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The beating cultural heart of the Rhine region, Cologne – Köln in German – is an ideal short-break destination.
The mighty Dom (cathedral), a clutch of excellent museums and the charming Old Town will pull you this way and that during a few days in the city. Cologne is also one of the best beer cities in Europe, with plenty of ale-sampling opportunities at historic pubs and brewpubs, especially around Altstadt, the Old Town.
Though filled with tourist attractions, it’s the simple pleasures in Cologne that really thrill: people watching with a portion of strudel and a coffee; a cold Kölsch beer on a hot summer afternoon; a few hours browsing in the high-fashion stores; a picnic in a park (maybe even topped off with a cable-car ride in Rheinpark).
If you’ve already booked your flights to Cologne Bonn Airport (CGN), it’s time to look for cheap hotels in Cologne.
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Booking a city break should be stress free, which is why we have written this guide to where to stay in Cologne…
You’re in the city for a few days, you want to be close to the main attractions, you don’t want to use public transport to heave in and out of the city to your remote hotel. If this sounds like you, there is only one thing for it: look for hotels in Innenstadt, the central district of Cologne.
Within this 16-square-kilometre area is Old Town (Altstadt), which is at the very heart of Cologne, as well as the surrounding streets of Neustadt, the more modern part of the city, and, across the Rhine, the area of Deutz.
Altstadt buzzes with tourists. You can check in at four- and five-star hotels from the likes of Marriott, Wyndham and Hilton, especially in the northern swathe of Altstadt, which is also the location of the city’s main railway station. Mid-range and budget hotels are available, though it’s worth booking well in advance of travel to secure the best rates in this popular spot.
Cheap hotels also draw visitors to Neustadt, on the outskirts of Altstadt. Though there’s a good mix of budget accommodation and modern hotels in Neustadt, the walk of 30 minutes to the main attractions of Cologne might be off-putting for some visitors.
While not blessed with tourist attractions (apart from Rheinpark), Deutz is also a busy transportation, business and exhibition/trade fair hub where you might find great weekend hotel deals.
Hotels are very busy during Cologne’s summer and in late November and December, when the Christmas markets bring a touch of Yuletide magic to the city streets. Book your hotel in Cologne well in advance of travel during these times.
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There’s something for everyone in Cologne. Check out some of our favourite things to see and do…
Top five attractions
A trio of top museums bring art lovers to Cologne. There’s fine art at the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, contemporary art at the Ludwig Museum, and historic artefacts at the Romisch-Germanisches Museum.
Known as the Dom, this twin-towered Gothic beauty rises above the rooftops of Altstadt. A hairy climb up a narrow, winding staircase is rewarded with magnificent city views.
One for families, this historic zoo – in a surprisingly elegant park setting – is home to more than 7,000 animals.
Old Town (Altstadt)
Almost three quarters of the city was reduced to rubble by Second World War bombs, so it’s amazing to see the efforts that were made to put it back together. It’s a charming, lively area and a beer at a brauhaus is a must.
Soar above the mighty Rhine in a cable car. This charming city attraction connects the zoo area with the Rheinpark, which makes for a splendid family day out in Cologne.
This city doesn’t need an excuse for a party and these three top events really show off Cologne’s exuberant spirit. Be there if you can…
Cologne Carnival (Kolner Karneval); February: Put on your fancy dress and party at the annual carnival, one of the city’s biggest and most beloved events. You can expect plenty of fun times and free events.
Cologne Pride; June-July: As one of Germany’s most popular LGBT events, you should book hotels well in advance if you plan to party with the million or so visitors who flock to Cologne for two weeks of dancing and parades.
Christmas markets; November-December: With numerous unique markets dotted around the streets and squares of Cologne, there are few finer places to get into the festive spirit. Weekend breaks in Cologne are hugely popular in December, so get you trip sorted as soon as you can to stake your place among the stalls.