(UPDATED JUNE 2017) Cologne (or Koeln in German) is a great lively city, the 4th biggest in Germany, it is located very close to Belgium. I have visited it during my 30 days Eurail trip around Europe. Check if it was worth the money here.
After I arrived, I immdeiately had an impression it is a young city with many students, where things are happening on every corner!
If you will open a regular tourist To-Do guide of Cologne you will only find some typical things to do in the city. For example, Cologne Cathedral, The cathedral and other popular attractions are great, no doubts!
But the point of this post is to give you a glimpse of the different side of the city. The side that you would probably not discover by yourself with any city guide book.
If you don’t want to pass by some very peculiar spots in the city and not even notice them, read on, you will find description of some funny details in this post!
1. Kölner Rathaus little joke
Here is your regular city hall, with statues on the wall, nothing special. What could go wrong, right?
But wait, look at the underlined statue! Do you see hmm… someone’s back part? It seems that it was the architect’s cruel joke that was not noticed at first. The statue belongs to someone, who probably was not loved much by the public, as no one ever said anything.
2. Brusseler Platz street art
Brussels square is a great great neighborhood that you absolutely have to check out! In my opinion, it is much better than the touristic center in terms of restaurants. Walking around there and noticing some guys drinking coffee on the balcony…
No, you are not crazy, it is also a statue! I specially left the name of the street so that you can easily find it.
3. The golden winged car
How about a huge car with wings made out of gold? Only in Cologne!
This car was created by an artist named HA Schult and is made out of gold completely. It was put somewhere else before, now they moved it here to Cologne City Museum and even elevated it on the tower. I have heard, that locals actually hate it and find it tasteless, but it is there nevertheless, and you can see it!
4. Banana sprayer
10 points for those who will notice a banana sign on many buildings in Cologne! They are literally everywhere!
It all started when Thomas Baumgaertel started to evaluate contemporary art museums in his own way – a banana on their door would mean he approves their existence, the museum is good.
His banana stencil pieces eventually became well known and now some museums even draw a banana on their door themselves. The inventor of the “banana evaluation” went to court and proved that it is his trademark and only he has the right to leave the banana signature!
Nowadays, you can find these bananas not only in Cologne but all around the world, for instance, in Guggenheim museum.
5. Eau de Cologne origin
Have you ever made the connection between Cologne, as the name of the city and Eau de Cologne 4711, the perfume?
Yes, exactly, that is where it was invented! Now it makes great sense, right?
And now, as we got the first part figured out, let’s think what is the second part stands for, 4711?
It is easier than you think, it was just the address.
In 1794 Napoleon implemented the system of house numbers. So, 4711 is actually an address where the perfume house was located. Now it is a museum, which you can visit.
Where to stay in Cologne
Since we started to talk about some unusual signs of Köln, I will also tell you about one really special hotel where I had a chance to stay.
Even its name Humboldt1 already tells us it is not your typical big chain hotel. Since the time you enter this eccentric hotel till the time you check out, you will feel like it belongs to some different world, a parallel reality even!
Shining lamps, bizarre looking check-in desk, interesting decor – all these made me expect my room will be special as well.
My expectations were confirmed – the room had a toilet cabin right in the room (there was some kind of curtain though)!
Was it a designer’s idea or they just did not bother to build the wall? I don’t know, but for me and my sister it was an interesting experience, we giggled all the time! 🙂
In terms of location – it is situated perfectly, all the tourist sights are in the walking distance.
The owner of the hotel, a woman named Anja is extremely nice and helpful, the breakfast was fresh and delicious. It was that big, it could hardly fit on the table! 🙂
I was very glad I chose Humboldt1 for my stay in Cologne. I saw the alternative side of the city and I stayed in an alternative hotel. It was just a perfect match.
Stay in this hotel if you are searching for something different, a special experience in a small hotel where you will get an individual treatment.
Other places to stay in Cologne:
I have carefully selected your accommodation suggestions according to your budget, all are located in the heart of the city and have fabulous reviews:
Luxury stay – (from 150 €) Excelsior Hotel Ernst am Dom is a luxury at its best, it offers award-winning cuisine and elegant rooms with a free minibar. Hyatt Regency Köln offers great views of the Cologne Cathedral, gourmet cuisine, and a free spa area with large indoor pool, Hyatt rooms are, as always, very stylish.
