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Short breaks in Cologne – a world-famous cathedral and sweeping green spaces

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A Cologne short break gives you the best from this open-minded German city. Just book a few nights in a Cologne hotel and follow this inspirational itinerary

Cologne short break day one, morning

Start your Cologne short break at the city’s landmark Gothic cathedral. One of Germany’s most famous architectural sights, the UNESCO-listed church rises for 157m in the city centre. Step inside to explore the treasury, a precious collection of medieval sculptures, grave finds and clergy insignia dating back as early as the ninth century. A few minutes’ walk from here is Cologne’s Old Town, where colorful, restored 14th-century houses line the narrow streets. The area is home to Cologne’s line-up of well-preserved Romanesque churches. One of the most beautiful is the 12th-century Church of St Martin on Martinspförtchen.

Start: Cathedral
Nearest underground: Dom/Hbf

Afternoon

Stay in Old Town for a snack. The area’s pubs serve traditional Cologne fare like Halver Hahn, a large piece of Gouda with a rye roll and onions. Afterwards, the small Lintgasse pathway takes you to the river Rhine embankment. From here, the red and white boats of Köln Düsseldorfer take visitors up and down the river in an hour. Get a spot on the open-air deck for the best views of Cologne’s skyline, the green Rheinpark and the city’s bridges.

Start: Old Town
Nearest underground: Dom/Hbf

Evening

A short underground ride away, the Päffgen Brewery has been brewing Cologne’s top-fermenting Kölsch beer for over 100 years. Take a seat on a small wooden table inside the dimly lit tavern for an introduction to proper Cologne cooking: pork knuckles with sauerkraut or pickled roast beef.

Start: Friesenplatz
Nearest underground: Friesenplatz 

Cologne short break day two, morning

Start your day with a pick from Cologne’s museums. Picasso, Dalí and Miró share the walls with Warhol and Lichtenstein at the Ludwig Museum, next to the cathedral. A few minutes away, the mosaics and tombs of the Roman Germanic Museum take visitors through Cologne’s archaeological past. For a more unusual experience, head to Heumarkt, just south from here, where the Chocolate Museum provides a hands-on tour through 3,000 years of chocolate history. 

Start: Cathedral 
Nearest underground: Dom/Hbf 

Afternoon

If the weather co-operates, take a picnic to Volksgarten, followed by a pedal boat ride on the park’s lake. This is the beginning of Cologne’s Green Belt, a 7km stretch of parkland in the middle of the city. A leisurely walk along the pathways will take you past meadows, large trees and lakes to Universitätsstrasse underground station. 

Start: Volksgarten 
Nearest underground: Eifelplatz 

Evening

Cologne is a hot spot for live music. Venues like E-Werk and Palladium attract well-known names in rock and pop to Cologne’s Mühlheim district. The renowned Cologne Philharmonic, in the Old Town, is the place to round off a Cologne short break with a symphonic concert, a chamber performance or a jazz session. 

Start: Mühlheim or Old Town 
Nearest underground: Keupstrasse or Dom/Hbf