Here’s our guide to spending a weekend in the wonderful city of Cologne.
11:00 – Cologne Cathedral
After arriving at Cologne Central drop off your bags at the hotel. You’re now ready to start exploring Cologne’s cultural highlights. Your first stop should be the incredible Cologne Cathedral, the focal point to the entire city, located right next door to the central train station. It’s the country’s most visited landmark and you can easily see why. With construction beginning in 1248, the Gothic cathedral took more than 600 years to complete. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the best place to commence your cultural exploration of Cologne as an appetiser of what’s yet to come. Cologne has 36 museums and over a hundred galleries, but the cathedral, with its intrinsic history and beauty, has a magic all of its own. Opt for a combined ticket for the treasure chamber and tower so you can first marvel at the special items on display and enjoy the best view in the city from the tower.
Domkloster 4, 50667 Köln, Germany
12:00 – Museum Ludwig
A two-minute wander from the cathedral, Museum Ludwig hosts one of the most impressive collections of pop art in Europe. The futuristic building provides an interesting juxtaposition to the historic one next door and is a welcome addition to Cologne’s skyline. Visiting the modern works on display here is ideal after admiring the classical architecture of the last stop. Pieces by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein rub shoulders with a phenomenal Picasso collection. The museum displays nothing pre-1900, and is named after the chocolate magnate Peter Ludwig who donated his $45m collection of art. He also loaned his collection of Russian avant-garde to the museum which is the most comprehensive collection of this type of work outside of Russia. The museum’s own restaurant offers delicious options for lunch, so why not stop for a bite and a rest after enjoying such a culture-packed morning?
Heinrich-Böll-Platz, 50667 Köln, Germany
15:00 – Kolumba
This itinerary has highlighted the old and new aspects of Cologne so far, and now it’s time to merge the two together with Kolumba as the next stop on the list. Just an eight-minute walk from the Museum Ludwig, Kolumba is close enough to tackle straight after lunch. The Kolumba is one of the oldest museums in the city, hosting both ancient and modern pieces of art, and is located on the former site of a church, which was destroyed in World War II. Particular attention has been paid to the size and sources of light in each of the sixteen exhibition rooms, where the pieces range from a 12th-century ivory crucifix to a collection by the Japanese sculptor, Leiko Ikemura, who lives and works in the city part-time.
Kolumbastraße 4, 50667 Köln, Germany
20:00 – Cologne Philharmonic Hall
Round the cultural activities off after a brief stop back at the hotel with a night at The Cologne Philharmonic Hall. There are over 400 concerts a year, so there’s sure to be something that tickles your fancy scheduled for the evening. The Cologne Philharmonic Hall was built in 1986 and is widely regarded as being one of the best designed concert halls in the world, with perfect acoustics. There may be an orchestra, a choir or perhaps a lone maestro giving a performance that evening, so check the event listings on the hall’s website to see what you can treat your ears to. If nothing stands out, perhaps a foray to the Filmforum may better suit your interests – the hall is right across from the cathedral, just a moment’s walk from the central station.
Bischofsgartenstraße 1, 50667 Köln, Germany
11:00 – Ebertplatz Passage
After a substantial breakfast, get your walking shoes on. Having explored Cologne’s most well-established sights on the first day, the second is all about going underground. This is your chance to experience the city on another level entirely. Ebertplatz Passage may seem like an unlikely spot for an artistic revolution, but trust local knowledge and discover something incredible. The area surrounding the underground station is relatively run-down, but in the recent past an effort has been made to offer artistic and cultural events. You can either take the U-Bahn to this station, just three minutes from Cologne Central or enjoy a pleasant 15-minute walk. There are a spate of galleries in this area, from Bruch & Dallas to Gold und Beton – we think the best way to spend your time in this area is stroll through them all! Refresh with a coffee or a bite to eat in between galleries to keep your enthusiasm levels high.
Bruch & Dallas, Ebertpl., 50668 Köln, Germany
Gold und Beton, Ebertpl. 3, 50668 Köln, Germany
21:00 – King Georg
To round off your trip to Cologne and an extra experience of tradition, innovation, established and upcoming art, a visit to King Georg is a must. This bar and concert venue has been run in a former brothel since 2008. A little bit daring, very hip, this is the ideal place to finish your excursion into Cologne’s cultural scene.
Sudermanstraße 2, 50670 Köln, Germany
Cologne is known for art and has plenty to see and do. With superb train links from other European destinations, it’s the ideal city for a cultural break. Ready to book your trip to this amazing city? If you need more information on the German rail network, why not check out our dedicated page to trains in Germany.