Good quality/price ratio – (50€ – 150€) Hotel Sandmanns am Dom – This 3* apartment is pretty good priced for all the advantages it has – it is close to everything and the service is amazing. If you prefer apartments, go for an amazing looking Apartment Unter Kahlenhausen – a cozy place in the heart of the city with all the facilities.
Budget stay – (up to 50€) if you are searching for a good inexpensive hostel, Weltempfänger Hostel with its clean shared rooms, guest kitchen and great atmosphere should definitely be your choice. If you are searching for a cheap double room, a hotel with unpronounceable name Die Wohngemeinschaft is for you – 9.2/10 rating, the prices for double starts at 30€, book in advance!
Other, more “normal” things to do in Cologne
Even though I shared some really unknown things with you, I cannot help but also tell you about the MUST DO ones! What if you miss them? 🙂
Here are some more typical, usual things that you should do while in Cologne
-The Koeln Cathedral-
The bell tower of the Cathedral – that is a number one thing you should do when in Cologne! Climb 573 steps of the Cathedral Tower to reach an amazing view to the whole city!
The construction of the cathedral has started in 1220, it was paused after 400 years of continuous works and it is still unfinished nowadays. Reminds of Sagrada familia in Barcelona, right?
PRICE: 4 EUR. (Don’t forget to take a student ID if you have one, you will get a 50% discount!). The entrance to the inside of the cathedral is free.
FUN FACT: Do you know why the cathedral has different colors? Somewhere it is blacker, somewhere it is yellowish. During the WW2 the tall cathedral was a great oriental point for pilots who bombed the city. They did not want to hit the cathedral, as it was so easy to spot the city from the air. But because they bombed everything else around, all the dust and bombed parts left their effect on the cathedral!
– KölnTriangle –
If you don’t want to climb those 573 stairs, alternatively, you can go up the KölnTriangle, no steps, you can take the elevator. And what is even cooler – you can actually see the Dome from there!
PRICE: 3 EUR
– Love Lock Bridge –
Hohenzollern Bridge (or just Love Locks bridge) is 400 meters long and it is filled with love locks from the bottom to the top, there is no square decimeter left!
It is the largest padlocks bridge in the world!
The government take the locks down once in a while because it gets too heavy and thus, dangerous. But otherwise, you can totally put yours if you want. Just that, you want your love to last forever, don’t you?
– Fat Peter –
Fat Peter (or St. Petersglocke) is the largest ringable bell in the world!
No wonder – its weight is approximately 24 000 kg and its diameter is 322 cm, can you imagine?
Feeling like it is still not enough, and you want to visit some more signs?
Do this, if you have some spare time in the city:
- Cable cars – an interesting way to see the city from a different angle. The price is 7 EUR return or 4,8 EUR one way. I have to war you though that the view is not that spectacular as you take the cable car near the park, not in the city center.
- Museum Ludwig – if you are an art lover you will appreciate this modern art museum, it houses one of the largest Picasso collections in Europe. The entrance is 12 EUR for adults and free for kids (under 18).
- Chocolate museum – Lindt chocolate built this Willy Wonka style museum with chocolate fountains etc. Fun not only for kids! Price: 9 Eur
- Mustard museum is free, you can do a lot of tastings there.
- Take a boat for a lazy afternoon. There are numerous boats crossing the river Rhine, which will show you many sighs from the different angle.
Try Kölsch beer – everything, which is brewed in the radius of 30 km from Koeln is considered to be Koelsh beer. This light beer is special because it is filtered from the bottom to the top. Which means, it loses its taste quickly. For this reason it is mostly served in small glasses of 0,2 L.
But be careful ordering it, you might not notice it, but your beer will be magically refilled all the time you finish your glass! It is done by default by waiters and you will doubtlessly be charged for it. But why not, huh?
If you want to give waiter a signal to stop refilling – just put a beer coaster on top of your glass.
FUN FACT: Cologne and neighboring Dusseldorf were always rivals. If you order a dark Dusseldorf beer in Cologne, not the light Koelsh one, don’t be surprised if the waiter will look weird at you! 🙂
Thank you very much for reading this post, let me know if you liked the post in the comments!
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If you also want to see the capital of Germany, check out my post on 22 things to do in Berlin!
Have you been to Cologne? Do you know any other unusual things in the city?