Cologne (German: Köln, Ripuarian: Kölle) is situated on the river Rhein in North Rhine-Westphalia and is the fourth largest city in Germany with around 1,000,000 inhabitants. It is one of the nation's media, tourism and business hotspots. Cologne is known to be one of the most liberal cities in Germany.
The distinctive flavour to the city of Cologne is often linked to the city's inhabitants, or Kölsche, who take an enormous amount of pride in their city. Cologne is a traditionally Ripuarian-speaking city, though this has mostly been replaced by German, which is now the main language of the city. English-speaking guides and information are available for many of the landmarks of the city. For tourists who speak German and wish to practice it, the citizens usually have a lot of patience with those trying to come to grips with the language. Cologne's citizens are very friendly and jovial people, welcoming tourists of all types and with all interests.
Away from the landmarks, workers of the Deutsche Bahn (German railways) often speak English reasonably well, and ticket machines have a language selection feature. In general, older people in Cologne tend to have little or no knowledge of English, while younger Germans and those working in the business world tend to be reasonably proficient. Language is rarely a strong barrier, so this shouldn't be too much of a worry for the average tourist. Just approach a friendly native and use a smile on your face.
Cologne has an excellent public transport network consisting of trams, local trains and buses. Bicycles are also available for hire on the northern side of the Hauptbahnhof. Local transport systems rarely provide announcements in English, but network maps are commonly available to assist with your journey. Those wishing to explore area away from the central city should plan their journey and potential connections before leaving. The KVB (Kölner Verkehrs-Betriebe) website  is a good source of public transport information.
The climate of northwestern Germany is changeable, with seasonal changes and day-to-day weather often comparable to that of the United Kingdom or Northern France. Travellers to Cologne can expect the hottest time of the year to be July (in July 2010 the temperatures were above 30 degrees for several days) , the coldest is January (temperature hovering around the freezing mark) and the month with the most precipitation is June.
German is of course the language of this city but it is very easy to find information in French and English, also sometimes in Spanish and Japanese. Due to a large number of immigrants, Persian,Turkish, Polish and Russian are also widely spoken. Announcements in the main train station (Hauptbahnhof) are in German, French and English.
Cologne has an (inter)national bus station (ZOB); it is located at Breslauer Platz on the north side of the Hauptbahnhof. Direct daily buses to Serbia and alternate daily buses to Montenegro.
Cologne Bonn Airport (IATA: CGN), , handles international and domestic flights and is a hub for the low cost airlines Germanwings  and TUIfly . The airport is approximately 15 minutes by S-Bahn (local train) to the center of Cologne. S-Bahn fare (ticket zone 1b) is currently €2.60 one-way.
Düsseldorf International Airport (IATA: DUS),  The Düsseldorf airport offers many intercontinental connections. Train ride from the airport train station to Cologne central station takes about 40 minutes.
Frankfurt Rhein Main International Airport (IATA: FRA),  is the largest airport in Germany, served by all major international airlines. ICE (InterCityExpress) high speed trains connect Frankfurt Airport and Cologne central station in less than one hour. Standard one way fare is €58. If you book your Deutsche Bahn train ticket online three days before your departure to Cologne, there are a limited number of seats at a reduced price of 30-50%. If you pay full price you do not have to take a specific train, but discounted tickets are restricted to the train on your reservation. Note: Trains via Koblenz, which use the slower, yet extremely scenic route along the Rhine Valley are also 30% cheaper. The ICE train takes about one hour, the slower more scenic route takes about two hours.
Central Railway Station
Cologne is served by two major train stations - Köln Hauptbahnhof and Köln-Deutz.
Cologne is linked with Amsterdam, Brussels, and Paris by Thalys and ICE High Speed trains. Additionally, the Frankfurt airport (IATA:FRA) has direct service to Cologne and is within one hour by ICE trains.
As of January 1, 2008, Cologne requires all cars to have a "Low Emissions" sticker in order to drive around in the city center (Low Emission Zone, "Umweltzone"). Information on obtaining a sticker (which must be done at least several weeks in advance) is available here .
Plenty of motorways (Autobahns A1, A4, A3, A57, A555) lead to Cologne. During rush hour the streets are heavily congested, also due to massive construction of a new subway tunnel Nord-Süd Stadtbahn, crossing half the city centre.
For cheap parking, with quick connections to central cologne, use park and ride ("park und ride"). At some stations, parking is free when you present a validated transit ticket on exit. More info can be found here .
Find a street map, also showing where you can switch into a KVB subway, S-Bahn or Bus here .
Cologne has a very good subway/tram and bus network "KVB" (Kölner Verkehrsbetriebe); one- and three-day-passes are available. The tickets are valid for subway, tram and regional train within the VRS-network. Trips within the city limits require zone 1b tickets. For short trips of up to 4 stops on subway, tram or bus there is also the slightly cheaper "Kurzstrecke" (short trip ticket). A map of the network should be found at any station, and official Kölner Verkehrsbetriebe cologne station maps are available online here .
Cologne's subway and tram-system, or U-Bahn, is a mixture between both systems: A subway line can go on street-level and end up as a tram or vice versa. There are vending machines or ticket-offices at larger stations The trains and buses also have vending-machines. See the public bus, tram and subway-company KVB  for printable maps of the bus/tram/subway system and  for their official street map  of Cologne.
Regional Trains are known as "S-Bahn", "Regional-Bahn" and "Regional Express". Most of them don't have ticket vending-machines so remember to buy a ticket at the station.
Cologne has, like Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt, a Call A Bike - System. After you register for an account online, it will charge your credit-card a per minute fee. You can pick up or drop off one of the silver-red bikes anywhere in the city. See here  for details. It is also possible to rent a bike at many different places, by bike is maybe the best way to go around in the city.
