Choosing where to stay in Cologne is key to getting the most out of the city and the surrounding area. Book the right Cologne hotel using this guide to the city’s neighbourhoods.
Located on the eastern banks of the river Rhine, Old City is Cologne’s centre. From the city’s landmark cathedral, which marks the area’s northern point, narrow streets lead into the city’s historic quarter, where restored 14th- century houses mix with the city’s cluster of Romanesque churches. One of the most beautiful is the 12th-century Church of St Martin on Martinspförtchen. The likes of Warhol and Picasso occupy the walls of the Museum Ludwig, while, next door, the Roman-Germanic Museum takes visitors through Cologne’s archaeological past. At Rheinauhafen, in the area’s south, visitors can board a boat for a Rhine cruise.
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North of Cologne’s Old City, the central Neustadt-Nord is a modern, lively area. The glass and steel MediaPark complex hosts some of Germany’s most important TV stations and media companies, while the Belgian Quarter, between Aachener Strasse and Friesenplatz, is a prime nightlife spot. Cologne’s party-minded move from friendly bars like Six Pack to genre-bending clubs like Subway, home inside an old jazz cellar, while the Volkstheater Millowitsch has some of the city’s best comedy.
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Located across the river Rhine from Cologne’s centre, Deutz hosts the city’s Fair Trade Grounds, where renowned fairs like the photography show Photokina take place. The Lanxess Arena, formerly known as KölnArena, attracts big names in rock and pop, as well as high-profile handball and ice hockey games. From the area’s Kennedy Embankment visitors have a great view of Cologne’s skyline, especially at night, when the arches of the Hohenzollern railway bridge shine in front of the cathedral. Follow the embankment north towards the lush meadows of the riverside Rheinpark.
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Nestling against Cologne’s north-eastern reaches, the independent, medium-sized city of Leverkusen is a convenient base for a Cologne trip. The Baroque beauty of Morsbroich Castle, home to a vast collection of modern art, meets the imposing look of the Bayerwerk industrial plant. Stretching along the banks of the river Rhine, this symbol of the German post-war economic miracle has long earned its title as a sight in its own right. Frequent trains connect Leverkusen and Cologne’s centre in about half an hour.
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To the east of Cologne, the city of Bergisch Gladbach is a good base if you want to combine a Cologne trip with a hiking or cycling holiday. Small rivers criss-cross the deep forests and wide laws of the natural reserve Bergisches Land, which stretches east from here. In the city, the Museum for Mining and Craft takes visitors on a tour of the area’s industrial past. Frequent trains connect Bergisch Gladbach to Cologne in less than 45 minutes.
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