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Cologne tours and excursions

Cologne tours

Boat tours

There is a raft of companies competing for your attention when it comes to arranging boat tours in Cologne. Whichever you choose, cruising along the Rhine lets you see the city from another perspective. Some allow you to hop off when you reach the zoo; others keep you on board for the whole trip. Recommended operators include Köln-Düsseldorfer (KD).

Tel: +49 221 208 8318.
Website: http://www.dampfschiffahrt-colonia.de

Walking tours

The tourist board offers a pretty comprehensive range of city walking tours. Themes focus on perfume and chocolate, crime stories, dizzying heights and, of course, the best places to gulp down Cologne’s favourite drink: Kölsch.

Tel: +49 221 346 430.
Website: http://www.cologne-tourism.com

Kölsch tasting tours

More than “just beer,” Kölsch forms a fundamental part of Cologne’s identity. Barmen swizzle the glasses in their hands to make it look like a magic trick and – unless you stop them – the drinks keep on coming. Notches or piles of beer mats are typically used to calculate the bar bill at the end of an evening. A self-guided app tour can tell you more about the drink – and the best places to quaff it.

Website: http://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/beerhouses-tour-in-cologne-4675.html

Train tours

The Bimmelbahn can be a fun way to get about if you or the people you’re travelling with have any mobility issues. This brightly coloured tourist train snakes through Cologne, stopping off at the Chocolate Museum, the Zoo, the Botanical Gardens and the cable car. If you’re lucky enough to be here in the run up to Christmas, you can make the most of the festive cheer by catching the train to the Christmas Markets.

Tel: +49 221 709 9970.
Website: https://www.bimmelbahnen.de

Cologne excursions

Essen

Once an industrial powerhouse known principally for coal and steel, Germany's ninth largest city has immersed itself in culture over the last few years, earning the title of European Capital of Culture in 2010. Highlights include a Van Gogh museum, a selection of crown jewels and the Zollverein Coal Mine, which has UNESCO World Heritage Status. In 2017 Essen was awarded with the title European Green Capital. There are many themed cycle routes in and around this very green city. Essen is less than an hour from Cologne by train.

Tel: +49 201 887 2333.
Website: https://www.essen.de

Bonn

Bonn, the former capital of the Federal Republic, is a popular and easy 27km (16-mile) side trip from Cologne taking 19 minutes by train. Highlights include the 18th-century old town hall, the market square and the Bonn Museum of Art. The city also celebrates its most famous son, Ludwig van Beethoven, and you can visit his former house. It is also noteworthy that Bonn is one of Germany's carnival hotspots.

Tel: +49 228 775 000.
Website: http://www.bonn.de

Phantasialand

Phantasialand in Brühl, 17km (10 miles) from Cologne, is a theme park (open April to beginning of November and end of November to January). It has six theme areas, several roller coasters including the very long and fast roller coaster Taron and two hotels. Both the food and the shows take you into the fantasy versions of Asia and Africa and then off into Aztec and Mayan Mexico. Brühl itself is a pleasant town boasting two UNESCO World Heritage palaces.

Tel: +49 1806 366 200.
Website: http://www.phantasialand.de

Featured Hotels

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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.

Savoy Hotel

The individually designed rooms in the Savoy are themed around different world destinations. So whether you're slumbering in the San Tropez suite or sleeping in the Samurai room, this smart boutique hotel allows you to travel the world without wandering any further than the wardrobe. It also has an excellent restaurant and spa facilities.

Excelsior Hotel Ernst

This grand dame of accommodation in Cologne continues to impress with its sweeping spiral staircases, great service and central location. Rooms come in beige and earth tones or calming blue and white. Taku, one of Cologne’s most exciting restaurants, is housed here and the Piano Bar offers an interesting range of cocktails.

Hyatt Regency Cologne

If you're looking for luxury and arresting views, Hyatt Regency Cologne fits the bill perfectly. The spacious, well-appointed rooms look out onto the Rhine and towards looming towers of the Dom. It also has an indoor pool, fitness club and spa, and a restaurant housed in a panoramic glass atrium.