As one of Germany’s largest and most historic cities, Cologne is also one of the country’s busiest tourist destinations, not least with river cruisers. Cologne sits on both banks of the iconic Rhine River and it should come as no surprise that there’s a huge choice of Rhine river cruise itineraries which visit the city. Founded by the Romans in the 1st century AD as a province capital, the city enjoyed being a centre for trade in the Middle Ages but is still perhaps best remembered for being one of Germany’s most heavily bombed cities during the allied air raids of the Second World War. Only five percent of the city’s population survived and very few of its original buildings remain, though the subsequent rebuilding over the years has left visitors with one of Germany's most compelling cities to explore.
Hohenzollern Bridge is an altogether more modern Cologne landmark. It’s famous for being the place where thousands of couples have affixed padlocks as a sign of their commitment to each other; a trend which has since been replicated on numerous bridges worldwide. It’s the ideal way to cross the Rhine as foot passengers are welcome and it also offers some great views of the river. On the subject of views, for the very best aerial one, don’t miss the chance to take a trip up the Koeln Triangle. It’s a skyscraper with an observatory, viewing platform and restaurant and offers the ultimate panoramic vista of Cologne.
Nature-lovers will be pleased to know the city’s not without its green space too. The beautiful Botanical Gardens dating back to the 19th century, are situated close to the Rhine and open daily, while Melaten-Friedhof is a peaceful, leafy cemetery popular with both visitors and locals because of the fascinating history and tranquil atmosphere that it offers.
Cologne really comes into its own at Christmas, when the Dom becomes an unforgettable backdrop to the city’s enchanting Christmas Market. Book a river cruise during this time and you’ll experience the city at its most magical and memorable.