This blog was written by the very lovely Jadirah Sarmad, writer on her self titled blog, www.jadirahsarmad.com. She’s compiled her intimate knowledge of Cologne into this virtual tour of Cologne, Germany. I’ve linked the rest of her platforms at the end of the blog!
Given the current situation of the world, I am sure you must be wishing for a break at this point. While, one can only pray, bookmark this post for your next trip to Germany. Meanwhile, let’s go on a virtual tour of Cologne!
I consider myself lucky that Cologne was the city where my plane landed when I moved to Germany last year as an international student. The sight of ancient monuments and graffiti on the walls, makes it seem medieval and hipster at the same time. There is so much to see and explore that you definitely need to take a day trip to the mystical city of Cologne (once we have a vaccine for you-know-what).
PLACES TO SEE IN COLOGNE
Cologne Cathedral (Dom)
While the city is peppered with Romanesque churches, the Cologne Cathedral is the most magnificent of them all. It is one of the largest gothic churches in Europe and I was absolutely awestruck when I first laid my eyes on this towering twin-spired church from medieval times. Over the years, the sandstone that was used to build this cathedral has turned dark grey due to rain, and in turn, the Dom looks even grimmer and soul-stirring. The Cologne Cathedral is just as impressive on the inside, with extremely high and detailed with drawings stained glass all around. 700 years ago, much earlier than the advent of electricity, this is how the church was illuminated. Everything about this place reeks of power.
I have always been a water baby so that’s another reason why I love this city. Rhine River is one of the major rivers in Europe and if you come to Cologne, you can go for a cruise or spend a soothing day while just sitting by the river and enjoying the view of the whole city.
Hohenzollern Bridge a.k.a Love Lock Bridge
Over the Rhine River in Cologne, there is Hohenzollern Bridge which keeps the city connected as it is a railway bridge and leads you to the central train station. However, the bridge is also popularly known as the Love Lock Bridge as on the sides there are tons and tons of love padlocks that people put in hopes of staying committed to their partners forever.
Chocolate Museum (Schokoladen Museum)
If you are a chocolate lover, you definitely need to visit the Chocolate Museum in Cologne! The exhibit showcases an in-depth history of chocolate as well as how it is made in factories in the present times. Just talking about it makes me want to grab a bar of chocolate. This museum was built based on Hans Imhoff’s fantasy as a chocolate lover himself. With yummy streams of the chocolate fountain, you would be delighted when you visit.
PLACES TO SHOP IN COLOGNE
House Number 4711
This one is both, a place to visit and a place to shop at! Back in the early 1700s, an Italian living in Cologne, named Giovanni Maria Farina, created a
fragrance and called it ‘Eau de Cologne’, which means ‘Water of Cologne’. It was extremely popular amongst the royals and subsequently, a lot of other perfume makers of the time started calling their products Eau de Cologne as well. This is how the modern-day perfume got its name too.
Anyways, in the late 18th century, Wilhelm Mülhens developed a fragrance which is now known as 4711 Echt Kölnisch Wasser (Original Eau de Cologne), after undergoing some naming disputes. 4711 is one of the oldest colognes in the world which is still being sold and it is named after the house number which was assigned to the founder’s family when the French Troops were occupying the city of Cologne in 1794.
So I bet you do want to get your hands on the oldest colognes in the world as the formula has not been changed in 200 years while their product line has certainly expanded over the centuries. In order to do so, you must visit the shop of House Number 4711 on Glockengasse (Clock Tower Square) to take a whiff of history as well as this ancient scent.
In case you are curious on your virtual tour, the unisex perfume, 4711, smells fresh yet reeks of nostalgia with lemon, orange and bergamot being some of the top notes, rosemary and rose being the heart notes and musk being the base note.
Hohe Straße, which literally means ‘High Street’ is an extremely busy shopping street in the old town of Cologne. Being a shopaholic, I absolutely love this place as it houses all my favourite brands and even merchandise shops like Elbenwald where you can get action figures, posters, etc. of your favourite cartoons and superheroes.
Neumarkt Galerie is a shopping centre in Cologne and I personally just love it for going to Primark on my student budget.
I am adding Heumarkt to this list because I recently discovered a Zalando Outlet there and it is perfect for shopping from some higher-end clothing brands on sale!
I am sorry, I cannot complete this post without mentioning the Christmas markets of Cologne as they are a huge deal in Germany. I visited three Christmas markets last year and boy it was an experience of its own. I absolutely devoured some amazing German street food. So in case you visit around December, it is a must for you to visit one as well!
You can watch my German Christmas Markets Vlog on YouTube here:
PLACES TO EAT IN COLOGNE
Apart from the Christmas markets and street stalls that serve some authentic German food, I am yet to come across a proper German restaurant here. Even my German friends have no clue where to find one. So apparently when Germans decide to dine out, they want to try foreign cuisine. Therefore, please do not take me as someone ignorant. The places to eat mentioned below are the ones that I have personally been to on suggestions from my friends.
Händelstraße in Cologne is a street popular in Cologne for Indian Restaurants. Three of which happen to be Ginti, Ganesha and Royal Punjab. I have been to all of them and for my own desi taste buds; I find the flavours to be a bit watered down to appease the European palate. Nonetheless, I have always seen long queues outside so prior to the pandemic, these restaurants were always jam-packed.
If you want to read an in-depth review on each of the mentioned Indian Restaurants in Cologne, click here: jadirahsarmad.com/most-popular-indian-restaurants-in-cologne-germany/
Another place popular for food in Cologne is Ehrenfeld. This area mostly comprises of Turkish and Arab restaurants. You will find a Doner Kebab shop just about anywhere in Germany but Ehrenfeld has some of the best ones. Kebapland is my personal favourite. And that concludes our virtual tour!
While there is a lot more to unravel in this quaint metropolitan city, these have been my go-to places in Cologne and are perfect to cover in a day trip as most of them are in the vicinity of each other or just a small train ride away.
Go follow Jadirah!