There are some places that seem custom designed to be tourist spots. Cologne, Germany's fourth largest city, is one of them. From its warm and friendly residents to its excellent public transport system to its many rich museums and galleries to its landmarks, attractions and year-round activities, Cologne (or Koln) is a natural magnet for tourists of all interests and beliefs. (It isn't known as the country's gay capital for nothing). Everything is a feast for the senses in Cologne so be ready to take it in. (And take home a bottle of the original Eau de Cologne.)
The magnificent Kolner Dom is the one of the top tourist attractions in Cologne. Considered among the standout cathedrals in the world, its wealth of treasures and majestic bearing leave visitors of all beliefs impressed. Cap your visit here by climbing the 509 steps to reach the steeple of the Kolner Dom South Tower and take in the view of the city from above the most regal cathedral in Germany. Die Kolner Synagoge is another house of worship whose architecture is worth a trip. In all, there are 12 Romanesque churches around the city, reflecting its fervor during medieval times. Of these, Gross St. Martin has the most photogenic exterior. Ready for more culture? There is a wealth of museums in the city as well. If you're pressed for time, be sure first to check out the Kolumba, which inspires visitors with an interesting combination of old and new religious art. Chocolate fans should not miss the Schokoladenmuseum Koln and art lovers should stop in to see the modern collections at the Museum Ludwig. If you have kids, take them to the Zoo or Phantasialand. Spas and massages are also big in Cologne. Try the spas and pools at Claudius Therme or Samudra.
Don't leave Cologne without sampling the local specialties, which include baked beef and black pudding. Many of the city's restaurants are in the old-town Alter Markt, Friesenstrasse, the Kwartier Lateng and the Ebertplatz areas. There are leisurely dining places in the Sudstadt district. If you want fast food, go to Hohe Strasse. Of special interest for the unique experience it offers is the Unsichtbar, a restaurant where the dining room is pitch black and the waitstaff are blind.
Don't leave Cologne without bringing home a bottle of its famous fragrance, Eau de Cologne, from the 4711 Perfumery and Gift Shop. The Neumarkt Galerie has shops and boutiques that cater mainly to shoppers in the market for clothes and shoes. Hohe Strasse is where you'll find most chain stores and department stores. It's a walking area so you can go from one shop to another until you drop (or max out your credit card). For high-end shopping, head to Mittelstrasse and Pfeilstrasse.
Innungstr. / Zunftweg 1 / Zunftweg 1