But, on the whole, the centre of Cologne is not that big for a city of one million. It is entirely feasible to walk from one end of the centre, say, the Rudolfplatz, to the other end, say, the Dom, on foot in half an hour.
Student Travel Tip: Student travel til 20 years can be very cheap to and from Cologne, as well as the state North Rhine-Westphalia. The German rail company (DB: Deutsche Bahn) offer a 'SchöneFerienTicket NRW' during student holiday times and allows free travel throughout Northrhein Westphalia on local buses, trams, U-Bahn, S-Bahn and Regional-Trains. Prices range from around € 54 for summer holidays to € 25.50 for Easter holidays, but prices and tinmes change year-on-year.
The ticket is available to anyone with valid student identification (student union card, enrolement card etc.) and personal identification (passport, driving licence etc.). Note: the ticket is only valid for student holiday dates of Northrhein Westphalia and the ticket is not valid for high speed express trains. Visit/contact Deutsche Bahn  for more information before travelling to Germany.
Rhine-Shore with Church Great St. Martin, City Hall Tower, Museum Ludwig, Cologne Cathedral, Hohenzollernbrücke (bridge)
Kölner Dom, (U-Bahn: Dom / Hbf), . Monday - Sunday: 6.00 - 19.30. Protected by UNESCO , Cologne's Dom is the first sight you will notice when taking the main exit from the central station. (If you don't see it, you've taken the back exit.) If you are in good shape, take the 509 stairs to the top of the south tower. It takes about an hour, so wear comfortable shoes, but it's worth the hike. Touring the Cathedral is forbidden during Mass. Entry into the cathedral is free but you will be asked for a donation. Admission to the tower costs (regular/reduced): €3/€1.50. Admission to the treasury costs (regular/reduced): €4/€2, however, a combined ticket granting you admission to the treasury and tower can be purchased for (regular/reduced): €6/€3.
12 Romanesque Churches: St. Kunibert (with wonderful stained glass windows), St. Severin, St. Maria Lyskirchen, St. Andreas, St. Aposteln, St. Gereon, St. Ursula, St. Pantaleon, St. Maria im Kapitol, Groß-St. Martin, St. Georg and St. Cäcilien.
Die Kölner Synagoge, Roonstraße 50 (U-Bahn: Zülpicher Platz), ☎ +49/(0)221/921560-0 (fax: +49/(0)221/921560-9), . The synagogue is notable for its architecture that looks, well, right out of Gotham City. The Torah within the synagogue was rescued by a Catholic priest from another synagogue as it was being burned during Nazi rule. In August of 2005 Pope Benedict XVI visited the synagogue, becoming the second pope to ever visit a synagogue.
Veedel - City Quarters. Cologne is well known for its "Veedel" or traditional neighborhoods. Here, most notably in the bohemian Agnesviertel, you can find independent designers, bookshops, bars, and art galleries. There are also historical monuments, such as the North City Gate or Eigelsteintorburg in the Agnesviertel, very near to Fort X, built to protect the city from French attacks, and Agneskirche, a late neo-gothic church on the boulevardesque Neusserstrasse. Neusserstrasse also has a yoga school, an Aikido school, a japanese restaurant, a well-stocked bookshop, and a range of pubs. Nearby you will find the Alte Feuerwache, where there are regular exhibitions on political topics and a surreal flea market every four weeks in summer. Opposite Alte Feuerwache is the Artclub, with regular exhibitions of contemporary art, and on Ebertplatz there is a cinema (Metropolis) which shows films in the original(Mostly English, but sometimes also french or spanish). On nearby Lübeckerstrasse, you will find the uncompromisingly Arty Filmpalette cinema. To round off a trip to the Agnesviertel, you might like a kölsch in the Lapidarium (right beside the North City Gate) or a coffee in Cafe Schmitz, Cologne's grooviest poser hangout (they also do a great breakfast.) All of these great places are within a short walk of Ebertplatz U-Bahn. Other "Veedel" include Ehrenfeld, Nippes, and the historical Südstadt.
Hohenzollern Bridge: Also called the Locking Bridge. If you walk to the back of the Kölner Dom along a straight path, there is a bridge on the Rhine to your right that is covered in padlocks. The locks are placed there by couples to show their loyalty to each other. Couples often have their names and a significant date inscribed on the locks. There are other places across the world that have "love padlocks".
Rheinauhafen (Harbour): This completely rebuilt area combines modern extravagant architecture with historical harbour buildings. The old Rheinauhafen opened in 1898 and became necessary due to increasing amount of freight traffic. The new Rheinauhafen is a mix of office buildings and apartment buildings and restaurants. Directly located on a peninsula at the Rhine (1 km southern of Heumarkt), it is an invitation for a beautiful walk along the river or for having lunch or dinner.
Parks: Cologne has 2 park areas (Grüngürtel) encircling the city (immediately outside the medieval city limits) and nearly the entire town, respectively, which were set aside as public recreation areas after World War I. The inner Grüngürtel is probably more easy to reach for tourists who only stay a few days. Most notably are Volksgarten, Rheinpark, Hiroshima-Nagasaki- (colloquially known as Aachener-Weiher-) and Stadtgarten parks where thousands of people come together to enjoy the sun, play and barbecue when the weather is fine. All these parks have an associated beer garden. Be aware to dispose any packaging, charcoal etc into the wastebins (which are unfortunately few and far between), as the city has begun to employ anti-littering patrols that will levy a stiff fine on anyone seen littering. Metro: Eifelplatz for Volksgarten, Universitätsstraße for Hiroshima-Nagasaki-Park, Hans-Böckler-Platz/Bahnhof West for Stadtgarten, Bahnhof Deutz for Rheinpark.
Flora and Botanical Garden – Admission free.
