Insider Guide to: Cologne

Today, it’s the Rhineland city of Cologne. Over to Lisa for her top tips!

Lisa, Events Manager

I’m Lisa and I studied in Cologne for over 4 years. There’s only love for Cologne! People say the city is a sensation because of its unique vibe, which I think comes from the people there. The Kölner are warm-hearted, open-minded, and totally down-to-earth – as you’ll soon find out over a glass of their favourite Kölsch!

Neighbourhoods 

  • In the centre you can find Belgisches Viertel. This is a pretty upmarket district, full of boutiques, cute cafes, and tree-lined streets. Brüsseler Platz is one of the main hang-out spots in the summer. It’s a great place to have a beer and get talking to locals and visitors alike – although there has been a long-running dispute with residents over the noise levels.
  • Go west to the old working-class district of Ehrenfeld. This is a cosmopolitan, hipster area and whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it here. The streets are packed with bars, art studios, restaurants and theatres. So come join the mix!
  • Südstadt is a little further south from the centre but totally worth the trip. Here you can find traditional old Cologne pubs, where the native Kölner come to hang out close to the banks of the Rhine. 

Going out

  • For an excellent coffee, try stylish Kaffeesaurus on Friesenplatz, where they roast and grind their own beans. Hallmackenreuther is also worth a visit for the decor – Die Welt magazine called it the most beautiful cafe in all of Germany. For vegans, Vevi Veganes Vintage is small but serves delicious meals . 
  • For dining, Ouzeria is a cool tapas bar among the hubbub of Brüsseler Platz, while Stadtgarden offers a quieter setting, perfect for a glass of wine and an elegant date in the garden area. At night, they also host concerts, poetry slams and theatre performances. Brauhaus Johann Schäfer used to be a truckage company but has been expertly renovated into a vintage-style pub, where you can sample regional dishes washed down with home-brewed beer. 
  • Berlin is in for some tough competition at the moment: check out Bootshaus, which was just named the best club in Berlin by Mix Mag (ahead of, yes, Berghain…)! But Cologne has something for everyone. Chlodwick Eck is a good local pub, with a hearty atmosphere. Local DJs play at Zum Scheuen Reh, a small bar below a train station. Roonburg has awesome karaoke and stock market parties (drink prices rise or fall according to how popular they are – this means you can get a bargain if you play the market right). 

Things to do

  • Cologne has a long and fascinating history. Explore the city’s ancient connections at the Romano-Germanic Museum, right in the shadow of the iconic Dom; or follow your nose to the Fragrance Museum and learn the story behind the world-famous Eau de Cologne, first produced in the city in the 18th century by an Italian perfumer who missed home.
  • The local beer, Kölsch, is a major part of how people in the city come together and enjoy themselves, and you absolutely have to join in for a few rounds. Many breweries in the city also offer tours where you can discover the secrets of the production process.
  • It’s big, it’s messy, but Cologne would not be Cologne without Karneval. Known as the “fifth season”, it kicks off at 11:11, on 11th November but the street partying really begins in earnest on the Thursday before the beginning of Lent. I’d avoid Zülpicher Straße or Heumarkt, as it gets packed with tourists – a better option is Südstadt. The highlight is Rosenmontag (Rose Monday): expect fancy dress, heavy drinking, public parades, shouts of “Kölle Alaaf”, and mettigel (raw meat and onions). Even German politicians are expected to take part in the fun, though with mixed success (check out memes of Merkel watching nonplussed).

Spaces

This space is all about suspense! Across four stylish rooms, chairs and tables hang from the ceiling to give a different spin to your meeting or seminar. 

The Orangerie is a loft and workspace in the heart of the city, with artistic touches throughout and huge windows. 

A multi-purpose studio which is available for a range of events. The space maintains its connection to the industrial past and local area, with a well-stocked workshop of tools and machinery – to get ideas flowing!

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