Cologne Cathedral and Hohenzollern Bridge, Cologne, Germany

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Famous for its fragrance, beautiful cathedral and home to one of Europe's oldest and largest universities, Cologne is a popular tourist destination. There is so much to do here that the only problem you may have is fitting it all in.

Why go?

This attractive destination has plenty up its sleeve to tempt visitors with. Find out why you should choose Cologne for your next getaway...

If you're with friends and looking to celebrate, there's the famous Pascha nightclub for devoted clubbers. Or if rock music's more your thing, the Hard Rock Cafe will provide an evening's entertainment. There's also live music on at Cologne's Lanxess Arena, one of Europe's largest indoor concert and sporting venues. Famous for having more brew houses than any other city, it won't be difficult to relax and enjoy a beer.

Cologne's core is a town called Alstadt, which dates back to the Roman times. Situated along the bank of the Rhine River, its narrow streets and brightly coloured traditional buildings are what draw the tourists in. There's a selection of old shops, restaurants and breweries, selling Colognes famous Kolsch beer, all adding to the charm of the old town. It's well worth a visit for all types of tourists, whether you're interested in its history, shops, local food or famous beer.

If Alstadt has given you a taste of Cologne's history and you're keen to learn more, there are plenty of museums dotted around. The Romisch-Germanisches Museum (Romano-Germanic Museum) provides a spectacular insight into the culture, art and early life in Medieval and Roman Cologne. It's around 6 euros for adults to enter and 4 euros for concessions, but once inside, guided tours are free of charge. There's also the Wallraf-Richartz museum, which dates back to 1824 and is home to a huge collection of medieval fine art. It's open every day except Mondays.

Also for art lovers, the Ludwig Museum is a fantastic place to visit and is home to one of the largest collections of Picasso, as well as Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. Cologne is also home to the German sport museum and chocolate museum, which is a must for chocolate lovers.

If you have children and the thought of taking them to a museum is too much to bare, there's a zoo and attached aquarium to visit, featuring 7,000 animals in over 700 different species.

Finally, if after all this, you just want to indulge in a bit of retail therapy, Cologne's many shopping arcades will have something for you. There are also rail links to Dusseldorf, Frankfurt and Berlin.

The best time to visit Cologne is between November 26 and December 23, as this is when their traditional German Christmas markets take place. It's a real experience and will certainly get you in the festive mood. Be sure to book hotels in advance to avoid disappointment, as this is a busy time.

How to get there

Getting to this destination is quick and easy, meaning that you can get your holiday started in no time...

Flights to Cologne land at Cologne-Bonn Airport which is situated in West Germany between the two cities, Cologne and Bonn. This airport is ideal for those wanting to visit either or both cities, as it's just 15km from Cologne and 16km from Bonn. Cologne is great for short city breaks, but also makes a good base for explorers looking to visit the Rhine and Moselle regions.

Getting to and from the airport

Your plane has landed and you're keen to get to your accommodation and start your holiday. But what are your transport options? Here are some suggestions...

Getting to Cologne from the airport is straightforward, with trains being reasonably priced and taking around 15 minutes to the city centre.

Car hire is another option, with the airport well connected to the road network and directly next to the motorway A59.

Buses are also available and information about various routes can be found on the Cologne airport website.

Where to stay ?

There's a variety of accommodation options for your stay in Cologne, from budget beds to high-end hotels, but what area should you stay in? Here are some options...

Staying in Cologne's Old City will allow you easy access to all the main sights such as the splendid Gothic cathedral, Romanesque churches and numerous museums, such as the Museum Ludwig. If you're looking to stay in a vibrant and lively part of the city, you could consider Neustadt-Nord or the Belgian Quarter if a buzzing nightlife is high on your agenda.

Alternatively, you may wish to book accommodation in neighbouring Bonn. Just 25 minutes away from Cologne by train and formally the capital of West Germany, here you can experience romantic walks along the scenic Rhine and enjoy wandering among the Baroque architecture.

If you would like to combine your city break with a scenic holiday, you may wish to consider basing yourself in the city of Bergisch Gladbach, located east of Cologne. From here you can access the natural reserve Bergisches Land which is made up of forests, rivers, meadows and lakes.