Museums and Galleries
Cologne has one of the world's best collections of museums and galleries for a city of its size. As well as world class museums of art and archaeology, Köln boasts two museums of ecclesiastical art, both housed in architecturally stunning buildings. There is also an ethnographic museum, a chocolate museum, the German Sport Museum and an abundance of Roman remains. One can purchase a MuseumsCard from one of the municipal museums (such as the first five listed below). The family card, which costs approximately €28, entitles 2 adults and 2 children (under 18) free admission to each of the municipal museums during two consecutive opening days. On its first day of validity, it can also be used as a ticket on all buses and trams on the local transportation system VRS.
First Thursday of each month (except public holidays): free admission for all residents of Cologne to the permanent exhibition.
Museum Ludwig, Bischofsgartenstraße 1 (U-Bahn: Dom/Hauptbahnhof), ☎ +49/(0)221/221-26165 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +49/(0)221/221-24114), . Tuesday to Sunday: 10AM - 6PM. A museum of modern art, near central station and the Dom hosts a worthy regular exhibition, as well as temporary exhibitions. Regular: € 10, Reduced: € 7, Families: € 20.. (50.940322,6.960718)
Museum für Angewandte Kunst (Museum of Applied Art), An der Rechtschule (U-Bahn: Dom/Hauptbahnhof (10 min walk)), ☎ +49/(0)221/221-23860 (email@example.com, fax: +49/(0)221/221-23885), . Tuesday - Sunday: 11AM – 5PM. Museum für Angewandte Kunst has a collection of popular design items, as well as temporary exhibitions. Admission: Regular: € 6, reduced: € 3.50, permanent and special exhibitions: € 7.50 €, reduced: € 4.50 €.
Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud, Martinstraße 39 (U-Bahn: Dom/Hauptbahnhof plus 10 minutes walk, U-Bahn: Rathaus from Dez. 2012, Tram Heumarkt, Bus 132 Rathaus or Gürzenich), ☎ +49/(0)221/221-27694 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +49/(0)221/221-22629), . Tuesday to Sunday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Every Thursday till 9 p.m. The Wallraf-Richartz Museum is an art gallery with a collection of fine art from the medieval period to the early twentieth century. Admission: (permanent collection and special exhibition) € 8, reduced € 4,50.
Römisch-Germanisches Museum, Roncalliplatz 4 (Adjacent to the Cathedral's right side from its main facade.), ☎ +49/(0)221/221-22304 (email@example.com, fax: +49/(0)221/221-24030), . Tuesday - Sunday 10 AM - 5 PM. Römisch-Germanisches Museum explores the history of Roman history in Cologne and the surrounding area. The museum's tour guides are exceptionally dull and can make any visit seem like it lasted just as long as the Roman empire. If you can, wander around the museum by yourself. Info: englishAdmission: € 6, reduced € 4.
Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum – World Cultures, Cäcilienstraße 29-33 (U-Bahn, tram: “Neumarkt” (5 min walk)), ☎ +49/(0)221/23620 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +49/(0)221/3369410), . Tuesday to Sunday: 10PM – 6PM Thursday: 10AM – 8PM. North Rhine-Westphalia's only ethnological museum, it has a fine collection of Amerindian and Australian-Polynesian artifacts. Admission to the permanent collection: 7 €, reduced: 4.50 €, permanent and special exhibitions: 9 €, reduced: 6 €.
Kolumba - Diocesan museum, Kolumbastraße 4 - 50667 Köln, . A Christian art museum. An architectural wonder and a feast for the senses; this museum, built in concordance with the ancient foundations of the shrine of mary in the rubble contains a selection of historical and contemporary religious art. Worth visiting just to explore the spiritually inspiring spaces and the beautiful walkway through the ruins of the past .
Schokoladenmuseum (Museum of Chocolate), Am Schokoladenmuseum 1a, D-50678 Cologne, ☎ Tel.: +49 (0)2232 156485, . Opening hours: Tues. to Fri. 10PM to 6PM Sat., Sun., holidays* 11PM to 7PM closed on Mondays (* see visitors' information) Last admittance one hour before closing. Chocolate Museum in Cologne. It's a short visit but very interesting exhibits.8.50 €.
Cologne's strong side is its cultural life. For latest information on what is happening around in town, get the "StadtRevue" (2 Euro), "Kölner" (1 Euro) or "Live" (Free). See also the official website .
Kölner Karneval(Cologne Carnival ) – The biggest festivity in Cologne is the Winter carnival (or Fastelovend) in February. According to the official Cologne tourism website: "Its highlight is the street carnival taking place from Weiberfastnacht (Women's Carnival Day), the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, traditionally the day on which women take control of the city to Karnevalsdienstag (Shrove Tuesday). On Rosenmontag (Shrove Monday) more than one and a half million people line Cologne's streets to watch the parade with the mad triad – the prince, farmer, and virgin – every year." Dates for Carneval: 2013 Feb 07st to Feb 12th
COLOUR Cologne party at the 2008 Cologne Pride
Cologne Gay Pride (Christopher Street Day) ; Cologne Pride is a large gay pride festival held in Cologne annually on the Heumarkt square. The event showcases music, a candle light vigil remembering those with HIV/AIDS, and on the final day of the festival a large parade is held. Recently, up to a million people have attended the events.
Kölner Lichter(Cologne Lights) – light up the sky in flames between the Hohenzollern and Zoo bridges. – Coming Events: 13th July 2013, 19th July 2014.
Kölner Seilbahn; Riehler Straße 180; Phone: +49 221-547-4183 (Line open until 6 PM); ; Hours: April - October 10 AM - 6 PM; Take a ride with the Aerial tramway across Rhine river, Germany's only cablecar crossing a river! Price: Adults: One way - € 4.50, Return trip - € 6.50.
