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Things to do in Cologne

Cycle along the Rhine

Hire your own bike and explore the city's narrow cobbled streets. If you're feeling more adventurous, venture further afield along the Rhine and into Stadtwald forest and beyond. Speak to Radstation (www.radstationkoeln.de) about getting yourself set up with some wheels.

Discover the joys of the Olympics

Cologne's Sport and Olympic Museum (tel: +49 (0) 221 33 6090, www.sportmuseum.de) contains artefacts from ancient events through to modern day, and is an absolute must-visit for all Olympic history buffs. If all that makes you hungry, nip next door to the Chocolate Museum (tel: +49 (0) 221 931 8880; www.schokoladenmuseum.de).

Jump out of a plane. No really.

Why walk, run or cycle when you can hurl yourself out of a perfectly functioning aeroplane? You can skydive over Cologne with Sky-Fun (tel: +49  221 500 678 80; www.sky-fun.de/) – either on your own if you have the experience or strapped to someone else in a tandem jump if you don't.

Open your heart on the Love Locks Bridge

Some people say 'I love you' with flowers, some do it by composing irregularly rhyming poetry. Cologne's residents express everlasting commitment to their beloveds by snapping a natty padlock to the Hohenzollernbrücke, a bridge which overspans the river Rhine. So many padlocks have been snagged there, that they add an extra 22 tonnes of weight to the bridge.

See the Pop Art at Museum Ludwig

If you know your Warhol from your Lichenstein, Museum Ludwig (tel: +49 (0) 221 221 26165; www.museum-ludwig.de) will get your art heart filled to burst. It's home to one of Europe's largest collections of modern art, as well as around 900 works from Picasso, making it the world's third-largest after Paris and Barcelona.

Featured Hotels

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Grand Hotel Schloss Bensberg

Visitors are easily dazzled by the Grand Hotel Schloss Bensberg. Housed in a renovated baroque palace, each of the 120 rooms and suites maintains a sense of grandeur while supplying all the mod cons. Look out for the midnight blue ceiling above the swimming pool and spa. It's a way out of town but the payoff for that is the easy access to horse riding and golf.

Centro Hotel Conti

Rooms at this cheerful hotel in the Belgian quarter are on the basic side, with a bed, small cupboard and small TV. The decor is no-frills as well, but it is good value and sits above a great Thai restaurant. It is also close to other restaurants and shops and has its own car park.

Hotel Engelbertz

A family-run hotel in the centre of Cologne, the Engelbertz has clean rooms, each equipped with a satellite TV. But do come prepared for some noise after dark as revellers stumble home outside.

Hilton Cologne

Set in a quiet side street by the cathedral, this smart, sophisticated hotel has all the quality you'd expect from a large chain. Its trendy IceBAR, which serves its signature shot in a glass made of ice, and onsite Konrad restaurant are popular meeting places for locals.

Hopper Hotel St Antonius

This very reasonably-priced design hotel is housed in a historic journeyman's hostel and set within walking distance from the main railway station and the banks of the Rhine. It comes complete with an excellent restaurant, original modern artworks and one of Cologne's most popular private theatres.

Stern am Rathaus

Nestled in the heart of the Altstadt, between the Rathaus and the Dom, this small family-run hotel couldn't wish for a more central location. There are only ninw rooms here, but each is spotlessly clean, modern in design, and equipped with everything you'd expect from an international chain hotel.