Day 1 in Cologne
Welcome to Cologne! Upon arrival, you will go through customs and immigration. Should you opt to purchase a transfer to your hotel; a representative will be waiting for you as you exit immigration. Arrive at your hotel, check in and do not give in to jetlag! There is so much for you to see and do!
Begin the afternoon by exploring the historic city of Cologne, with roots dating back to Roman times. We suggest a hop on and hop off bus tour to create your own personalized sightseeing itinerary as you learn about the sights from your guide. Cologne is packed with buildings and monuments that testify to its ancient and medieval past. Check out the top Cologne attractions such as Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom), the City Hall, the Old Town and so much more.
If time allows, compliment your bus tour with a one-hour Rhine River cruise to witness the medieval city`s intricate skyline and stunning Rheinauhafen district from the water.
As night falls, head to the lively atmosphere in the fashionable Belgian Quarter, located between Rudolfplatz and Friesenplatz. Chic old buildings, alternative boutiques and many unusual bars and restaurants can all be found here. In summer, the Saint Michael church square is transformed into a beer garden and meeting point.
Day 2 in Cologne
Wake up early today and head out to discover more in-depth all of what Cologne has to offer. Start off in Old Town to enjoy breakfast at one of the charming streetside cafes, then take some time to wander around the narrow, cobble-stoned alleys and go back to times long ago.
After a pleasant morning enjoying the Old Town, head over to the Museum Ludwig, one of the most famous museums of Cologne that holds an important collection of Expressionism (one of the biggest collections in Europe). Here, you`ll find world-class assortment of 20th-century art - particularly famous for its Pop Art, Abstract and Surrealism, and their enormous Picasso collection.
Just next to Museum Ludwig, is the Cologne Cathedral, a world heritage site. If you haven`t already, be sure to step inside and check out the stained-glass windows designed by Gerhard Richter and the intricate gold shrine believed to contain the relics of three holy men. If you have the energy, make sure to check out the view of the Rhineland from the top of one of the two towers of the Cathedral. It is well worth climbing the 533 steps in the spiral staircase marked by countless etchings and graffiti from the present and centuries past.
Spend the remaining part of your afternoon enjoying some retail therapy. Walk to the Mittle Strasse, Breite Strasse and Hohe Strasse (literally, Central street, Broad Street and High street) where you`ll find an endless interconnected conglomeration of shops, boutiques, and restaurants. These are the busiest commercial drags jammed packed each day (except Sunday) with shoppers, musicians, organ grinders, and snack shops. You`ll find major international designer-clothing boutiques, stores selling fine jewelry, fine leather purses and so much more.
Take a coffee break at the nearby Aachener Strass and Brüsseler Platz. Here you`ll find a number of the stylish cafes, scattered around among theatres, bars and restaurants. The Theater im Bauturm café is famous for its artful chandeliers, organic food and Chai Lattes.
As night falls, take a river ferry across the Rhine to enjoy an elegant evening. There are some beautiful restaurants here boasting panoramic views of the Rhine and Cologne landmarks.
Day 3 in Cologne
Start your day at the Cholocate Museum for a little light-hearted amusement. Situated on an artificial island in the river, here you can learn about chocolate through the ages, have a stroll amongst the cocoa trees in the in-house jungle and dip a wafer or two into the huge chocolate fountain at the end of the galleries.
For those with an interest in life under the Nazi regime and its aftermath, you`ll want to visit the National Socialism Documentation Center. This memorial gives an unvarnished account of its horrors displaying a combination memorial site, interactive museum, and research center located in the actual building where prisoners were held by the Gestapo. One of the most chilling experiences here is entering the actual prison cells in the basement with the writing of prisoners scratched into their walls. The center attempts to put a human face on the effects of the police state on both Germans and occupied countries, with individual stories. It also focuses on the long aftermath of the Nazi era and the efforts to bring those responsible for its atrocities to Justice.
Alternatively, delve into Roman history at the Roman-Germanic Museum. Cologne became a Roman city, known as Colonia Agrippina, in 50AD. Statues, mosaics and jewelry spanning prehistoric, Roman, and medieval times fill the halls of this museum. Exhibits of interest are the Dioysus Mosaic dating from the 2nd-century and the funerary monument of Poblicius from the 1st-century, both discovered during excavations in the city. Also of interest is Kolumba, the art museum of the Archdiocese of Cologne, notable for its art and antiquities.
Afterward, head to the Brauhaus Frueh am Dom get a taste of traditional Cologne `Gemütlichkeit` and the local beer `Kölsch`. Situated in the shadow of the cathedral, this pub hasn`t changed much in the last 100 plus years. Sit on dark wood furniture and enjoy one refreshing Kölsch after another, as the Köbesse - waiters dressed in blue aprons - will come around immediately replacing any empty glass with a new one unless you place a coaster on yours.
Spend the rest of your evening enjoying some of the many brewhouses that are scattered throughout town offering up plenty of Kölsch and local hearty cuisine.
Additional Days in Cologne
Should you be able to spend additional days in Cologne spend some more time checking out more of the museums that Cologne has to offer. Some other noteworthy museums in the city: Wallraf-Richartz Museum, offering 700 years of timeless art and greatest traditional picture galleries in Germany; Frangrance Museum, the oldest intact perfume factory in the world; German Sport and Olympics Museum, offering an insight into the history of national international and Olympic sports; Museum of Applied Art, where you can find the most important German collections of European applied art from the Middle Ages to the present day; Museum of East Asian Art housing Chinese, Korean and Japanese art, and so many more.
Also, spend some time in all the Romanesque Churches around town. Cologne has a dozen important Romanesque churches, all within the medieval city walls. During the Middle Ages, these churches were important destinations for pilgrims who flocked to `Holy Cologne` to worship relics of the Three Kings and the various Christian martyrs. Devastated during World War II, all 12 of the churches were later restored, often with interior changes, and together they represent the rich architectural legacy of early medieval Cologne. If you have interest in architectural history, Cologne`s Romanesque churches are worth checking out.
Alternatively, take a day trip to the surrounding area. Cologne is an ideal location for exploring western Germany, an area that includes the famous wine-growing regions along the Rhine and Mosel valleys, the ancient city of Aachen, and the Mittelrhein, the most scenic stretch of the river.
Your Last Day in Cologne
Depart your hotel for the airport for your return home. We recommend that you purchase a private transfer, if so a representative will meet you at the hotel, in time to take you to the airport for your flight out.