With its famous bridge festooned with 'love padlocks', riverside walks and towering cathedral, Cologne has plenty to offer lovers looking for a romantic city break destination. We've highlighted the most popular things to see and do in the city for couples this winter. So read on learn what to add to your romantic Cologne itinerary.
Say it with padlocks
The first place you should visit on your romantic city break is the Hohenzollernbrücke Bridge. The bridge attracts couples from all over the world longing to secure the future of their relationship by adding a padlock to the massive collection. Want to follow the 40,000 couples who have already left a marker of their love on the bridge? Follow our step by step guide: First buy a padlock from a vendor nearby (trust us, you'll easily find one!); next, have it engraved with your names or message; stroll up to the bridge hand in hand, with the open padlock in your pocket; then, together of course, secure the padlock to the bridge. And finally, kiss your partner and fling the keys away into the Rhine!
And even if you’re shy about adding your own lock to the collection, this is a romantic and scenic place to visit with your partner. The locks are fascinating to look at and symbolize so much hope. You can't help but smile when reading all the engravings.
If chocolate be the food of love
Okay, so we know it should be 'music' not 'chocolate' but if Shakespeare had ever visited Cologne he might have written that line differently. The Schokoladenmuseum is a feast for the senses and will add a touch of sweetness to your time in this romantic city. Check ahead for chocolate tasting sessions that pair fine chocolate with coffee, wine, beer, rum and even tequila.
A tour of the museum is a journey through the history of chocolate right from the Maya and Aztecs, through the Baroque period and into the industrial revolution and onto today's sweet treats. There are fascinating displays and even an oversized chocolate fountain you can dip into with wafers. And if that gets your taste buds tingling then don't worry: there’s a fantastic café to indulge in and a chocolate shop simply crammed with tempting bars, boxes and jars to take home.
It's almost impossible to visit Cologne without at least glimpsing the twin spires of the mighty Dom Cathedral. The Cologne Cathedral is a stunning example of Gothic architecture and a World Heritage Site. Construction was started in 1248 ended in 1880 by which time Lewis Carroll had already dubbed it "the most beautiful of all the churches I have ever seen, or can imagine."
As you stroll through the mostly pedestrianised streets of the old town towards the spires, the cathedral looms large creating a buzz of anticipation. Once up close, this mighty edifice rises so high that it's almost impossible to take it all in. And once inside your amazement will be no less, especially when you think of the era in which construction on this epic fusion of soaring arches and stained glass windows started. Romantics should seek out the brand new window designed by Gerhard Richter, one of the world's most sought after and expensive artists. The window is made up of 11,500 squares of glass in 72 colours. Gazing up at this 'symphony of light' with your partner will surely be one of the highlights of your trip.
And if you're looking for a challenge, climb the 533 steps to reach the viewing platform to enjoy the impressive view across the Rhine. This also allows you some unique close-ups with the spires' intricate architecture and gargoyles. Did you know that gargoyles were attached to the gutters on Gothic cathedrals in order to divert rain water as far away from the building as possible?
The one and only Eau de Cologne
Nearby the Dom you'll find another sensory distraction: Eau de Cologne at Farina House. The original fragrance house is now a museum and retail outlet. Go on a tour and learn about the history of perfume and how it's produced. Revel in the aroma of the original scent that the inventor described as, "reminiscent of a spring morning in Italy after the rain…". How could one refuse that? You can also check out their rival Eau de Cologne makers no. 4711. This house of fragrance also set up shop in the early 18th century and takes its name from its flagship store at what was no. 4711 Klöckergasse house. Purchasing a bottle of this world famous scent is a lovely way to make the memories of your trip to the city linger.
A walk along the river
One last thing you should definitely try to squeeze into your schedule is a romantic stroll along the banks of the River Rheine. There’s plenty to see here with industrial barges sweeping up and down the waterway transporting coal and goods from all over Europe. But it all happens with surprisingly little fuss, making this a relaxing place to wander, people watch and hold hands (of course!). You can also take note of the last remaining cranes that line the walkway as a reminder of past industry. Newly built apartments and office blocks now line the banks.
Stop off here for photos of the river and bridge and one last coffee and excellent German pastry before you head back to your hotel.
Pampering for two
What better way to say 'I love you' than with a relaxing stay for two at our 4-star Radisson Blu hotel, Cologne? The hotel rooms have all been designed with Feng Shui principles in mind to leave you feeling refreshed and relaxed. You'll get complimentary use of the Vitarium fitness and wellness area which even has a Finnish sauna. Unwind and savour the quality time you’re spending with your loved one in the steam bath and relaxation rooms before enjoying a delicious dinner in the Paparazzi Restaurant – the perfect end to a romantic day in Cologne!