The Zoo; Riehler Straße 173; Phone: +49 221-7785 - 0; Email: email@example.com; ; Hours: Summer: 9 AM - 6 PM, Winter: 9 AM - 5 PM, Aquarium: 9 AM - 6 PM; Admission: Adults: €15, Teenagers (Aged 13 - 17): €10 Children (Aged up to 13): €7,50
Phantasialand -Berggeiststr. 31-41 (In the town of Brühl); Telephone +49 ; Hours: 9 AM - 6 PM, Rides open at 10 AM, Ticket office closes at 4 PM; - Phantasialand is a fun place for children and has some fun rides for adults too. Even the Colorado Adventure roller coaster was sponsored by Michael Jackson. Admission: Children: (Up to one meter in height) - Free, Children: (Between one meter and 1.45 meters) € 18, Adults: €38.50, Senior citizens: € 18.50, Two day passes available.
Claudius Therme, Sachsenbergstraße 1, ☎ Telefon: (0221) 981440, . 09.00-24.00. Just below the Kölner Seilbahn is the Claudius Therme. Spend a very relaxing few hours unwinding in both indoor and outdoor pools, saunas, cold plunge pools, etc. Several areas are naturist (not clothing optional). Towels are available to rent and food and drink is served on-site. One nice option is to take the Kölner Seilbahn to the Therme and return by bus (directly in front of entrance) to Köln Deutz Station where you can catch U-Bahn back to the City Centre.
Metropolis Cinema, Ebertplatz 19, ☎ Telefon: (0221) 722436, . 15.00-24.00. If you want to go to the movies while visiting Cologne and you don't know German, this is the cinema for you. In the evenings it shows movies in their native language, but mostly English.
Cologne Tourist Office; Unter Fettenhennen 19 (Directly opposite the front entrance of the cathedral); Phone: +49 221-221304 00; ; Hours: Monday - Friday 9 AM - 10 PM, Saturday & Sunday 10 AM - 6 PM. Take the U-Bahn to 'Dom/Hbf'.
The Cologne Tourist Office offers a wealth of information for the traveller who wishes to fill their itinerary with activities around the city. Ask about guide books that are available, most of which provide invaluable information for free. 
KD Rhine River Cruise; Frankenwerft 35; Phone: +49 221-208 83 18; . Departure times: Daily: 10:30 AM, 12:00 PM, 2:00 PM, 6:00 PM; Köln-Düsseldorf offers cruises of the Rhine river around the Cologne area with an explanation of landmarks. €6.80
Stattreisen e.V.; Phone +49 221-7325113; . This non-profit organization offers excellent tours of Cologne, led by volunteers. The prices are moderate and there is a huge list of tours, including (besides the more regular tours) Koelsch tours (for testing the breweries) or language lessons in the local dialect (again, in a brewery). Ask for English tours, some guides are willing to conduct a normally German tour in English.
Rickshaws: environmentally friendly city tours;;. Rickshaws are exotic and environmentally friendly tricycles, that bring slowly and safely their passengers to their destination. By Rickshaw you will discover Cologne’s points of interest in a comfortable way.
Stadtstreicher Stadtführungen; Phone +49 221-124666; . Duration of tours: 1 - 2 hours; Stadtstreicher which translates to 'town tramp' offer more than thirty guided walking tours for groups of any size. Tours are conducted in German but do ask for a translator. This is a great place to look for a truly local experience.
Spa and Massage
Beauty and spa treatments are popular in Cologne.
Just be aware that in typical German style, all sauna areas (referred to as Saunalandschaften, i.e. Sauna landscapes) are mixed (apart from the odd Damentag) and that bathing costumes are banned from them for hygienic reasons. Yup. Starkers, everybody.
Do take a bathrobe (to keep you from the cold outside the saunas) and a large towel (to put under you in the saunas, no sweating on the wood, please) with you, though.
Do not draw hasty conclusions either: mixed nudity does not make those places dens of sin, quite the contrary. Nudity is considered as the only appropriate outfit in saunas, and it all happens in a disciplined, wholesome, safe and respectful atmosphere. Possibly one of the highest forms of German civilisation one can experience.
Gawkers and bathing costume-wearers will be expelled by the staff without qualms, so don't even think you can get away with playing the tourist who didn't know, it won't make a difference.
That very matter-of factly, unerotic approach to mixed nudity may well turn out to be a revelation to many visitors open-minded enough to give it a try and go with the flow.
You've been warned!
Claudius Therme Large spa with pool and lots of different saunas (indoors and outdoors) next to the Rhine, north of Deutz.
Mauritius Therme Decent Saunalanschaft in an hotel south of Neumarkt.
Mediterana, 11 saunas and a huge pool, in Bergisch Gladbach, East of Cologne.
Neptunbad, located in the popular area of Ehrenfeld in an old renovated bath, to which an attractive "sauna landscape" in Japanese style on two levels has been added. Also a comprehensive fitness center.
Saunas in public swimming pools Some of the public swimming pools managed by the Cologne city council, notably Agrippabad, do have small Saunalandschaften too, all featuring a Damentag (ladies only day).
Ananda, Tantra massage, an open minded and liberal attitude essential because the massages include sexually sensitive body parts, however, no sexual services are given by the employees.
Samudra, floating tanks and wellness massages.
Sukon - Thai Art Of Massage, Traditional Thai Massage - Institute, located in the city center. Thai native Massage- Therapists practise in the 160m² thai-styled studio original Royal Massage, Aromaoilmassage and Footmassage. This place does NOT offer any erotic massages.
There is an abundance of record stores in Cologne, but most are hidden in non-tourist quarters.
For a mainstream record store, go to Saturn, which hosts the "world's largest CD collection", as they quote on their store windows. It's huge, and to pre-listen a record, you just have to hold it under one of the many scanners spread throughout the shop. Always worth a visit. Subway and Regional Train from central station: Hansaring. Does not take credit cards.
