How would you spend 48 hours in Cologne?
What if you didn’t know you were going to Cologne until 48 hours before your flight departed?
This was the case for myself and 12 others who came together to take a WowTrip. What’s that, you ask? WowTrip is a company that builds your trip for you, takes care of all the details, and doesn’t tell you anything about it until you’re about to go!
Here’s how it works: you visit the WowTrip website with a few dates for a trip and adventure on your mind. Depending on the length of your trip and the dates you choose, the site will tell you the cost of the trip. Before you finalise, you’re able to remove cities from your list of options. The first is free and others are £5 each. Hit purchase!
48 hours before your flight you can log in to the WowTrip portal to check on the weather so you know what to pack. At the same time, you can find out where you’re going, or you can wait until you get to the airport. You’ll already be checked in, so you can easily wait until you’re standing in the terminal to download your boarding pass and head to the gate!
The only downside here is for those of us needing to print out boarding passes beforehand in order to complete the visa check for Ryanair flights (which I did)!
Soon enough we touched down in Cologne, Germany, where it was a balmy 29° Celsius. It’s a beautiful town, famous for Carnival in February, and great for a weekend city break.
Here’s your itinerary for what to see and do in Cologne.
Climb the 533 steps to the top of Cologne Cathedral
You can’t not climb to the top of something so beautiful! Once you’re done staring up at it, and then walking through it, pay the €4 to climb all the steps to the very top. The spiral staircase is narrow, and you’ve got people coming up and going down at the same time, but it’s not too small that you’d get claustrophobic. There are also small windows every couple turns for you to see how far you’ve gone!
The last stretch is a set of metal stairs that you can see through. They’re all enclosed, and inside the tower itself, but they still made me feel a bit wobbly. Thankfully though, they’re only to go up. The way down is also in a stone, spiral staircase that won’t bring out your fear of heights.
Take a walking tour
I think walking tours are the best way to see a city. We booked this tour through Koeln Tourism and were escorted around by a local for 90 minutes. Aside from showing us the rich history and gorgeous architecture of the city, he also was able to answer questions, provide restaurant recommendations, and direct us to the most famous bierhaus at the end!
Walk across the train bridge
For the best views on the ground, walk from the cathedral across the train bridge. You’ll recognize it as it’s covered with love locks. It’s a beautiful walk early in the morning before things get too crowded, and there’s a great place at the far end of the bridge to take photos with the Cathedral in the background.
Take photos of the colourful houses in the Old Town
Along the river you’ll find colourful buildings housing every kind of restaurant. Many are German, but you’ll also find a lot of Italian restaurants thanks to the high number of Italians living in the city. Spend some time wandering through the Old Town and of course, taking photos in front of the famous colourful houses and squares.
Have a picnic along the river
On the far side of the river, facing the cathedral, there are rows of built-in benches that people can perch to eat, chat, visit, or relax. We grabbed some snacks and a few bottles of prosecco and made a dinner of it! It’s a great place to watch the sun set over the Old Town.
Take in the view from the top of KölnTriangle
This one has the best of both worlds: a view and a lift! For €3 you can hop in an elevator to the top of a tower overlooking the city. It will give you 360° views and is great in the evenings. The only thing missing at the top is a bar.
If you’re a serious photographer it wouldn’t hurt to bring some glass cleaner, because the fingerprint reflections on the windows in the sun are difficult to hide in photos!
Drink Kölsch in a Bierhaus
There are a million and one places to drink beer in Cologne, many of which can hold 1000+ people. Früh am Dom is well known, and the service we received was fantastic. They keep tally of your drinks on your beer mat and you pay at the end! Make sure you have some cash on you, as with beer as cheap as €2.50, places were often pushing for cash only.
I’d also like to point out that I drank a decent amount of beer during my visit to Cologne, and I’d still classify myself as “not being a beer drinker.” Kölsch is their local beer and has a very light taste, perfect for us non-beer drinkers.
Try a Sweet Pretzel
You have to do it, even though I’m going to say I was a bit let down. I ate both the regular salty pretzels (okay, I had a few) and Cologne’s specialty sweet pretzels. These look like cinnamon pretzels covered in flaked almonds, and you’ll find them hanging gracefully in the window of most bakeries.
I think I was expecting a regular pretzel with a sweet twist, covered in almonds. What it was, however, was hard pastry shaped like a pretzel, covered in cinnamon and flaked almonds. It’s probably good if you go in to it knowing that!
Have a Schnitzel (even though Schnitzel isn’t German)
“Everyone comes to Germany and eats schnitzel even though it is Austrian. We have other German food you know,” one waiter told us as we ordered one schnitzel after another. I couldn’t help it, they’re so good! They’re also a pretty good deal if you’re travelling on a budget, and always come with fries.
And of course, always leave room for ice cream..
Have you been to Cologne? What other things did you get up to on your visit?
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