While Cologne’s a long way from the coast, you won’t have to travel far for a beach fix. The KM 689 Beach Club’s just across the Rhine from the city centre. There, you’ll find a manmade spot with 1,000 tonnes of powder-soft sand, Balinese beds and comfy loungers – all with first-class views of the city skyline.
Just a 25-minute drive north of the city centre is the manmade spot of Blackfoot Beach. Deckchairs and Balinese beds are sprinkled along the sands here, and there’s a lake that’s perfectly set up for swimming. And if you fancy an adrenaline buzz, you can even get among the trees on the high ropes course, too.
You’ll find Sundown Beach Club pulled up to the calm waters of Escher Lake, just a 25-minute drive away. The beach club’s only open when the sun’s shining, and when you’re not catching the rays on the Balinese beds, you can grab some shade in the bar-cum-restaurant on the sands, which has some serious Ibiza vibes.
The flea market in Wilhelmplatz is the perfect place to snap up a bargain or two. It’s open once a month, on a Sunday, and it’s where 150 plus traders come to sell everything from crockery and lamps to clothes and toys.
The city centre’s filled with well-known high street names, plus a few German-only chains. Schildergasse is the main shopping street, which cuts right through the city, from the old town to the new town.
You’ll find a whole host of designer threads along Ehrestrasse – it’s around 10 minutes’ walk from the city centre, and links up nicely with Mittlestrasse, which is also teeming with top-notch shops.
Head to the Alter Markt part of the city for traditional taverns and independent restaurants, just a stone’s throw away from the Rhine. Although they get busy after dark, they’re usually filled with a quieter crowd than the bars and clubs in the newer part of town.
For the liveliest nightlife, head to Zulpicher Strasse in the student area of the city – this lengthy road is affectionately referred to as Party Mile. And for hardcore clubbers, Bootshaus is consistently named in the top 10 nightclubs worldwide. You’ll find it in a remote shipyard under one of the Rhine’s bridges.
This pale, hoppy beer’s been brewed for over a century, and it’s exclusive to this part of Germany. That’s not to say you can’t find it elsewhere, but to be classed as the genuine article it must’ve been brewed within 30 miles of the city. And it’s got geographical protection from the EU to back it up.
This simple street snack may have its origins in Berlin, but it’s become so popular that you’ll find it in city centres all over Germany. The dish is made up of fried sausage, which is usually cut into smaller chunks and smothered in curry ketchup with a sprinkling of curry powder on top. It’s often served with chips or a bread roll, and you’ll spot it in kiosks around the city.
This popular pub snack goes down a treat between sips of Kolsch in the city’s pubs. It’s made up of a rye bread roll, which is buttered, then filled with cheese, gherkins, raw onions and mustard, before being cut in half – hence the name.
These potato pancakes are often served with a topping of apple sauce or sugar beet syrup for a sweet and savoury snack. You’ll find them in taverns all over the city, but a word to the wise – they’re often sold only on specific days, so you might need to scout around for them.
Sweet and savoury options are popular on menus in these parts, and this dish, which means ‘heaven and earth’ in English, is no different. The key ingredients are mashed potatoes and apple sauce, which are fried together with liver sausage or slices of black pudding.
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