Independent record stores are spread around Saturn: Cross the street for 2nd hand and punk, follow the "Ring" (boulevard) north, and you will find Jazz, Electro and HipHop at Schallschock record store. Famous alternative music-store Normal is south of Saturn, as well as Underdog Record Store (specialized in Alternative Rock, Emo, Garage and related matters) Subway and Regional Train from central station: Hansaring
For electronic music, get off at Friesenplatz, and go to groove attack in Maastrichter street. Also famous is Kompakt record store. Both are connected to a label sharing the name, and putting out fine German electronic music. Subway: Friesenplatz
Skating became very popular and there are many skaters in Cologne.
Made In in Hahnen street, close to Rudolfplatz. The interior of the shop is kept very classic with many tasteful details including artistic handpaintings on the walls. To this day Made In offers a wide variety of streetwear and skate goods as well as several exclusive labels and items , you will rarely find anywhere else.
Concrete Wave in Venloer street, close to the Subway station Leyendecker street. This shop is more specialized on actual skateboards. Specialists will give you advice for decks, trucks and wheels. You can also relax and chat while having a drink in the café that is located in the store too.
"Mayersche" and "Thalia" at Neumarkt are the biggest bookstores, you will find anything you want, but mostly in German.
On "Ehrenstraße", you will find cheap and arty books, take a look at "Buchhandlung König" at the eastern end, buy art books at well known "Taschen" at the corner of Ehrenstraße and the Ring.
Travel books are bought best at "Gleumes", between Zülpicher Platz and Rudolfplatz. They have only maps and travel books, but these from around the world.
Books in English - "English Books and Tea", Auf dem Rothenberg 9a, in the old town, stocks a wide range of new and secondhand books in English. It also offers a choice of teas and conversation and invaluable tourist orientation - all in English.
Cologne has a wide variety of restaurants, both German and otherwise, as a glance in the colored pages of the local telephone book will illustrate.
One can eat pretty well in most traditional-style Kölsch restaurants, and in fact as a visitor, you should try some of the local food, which is quite rustic, but tasty, hearty fare.
The brewery taps (Früh, Sion, Pfaffen, Malzmühle etc. in the old town south of the Dom) are worth taking note of to that respect, although they tend to be expensive for what you get.
Places out of the way such as Schreckenskammer and Max Stark  (north of the train station, the former being within crawling distance of the Station Backpackers Hostel), Päffgen (Friesenstrasse) and both of Cologne independent brewpubs (Hellers Brauhaus  on Roonstrasse and Braustelle  in Ehrenfeld) offer cheaper, better food that the old town tourist traps. Besides, most of these places have tons of atmosphere, which doesn't hurt !
You may also experience the deadly dry wit of the Köbes (traditional name of the blue-clad waiters) in most of those places. If it happens to you, don't get upset, just enter the game, send the Köbes packing with a dig and a smile and you'll be all right.
You'll mostly find typical Rheinland dishes in those traditional Kneipen. Classics include :
- Halver Hahn : nice big slab of dutch gouda with a rye roll (Röggelchen)
- Himmel und Äd mit Flönz : fried black pudding with mashed potatoes ("earth"), apple sauce ("heaven") and fried onions.
- Soorbrode / Sauerbraten : joint marinated in vinegar with raisins, usually served with red cabbage and a kloss (potato dumpling). The joint may be beef or horsemeat, so you may want to ask first...
- Dicke Bunne mit Speck : boiled white beans with hefty boiled bacon slices on top.
- Schweinshaxe (grilled); Hämchen (cooked): pig's leg, usually a bit of a monster (ranges from 600 to 1400 g, including the bone)
- Rievekoochen / Reibekuchen : flat fried potato cakes usually on offer once a week, and served with a variety of sweet or savoury toppings, which may include apple sauce, Rübenkraut (the beet-sourced equivalent to black treacle) or smoked salmon with horseradish cream.
If you are looking for a snack, you can either head for one of the Middle-Eastern or Asian places, or you can make use of the traditional fast food places like Mc Donalds, Burger King etc. Italian restaurants in Cologne seem to attempt to aim for a higher quality than in the UK, though it is debatable whether they achieve it, and whether their prices (often 150-200% of UK prices) are justified. There are several Indian restaurants across the city, which serve a fair fare, though the visiting Brit may be slightly disappointed to find that German 'curry culture' is rather akin to that of the UK in the 1960s: menus are neither large and varied, nor regionalised and specialist, and although ingredients are fresh, the food without exception appears to be tamed-down for the conservative German palate and the cooks are rather hesistant to spice it up even if you ask for it. "Clay Oven" (Luxemburger Straße near Südbahnhof) and "Bombay" (near Eifelstraße tram station) do make a vindaloo that will satisfy the most hardy customer, though. More recently, Japanese and Thai restaurants have become more common; both are quite expensive.
Hauptbahnhof - The ground floor of the central train station has a good number of cheap eateries, which include Pizza Hut to kiosks selling sausages.
Falafel Habibi located on Zülpicher Straße. They have two stores, which serve the same food (though sweetmeats may vary).
There is an abundance of Döner Kebab and similar takeaways around the town. Generally a lot of Turkish snack bar-style places can be found just north of the main station at Eigelstein, around Zülpicher Platz and in the Belgisches Viertel, with some excellent Lebanese and Persian takeaways further down Zülpicher Straße towards Südbahnhof. Probably best now (though expensive) is Oruc Döner on Kyffhäuserstraße (near Barbarossaplatz); while the kebab is quite good though not outstanding, their freshly baked pide bread is famous all over town. There are lots of Turkish restaurants and takeaways within Kalk, Mülheim and (mainly restaurants) in the Belgisches Viertel.
Borsalino, an Italian-style restaurant located on Zülpicher Straße close to Zülpicher Platz. Very affordable prices.
Don Camillo, Hildeboldplatz 1a; phone 0221-138551; a small italian tabula calde style restaurant. Coming from Hohenzollenring, head into Breite Straße/Ehrenstraße and take the first road to the left.
