While travelling between London and Bosnia, I used Cologne in Germany as a stopover. As I only had around a day in the city, I stuck close to the Rhein, there’s actually loads of things to do in this area of Cologne. I love river walks, as are easy to navigate and good for people watching! Here’s how to spend one day in Cologne!
One Day In Cologne
Lindt Schokoladen Museum
Yes that does indeed translate to Chocolate Museum! This was high up on my places to visit in Cologne and it didn’t disappoint…mainly because of all the chocolate tasting that was included in the entrance price!
Lindt Chocolate Fountain
The museum covers the history of chocolate, how it’s made and harvested, modern day advertising, there’s even a tropical green house and of course the chocolate factory. My favourite part was the Lindt gold chocolate fountain, honestly it’s ruined all other chocolate fountains as I’ve never had one THAT good before! There’s also a glass cased production line that shows you every step of the process, INCLUDING a big green button that when pressed, you can ‘steal’ a chocolate right from the conveyor belt!
Upstairs in the workshop you can even design your own chocolate bar (for an extra fee), choosing from either white, milk or dark chocolate and then various toppings such as: fruits, nuts, Haribo sweets, cookie dough and freeze dried coffee!
Adult entrance tickets: Weekday = 12.50 Euro, Weekend = 13.50 Euro
Open every day between 10am – 6pm (closed on Mondays during the winter season)
Find out more on the Schokoladen Museum website.
Great St Martin Church & Fish Market Square
I didn’t go into the church but I took SO many photos in this little square! This whole area has cute little buildings, I stayed the night at the Rhein Hotel St Martin, I could see the church from my room window!
I also ate in the beer garden of the Ex-Vertretung restaurant, which had great views of the river. I had the chicken schnitzel with AMAZING fried potatoes and a beer, it set me back around 14 Euros (I had a similar meal in the train station for 7 Euros but with just a Coke instead of a beer). This whole area has lots of restaurants with both indoor and outdoor seating.
Eisdiele Gelateria Luissimo is located in the skinny white building in front of the church. I tried the Spaghettieis (4.90 Euros) which is designed to look like a cone of spaghetti and meatballs! It uses vanilla ice cream (noodle colour!), strawberry sauce to look like tomato sauce and white chocolate sprinkles which is the ‘mozzarella’.
As I mentioned, river walks are a great place to sit and watch the world go by. The Rhein has many different types of river cruise boats and the walk is popular with walkers and cyclists. The Rheingarten has a cool water feature which on a hot day was full with children splashing around and adults sitting on the edge with their feet in the water. This area could do with more benches and seating. You’ll either have to perch on the wall or find a spot to sit on the grass.
Cologne Cathedral (Kolner Dom)
Cologne Cathedral is set just back from the river right opposite Cologne Central train station. The cathedral dates back to 1248 but wasn’t completed until the 1800’s (and everyone thinks Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is taking forever!) and stands as one of the tallest twin-spired churches in the world! I didn’t go inside, I’m not always sure of appropriate dress codes in different countries and all I had with me was shorts so I skipped it, but it’s well worth seeing from the outside.
Love lock bridges get a bit of stick all around the world and the Hohenzollern Bridge is CRAZY! I have never seen so many padlocks before! The full length of the bridge is completely full up to the point where there is barely any space left. It may be an unpopular opinion but I do like the sentiment behind love locks and enjoy going along and reading the engravings on them and thinking about all of the stories behind the locks!
During my visit there was some sort of tour group playing a strange looking game that I can only describe as ‘Toss the Teabag’…I found it fun to watch, regardless!
The next two Cologne attractions are roughly a 30 minute walk along the river from the Hohenzollern Bridge. There’s not too much between the 2 areas but it makes for a nice relaxing walk.
My main reason for walking this far along the river was to visit Kölner Zoo. Again, just like love locks, zoos often get a hard time. I used to be a volunteer on the education team at one of the zoos in the UK and I do see the good that they do (Australia Zoo does it amazingly well). I’ll admit that not all zoos across the world do ‘them right’, but many now do, with funds helping to support conservation projects in the wild. Kölner Zoo is a member of EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria) as well as WAZA (the worldwide version).
They had a wide range of species on display. Their elephant house is AWESOME, it is absolutely ginormous (they currently have 13 elephants in total). I love monkeys and primates so of course was drawn to the orang-utans and gorillas. I’ve seen hippos in the wild (but they were mostly hidden underwater thankfully), so to see one on the land was crazy, they are HUGE.
The entrance to the main zoo also gets you into the aquarium building opposite, which has different species of fish and reptiles.
Please be aware that as an English speaking visitor, all the signs and information boards were only written in German, so if you’re someone that enjoys animal facts, you may have trouble reading them (even though the website has an English translation feature!).
Adult tickets are 19.50 Euros and the zoo is open between 9am – 6pm (March to October) or 9am – 5pm (November to February). For more information visit the Kölner Zoo website.
Rhein Seilbahn (Gondola)
I almost went on the Gondola across the Rhein but because it was the end of my trip, my budget was starting to empty out a bit so I decided to skip it out! It thought it was really cool though. I love the Emirates cable car in London, it’s an interesting form of transport to have in the middle of a city!
There didn’t look to be too much on the other side of the river, on the map there’s a bit of a harbour type area and a large park.
A return ticket is 7 Euros. In hindsight I should have bought a combo ticket with the zoo as then you can get the Gondola ride for 2 Euros and I probably would have done it. But as all the signs were in German and I didn’t realise Gondola was ‘Seilbahn’, I’ll just have to write it up as a loss! The Gondola is open between April and October from 10am until 6pm.
Other Cologne Things To Do Along The Rhein
Another museum along the Rhein, next door to the Schokoladen Museum, is the Deutsches Sport and Olympia Museum. Unlike the zoo, I was worried that maybe the Olympics museum may not have had English translations on their information boards, so decided not to risk it, and therefore didn’t visit (the website, doesn’t have an English translation feature either). This may be something you’d like to check out though.
If you continue walking along the river, past the chocolate museum, in the direction heading away from Cologne Cathedral, you’ll find some interesting buildings. I believe these ones are a business centre and offices but they are pretty uniquely shaped!
How To Get From Cologne Airport to Cologne City Centre
It’s really easy to get from Cologne Airport to the city centre, they are connected by train that takes around 15 minutes. There are automated machines at the airport, even though they have an English translation button, you’ll have to enter in the station name in German. Cologne Central Station is ‘Köln Hauptbahnhof’.
Single journey tickets cost 3 Euro.
Attempting to get back to the airport is a little trickier, the train to the airport never seemed to appear on the platform it was listed as and Central Station is HUGE. Maybe it’s just me not understanding but it seemed to switch platforms a couple of times and of course all the announcements are in German, so you just have to hope for the best! It’s listed on screen as Koln-Bonn and has an airplane icon.
Trains leave every 20 minutes or so, so if you end up missing one, you don’t have to wait too much longer for the next one!
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