Cologne, Germany's oldest major city, is situated at the very heart of Europe. Traces of its 2,000-year history can be seen everywhere you look, making Cologne what it is today: a buzzing and dynamic urban centre with a unique ambience.
Cologne is known for its outstanding large-scale events, a highly developed cultural scene and a remarkable selection of restaurants and cafés. With sights including the cathedral – a UNESCO World Heritage site – and twelve Romanesque churches, Cologne is sure to leave a lasting impression. It also has a multitude of museums and galleries featuring an extensive range of exhibitions – not just about the city's history but also containing modern and contemporary works. Above all else, this exuberant, open and tolerant city on the Rhine is bursting with its own brand of joie de vivre. Come and see for yourself – you are sure to receive a warm welcome!
Considered Germany's television capital, Cologne is also a hotbed for music and home to the country's biggest university. It is a city for young people, with vibrant nightlife, fashionable cafés, ultra-hip shops and a relaxed atmosphere.read more »
Carnival – known as Fastelovend in the local dialect – is a central element of Cologne life. The city is turned on its head during the 'fifth season', providing visitors with fascinating insights into local traditions.read more »
Cologne Cathedral is not only the top attraction in the city, it also ranks number one in the whole of Germany. More than six million people visit this UNESCO World Heritage site every year. The people of Cologne have a very special relationship with 'their' cathedral.read more »
A total of 42 museums and around 120 galleries, featuring all kinds of works from every period, attest to Cologne's reputation as a city of art and culture. They include the Ludwig Museum, home to the largest collection of pop art outside the United States, the Museum of Applied Art and the Kulturzentrum, which opened on Neumarkt in 2010.read more »
Cologne is one of the most popular cities for shopping in Germany. The vast choice of stores, the individuality of the shops and the special charm of the different veedel (districts) make Cologne a popular destination for shoppers.read more »
Cologne is all about "urban lifestyle"– the metropolis on the Rhine has become a creative hotspot, offering residents and visitors all the things that make urban living such a rich and special experience.
Including, on the one hand, trends that play a part in shaping the city's living space and, on the other, a unique and deeply rooted neighbourhood culture (Veedelskultur) that Cologne's residents identify with on many levels. With so many things to see and do and a strong creative economy, the cathedral city promises to be a real experience for lovers of design, fashion, culture, music, festivals, food and more. As well as traditional businesses and established events, newcomers from different areas are setting the tone for city life. Cologne also has as a thriving start-up and fringe scene.
Design is another strong tradition in Cologne: the "imm" international interiors show is the leading interior design gathering and an annual showcase for industry trends from all over the world. The cathedral city boasts a lively art and cultural scene, ranging from classic institutions, such as museums, philharmonic orchestra, opera and plays, to a very vibrant independent scene. Many creative districts are home to a wide range of unusual studios as well as contemporary galleries presenting innovative urban art and street art by established or up-and-coming artists.
As a media city with many television broadcasters and production companies, Cologne also has a lot to offer cinema enthusiasts. The annual "c/o pop festival" in August is regarded as a trendsetter for modern pop music. Cologne has also hosted Europe's largest reggae festival, the "Summerjam", for the last 30 years.
Cologne currently boasts one of the most vibrant architectural landscapes in Germany. The Rheinboulevard has given the city a very attractive riverside promenade on the right bank of the Rhine.
The new staircase leading down to the river, spanning a width of 500 metres between the Hohenzollernbrücke bridge and the Deutzer bridge, has already become a popular meeting place for the city's residents and visitors.
The Rheinauhafen area, Cologne's historic harbour district, has now been developed into a strolling promenade with international style, revealing a modern side to Germany's oldest city. The district has become a creative hub, revolving around the three spectacular "Kranhäuser" buildings designed by the famous Hamburg architecture practice Bothe, Richter, Teherani. Old meets new in a harmonious fusion in the Rheinauhafen area. For example, the former granary in the harbour district, known as the "Siebengebirge" (seven mountains) due to its distinctive pointed gables, has been transformed into a stylish residential and office building.
The Weltstadthaus building has been an architectural highlight on Schildergasse since 2005. This striking glass palace by the renowned architect Renzo Piano is home to the Cologne branch of the Peek & Cloppenburg fashion chain. The building's shape, resembling a stranded whale, has given rise to its name of "Walfisch" (whale) among the city's residents.