Buffet Chang - Large, clean and tasty Chinese style buffet (all you can eat for 6.90 Euro) on the top floor of DuMont Carré shopping mall, in the middle of the shopping district on Breite Straße. Open from 11.00 - 21.00 (Sundays and holidays closed). Also a good underground car park with reasonable hourly rates and discounts for microcars such as Smart and Mini.
Mama Mia, Alte Gasse 26, Phone  221 / 11347, Italian food, not too hungry person 10-15 Euro/ person
Ellopia , Carmerstrasse 106, Phone  221 / 14198, German food, you get served for 5-10 Euro/ person
El Inca, Görresstrasse 2, near Rathenauplatz. Latin-american restaurant, open 1800-2400.
Johnny Turista, Rathenauplatz. Easy-going pub/restaurant offering snacks, hot dishes and a daily changing selection of tapas; prices are lower than in most tapas bars.
Selam, Ehrenfeldgürtel 91 (tram station Venloer Straße/Gürtel)  Ethiopian restaurant, opens 5 PM Tu-Fr and from 4 PM on weekends, closed on Mondays. Good selection of mild and spicy Ethiopian dishes served on the traditional plate of injera bread.
Farmer's Steakhouses with several branches on the Ring (near Friesenplatz), Wallrafplatz (near the Dom, off Hohe Straße), Kreuzgasse (off Schildergasse shopping street). At Lunchtime they usually have a special, that will give you a square meal for 6-7 Euro.
pepe, Spanish style food, tapas and cocktails  Antwerpener Straße 63, near Stadtgarten and west of Friesenplatz, open 1800-0200, cool crowd. Usually booked out after 1900, make a reservation by phone or e-mail the day before.
Unsichtbar, "Unsichtbar" is a play of words. Literally it means "invisible", but the suffix "bar" also refers to being a bar. You will get your private butler, who is a blind person, and you eat in total darkness.  Im Stavenhof 5-7, near Hansaring and Ebertplatz, open 1800-0000. You can choose your meal in a showroom and then your personal blind butler will lead you to the dark room where you have to smell, feel, maybe touch and of course eat your meal, but you won't see it. You'll have to refer to your butler about everything, whether going to the bathroom or refilling your glass. You are not allowed to smoke, use a cellphone or do anything else that could lighten up the room. The food on your plate is explained to you by using a clock-like system (e.g. "beans are on three o'clock"). It's an excursion into the world of blind people, who are supported this way, and a really good restaurant, too. For weekends you have to book around 13 weeks in advance, but during the week you'll get a free table (with a little luck).
Landhaus Kuckuck, Olympiaweg 2, near Müngersdorfer Stadion (Aachener Straße). Exquisite German, but also international meals, open Tuesday - Saturday 1200-2300 - Sunday 1200-1800.
Fischers Weingenuss & Tafelfreuden, Hohenstaufenring 53, between Zülpicher Platz and Rudolfplatz. Exquisite french-like and modern food, great arrangements of wine and cheese. After noon you can get (quite) cheap 2-way dishes of the day including water or a glass of wine. You have to book (quite early) in advance and a menu will be created on your wishes.
Typical Cologne beer is called "Kölsch" and served in bars around town in small glasses, called "Stangen", of 0.2l. That way the beer is always fresh and cold. Don't worry, waiters will be fast to bring you a new one once your old one is (almost) finished. In more traditional bars and especially the breweries, the waiter (called "Köbes" in local language) will even hand you a fresh Kölsch without being asked, so it is easy to lose track of how much you drank. He will put a pencil line on your coaster for each beer that you drank, this will be the basis for your bill, so do not lose it! To stop the beer from coming, leave your glass almost half full until you have asked for the bill or put your coaster on top of your empty glass.
If you buy bottled Kölsch, take either "Reissdorf", "Früh", "Gaffel" or "Mühlen", which are rated highest by Cologne citizens. Those looking for a beer with a little more bitterness might like to try Küppers (there are about 30 more brands).
There are so many bars and pubs to choose from that you could spend most of the night going from one bar to the next. A really great bar is the Irish Pub, Flanagan's, in Altstadt located down below a building. Almost everybody speaks English in there if that's what you are looking for, and they have a really great Karaoke night on Sundays. The clientele is very friendly.
For a comprehensive list, see , bars listed on the right.
For traditional breweries, head to the Altstadt around the Dom, where the "Früh Kölsch" brewery is the most famous, both with visitors and locals. You will find a younger crowd at "Hellers Brauhaus" on Roonstraße, near metro station Zülpicher Platz or "Brauhaus Pütz" on Engelbertstraße close to Rudolfplatz. Furthermore the "Päffgen", on the all-bar street Friesenstraße close to the Friesenplatz, and the "Mühlen" near Heumarkt are traditional brewery pubs but less touristy than the "Früh". Also recommended is "Sion", which is a lesser known brand, but hailed to be very good, although some beer enthusiasts have found it lacking character from 2007 on. Most Altstadt pubs are somewhat scorned as "tourist traps" by locals, however: prices here are usually higher than e.g. on Zülpicher Straße.
There are a lot of modern bars and lounges all around town. More mainstream ones are on Zülpicher Straße. For something more independent and funky on this street, try Umbruch (funky) or Stiefel (punky). The Low Budget on Aachener Straße next to Moltkestraße metro is a nice, unassuming, punky bar which features a fine selection of drinks and often hosts concerts, poetry or cabaret sessions.
A lot of stylish places are in the so-called Belgian quarter between Aachener Straße and the Ring, e.g. famous M20 or the Hallmackenreuther.
