Which Cologne do you hate
16 real insider tips for Cologne
Would you like to not only explore the cathedral and museums in Cologne, but also discover the Cologne of the locals off the beaten path? Excellent, then you've come to the right place!
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Have you already seen the famous sights in Cologne, and now it's time for a change?
Very good, then my personal insider tips for Cologne come in handy.
In this article I will show you which lesser-known places, museums and secret highlights are worthwhile in Cologne.
So you can immerse yourself in the Rhenish way of life or discover something extraordinary between the big highlights.
But if you are also looking for information about the classic sights of the cathedral city, take a look at my other article:
The 22 most beautiful sights in Cologne
And if you still need a hotel tip for Cologne, this article is the right one for you:
Where to stay in Cologne My hotel tips.
# 1 Kwartier Latäng
My favorite corner in Cologne. There are great restaurants, cafes and pubs, often small concerts and there is always something going on in the streets.
The student district took its name from Paris. Because in the French capital there is a student quarter called "Quartier Latin". And the people of Cologne simply translated this into Kölsch: Kwartier Latäng.
You may already be familiar with Zülpicher Straße and Zülpicher Platz. They are no longer really an insider tip when it comes to going out in Cologne. In fact, they are only the tip of the iceberg of the party scene in Kwartier Latäng.
In the streets around there is something for every taste, whether you are a club-goer, bar lover or a passionate concert-goer. On your foray through the Kwartier, just keep where you like it.
You will also find the Hellers brewery here, which is one of my favorites among Cologne breweries. If you want to know why that is, read my article about the breweries in Cologne.
If the weather is nice, I can also recommend the neighboring beer garden on Rathenauplatz. There they also serve the delicious Hellers.
Rathenauplatz beer garden
# 2 punk shed: Stereo Wonderland
Just a few corners away, very close to Barbarossaplatz, is Stereo Wonderland, my favorite punk and indie bar. This is a perfectly appropriate name, because the place is not for princesses.
For punks left over from the 80s and 90s like me, or pub and indie concert fans, it's the perfect place. Authentic pub feeling and small concerts await you here.
The pizza parlor and the shawarma snack bar across the street will provide you with the necessary nutrients until four in the morning on the weekend.
Tue: 9:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Wed / Thu: 9:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m.
Fri / Sat: 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.
Closed on Sunday and Monday
# 3 boathouse
If you are more into electronic music, you should definitely include the boathouse when planning your trip to Cologne. Memorable parties have already been celebrated in the three areas and often also outside.
Well-known DJs like David Guetta or Benny Benassi also play regularly. There are entire theme weekends, for example the Latin American weekend, for which suitable food trucks also roll in.
For many events, tickets can be bought online in advance. Since the boathouse is very popular and is therefore often very full on the weekend, I can only recommend that you make use of this option. Admission costs between 3 euros and 35 euros, depending on the event. Tickets are available on the boathouse's website.
You will probably not be able to avoid a taxi at night. So be careful not to invest all your money in cocktails or to squander it at the boathouse snack bar.
Depending on the event
- It is best to go to Köln Messe / Deutz train station and take bus 150 there, which will take you to the Thermalbad stop.
# 4 sunshine floor
In the center of Cologne, between Neumarkt and Heumarkt, there is a roof terrace bar on the roof of a parking garage on the 14th floor. Here you can comfortably sip Kölsch, fruit smoothies or cocktails in a beach chair with a view of the city.
Admission is free from Monday to Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., but there is a minimum consumption of 1.50 euros. From 6 p.m. and on weekends, on public holidays and at events, admission costs EUR 3.50 plus EUR 1.50 minimum consumption.
As with all open air locations, the opening times here also depend on the weather. To see if and how it is open on the respective day, simply go to the website of the SonnenscheinEtage. There you will always find the current opening times in the ticker.
Weather dependent (info ticker on the website)
Until 6 p.m .: 1.50 euros minimum consumption
From 6:00 p.m. and on
Weekends / public holidays / events: EUR 3.50 + EUR 1.50 minimum consumption
At St. Agatha 19-25
Neumarkt or Heumarkt
- Look out for the Galeria Kaufhof. The SonnenscheinEtage is on the roof of car park B. To get to the top, you have to take the elevator on the left below in the car park.
# 5 Best Thai in town
Also in the middle of the Kwartier Latäng there is the best papaya salad in Cologne. Oh, that's the best papaya salad I've ever eaten in Germany. The smell alone brings me back to Bangkok immediately.
If you miss Thailand or have probably never had a papaya salad before: Be sure to go Khun Mae and order yourself a Som Tam Thai!
