €2.50 I soared up 100 metres into the sky to a lesser-known observation deck surrounded by glass. Several pictograms decorate the base of the glass explaining the lie of the land.
Expect fantastic views across the city on a clear day. While the reflections in the glass can be an annoyance, it is possible to get some excellent photographs.
Köln Hauptbahnhof (Railway Station)
An unexpected attraction became the railway station. As my hotel was located behind it, it was a space I walked through regularly.
The front of the Köln Hauptbahnhof overlooks the cathedral and is built primarily with a large glass expanse. Inside, shops and restaurants line the walls and passengers dart around ins search of their trains.
The main thoroughfare was always busy, but the western side from the Cathedral (or the eastern side from the hotel) was a lot quieter.
Exploring Cologne in a single day was always going to be tough, but I chose my sights wisely. There's plenty to do on a short break to the city.
Read more in this series
- International Passenger Terminal, Port of Tyne
- Princess Seaways Review
- Princess Seaways Cabins
- Food & Drink on Princess Seaways
- Entertainment on Princess Seaways
- Guide to Ijmuiden Port, Amsterdam
- Cologne Marriott Hotel Review
- You Cannot Visit Cologne And Not See These Sights (you are here)
- Cologne Christmas Markets Guide
- Cologne Christmas Markets Mini Cruise Review on DFDS' Princess Seaways