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Cologne - City

Huge cathedral and tiny beers

Cologne (Colonia Agrippina) was established by the Romans and, despite 95% of the city centre being flattened by bombing in World War 2, is now the fourth largest city in Germany. While the medieval cathedral is the tallest cathedral in the world, the standard measure in which the local beer, Kölsch, is served must be one of the world's smallest, at just 20ml. The logic behind this is that every beer you drink is thus cold and fresh.

Today, the city is known as a media centre, with Germany's main commercial TV station, RTL, based there and as a trade fair location, the latter due not least to its very good transport links (by air, road and rail). Way, way back in my student days, long before low-cost flights, it was always the first major German city that you reached by train after taking the ferry across to Ostend from Dover.

Cologne is also famous for its Karneval street parades, but as the main one takes place on the day before Shrove Tuesday, there will be none to watch during the Euros. However, some of the places to eat and drink during the tournament, plus things to see and do are listed below. Other ideas can be gained from Cologne's official tourist website here.

If you have any tips of your own and would like to share them, I'd be happy to add them here. Please just e-mail me at

To keep this page uncluttered, I've not included any photos. Instead, I've put together a selection in this Cologne City and Stadium Gallery

You'll also find plenty of photos and countless ideas for things to do over at GetYourGuide. They include several guided tours of local drinking holes, but that wouldn't be any interest to you, would it?!

For hard copy guide books, see my Books page.

Getting to Cologne

If you're flying into the city from the UK, see my UK Airports page for departure airport information and my Cologne-Bonn Airport page for details of your arrival airport. If you're travelling to the Euros by rail, an Interrail pass will cover all your train journeys, while for individual trips within Germany see this page for Deutsche Bahn times and fares. And if your'e coming by coach, then FlixBus have you covered.


Früh am Dom
Tradition-steeped, wood-panelled tavern/restaurant directly on the square next to the cathedral. An outside terrace area in front of teh building for enjoying a cool Kölsch on a hot summer's day and a maze of rooms inside for a sit-down meal of hearty German food. I've been here many a time. Take a virtual tour here and read reviews in English on the Früh am Dom Tripadvisor page. Or book a guided tour of this and similar brewery pubs, with a drink at each, over at GetYourGuide.

In my student days, many, many years ago, more a pub than a restaurant, now clearly a mix of both. A fairly small, narrow place just around the corner from the cathedral, within the city's pedestrianised zone.

Gaffel am Dom
I drank in here many times in the late seventies, when it was called the Alt Köln. The brewery running the place and much of the building's façade has changed since then, but it remains a traditional tavern-style pub-cum-restaurant. And in terms of location, it could not be more central - directly next to the cathedral and main station.


Cologne Cathedral
If you look at any aerial photos of Cologne just after the War, you can’t help but be amazed by the fact that the huge cathedral remained standing, practically untouched despite being directly next to the prime allied bomber targets of the main station and a key bridge across the Rhine. All buildings around it look badly damaged, but the two spires of the 'Dom' tower above the ruins. It’s definitely Cologne’s number 1 tourist attraction and a climb up to the top of one of the towers is well worth it for the great view you get over the city. Entrance to the main body of the cathedral is free. There is a charge for climbing the tower, as there is for going down into the vaults to see the city treasures. The KölnCard gives you a discount on the latter (plus free public transport and discounts elsehwere around the city).

Romano-Germanic Museum 
One for a rainy day. Normally located directly next to the cathedral and thus also only a stone’s throw from the main station, the museum records the city’s evolution from pre-historic times to the Middle Ages, focussing in particular on its Roman past. Currently closed for a complete refurbishment due to take several years, many of its exhibits are now on show at the Belgian House (46 Cäcilienstrasse). The KölnCard gives you a discount on the entry price (plus free public transport and discounts elsehwere around the city).

Altstadt / Old Town
Quaint cobbled lanes and gabled buildings characterise the largely pedestrianised old town (Altstadt) area to the south of the cathedral. Some of it's original, much has been lovingly reconstructed following the WW!! destruction. On a walk around the area you'll pass the city's old town hall (Rathaus), the oldest in Germany, the birthplace of 4711 Eau de Cologne and the city's oldest museum, the Wallraf. You can just stroll around the area yourself or get a guide for a guided tour, e.g., via GetYourGuide.

There are more ideas on things to do here and elsewhere in Germany on my '100 things to do' page.



Hotel Maritim
“I like Cologne, because it’s easy to walk to most places and has plenty of bars”, says Liverpool fan John. “I stayed in Hotel Maritim, which is very nice and conveniently located.”

Wyndham Köln
While the Maritim is located directly outside the front of the station, the Wyndham is right outside the rear doors. Bristol City fans Liz and Dave, who have stayed at both, preferred the Maritim, but say the Wyndham was also "a very good location if you're travelling by train".

Station - Hostel for Backpackers
It's been many years since I was a backpacker staying in hostels, so I can't vouch for this place personally. But it certainly looks convenient, being only 150 yards from the main station (and therefore also from the cathedral and city cente).

For other hotels on and around the respective matchdays, plus out of town alternatives, see the Dates page.


Camping Stadt Köln
1500m walk to Heinrich-Lübke-Ufer station, then 21 minutes on the underground to Cologne main station.

Camping Berger
950m to Uferstr., Köln-Rodenkirchen bus stop, then a 9-minute bus ride to Rodenkirchen and 24 minutes by underground to Cologne main station.

For campsites at other venues, see my Camping page.

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