Cologne Day Trip – A Gothic Architecture tour!

Our visit to Cologne was a planned day trip from Brussels the Belgian capital. Cologne is one of the oldest and the fourth largest city in Germany around 80 km from Belgium. Cologne is well connected with Brussels, the capital city of Belgium by frequent trains with a travel time of around two hours.

Cologne Cathedral
The most popular attraction of Cologne is the World Heritage Site Cologne Cathedral, which attracts an average of 20,000 people every day. Even though the magnificent cathedral suffered fourteen hits during the World War II bombings it nevertheless stood tall amidst the destructed city. Even to this day, the striking pairs of colossal towers soars high above the city skyline. The cathedral area measures 8000 square meters and has the capacity to hold more than 20,000 people.

Cologne Day Trip Cologne Cathedral

Once we were in cologne station we inquired for the directions to cathedral and person in tourist office ushered us towards the exit. Muddled we walked towards the station exit only to be gobsmacked by the sight of the imposing cathedral. Our vision was inundated with the gigantic black cathedral soaring high in front of us.

The colossal black facade of the cathedral beautifully decorated with statues, pinnacles, tracery, flying buttresses and intricate carvings left us awestruck. We were astonished to learn that the black exterior of the cathedral is due to the deterioration of the sandstone by the polluted air. Delighted we entered the cathedral. The cathedral is in the shape of a Latin Cross alike any other Gothic cathedrals with a lofty nave which is one of the highest Gothic vaults.

The south transept had a stunningly amazing stained glass window. The 1,220 sq. ft. prismatic piece of art consisting of 11,500 identically sized pieces of colored glass was installed in 2007. The other significant and awe-inspiring work of art in the cathedral is the Shrine of the Three Kings made of wood and decorated with gold and silver. The reliquary in the shape of a basilica church is believed to hold the remains of the Biblical Magi or the Three Wise Men which makes Cologne cathedral a major pilgrimage destination.

Visitors can climb 509 stone steps of the spiral staircase south tower to a viewing platform for scenic vistas of the Rhine.

The Romanesque Churches
The cologne cathedral is the epitome of glorious gothic architecture but a trip to cologne does not end here. Definitely worth visiting are the 12 Romanesque churches in the city at a walking distance from the cologne cathedral.

Cologne Day Trip St Gereons Basilica

Cologne Day Trip St Martin

Due to time constraint, we visited only a few of the churches in the close vicinity and headed to explore the lively old town along the Rhine.

For Museum Enthusiasts
For museum enthusiasts, Cologne has around 30 museums of which the most popular is the Ludwig museum that houses a collection paintings and sculptures representing the modern art. The Romano-Germanic Museum walks one through the rich history of the Romans along the Rhine. Explore the long history of the chocolates in the Chocolate Museum.

Old Town
The bustling quaint narrow alleys and houses of old town beckon tourists with its historic charm and vibrancy. Stroll along the Rhine or spend some time around several pubs, restaurants, museums and monuments. The historical city hall of Cologne is one of the oldest building. The five storey impressive gothic style tower from the 15th century and the 16th century Renaissance style loggia are an exemplary of remarkable architecture.

Cologne Day Trip Cologne CIty Hall

We found this gorgeous 19-century fountain with the Jan-von-Werth monument in the middle of the Old Town Square.

Cologne Day Trip

Hohenzollern Bridge and the Love Locks
We walked through a park behind the Cologne Cathedral, which had a long promenade along the Rhine River where many tourists and locals relaxed and enjoying their leisure time.

Cologne Day Trip

The most interesting was a stone sculpture fountain also known to be Paolozzi fountain. We shot some pictures of the fountain and walked towards the bridge through the enchanting hues of the fall.

Cologne Day Trip

The four equestrian statues of Prussian kings and German emperors of the Hohenzollern dynasty stand along the bridge which gives the bridge its name.

The rail bridge has six tracks and around 1200 trains pass every day. There is a pedestrian walkway for visitors to enjoy the beautiful vistas over the Rhine and the city of Cologne. The most breathtaking sight is the colorful spectrum of the Love Locks from one end of the bridge to other. It is believed that there are more than 40,000 padlocks on the bridge weighing over 2 tons in total.

Cologne Day Trip

Cologne Day Trip

Cologne is not only about churches and museums. The city has a vibrant nightlife with an abundance of clubs. A wide variety of branded shops like fascinate tourists on a shopping spree.

Visiting Cologne is a walk through the gothic architecture through dozens of cathedrals but the city’s famous Cologne Cathedral is a must visit for the art lovers.

Have you been to Cologne and amazed by the magnificent Cologne cathedral? Share your experience with us in comments.

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28 Comment

  1. Luca says: Reply

    I spent only some hours on Cologne because of a long connection between two flights, but I found it to be quite uninteresting. Sure, the cathedral is magnificent, despite its black tone is basically filth, but for the rest, considering what I saw, there are more interesting cities in Germany for sure. At least I had a sumptuous Teutonic meal! 😀

  2. ben says: Reply

    I unfortunately never made it to Cologne and the west side of Germany, but your description made it feel like I was there. Part of the reason for not visiting was that I didn’t only want to go just to see a church. Good to read about the other attractions besides the church.

