Travel destinations small enough for a day visit are the best. Cologne, a city in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia is one of those places.
Cologne is only a one-hour drive away from Dusseldorf, and like its sister city, it runs along the Rhine, one of Europe’s most important rivers. This means that travellers can take a ferry from Dusseldorf to Cologne, if going by road (cars, buses or trains) is not an option.
The other alternative is to join a river cruise from either city and get the best of both places.
Perhaps the most popular landmark in Cologne that visitors should not miss is the Cologne Cathedral. This Catholic cathedral is not only a Unesco World Heritage Site (since 1996) but an architectural marvel too.
Built in 1248, the structure was only truly complete in 1880! Apparently, work on the cathedral had stopped in 1473 for many reasons including war(s), political issues and budget constraints, and only resumed in the 1840s. The building’s Gothic look is a result of its original Medieval design, which was retained throughout the centuries.
Conservation work began many years ago and because of the building’s intricate design and delicate nature, it is still being done today. The main parts of the cathedral is open to the public though, like the viewing platform located 100m high from the ground – you would have to climb more than 500 steps to get there though.
Just a short walk away from the cathedral is the Hohenzollern Bridge. There’s a wide pathway built especially for pedestrians and cyclists, so visitors can take a leisurely stroll on this railway bridge. Between the pathway and the railway tracks you can see tens of thousands of padlocks left behind by couples in love. This tradition of leaving “love locks” – where couples fasten padlocks on the bridge and throw the keys into the Rhine to ensure everlasting love – is said to have started in 2008, and has become quite the tourist attraction.
However, German railway company Deutsche Bahn announced in 2018 that it plans to remove all the locks as safety issues on the bridge arise. In fact, that same year, a few thousand locks were removed in July as they were placed too close to the pedestrian path.
If love locks are not your thing, then head over to the nearest brauhaus or pub/bar for some Kolsch, Cologne’s very own beer. (Hot tip: Apparently, when you order an Altbier – beer made in Dusseldorf – in Cologne, you’re asking for trouble.) There are handful of bars and even cafes that face the Rhine River, so you can enjoy a view of the city while drinking a brew of your choice.
For something more luxurious, check out the popular Italian eatery called Glashaus Restaurant which is part of the Hyatt Regency Cologne hotel.
Here, you can end your short tour with some delicious treats, lovely cocktails and a gorgeous night view of the city.
Other places of interest in Cologne include the Chocolate Museum, Bruhl Castle and the Duftmuseum im Farina Haus or the fragrance museum, in which eau de Cologne – perfume – was created in the 1700s.
Singapore Airlines (singaporeair.com) has 4x weekly non-stop flights from Singapore to Dusseldorf, Germany.