We were in Germany for a city break mostly based in Dusseldorf and visited the city of Cologne on a daytrip. Here are our highlights of the city (feat. beer, an awe-inspiring cathedral and more).
The cathedral – a must visit
Right across the Köln Central station is one of the world’s best examples of Gothic architecture in the 900 year old Dom aka Cathedral. It is magnificent inside, take your time to sit down in different areas and admire the design choices seen throughout the complex. Our favourites include a colour palette like stained glass on the right side of the cathedral. There is a grand view of the city from the top of the tower but we did not opt to go to the top.
Tip: The cathedral is free to enter (thank you!) & costs €3 to climb the tower.
Buying Cologne in Cologne
The Eau de Cologne (Water of Cologne) fragrance obviously originated from this city. There are 2 places of note to visit to get your Cologne fix, the first is the original Farina store in the Old Town est. 1709. The fragrance was conceived by an Italian immigrant and the recipe is a closely guarded secret. A teeny-tiny bottle of Cologne costs €8 from the store (which we bought), it does smell quite nice. Check out the museum downstairs to know the story of this famous fragrance.
The 2nd place of note is the 4711 store which is currently under a big refurbishment. This is the only other place to make the “original” Eau de Cologne (est. 1799) and definitely has bolder fragrances to choose from (outside the standard Original). Once their refurbishment is over in Nov, they will resume their workshops & guided tours that have regaled many a tourist.
Drink local Kolsch at Früh Brewery (Highly Recommended)
We were eyeing Früh as the Brauhaus (Brewery) of choice during our short visit and it was validated by a German friend who studied in this area. The choice was spot on as we’re ready to declare Kolsch beer the winner of its rivalry with Dusseldorf’s AltBier. The Brauhaus was very reminiscent of our Munich visits and the beer was cold, crisp and in small (0.2l) glasses to set us up for an epic afternoon of food & drink. Watching the servers carry a number of Kolsch glasses in a specially designed tray was like revisiting the Indian Thali experience.
The food was pretty good too with us going for 1 standard (Pork Schnitzel) and 1 non-standard (marinated beef in gelatinous aspic) dish. Our suggestion would be to stick to the standard dishes for an optimal experience 🙂 People were chowing down on Pork knuckles but honestly, the did not look as good as the ones we saw in this charming place in Dusseldorf (we’ll keep you hanging till that writeup is done).
Cost: 2 mains and 5 glasses for beer for 35 EUR with a tip.
Satiating our sweet tooth
Our final stop was getting a sticky but delicious nut + chocolate bread from the Merzenich bakery next door. It was scrummy and only 2 EUR!
Public transport logistics
- Our ticket of choice was the 5 person VRR day ticket costing 36 EUR.
- It includes all local public transport for the day in Dusseldorf, Cologne and everywhere in between.
- Note: The VRR dayticket is valid only on Regional (marked R or RE) or S-Bahn trains (marked S). Do not get on an IC, ICE, Thalys or any other sexy looking train as these tickets are not valid on those trains.
Tip: Lookout for Köln on departure boards instead of Cologne to find your train / platform. Alternative bahn.de has excellent English support.
Tip: You can buy your tickets from a VRR ticket vending machine with a Chip + Pin card or cash but if like us you have a Chip + Sign card (go USA), the VRR ticket office in on the left of the ticket buying part right in the centre (around plat 8) of Dusseldorf station.
Tip: You need to validate Day tickets are the box like machines seen just before taking the platform stairs at Dusseldorf.
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