Sun-Fri 12:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Closed on saturday
# 6 Meet & Eat weekly market
The gourmet tip! Every Thursday there is a street food market on Rudolfplatz, directly at Hahnentor.
Here you will find rievkooche (potato pancakes), delicious food from the smoker, local specialties and snacks from all over the world. Accompanied by a Kölsch - or a glass of wine - and voilà! The somewhat different dinner is perfect.
Thu: 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
# 7 Hellers in the Volksgarten
My tip for Cologne in summer! In the middle of the green Volksgarten, right by the pond, you can sip your Kölsch with a view of the water. And because the beer garden is run by the Hellers Brewery, you're in luck! There is also Altbier here.
In the shade of the trees it can be endured well at 30 degrees. If you still feel like exercising, you can rent pedal boats for a short tour across the pond directly at the beer garden.
The opening times are of course dependent on the weather. When the weather is nice, the beer garden is open from 11:30 a.m. and the boat rental from the early afternoon. You can check the Heller's website to see whether it is currently open. In changeable weather, this information is updated every hour, so you don't run the risk of standing in front of closed doors.
The Hellers in the Volksgarten is also a great address for dinner when the weather is nice. The menu includes hearty dishes, schnitzel, steaks, salads, pasta and children's plates.
When the sun has set, you sit by the idyllic pond under the colorful fairy lights and enjoy the summer evening. What more do you want?
Depending on the weather from 11:30 a.m.
# 8 Odonias
The Odonien is a cultural center, beer garden, event location as well as an open-air studio and workshop at the same time. In the middle of Ehrenfeld, the artist Odo Rumpf has created a very special place.
In the beer garden you sit between bizarre metal sculptures, surrounded by industrial charm, fire installations and lots of greenery. In summer there are always concerts, flea markets, festivals and theater performances. An incredibly great place that you should definitely see.
Depending on the weather, but generally applies from May to September:
Thu-Sat: from 5:00 p.m.
Sun: from 3:00 p.m.
Closing times depend on the weather / events and vary between 6:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.
- Go from the S-Bahn station into Lämmerstrasse, past Lidl and then left into Hornstrasse. After about 150 meters, the entrance to Odonia is on the right.
# 9 Hänneschen Theater
Ugly wellkumme em bulbous dorp!
Since 1802, all pieces in the Hänneschen Stockpuppentheater have been performed in Kölsch. The handmade music is spoken, sung and played live.
The performances are not only really amusing for children. You shouldn't miss the Kölsch originals around Hänneschen, Tünnes and Schäl either.
I think: a real highlight and perfect for getting to know the Cologne traditions!
Family play and Easter fairy tale: children 8.50 euros / adults 13.00 euros
Christmas fairy tales and puppet sessions for children: children € 8.50 / adults € 15.00
Adult piece: 21.00 euros
Puppet session: 31.00 euros
- If you are standing on the main street in front of the Hänneschen Laden and looking for the entrance to the theater: On the left of the kiosk, a path leads to the inner courtyard, there is the entrance.
# 10 mustard pots
The cabaret and cabaret theater with the beautiful name Senftöpfchen has become a cult and definitely a guarantee for a successful evening. It's not big, but it has seen many memorable performances.
Lore Lorenz stood on the stage, Mike Krüger was discovered and Alfred Biolek started his talk show “Who comes, comes” in 1973. The latter was taken over by the WDR and renamed the "Kölner Treff".
You can always find what is currently being played on the mustard pot's website. You can also buy tickets there directly.
# 11 Ubier Monument
You may have heard of the fact that construction work in Cologne keeps coming to a halt because medieval buildings were uncovered while digging.
This is how the Ubier monument was discovered in 1965. In fact, the walls of the old tower are even older than you might think at first glance.
Based on the trees that were planted around the monument at that time, the building could be dated back to the year four AD. This makes the Ubiermonument the oldest known building from Roman times in all of Germany.
Unfortunately, you can only visit the historic walls once a month. So if you happen to be in Cologne when the Ubier Monument is open, you should take the opportunity to pay a visit to the 2,000 year old walls.
Every first Thursday of the month from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
At the malt mill 1
# 12 NS documentation center
The NS Documentation Center has been located in the EL-DE House since 1979. A permanent exhibition about Cologne under National Socialism awaits you here.
From 1935 to 1945 these premises were the headquarters of the Cologne Gestapo. It was not until 1979, as part of a Nazi trial, that it became known that numerous prisoners were being held in this building.
