Cologne, Germany

Get to know what it’s like to visit this destination.

FEATURED Port in association with Scenic River Cruises

Getting To Know Cologne – River Cruise Guide


Despite its vast destruction during WWII, the city of Cologne has emerged as one of the most diverse, vibrant and fascinating destinations in Germany – filled of ancient steeples contrasting with cutting-edge architecture. As one of the most varied cityscapes in Europe, Cologne is the perfect addition to a Rhine river cruise itinerary, as its contemporary architectural designs contrast starkly with the medieval and fairy-tale like villages of the river. This Cologne river cruise guide will enable you to make the most of your visit to the city which has more than two thousand years of history to explore.

With more than 2,000 years of historical intrigue lining the banks of the Rhine within Cologne’s city borders, there’s a multitude of enticing sights to explore and experiences to enjoy. Wander the western bank of the Rhine savouring magnificent feats of Romanesque architecture and cross the cobblestoned streets of the Old City in search of traditional eau de toilette emporiums. For an in-depth insight into the city’s namesake, Eau de Cologne, a guided tour will take you to all the best spots. Sip a refreshing stein of Kölsch in the shadow of the medieval city walls or indulge in countless sweet treats at the celebrated Chocolate Museum. Cologne provides a rich cultural tapestry for even the most discerning traveller.

Sadly, during the Second World War, Cologne suffered more Allied bombing than any other German city, with much of the city centre laid to ruin. While countless cultural treasures were lost in the wake of the war, fortunately the 12th-century cathedral remained largely intact and is an absolute must-visit during your time in Cologne. The rebuilding of the city after the war gives it its unique landscape – with medieval houses and Roman-age forts standing beside contemporary architectural designs.

One of the best ways to get acquainted with the fascinating city is by joining a walking tour with a knowledgeable local guide. For guests visiting the city with Scenic, we have a Cologne ‘Past and Present tour’, which gives insight into the fascinating past of the city from its Roman occupancy to its Jewish heritage, then on to the present day and how the city is developing into the future. Nearby Drachenburg castle is also worth a visit outside the city, It’s home to the oldest cog railway in Germany. A visit to the splendid castle and its surroundings, as well as the railway journey, are included for all guests on Scenic’s Rhine river cruises.

While Cologne is a fantastic city to visit any time of year, visit in December for a truly magical experience as the city comes to life with festive cheer. Explore traditional Christmas markets set among the backdrop of the stunning Cologne Cathedral with its twinkling lights and festive decorations – the city is also home to the largest Christmas tree in the Rhineland. The city is filled with the fragrant aroma of glühwein, roasted chestnuts and its atmosphere is bustling and bursting with festive excitement. You can enjoy the Christmas cheer on Scenic’s Rhine Christmas Markets itinerary that takes in all the festivities this stretch of river has to offer, or alternatively over the summer months there’s the Rhine Highlights itinerary which sails from Amsterdam to Basel, with an overnight stop in Cologne


Key highlights of Cologne

  • Cologne Cathedral (Der Kölner Dom)
  • Gereon’s Basilica
  • Hohenzollern Bridge
  • Museum Ludwig
  • Cologne Chocolate Museum
  • Kölner Zoo
  • Historic Old Town
St Petersburg Cruise port

Regular river cruise line visitors

  • Scenic
  • Viking River Cruises
  • Riviera Travel

Cruise Expert Insider 🔎 Cologne River Cruise Port by Nichola Absalom 

With so much history rooted in this city, Cologne is the perfect destination to explore a vast range of enticing sights and experiences. Even from the moment you set sail into the city of Cologne, it is hard to miss the towering spires of the gothic Cathedral greeting you as you arrive. As one of the most iconic UNESCO World Heritage sights and the third tallest church in the world, it is definitely worth scaling the whopping 500 steps up to witness the picturesque skyline of the city – my best advice is to take advantage of the late openings and climb up before the sunset to see a breath-taking panoramic of the city.

However, if you want to keep your feet firmly on the ground, another one of my personal favourite things to do whilst in Cologne is making the most of the lesser-known shopping districts. Away from tourists and filled with an abundance of interesting markets, alternative boutiques and independent stores, shopping like a local is the best way to get a truly authentic experience of Cologne and it doesn’t hurt to treat yourself to a souvenir!

Nichola Absalom

Director of Global Brand, Scenic – Luxury Cruises & Tours



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