Cologne: city panorama with Cologne Cathedral ©DZT (Udo Bernhart)

Inspiring Germany

Cathedral city with fan culture

Cologne locals are just as enthusiastic about their team, 1. FC Köln, as they are about their cathedral and Carnival. A visit to the city is only complete after trying a Kölsch and taking a ride on the Rhine.

And who's that standing on the sidelines during home games? Geißbock Hennes, the live billy-goat mascot of 1. FC Köln is named after former coach Hennes Weisweiler. Hennes keeps up with the times: he has his own Facebook page and a webcam in his enclosure at the zoo. The loyalty of Cologne fans to their traditional club is evident in the emotions that flood the stadium when they sing the FC anthem with fervor. The team has nearly 1,000 fan clubs. Sports fans from all over the world should pay a visit to the German Sport and Olympic Museum in Cologne. The museum provides an exciting insight into the history of sport and a playing field on the roof with a fantastic view invites you to get actively involved.

Historic cathedral, modern art

The cityscape is dominated by the mighty Cologne cathedral, one of the most-visited landmarks in Germany and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This Gothic masterpiece has been undergoing building and restoration work for nearly 800 years. That's a good thing: it's said that the world will end when the cathedral is complete. Beside this holy building is another architectural marvel, the Ludwig Museum, which is top-tier when it comes to modern art, especially for fans of Pop art.

Return to the Ancient Romans

Take a look at some older pieces – 2,000 years older, in fact – at the Romano-Germanic Museum. Through the front window, spy the famous Dionysis mosaic, on which the G8 heads of state dined in 1999. Paradise calls from the Chocolate Museum in Rheinauhafen, where an actual chocolate fountain bubbles away – you're even allowed to taste it.

Altstadt pubs and trendy bars

It only takes two minutes to get from the station at the cathedral to the scenic Altstadt, where gabled houses and quaint pubs await, some quite lively. The heart of the city beats in its buzzy inner neighbourhoods: locals and guests mingle in the Südstadt or the Belgisches Viertel. Alongside trendy bars, homey pubs and fine-dining restaurants, you'll find a number of unique shops and boutiques, plus more alternative options. Spend the evening on the lively Ringe or in the Friesenviertel.

Specialty beer in a small glass

Locals of Cologne prefer to drink Kölsch during Fasching (Carnival) and beyond. Those who aren't familiar with the traditional small glasses might wonder why they're so popular. But it only takes a few sips before the light ale, which can only be brewed here, wins you over. Local restaurants serve their Kölsch alongside "halven Hahn" – not a chicken, but a rye bun with medium-aged gouda.

Boat ride on the Rhine

Cologne and the Rhine are one and the same. A boat ride on the Rhine gives you the most beautiful panoramic views of the cathedral, Altstadt and the Kranhäuser. If you have time, take a trip south of Cologne to Brühl, where kids and adults alike can enjoy the Phantasialand amusement park. Nearby you'll find the gorgeous Augustusburg Palace and the Falkenlust hunting lodge, both must-sees for lovers of Baroque architecture.