The EL-DE house is now a research facility, but it has also become a place of remembrance. In addition to numerous photos and documents from the time of National Socialism, you can also look at the former cells in the basement of the building. In some of them, you can still see the scribbles on the walls that inmates once left behind.
Even if it is depressing to be in the cellar dungeons, I personally consider the Nazi Documentation Center to be an important place. It is different to see it with your own eyes than to just read about this part of history in books.
Tue-Fri: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Sat / Sun: 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
1st Thursday of the month (except public holidays): 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Children up to 18 years: 2.00 euros
Free entry for birthday children
Free entry with the Köln MuseumsCard
My tip for museum visits: If you want to visit several of the city's museums, the MuseumsCard is worthwhile. With her you will save money in the second museum. This card is even more worthwhile as a couple or with the offspring in tow.
MuseumsCard: 18 euros single, 30 euros family (2 adults and 2 children)
To the MuseumsCard
# 13 Odysseum
The tip for Cologne with children: Be sure to visit the Odysseum! The adventure museum, also known as the “experience house of knowledge”, is really super exciting for children!
In the themed worlds “Life” and “Earth” and in the “Museum with the Mouse” there is a lot to see, do, touch and discover. There is also a 3D cinema and various live shows.
The outdoor area with climbing rocks, water fun and a racecourse is also open from April to November.
Although the Odysseum is primarily aimed at children, there is plenty to see and do for those inquisitive between the ages of 9 and 99.
Tue-Fri: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Sat / Sun / public holidays / long weekends: 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
16 euros, reduced 12 euros
Children 4 to 17 years: 8 euros
Family pass (2 adults, 2 children): 44 euros
Family pass for additional child: 7 euros
Family pass for additional adults: 14 euros
# 14 Ursula
One of the 12 Romanesque churches in Cologne is St. Ursula. It was built in the 12th century, but was so extensively destroyed in the Second World War that it was only restored to its almost original state in 1972.
The murals in the Golden Chamber were made from human bones and supplemented with various relics. I think there is a very special atmosphere in this church and I can only recommend a visit.
If you would like to find out more about the history of St. Ursula during your visit, simply download the “12 Romanesque churches” app onto your mobile phone. With the free app you can listen to an audio guide that leads you through the church and provides you with exciting information.
Or join a guided tour through the old town. The legend and historical stork tour also includes the Church of St. Ursula.
About the tour: Legends and historical storks tour through the old town
I wrote another article about Cologne tours, there you will find a selection of classic and special city tours through Cologne.
Click here for the article about Cologne city tours
Tue-Fri: 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Sa: 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. / 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Sun: 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
closed on Mondays
Dom / Hbf or Hansaring
# 15 Kabänes, Bärbelchen and Glitter Pitter
In almost every pub and in many Cologne breweries you will find Flimm and Kabänes on the drinks menu. In case you've never heard of it: No wonder, Flimm is a very Kölsch thing.
The Flimm brand has been around in Cologne for almost a hundred years. Over the decades, Flimm has repeatedly designed various specialty spirits such as the Kabänes and marketed them with advertising slogans such as “Kölsche girls, kölsche funke, han always jän ne Flimm jedrunke”.
Treat yourself to a Flimm Kabänes after a hearty brewery meal. The herbal liqueur has been a hit since 1952. Or try the three fruit creations Waldmeister 11, Bärbelchen (passion fruit) and Glitter Pitter (black and blueberries), which have been created over the past ten years.
Flimm also offers many other herbal liqueurs, fruit schnapps and clears. Some are terribly tasty and fruity, but don't let that fool you. There is a lot of alcohol in the creations!
# 16 Mexican folks
And while we're on the subject of schnapps: The still very young Mexican from Mexico shouldn't be missing.
You may have heard of the Mexican, the shot made from tomato juice, double grain and chilli. The Mexikölner is a variation of this, but the exact recipe is a secret.
The Mexican oil is tomato, spicy and has 15 turns. Give it a try, it's really delicious.
Since the Mexikölner was not designed by a large beverage company, but by two Cologne bar owners who also sell it to this day, you won't find it on the drinks menu everywhere in Cologne.
The two inventors have since given up their bar and are now fully concentrating on the production of the future cult drink. You can definitely find the Mexikölner in Odonien, in the Veedel Club in Kwartier Latäng and in the SonnenscheinEtage.
My advice: Rewe and Edeka in Cologne also sell the Mexikölner. The 0.7 liter bottle is perfect as a souvenir or for the next party at home.
Those were my insider tips for Cologne. I hope you enjoy exploring and discovering away from the usual sights. What are your absolute favorite places and activities in Cologne? Do you have another tip for me that I may not know yet? Then please leave a comment.
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