Tim Steins is no stranger to Cologne. Born 30 kilometers north of this German city, he spent his childhood exploring Cologne on the weekends with friends in tow. He now channels his hometown pride into the Spotted by Locals blog while working for a media analysis agency. Though he’s lived in numerous places around Europe, Tim recognizes the “heart-warming spirit” of his current home: “Cologne is not a city, it’s a feeling.”
Cologne Is My City
When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them to is Deutzer Brücke to view the beautiful landscape of the Cologne skyline.
Spring is the best time to visit my city because it is neither too hot nor too cold. Besides, early spring is the height of Carnival—a celebration filled with parades, parties, and merriment.
You can see my city best from KölnTriangle in Deutz, on the right bank of the river.
Historic Senfmühle museum is the place to buy authentic, local mustard and other souvenirs. Fragrance museum and workshop House of 4711‘s original Eau de Cologne is also a great gift. For the really kitschy stuff, head to the small shops around Hohe Straße in old town.
My city’s best museum is the NS-Documentation Center of the City of Cologne because it gives an incredibly fascinating, detailed overview on National Socialism in Germany (and Cologne in particular). Formerly used as a Gestapo prison, the cells in the basement are eerily haunting. Cologne also has top-notch art museums like Museum Ludwig and the Wallraf das Museum).
If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that most main roads and tram lines run in semicircles around the city’s center. They follow the former city walls, which were circular. This can help or hinder one’s sense of orientation.
My city really knows how to celebrate Carnival—Cologne locals consider their city to be the capital of Carnival.
You can tell if someone is from my city if they speak the Kölsch dialect and will not hesitate to buy you a Kölsch beer. Note: Kölsch is the only language you can drink.
For a fancy night out, I head to Kalk neighborhood’s Blauer König. The mix of French, Middle Eastern, and/or Italian food is simply the best thing that has happened to my stomach.
The best outdoor markets in my city are Erhenfeld’s night flea markets.
When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I meet friends at Büdchen to grab some brews and head for the riverside.
To escape the crowds, I go to Villa Mathildea—a stylish, relaxed, and never-crowded café.
The dish that represents my city best is Himmel un Ääd (translates to Heaven and Earth). A daring mix of apples (heaven) and potatoes (earth), this meal is typically served with black pudding. Kölsch is my city’s signature drink. By law, this beer may only be brewed within the city limits of Cologne. Sample them at Brauerei Päffgen and Früh em Veedel, respectively.
Gebäude 9, Sonic Ballroom, and Lichtung are the best places to see live music. If you’re in the mood to dance, check out “Ringe” (the ring road around the city’s center) or venture to Underground and Club Bahnhof Ehrenfeld (CBE) in Ehrenfeld.
In the summer you should sip a beer at Poller Wiesen, taking in the riverfront view.
In the winter you should visit the Stadtgarten Christmas market. Though there are many German Christmas markets, the one in Stadtgarten is especially enchanting.
When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is Et Jitt Kei Wood. Due to its patriotic chorus, this tune is popular for bar sing-a-longs, especially during the Carnival season.