A secret Tip are the Bars of the alternative Szene in Cologne. Those you may find the most in Ehrenfeld, like the "Underground", or the "Sonic Ballroom", and in the Südstadt, for instance the "Tsunami Club" and the little pub "Lotta", but also in the famous Kwartier Lateng, which is near the University of Cologne, around the Barbarossaplatz, at the Zülpicher Straße and the Kyffhäuser Straße. If you are searching for something more rough, you may find some nice places to rock and roll, on the Schäl Sick in the cityparts Kalk, east from the Kölnarena, like the little Trash Chic bar in the Wiersbergstreet, and in Mülheim, north from the Kölner Messe the little St. Pauli fanszene pub called "Limes", at the Mülheimer Freiheit street, near the Wiener Platz. But, this places are better to be known visited by the younger and not so rich people. So take care of your pockets.
Sasan (Sasan Restaurant Café Cocktailbar), Hohenstaufenring 25-27 (U-Bahn Zülpicher Platz), ☎ 221 / 2402517, . 9AM - 1AM. Awesome Italian restaurant that has a long running special of cheap cocktails after 5PM most nights, and pizza / pasta dishes for €3-4 daily before 6PM. Great place for lunch or an early dinner, and also a good base to kick off a night out. Staff are very friendly and generally speak English, and the food is excellent, as are the cocktails.
Früh am Dom; Am Hof 12 – 14 (Just south of the cathedral, behind the Domhotel); Phone: +49 221-2613 - 211; . Früh am Dom is a great place to try the local Kölsch brew.
Brauhaus Gaffel; Alter Markt 20-22; Phone: +49 221-257 7692; ; Hours: Daily: 11 AM - 1 AM;
Brauerei Malzmühle, Heumarkt 6 ; Hours: Daily: 10 AM - 10 PM; (visited by Bill Clinton)
Lommerzheim, Siegesstrasse 18 in Köln-Deutz (across the railway bridge) 
Ausschank Pfaffen Brauerei Max Päffgen, Heumarkt 62 
"Bar Orange" - on Sudermannplatz, near Ebertplatz. Great atmosphere and great cocktails, or just a beer and a lively chat with Milan, the resident philosopher, or Rainer and Arash, experts on local goings on.
Blue Lounge Party, every third Saturday, at the Bürgerhaus Stollwerck in Dreikönigenstrasse 23. Starts at 2200, tickets 5 €. Percussion-, brazil-, balearic- and deep house, techno, trance. A must for people who like this kind of music.
#TAUSEND Bar, Aachener Strasse 57 (Moltkestraße metro): various events & music, nice bar styled by design students from the Köln International School of Design (KISD).
Bodycheck Party, every second Saturday at the Filmhaus Köln on Maybachstrasse 111, metro station Hansaring. House, techno, always very good video projections.
3Klang, on Ehrenfeldgürtel 127, metro station Venloer Str./Gürtel. Every third Friday, 2200-0500.
Blue Lounge Bar, on Mathiasstrasse, lesbian bar. Off-shoot of the very successful party mentioned above.
Basswerk Session, bi-monthly, the second Saturday at GEBÄUDE 9, Deutz-Mülheimer Strasse 127-129 (tram 3 or 4, stop at KölnMesse/Osthallen), 2300--0500. Long-running and popular drum 'n' bass party in a defunct funky factory hall. Resident DJs often invite renowned guest DJs from the international d'n'b fringe. Alternates bi-monthly with the similar "Phonogenic" party in the same venue.
Art Of House Party once a month, the second or third Saturday at Stadtgarten in Venloer Strasse 40 (Hans-Böckler Platz metro): nice and really crowded house Party, guests around 25.
Funky Chicken Club, every Friday at Opernterassen next to the opera (Appellhofplatz metro): Cologne House Party since 16 years in a beautiful venue, always crowded, good House and Electronic Music.
Apropo* , good Partys on Fridays and Saturdays with Soul, Funk, Disco and Hip Hop in a cosy venue located in Im Dau 17 (Ulrepforte or Severinstrasse metro) easy guests from 20 years on.
Sixpack* The place to be in 2011! Located in the vibrant Belgisches Viertel (Aachener Strasse 33 - next to Rudolfplatz) you should be aware to wait long or even get rejected especially at a late hour. Mixed music from Electro to Indie with a huge variety of bottled beer.
Subway* , various parties from Hip Hop, Electro to Indie music with a hip but laid back audience (Moltkestrasse metro - next to Rudolfplatz).
Underground*  on Vogelsanger Str. 200, metro station Venloer Str./Gürtel. Famous for concerts and partys with Rock, Metal, Punk and alternative music. Guests vary between 15 and 45.
Alter Wartesaal*  nifty bar and disco right beside the central station: various events & exclusive Parties
Die Werkstatt*  Houses clubs and concerts in an industrial area in Ehrenfeld.
Agenda Suicide Club*  Monthly club, moves around a lot. Plays acid, electro, indie and much more.
Meininger City Hostel, Engelbertstr. 33-35 (near Zülpicher Platz). The Urban Travellers Home.
Station Hostel, Marzellenstrasse 40-48 (across from the main station). Basic rooms and facilities and the breakfast is extra but good value none the less. They also have storage lockers (deposit) if you want to keep your valuables somewhere safe.
Black Sheep Hostel, Barbarossaplatz 1 (four stops by subway 16/18 to Barbarossaplatz; ticket:Kurzstrecke). Creative new hostel in the middle of nightlife - small breakfast included.
Weltempfänger Venloer Str. 196 (next to Piusstrasse subway station) Located in a relaxed and bohemian neighbourhood, the hostel has got a nice bar and friendly staff.
