Cologne, Germany

Germany’s fourth-largest city and a long weekend choice has a hefty offering when it comes to taking in its art, architecture and trendy neighbourhoods

Day 1: Hit the town

Morning: Fuel up for a busy day of exploring with breakfast at Café Reichard, situated directly in view of the beautiful Gothic Cologne Cathedral. After enjoying the extensive breakfast buffet and admiring the cathedral from the outside, head in to explore further. The UNESCO World Heritage building houses the Shrine of the Three Kings and the Cathedral Treasury. Its rooftop doesn’t disappoint either, with views across the entire city.

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Belgian quarter

Afternoon: Spend the afternoon in the Belgian Quarter, strolling through the charming streets and window shopping in its unique boutiques. As the trendiest neighbourhood in Cologne, this district offers a plethora of galleries, theatres, pubs, cafés and bars. Stop by the Stadtgarten, which serves as a beer garden, music venue, or Christmas market in winter.

Evening: Make your way towards the Old Town and the Rhine via Neumarkt and Heumarkt, taking the time to appreciate the cobbled streets and gabled buildings of this restored medieval part of the city. Keep the experience authentic by ordering a cold Kölsch, the local beer, in a traditional brewery, then head to dinner at Ox & Klee or Maibeck. The former has a meat and seafood or vegetarian menu to choose from, while Maibeck is the proud owner of a Michelin star.

Day 2: As sweet as chocolate

Morning: Discover Europe’s largest Pop Art collection and the world’s third-largest collection of Picassos at the Museum Ludwig, just steps away from Cologne Cathedral and the Rhine River. After a cultured morning, enjoy a leisurely walk along the riverside promenade towards the Rheinauhafen neighbourhood, with its modern architecture, cafes, restaurants and historic buildings.

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See the city from a river cruise

Afternoon: Conveniently located right at Rheinauhafen, the Chocolate Museum is a delight for visitors with a sweet tooth. A variety of chocolate treats, along with idyllic river views, are on offer in the Chocolat Grand Café, while the museum is worth a visit to brush up on the history of chocolate. Afterwards, embark on a one-hour panoramic Rhine cruise with Köln-Düsseldorfer for a leisurely tour.

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Love locks on Hohenzollern Bridge

Evening: Spend the evening on the other side of the Rhine. Start off with a stroll across the Hohenzollern Bridge, famous for its thousands of love locks, stopping to read the messages. Then continue on to the Köln-Triangle observation deck for more impressive views of the city, including the twin-spires of the cathedral.

Just a short walk away is Grissini, an Italian restaurant with a vista of the Rhine boulevard. Pasta, seafood and tiramisu can all be washed down with a spritz.

Book it with… BA and Hilton

Flights with British Airways from London Heathrow to Cologne/Bonn on November 21 2024 cost from £60 return. A two-night stay at the Hilton Cologne, close to the Cologne Cathedral, including breakfast is priced from £174. britishairways.com; hilton.com