Everyone is Welcome: A Guide to Community-Focused Cologne
Overlooked by the gothic showstopper that is Cologne Cathedral, the largest city in North Rhine-Westphalia dances to its own – progressive – beat, energised by a diverse, young population of movers and shakers intent on making the world a better place
Ifthe cities of North Rhine-Westphalia were a family, Cologne
would be the hipster little sister to couture- clad Düsseldorf. Although it was founded in 38 BC
and still has the Roman walls and 600-year-old cathedral to prove
it, there's something forever young about Cologne's cake-fuelled
café culture, urban beaches like Rodenkirchen, 100,000-strong
student population tootling around on their bicycles and, of
course, the fact that it has more weetschafts (pubs) per capita
than anywhere else in the country.
Kölners often refer to themselves as "the Latinos of Germany"
and if you stroll through artsy Belgisches Viertel on a sunny
evening, you'll soon realise why. People know how to enjoy life
here. The area's leafy squares are always awash with designers and
artists passionately discussing their latest projects over kölsch
(local beer). Pavements on side streets positively swarm with
bohemian locals perching on packing cases outside cafés like
Hommage and Heilandt. And a night at cocktail bar and techno club
Zum Scheuen Reh proves that they know how to fiesta just as hard as
their metaphorical cousins.
The streets at dusk, left, and the city cathedral.
Although Cologne is the biggest metropolis in the North
Rhine-Westphalia region and has the thriving digital scene to
match, Kölners display the sort of warmth more often found in
small towns. "People are very open here," muses Lisa Schulze,
co-founder of Lifelab, a sustainable co-working and events space in
Agnesviertel, where you'll also find cosy Cafè Torè. "If you're
looking lost, someone will come up and ask if you're ok. It's
totally normal to strike up a conversation with a stranger in a
In the know: a city guide to Cologne
It doesn't get more central than this welcoming hideaway
practically in the shadow of the cathedal in the heart of the Old
Town. Rooms may be furnished in a mid-century style, but
high-definition TVs with the full package of Sky channels and Apple
boxes are bang up-to-date.
Housed in a fearlessly modern building on the site of the Roman
walls, this boutique hotel is a haven of calm. Every room has a
generous desk and you won't be short of opportunities for
stimulating breaks - Museum Ludwig is just metres from your new