AMERON Hotel Ascot Cologne, Hohenstaufenring 95-97, Phone: +49 221-9529650, "firstname.lastname@example.org" . This 4-star hotel is located in the city centre, not far away from the cathedral and a 5-minutes walk from the Friesen quarter. Single room from €80 double room from €100 (per night incl. breakfast buffet)
Esplanade Hotel, Hohenstaufenring 56, Phone: +49 221-9215570, "email@example.com". This privately-run, 3-star hotel is located 2 kilometres from the cathedral and a 10-minute walk from Friesenstrasse. single room from €90; double room from €120 (per night incl. breakfast buffet)
Holiday Inn Cologne-Bonn Airport, Waldstrasse 255, Phone: +49 2203-5610. Within walking distance of the airport (unless you have a lot of luggage), but they run a shuttle. Sometimes you can find a decently-priced room here when prices in town go through the roof. Nothing (but the airport) in walking distance. €99- €250
NH Koeln Mediapark, Im Media Park 8b, ☎ +49 221 27150, . Few steps away from the main tourist attractions. Enjoy relaxing on the hotel terrace or spending time in the specialised ‘relaxation area’. From €72.70.
Four Points by Sheraton Central Köln; Breslauer Platz 2; Phone: +49 221-16510; Fax: +49 221-1651333; ; Price: €70 - €200+
Drei Könige am Dom; Marzellenstrasse 58 - 60; ; Price: €85
Königshof Swiss Quality Hotel, Richartzstrasse 14-16, ☎ +49 (0) 221 257 87 71 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +49 221 257 87 62), . Three star hotel situated 500m away from the railway station and 13 km from the airport. Double room from €121 (2009).
Cologne Marriott, Johannisstrasse 76-80, ☎ +49 221 942220. A short walk from the railway station, the Cologne Marriott is surprisingly small, modern, and personal. Rooms are not huge, but they're immaculate and well appointed. Fou, the in-house "crazy brasserie", serves great breakfasts and casual French, while the excellent Executive floor lounge with breakfast, dinner and drinks is worth paying the extra for.€130-200.
Hilton Cologne, Marzellenstrasse 13-17 (200 m from central station), Phone: +49 221-130710; . Modern Hilton hotel in the centre, convenient for sightseeing. Prices go through the roof during trade fairs in Deutz. €115 - €400.
Hyatt Regency Cologne, Kennedy-Ufer 2A (in the old town), ☎ +49 221 828 1234 (Cologne@hyatt.de), . 5 star hotel. 306 rooms and suites with views of the River Rhine. Host to gourmet restaurant "Graugans", 13 conference rooms and a spa.
Im Wasserturm; Kaygasse 2; Phone: +49 221-200 80; . A luxury hotel built inside of a 130 year old water tower. It has a designer interiour and a rooftop restaurant with panoramic views. Price: €180 - €840 per night
Le Meridien Dom, Domkloster 2a, ☎ +49 (221) 20240 (fax: +49 (221) 2024444), . €130 - €480 per night.
Savoy, . A family run 5 star hotel with a huge spa area and a very nice rooftop bar. It's very close to the main station (exit Breslauer Platz, turn left, approx. 100 m) and has very good weekend offers. Known as the place of choice for many (German and international) celebrities.
Campingplatz der Stadt Köln - Rhineside camping site with a view of the Dom and city centre, the low drone of the nearby highway bridge does distract from the otherwise peaceful locality. It is right by a cycle and walking trail into the city and is an ideal family site (although there aren't many activities for children), rates are very reasonable and the owner speaks English. Getting to the site is a little difficult, take the tram/train to Rodenkirchen and walk over the bridge, when on the other side turn downriver and the campsite is on the right, there is a restaurant nearby. Adult €6,50.
Camping Berger - another Rhine-side camping site, nearer public transport. With 125 spaces, supermarket, playground and a restaurant. Rates are reasonable (€7.50 for adult per night).
Criminal activity in Cologne is similar to other big cities. Tourists should take normal safety precautions, particularly in the city centre, where pickpockets are known to be active. Also, be careful on the Ring, which is full of clubs and night-time crowds in the streets. During both day and night, it is advisable to be careful in outlying neighbourhoods like Chorweiler, Porz, Seeberg, Ostheim, Bocklemünd, Ossendorf, and Vingst. In general, avoid getting into fights and stay away from drunk people.
Holy mass in Catholic churches near to the central station:
Dom, Domkloster 3 (next to the central station).  Sun: 7:00, 8:00, 9:00, 10:00, 12:00, 17:00, 18:30; Mon-Sat: 6:30, 7:15, 8:00, 9:00, 18:30
Bonn, the former capital of West Germany is located due south and easy to reach by train or Stadtbahn (U-Bahn line 16 and 18).
Brühl, almost a suburb of Cologne, contains the Augustusburg Palace which has been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The palace is one of the key works of Balthasar Neuman, and contains one of the finest Rococco interiors in the world, the highlight being the main staircase. Also in the grounds is the magnificent hunting Lodge of Falkenslust. Brühl can be easily reached by train in around 20 minutes from Cologne. The theme park of Phantasialand is also in Brühl.
Ruhr (Ruhrgebiet) If you are interested in heavy industry this might be a worthwhile trip. It is located about 100 km north of Cologne. The region, which was the center of montan (coal and steel) industry in Germany, is going through a structural transformation and proudly presents its industrial past on the Industrial Heritage Trail .
Zülpich -- a small town southwest of Cologne dating from Roman times. It has a newly opened museum centered on Roman baths and bathing culture. It is also a gateway to the forested hills of the Eifel region.
Due to Cologne's proximity to the German/Belgian/Dutch border weekend trips to foreign destinations are easy to arrange. Thalys operates high speed trains to Paris and Brussels, and Deutsche Bahn to Amsterdam, making each city only a few hours away. You can also travel to Maastricht (a city in the Netherlands with a beautiful city centre where the Maastricht Treaty of the European Union was signed in 1992) for a low cost by taking a train to Aachen then by bus to Maastricht – See: Aachen#From_The_Netherlands for details. For the bus (no.50) to Maastricht the stop can be found at this location 
This is a guide article. It has a variety of good, quality information including hotels, restaurants, attractions, arrival and departure info. Plunge forward and help us make it a star!