  3. Amy says: Reply

    Cologne comes across as a very intriguing, yet intimate city. The cathedral is spectacular, and I have a soft spot for the gothic styles as they are so ornate. And I love that it has a lock bridge! So very European 🙂

  4. Ella says: Reply

    Even if I live in Germany, I never made it to Cologne so far. But nevertheless I´d like to visit that city very soon and your pictures and post about the sights gave me a good insight what I can visit and expect! Awesome, thank you!! All the best, Ella (Ella Happylicious)

  5. Gareth says: Reply

    I was lucky enough to visit Cologne last year and I have to say the Cathedral really is spectacular beyond anything I’d imagined. And although I usually stay away from organised tours, the hop-on hop-off tour of Cologne is really great and does take you to some otherwise overlooked parts of the city. Totally agree with you that it isn’t just about the churches however as a night out in Cologne is really A LOT of fun. Thoroughly enjoyable post.

  6. Cologne looks like a really awesome place to be. I was really blown away with the size of the cathedral. What kind of food can you expect here? I visited Tubingen in Germany

  7. Great post! I haven’t been to Germany yet (although I’m from France so I really have no excuse!), but it’s definitely on my list… The architecture looks amazing – and OMG the bridge with all those padlocks is impressive! 🙂 x

  8. Brian says: Reply

    My first real “Eurotrip” was Frankfurt-Cologne-Brussels-Paris so this post brings back memories. I regret not seeing the chocolate museum, but I only had a day in Cologne. The cathedral certainly stood out the most.

  9. Vyjay says: Reply

    Cologne has that unique and endearing charm that many European cities have. The buildings, streets, parks, and fountains have this unmistakable stamp of elegance. I am particularly fascinated by the colourful Love Locks.

  10. Yes, cologne. My best friend lives there so I definitely enjoyed your post. It’s a city with a great vibe and energy. Love that you captured it’s magic in your write up.

  11. I did Cologne trip but only the cathedral. I missed the love locks! What a splendid sight! Your pictures freshened my memories of the interiors of the grand cathedral.

  12. Joanna says: Reply

    I love the Gothic architecture of Cologne and the beautiful spectacular cathedral. I did read before about the locks on that bridge, that’s quite an impressive sight. It’s amazing how the bridge can hold the 2 tons of extra weight.

  13. Havent been outside Asia so seeing these kind of pictures makes me more eager to expand my horizons.
    Lovely church architectures. Very intricate

  14. Wow, Cologne looks so amazing! I’m truly a fan of museums – so that’s something to look forward to if ever I visit. I also want to see the Cologne Cathedral for its glorious architecture. 🙂

  15. Great to see some sights from the town as I have heard so much about Cologne. The cathedral looks colossal and ts amazing to know how it survved the war. Surely modern day buildings are not that sturdy.

  16. Shane says: Reply

    I must say, Gothic is my favorite style of architecture. So unique and a bit eery. I love any city where I’m able to scope it out. Hope to make it to Cologne one day!

  17. Stacey says: Reply

    I have been to Cologne. It was only an hour or so from where I lived for three years. And it felt like all the 20,000 people you say visit there were there every single time I did. We went for the cathedral, which is so tall and wide, its quite difficult to get the entire thing in your camera lens. We also loved going for the restaurants, beer halls and museum nights along the river. We are all so fortunate it was just about the only thing NOT bombed during the war.

  18. Andi says: Reply

    I’ve always been dreaming of visiting countries in Europe because of this magnificent structures. I’d like to see its facade in front of me. I adore the people who have kept its historical beauty and for sure it will last for more decades and will be forever part of the history.

  19. Marge says: Reply

    It was hit 7x and it’s still standing today? Now that one’s resilient cathedral. It withstood the test of time, literally.

    And it’s amazing that the bridge can take all of those padlocks. I wonder if one can still see the lock he/she put there with all those when he/she returns. Good lord there’s too many of them. Did you leave a lock in there?

  20. Cologne Church probably is one of the most beautiful churches I ever saw atleast online. At first I thought its the sagrada familia. It’s really impressive. The architectural design of the churches and museums here are really amazing!

  21. Jerny says: Reply

    I love the Gothic architecture of Cologne and the beautiful spectacular cathedral.
    A post I had regarding the gothic architectural church in Manila, the steel structure of it came from Cologne. See it here –

  22. This place is dear to my heart! It was a very short tour in Cologne, just the cathedral but it was worth the time. I love visiting the UNESCO sites.

  23. Elisa says: Reply

    Good that you also enjoyed the romanesque churches, they are so beautiful! And some tourists just visit the cathedral and go . . . By the way, people in Cologne are protestants or catholics? The cathedral is catholic but I am not sure about people

  24. Johna says: Reply

    Wow! How beautiful is this place. I love looking at the architecture of buildings in new places I visit. Definitely need to add this place to my bucketlist.

  25. Emily says: Reply

    Autumn looks like a beautiful time to visit Cologne. The churches are stunning; I love gothic architecture. The padlocks on the bridge are so sweet! I’ve never hears of them. Did you add to them?

  26. neha says: Reply

    Looks like you made the best possible use of your time here. The churches are simply stunning. One off the track question – how old was your toddler when you visited here? I am planning a trip to Europe, with my 3 years old, wondering how she will take it

    1. mm GOBeyondBounds says: Reply

      We have been exploring Europe since our daughter was 6 months old. The transport and facilities in Europe are kid friendly so you don have to worry much. So now is the right time Just pack your bags and go 😉

  27. Never made it to cologne.. though it definitely looks like something we shouldn’t have missed when we were in Germany. Maybe.. skip that .. deifnitely in our next trip!

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