You might remember a little while ago I blogged about the Cologne Christmas markets which I visited back in December. The markets were fantastic and if you are considering visiting Cologne, I would recommend going when they are on. However, there is still plenty more to do in the city. Believe it or not Chloe and I didn’t spend all day eating food at the markets…
The twin spires of Cologne Cathedral are an iconic site which are recognised internationally (the Cathedral is a UNESCO world heritage site). Started in 1248, the Cathedral was not completed until 1880, yet the later work follows the medieval plans and techniques faithfully. The Cathedral is Cologne’s second-tallest structure and can hold more than 20,000 people. It’s a really remarkable building and the gothic architecture is incredible.
After walking round the Cathedral we decided to climb up the South Tower which I would really recommend – but you have to be fit! In order to reach the viewing platform for panoramic views of the city, you must first climb 533 steps. However, if it is a clear day the climb is worth it and on the way up you will go past the bell chamber which is quite interesting. It’s not too expensive to go up, but don’t expect the climb to be easy. Even if you can manage all the steps, all visitors are using the same narrow stone staircase to go up and down at the same time. It can get a little claustrophobic and chaotic!
The Hohenzollern bridge is the most heavily used rail bridge in Germany and is important as it connects Cologne’s central station with major European cities on the other side of the Rhine. It is also well known as it is covered in “love locks” which have been left by residents and tourists. It is estimated that the padlocks weigh over two tonnes! Whilst it’s not the most exciting attraction, it provides a good opportunity for artsy photos (or photos of the Cathedral at a distance) and is an easy way to get across the Rhine.
Lindt Chocolate Museum
If you are a chocolate fan like me then the chocolate museum is a must-see attraction! In fact, we ended up going twice! On the Saturday we went for a hot chocolate in the cafe (the cakes also looked incredible!) and a nosey round the shop, and then on the Sunday we returned to go round the actual museum.
The museum takes you through a range of exhibition areas, including a tropical house, and explores the cultural history and development of chocolate. There’s some really interesting bits about the sustainability of chocolate and the Fairtrade movement. I particularly enjoyed seeing the production of the chocolate – and getting to try some of the chocolate fountain! There is also a chocolate studio where you can have your own chocolate bar created from a choice of three types of chocolate and 40 toppings. This made a fantastic souvenir for family back at home!
We didn’t have time for everything, and there are a multitude of other sites to see in Cologne. We walked past several museums, and it looked to be quite a good city for shopping too. Had it been warmer I would have been quite happy just sitting and watching the Rhine go by. The KölnTrianglePanorama is another site we considered visiting, but we decided we were satisfied with the views from the Cathedral. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Cologne, and thought the markets were incredible, I’m not sure I’d hurry back at another time of year. I think I prefer my German cities smaller and more picturesque, a bit like Heidelberg.