I wouldn’t say that Cologne is a must do city trip but if you are doing a road trip of German or know that you will be close by I think it’s worth checking out. I know a lot of river cruises stop by Cologne with it being right on the River Rhine but it is certainly not heaving with tourists as many cruise ships destinations are. Plus, they have a whole museum dedicated to chocolate – who wouldn’t want to go there?!
What’s Cool To Know?
After New York, Cologne has the largest number of galleries in the world. It is home to biggest German tv and media networks and has the largest university in Germany and you get that cool university city feel when walking around.
Cologne is very walkable and on a sunny day, it is lovely to walk along the River Rhine and soak up the buzzing atmosphere of children splashing in the water play area, street performers with clapping crowds surrounding them, bustling restaurants lining the banks and long, low barges making their way along the water.
I would imagine it is just as nice during the winter if you’re wrapped up in a big coat and scarf but I have a feeling, it is at it’s best during summer.
Things To See And Do
The Chocolate Museum
Really the only reason you want to go to Cologne is for the chocolate museum, right? No? Well, it should be! The Schokoladenmuseum presents the history of chocolate right through to the latest products and production. Really, this museum should be called the Lindt Museum as they are partnered with it and provide all the chocolate!
The first thing you must do after purchasing your ticket is head to the second floor where the production machines are. Take the flight of stairs up to the next floor where you will see lots of different moulds. This is where you will find the chocolate bar. Here, you can get your own chocolate bar made. It isn’t expensive but it does take 45 minutes. So make your selections (on a helpful tick box card in multiple languages), submit this to the chocolate bar and then go and explore the museum. There is plenty to see from well designed information boards, videos, audio stands and interactive games. There are also some treasured silver and porcelain cups for drinking chocolate from pre-Columbian Mesoamerica.
Lindt (and many other chocolate producing companies) are very focused on fair trade and this was obvious through the information presented. It was interesting to see what is being done to ensure the fair trade of chocolate and how big companies ensure the future is still a chocolatey one.
Don’t miss the 3 metre high chocolate fountain which is their star attraction. The gold egg like structure sits at the back of the museum and a person dips wafers in the liquid chocolate and hands them out. I’d try asking for one for your “friend” as they are delicious.
There is also a tropicarium but I wouldn’t bother unless you have a very keen interest in plants and have never seen basic tropical plants before.
Watch the production of a single Lindt chocolate rectangle from churning liquid, mould setting, cooling, sorting and wrapping. You can even wait in line and receive a rectangle fresh off the production line!
When you are finished, pop back to get your very personalised chocolate bar and enjoy devouring!
There is no need to book tickets in advance for this museum. Just turn up and the queue is unlikely to be more than a 5-10 minute wait
The real reason you want to go to Cologne is more likely their world renowned cathedral. This is the type of gothic cathedral you imagine from films. A UNESCO World Heritage sight, it is the most visited landmark in all of Germany. It is currently the tallest twin spired cathedral at 157m tall.
I am not a religious person but I do appreciate beautiful buildings. Make sure you go inside this cathedral rather than just looking at the outside. It is almost overwhelming how tall, vast and majestic it is inside with so many beautiful stain glass windows. Interestingly there are also many statues and tombs that are viewable behind iron bars but the most impressive is the Shrine of the Three Kings. This gold triple sarcophagus is held in a glass box at the top of the altar and is said to contain the bones of the Three Wise Men. Whether you believe the story or not, the shrine and the cathedral are impressive and I would say this is probably the best cathedral I have visited to date.
The food isn’t much to shout about apart from the fact it’s typically German. We didn’t find any great restaurants or local eats but that isn’t to say they aren’t there. We didn’t have much time to explore their culinary scene.
We found that a private room in a hostel would be roughly the same as a budget hotel so opted for the latter option.