Cologne - much more than just a Cathedral - have you tried Kölsch?
The German city of Cologne, or Köln as it is spelt, is a fascinating study of opposites. It's a metropolis that manages to be at once tranquil and bustling, traditional and dynamic, and full of history and the future.
The Kölner Dom, the city's magnificent cathedral, is one of the first sights visitors to Cologne will see. For nearly 700 years, this magnificent Gothic church has stood as a symbol of the city it overlooks. Standing in front of this majestic structure and taking in all of the fine intricacies of its façade can't help but fill you with awe.
But the cathedral isn't all that Cologne has to offer. There is a lot of history in the city that has yet to be uncovered. If you take a trip through the Old Town, you can see many structures that were constructed during the Middle Ages. The Rathaus, the city hall, is a stunning structure. It is a beautiful example of Gothic architecture from the 14th century and has played a significant role in the history of Cologne.
Cologne is another city that never sleeps. Locals and tourists alike frequent the Rhine River's shores. A trip down the river is an excellent way to spend an afternoon. Along the riverfront, you can find many great places to eat and drink while you people-watch.
Cologne's easygoing demeanour distinguishes it from other German cities. Locals in Cologne are noted for their friendliness and eagerness to chat over a Kölsch, the city's speciality beer. The fact that Cologne is the only city in Germany to produce its own beer is a source of regional pride.
As a city, Cologne is dynamic as well. For instance, the Ehrenfeld region is a repurposed industrial zone that is now a hip and happening district of Berlin. There is an abundance of locally owned businesses, as well as street art and hipster cafes, in this area.
Cologne's openness to contrast is undoubtedly the city's greatest strength. It's a city where seemingly opposite things coexist in harmonious harmony. You'll be struck by the interesting character of this city whether you're strolling through the ancient Old Town, checking out the trendy neighbourhoods, or just relaxing with a Kölsch along the riverfront.
When you think of German beer, you probably think of the classic lagers and pilsners that the country is known for. But if you find yourself in Cologne, there's one beer that you simply can't miss: Kölsch.
Kölsch is a light, crisp beer that is brewed exclusively in and around Cologne. It's been the city's signature beer since the 1800s and is an integral part of the local culture. In fact, Kölsch is more than just a beer – it's a way of life in Cologne.
So what makes Kölsch so special? For starters, it's a top-fermented beer, which means that it's brewed at warmer temperatures than other German beers. This gives it a lighter body and a more refreshing taste. It's also served in small glasses, called "Stangen", which hold just 0.2 litres of beer. This is intentional – Kölsch is meant to be enjoyed in small, leisurely sips, rather than chugged down in large quantities.
But what really sets Kölsch apart is the way it's served. In most bars in Cologne, Kölsch is served straight from the barrel. The waiter, or "Köbes", will bring you a fresh glass of beer as soon as you finish your current one. The glasses are tall and thin, with a narrow neck that helps keep the beer cold. The Köbes will keep track of how many glasses you've had by marking them on a coaster at your table. Don't worry about keeping track of yourself – the Köbes has got you covered.
Kölsch is more than just a beer – it's a social experience. It's meant to be enjoyed with friends and family, and it's often served with local specialities like Himmel un Ääd (potatoes and applesauce) or Halver Hahn (rye bread with cheese and onions). The atmosphere in the bars is lively and convivial, with locals and visitors alike enjoying the laid-back atmosphere and the unique flavour of Kölsch.
If you want to try Kölsch for yourself, there's no shortage of places to do so in Cologne. Head to the Altstadt (Old Town) and you'll find plenty of traditional beer halls and breweries serving up cold glasses of Kölsch. Früh, Reissdorf, and Gaffel are just a few of the most popular Kölsch breweries in Cologne.
So if you find yourself in Cologne, make sure to try Kölsch. It's more than just a beer – it's a taste of the city's history and culture. And who knows – you might just fall in love with the laid-back atmosphere and convivial spirit that Kölsch embodies. So if you're looking for a city that is full of surprises, head to Cologne. It's a city that is sure to leave a lasting impression. Prost!
If you are considering making a weekend out of Cologne. There are a number of options to choose from to suit all budgets. Over the years, I've had the fortune to stay in an array of hotels, apartments and various forms of accommodation while travelling. For the majority of travellers, I recommend Booking.com - yes there are hotel comparison websites such as Trivago and Kayak. However, from my years of travel experience, I've discovered both of these comparison websites do not have all the hotels, hostels and apartments listed. The reasons behind this could be some premises simply do not pay the comparison sights a fee or the reason could be something else. If you know of the reason do leave a comment below. However, I have discovered no matter what the location Booking.com will 9/10ths of the time have the most competitive deal and generally the most choice. However, if you are super keen to get the best deal- use Booking.com, Kayak, Trivago, Lastminute.com and Hotels.com in separate browser windows.
I am not sponsored by the German Government or any Travel Group, I simply have written this post as I enjoy travelling. Please do check out this blog for more independent travel ideas and my YouTube Channel. As always, videos can always be found on YouTube & Odysee. I use both as sadly YouTube is now censoring content whereas Odysee is for Free-Speech.
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Thank you - Alex van Terheyden