Did I mention that I spent a couple of days in Cologne last week?
If not – I spent a couple of days in Cologne last week! I’ve shared lots of it over on Instagram already and now I’m sharing my German city break on here. In diary form this time, because sometimes a good old travel diary is the way to go. Despite the trip only being 3 nights and 2 days I really, really enjoyed the Cologne highlights, just like every other German city I’ve visited so far. So that didn’t come as a surprise! The general feel of the city was a surprise though; I didn’t expect it to feel so chilled and… ‘holiday like’, if you know what I mean. Maybe the weather influenced my impression (the same heatwave that sent England into a frenzy last week hit Germany too – 37 degrees one day!) but either way, the chilled feeling was lovely and totally unexpected for such a big city.
[Should probably issue a warning right now that I’m probably going to mention the heat at least 20 times because I’m British and I can’t help but obsess over a heatwave. If you’d like to turn weather references into a drinking game then feel free].
I’m going to skim over the journey part (basically, we flew into Düsseldorf because our flight was cancelled at the last minute and then a whole load of faff ensued – not the biggest fan of Eurowings right now) and skip straight to morning 1 in Cologne.
Morning 1: Cologne Cathedral and Old Town
Starting with the obvious hotspots, of course! It made sense to head straight to Cologne’s most iconic place, have a nosey around, and head from there. Even clad in scaffolding the Kölner Dom is seriously impressive, and one of those places you can’t help but say ‘how did they even make that?’. Since our day started later than planned (blaming the flight palaver for that one) we didn’t make it to the Cathedral as early as I’d hoped, so forgive the backpacks creeping into photos if you will. Needless to say it’s pretty busy round these parts, but 100% worth the crowds because it’s so beautiful.
Also 100% recommended is cooling off in the nearby fountains and artificial streams – I didn’t realise there would be so many places to kick off your shoes and have a paddle in the city centre!
Like I said on Instagram, Old Towns are almost always my favourite part of any city, and Cologne didn’t disappoint. The Old Town isn’t all pastel buildings and castles like these, but it’s still cobbled and cute and all that good stuff.
dress: TU clothing | sandals: Forever 21
Lunchtime 1: Dank Augusta
This place came recommended in our welcome pack and I’m so glad it was pointed out to us! I probably wouldn’t have headed away from the very center in search of lunch on such a short trip, but can tell you that the short subway journey is definitely worth it (and all public transport is included with a KölnCard anyway). Dank Augusta is in a botanical garden (so pretty that a wedding party were having their photos taken there when we arrived – definitely gawped from afar) and is all centred around a picnic theme. You choose your items – a selection of salads, meats and pretzels, in our case – and they pack it all into a little basket for you to eat wherever you’d like. How bloody lovely. We found a shady spot by the pond and I successfully ate beetroot salad without spilling a drop down my white dress. One of the proudest moments of my life.
Can totally see why you’d choose here for wedding photos!
Afternoon 1: River cruise along the Rhine
When you want to see more of the city but have tired legs, what do you do? Mini river cruise, simple. An hour of kicking back in the sun and watching the city go by was rather nice. Cologne has such a mix of old and new so it’s interesting to see it all whizz by with a commentary to describe certain parts.
Sunglasses: VIA Eyewear
Night 1: Cathedral, Schnitzel, and Kölsch
Golden hour light on a beautiful building can only be a good thing (and a photo opp, obviously). This was the longest day of the year and the late sun really added to the whole ‘holiday’ feeling. Naturally on our first night in Cologne we had to go for the obvious Schnitzel and Kölsch, and I actually drank a whole pint of beer for the first time in my life.
If I had to choose a favourite part it’d probably be the nights by the river – loads of people were kicking back on the grass, in the still warm air, with music playing and the occasional boat going by, and it was so bloody chilled and lovely. Not what I expected from this city, but I loved it!
Morning 2: A leisurely start at the Pullman Cologne
One of my plans for this trip had been to not have too many plans. Sometimes cramming your days can feel a little overwhelming, so I specifically didn’t want to be stomping around the city trying to keep to a military campaign style schedule. Cue the leisurely morning enjoying the mahoosive shower and sipping coffee whilst getting ready – no rush! The Pullman was so cushty and luxurious that we could have easily enjoyed kicking back and making the most of the facilities all day but alas nope, we had a city to explore. So a relaxed morning had to do the trick. I’m sure you can tell from the photos that the room was rather lush but two little things stood out to me at the Pullman too: 1) the toiletries included bottles of conditioner which hotels never seem to have, and 2) they had homemade iced tea in the foyer for the super hot days. It’s the little things.
Now I’m all for mixing things up food-wise but my breakfast will almost always involve a variation on fruit, yoghurt, oats and all sorts of seeds. With a mini croissant and ‘anti-aging smoothie’ on the side in this case. Let me know if you can see the effects of that one.
Morning 2: a trip to the Lindt chocolate museum
Pretty much everybody I spoke to about Cologne recommended a trip to the chocolate museum so there was no way we were missing this one. Learning about the history of chocolate production and the methods used in the present day was really interesting and obviously tasting a bite or two wasn’t a bad experience either!
Can somebody explain to me the thought process behind voluntarily going inside a ‘super hot and humid’ greenhouse when it was already super hot and humid outside? I’m struggling to figure out the logic in that one. But there I am, in a ‘rainforest style’ greenhouse, experiencing the conditions in which cocoa beans grow. Felt like those conditions outside anyway.
Lunchtime 2: Ice cream at an Old Town Eiscafe
Ice cream with a side of ice cream and more ice cream. I know a nutritious meal when I see one. I ate in many Eiscafes when I was in Leipzig and Augsburg years ago and needed to hunt one down in Cologne, which wasn’t difficult and didn’t disappoint. If only ice cream sundaes were appropriate for lunch every day.
Afternoon 2: Hohenzollern Bridge and the Rheinpark
How this thing doesn’t collapse under the weight of all those locks I do not know! And where everybody acquires padlocks from I don’t know either… quite the impressive sight to see though, both up close where you can nosy at the writing, and from afar where you can see all the coloured metal glistening in the sun.
Our plan had been to walk through the Rheinpark, chill out there for a bit, then take the Seilbahn (cablecar) back over the river, but 2 seconds after getting into a cablecar we were told to get out due to thunder warnings. So that plan was scuppered. More walking over more bridges ensued!
Evening 2: Crashing out on the huge bed
Self explanatory. 20,000 steps in 37 degree heat takes it out of you! At least it does if you’re a Brit, anyway. SO thankful for the huge bed and huge shower and blessing that is siesta time (even in Germany lol).
Night 2: dinner by the river and watching sunset over the bridge
How awfully cliché does that one sound? We chose somewhere nice and chilled for dinner though so the only cheesy part was my pasta. Compared to other cities, eating out in Cologne didn’t seem too expensive so it was worth choosing a nice location for the atmosphere outside. Aperol Spritz on the drinks menu was a must, too.
The photo obsessive in me couldn’t pass up checking out the bridge and view over the cathedral at sunset so another leisurely walk over was necessary. We didn’t have beers and speakers like some of the others hanging out there did but had a chilled half hour sitting around regardless!
Andddd Friday morning consisted of more breakfast and getting to the airport so nothing exciting to share there.
What do you think of this diary-style travel post? I’m hoping that it provides an idea of how much/what can be fit into a day, so might keep to this format for travel content in future. Let me know your thoughts please!
lily kate x
Our trip was partially supported by Cologne Tourism, however all opinions are my own.