The Alternative Weekend Break; a guide to Cologne, Germany

Since my alternative weekend break guide to Porto went down so well, I figured I would share some more of my fave city breaks. It’s so easy to get drawn into visiting the same destinations over and over again. And places like Paris and Barcelona are iconic for good reason, but there are some great little getaways to be had for a fraction of the price! I’d never thought of Germany as a weekend getaway type place, until I visited Cologne…
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The vibe
The city itself is spread out along the river Rhine and everywhere seems pretty chilled, even at the weekend. We came across a couple of hen and stag dos around the main bars but otherwise, the bars seemed busy but not over-crowded. Wandering around, we found a mix of vintage shops, beer gardens and ruins just waiting to be stumbled across.

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The booze
They have their own beer which is brewed locally and every local you meet tells you that you have to try it! It’s called Kölsch, and according to my beer loving companions, made a great accompaniment for the sunshine. As a non-beer drinker, I plumped for rosé or cocktails, all reasonably priced.

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The food
The first thing that stands out to me is the food markets (which you can read more about here). We sampled loads of delicious bites and came across so weird and wonderful items on offer. There was cheese that was so pretty it gave me a bit of a complex and caramel infused everything. The savoury offerings were all very comforting foods, like poutine, smoked items and traditional sausages. There’s also the Lindt chocolate factory nearby. Do I really need to explain why that is good?

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The views
We spent one night overlooking the river in the Art’otel and the other overlooking the Media Park in Motel One. Both fabulous views but I think I preferred the second, especially when it comes with a Cosmopolitan. The Cathedral at the heart of the city is absolutely stunning and almost enough to rival Gaudi’s work. The gothic architecture is incredible and there’s some serious attention to detail going on – the building is abso huge.

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The attractions
One of my favourite parts of the trip was our visit to Cladius Therme – a thermal baths. The weather was perfect (mid-July) for spending the day lounging in the sunshine and dipping into the warm, outdoor pool and whirlpool. We explored inside too, with the hot and cold grotto, the iron sitting pool and the saline pool with it’s underwater music and colourful lights. Just don’t let your eyes stray to the random old mens junk when they wander from the naked sauna area (a section we skipped out). There are also plenty of beautiful sights to see just wandering around the city. We came across so many beautiful old buildings so it’s a travel photographers paradise.

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The transport
We jumped in cabs if we were heading out of the centre but we mostly just walked around. For both hotels, there was restaurants and bars right on our door-step and walking into the city was a chance to take in the surroundings. We flew into Dusseldorf airport and drove to Cologne which took us around an hour as there were more flights available from Manchester. We flew home from Cologne airport though, so if you’re thinking of visiting, check out nearby-by airports for the best prices.

The tips:
– Take half a day to visit the thermal baths
– Try the locally brewed Kölsch
– Sample as much as you can at the food markets
– Check nearby airports for the best prices and flight times, and don’t be afraid to fly into and from different airports.

What do you think of Cologne as a weekend break destination?

Love Lucinda xx
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