Another architectural masterpiece is the "Kunstmuseum des Erzbistums Köln Kolumba" (Kolumba art museum of the Cologne Archdiocese), which moved into a striking new building in September 2007 designed by the Swiss star architect Peter Zumthor. The new building integrates the ruins of the original Romanesque St Kolumba church, destroyed in 1945.
The cathedral city of Cologne is a smart luxury destination with a lot to offer discerning visitors, from a wide selection of exclusive accommodation options to top-class cuisine.
The area around Mittelstraße and the "Belgisches Viertel" (Belgian Quarter) is a shopping paradise with its independent boutiques and flagship stores of premium brands. In the "Friesenviertel" (Friesian Quarter), you can find unusual galleries, antique shops and art dealers. In the neighbouring Belgian Quarter, designers and shop owners showcase independent fashion designs as well as high-quality brands and accessories.
Cologne's diverse cultural landscape also features exhibitions, productions and concerts of international standing in some extraordinary and flamboyant venues. Anyone seeking time out for rest and relaxation in this city of one million inhabitants can visit one of Cologne's many wellness spas. Cologne's distinctive charm permeates every aspect of your stay, characterised by a friendly and open attitude and exemplary professional service. Visitors to Cologne can choose from 300 hotels with 31,000 beds, including 10 hotels in the luxury category and another 46 offering first-class comfort, some featuring a special boutique or design style.
Cologne is also an experience when it comes to dining. As well as down-to-earth fare in typical Cologne breweries, a wide range of restaurants have captured attention with their sophisticated and creative cuisine. 10 top restaurants have repeatedly been awarded Michelin stars over the last few years; with "Le Moissonnier" being the only two-star rated establishment.
With over 3,000 venues, Cologne's diverse dining scene caters to every taste. A well as down-to-earth fare in Cologne's typical breweries, in recent years a whole array of restaurants have attracted attention with their sophisticated and creative cuisine.
Cologne's flavours can also be discovered in many specialist shops and at various culinary events. For a taste of Cologne's traditional lifestyle, visit one of the city's many breweries. The area between the cathedral, the Town Hall and the Rheinpromenade is home to a particularly high number of these traditional brewery inns. They promise a cool Kölsch (a top-fermented beer brewed only in Cologne and served by the waiters, called "Köbes") served in special "Kölsch-Stangen" glasses. This refreshing beer is ideally accompanied by Cologne specialities, such as "Halver Hahn" (buttered rye bread with gouda cheese, pickles, onions and mustard) or "Kölscher Kaviar" (blood sausage with raw onion).
While Italian and Mediterranean restaurants dominate the international dining scene, countless other nations – from Ethiopia to Vietnam – also serve their traditional fare in Cologne. The city's many bistros and cafes also offer Cologne's residents and visitors traditional German hospitality. Enjoy home-made cakes, sweet treats or savoury snacks and watch the world go by on the busy street.
In the last few years, Cologne's culinary portfolio has been expanded by a growing number of restaurants serving sophisticated and creative cuisine. Eight top restaurants have been awarded Michelin stars, with "Le Moissonnier" receiving an excellent rating of two stars. The Gault & Millau restaurant guide awarded 19 Cologne restaurants scores of 12 to 18 points for their outstanding cuisine.
Automotive production is a key industry in Cologne and the wider region. The early history of the automotive industry originates in Cologne with the invention of the famous Otto engine. Cologne's automotive expertise has been perpetuated to the present day.
Companies from all over the world have chosen Cologne as the location for their head offices, including famous names such as Citroën, DAF, Mazda, Renault, Volvo, Nissan and Toyota. The most important and largest producer in Cologne is, however, the Ford-Werke plants, which have their European headquarters here and operate one of Europe's most cutting-edge car factories. With a workforce of some 20,000 people, it is the city's largest private employer.
Television capital, insurance metropolis and healthcare centre of excellence – these are just a few more attractions the business location of Cologne has to offer. A diverse and innovative mixture of industries, consisting of well-known large companies and a dynamic SME sector, has taken up residence in the Rhine metropolis. The city also boasts a strong digital and internet economy. The huge economic strength of one of Germany's largest regions is also clearly illustrated in international comparisons. For centuries, the Cologne economic region has traditionally been regarded as a centre of trade and industry.
Koelnmesse, the sixth-largest trade fair and exhibition centre in the world, is an impressive example. An increasing number of German and international companies are moving to the largest city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most highly populated state. Some 17 million people live within a radius of just 100 kilometres around Cologne, making the region an attractive area for investment. More than 900 industrial companies are now taking advantage of Cologne's excellent local conditions.