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LifeinourVan City Reviews | Cologne | Germany

LifeinourVan City Reviews | Cologne | GermanyScore 73%Score 73%

Exploring Cologne in the Spring Sunshine by Bike. Cologne (Köln) offered plenty of potential for a bike ride on a seemingly perfect spring day. Full of sunshine and the promise of spring flowers… the ideal opportunity to grab our bikes and head for the centre of Cologne along the bike paths alongside the River Rhine…

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So almost perfect, although it didn’t quite start out that way as we traipsed around a multitude of garages in search of the elusive green ELV emissions sticker. Finally we arrived at one of the centres (TUV Rhineland) and were were on our way at the cost of just 5 Euros. For any other motorhomers, we found an ideal spot overlooking the Rhine to base ourselves near to the end of line 159 (bus) into the centre (GPS – N50.9124, E6.9842) – Picture here )

 

In the North West of Germany, Cologne is some 2,000 yrs old and full of Gothic architecture and bridges that span the Rhine which makes its way lazily through the centre of the city. Cologne is highly rated by the Lonely Planet, for it’s vibrant city lifestyle, perhaps one of the most liberal in Germany. Yet no-one can mistake it’s centrepiece, the hugely impressive ‘Dom’ (Cathedral) that rises imperiously out of the old town in Cologne. So as landmarks for bike ride go, today’s navigational tasks were hardly going to be hard….
BBoth girls loved the chance to get back onto their bikes and add another adventure to their growing collection (click here for more bike adventures across Europe). Lottie & Libby loved the easy, flat ride along paths straight into the centre (which also has its own bike lanes clearly marked)

As ever it just reminded us that a family bike ride really can be a fantastic way to spend a ‘cheap’ day in a city (so if that interests you, then check out the bottom of the article for others cities that we reckon are great for bike rides!)

 

Every city should have Something special

As first impressions go, this viewpoint to the east of the city shows just how impressive the twin spired cathedral really is…. It has sweeping views of the Rhine from atop it’s blackened spires (which appeared a hive of activity today with cruise ships, barges and even police boats gliding past) but more of that climb later….

 

Which parts of Cologne would you prefer?

The old part of Cologne is easily worth a morning, browsing the smaller shops or taking some time to enjoy a lazy coffee in one of the many colourful squares. It reminded us a little of Munich’s beer gardens and it certainly seemed almost as busy!!!

The girls have just finished a ‘Cathedrals Tour’ of the UK, so we could happily compare this to ‘York‘, ‘Durham‘, ‘Exeter‘, ‘St Davids‘ or ‘Lincoln‘. But in fairness, the sheer scale and enormity of the ‘Kölner Dom’ would match any of those above. It’s footprint is a scarcely believable 12,470sqm, with towers that soar to over 157m and it took over 600years to complete (finishing in the 1800’s as a symbol for Prussian unification)

Once inside, the size of the cathedral hits you again as the ceiling appears to rest somewhere in the clouds! Its just that tall!! Spring sunshine lit up the impressive stained glass windows…. yet it has a darkness inside that suprised us… it must have been an imposing place to worship in the times of just candles!!! Amazingly it’s spires survived the Allied bombings but to see the cathedral properly… you’ll need to test your vertigo and head upwards!

After some 530+  steps up the south tower you’ll have passed enormous bells including the largest in the world in Peter Bell (to match those in Ghent’s impressive Belfort Tower) The steps are easier to climb in the Kölner Dom but by the time you reach the top, the sheer drop is staggering… it really does need nerves of steel to get to where Lottie stood!! (with a drop of well over 100m behind her!)

The views from the top were amazing but our favourite photo shows the city behind these gothic windows at the very top of the Cathedral, or the last few stairs at the top of the spiralling staircase to the upper tower…. amazing views of the city roll out before you, but both girls favourite view was seeing the trains heading in and out of the railway station…

Sadly our journey requires us to head further East so we missed out on Cologne’s other attractions (there’ll be another visit back in late April) As there really is plenty more to see and do including

  • River Cruises (45mins)
  • German Sport & Olympic Museum
  • Hop On/Off Bus Tours
  • Odysseum Museum
  • Fragrance Museum
  • People in their Worlds Museum
  • Round Trip Train ride (15mins)
  • Chocolate Experience/Museum
  • Cologne Zoo
But with tummies rumbling and the thoughts of seeing the place which inspired the ‘Piper Piper of Hameln’ story… we headed back on our bikes for the motorhome after a chance to ‘picnic beside the Rhine’ to finish a fantastic day in Cologne

 

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City Review

73%

Summary Need to escape for a few days? Want to compare weekend breaks to top cities such as Bordeaux, Rome or Copenhagen? Does your family love to explore new cities too? Do you also think that city breaks aren't just for adults and are a great way to learn, relax and bond as a family. If so, grab a seat, make yourself comfortable & discover some of the favourite 'family friendly' cities we've visited in our 700+ day European Roadtrip

value for money
72%
ease of access
74%
activities for families
71%
motorhome accommodation availability
80%
public transport
69%
would we return factor
72%

About The Author

Richard

Ever wanted to pack your bags, just jump in a motorhome and go off and explore Europe as a family? Well, that’s exactly what my family has done since September 2015. Visiting 35 European countries, travelling over 54,000 miles and grabbing over 450 family experiences on the way… enjoying Bobsleigh in Norway, Climbing into Mt Etna in Sicily or Kayaking the River Dordogne.

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