The 2,000-year-old city of Cologne is West Germany’s cultural heartland, with a world-renowned carnival, cruises along the Rhine and the famous Kölner Dom just a few of the incredible things you can experience here. As well as being one of Germany’s most popular cities to visit, Cologne offers the perfect basecamp to explore the surrounding area. From fun theme parks to musical heritage, here are some of the best day trips from Cologne.
Explore the Old Town of Dusseldorf
The picturesque Rhine river cuts through both Cologne and Dusseldorf, with some boat tours even offering a full day of sailing that can take you as far as Mainz to the south. If you want more time to explore, you can drive to the capital of the North Rhine-Westphalia in under an hour from Cologne. Once you’ve arrived, you can explore the marvels of the metropolis up close. Wander along the Old Town (Altstadt), taste local specialities like pork knuckle and take a seat at one of the 260 pubs, breweries and clubs in the area that give it the nickname of the ‘Longest Bar in the World’.
Soak in Aachen
With charming cathedrals, pretty town halls and resplendent market squares Aachen has it all. Just an hour’s drive from Cologne, this bordering city is Germany’s closest to Great Britain and feels cosmopolitan and welcoming due to its proximity to the Netherlands and Belgium. Nicknamed the ‘Spa of Kings’, Aachen is famed for its steamy mineral springs that date back to the Roman times. As well as having associations with Charlemagne, the King of the Franks in the Middle Ages, Aachen is home to the Gothic masterpiece called the Imperial Cathedral (or Kaiserdom), which was Germany’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Discover Beautiful Bonn
The birthplace of the musical maestro Ludwig van Beethoven, this charming city boasts a museum and concert hall in the composer’s honour and makes for an essential day trip destination. Once the capital of West Germany, Bonn is steeped in Roman history and national heritage. Nicknamed the ‘Gate to the Romantic Rhine’ due to its position along the river, the city is a popular destination for boat tours, which sail past vineyards, villages and fairy-tale hilltop castles.
Thrilling Fun at Phantasialand
Germany’s best known theme park, Phantasialand is a paradise for kids of all ages – and grownups too. Such is its popularity that almost every Germany child will have stood in awe at the fabulous live shows or whizzed along the many themed roller coasters at least once. The different sections of the park are divided up into countries, each with their own roller coaster rides, log flumes and life-size mock ups of famous landmarks, allowing you to explore the whole world in a single visit!
If this has inspired your own trip, take a look at our Adventure Page for further information.