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Project Expat
  • Project Expat
  • Feb 21, 2022

Home Is Where the Dom Is – Cologne City Guide

Home is where the Dom is – that’s what the people of Cologne say about their city. Few Germans are as proud of their city as the people living in Cologne. Germany’s fourth largest city with over 1 million inhabitants is characterized by its location on the Rhine and, of course, the Cologne Cathedral, which you can see from almost all over the city. In addition, there is the fifth season, the carnival, which dominates the city life between November and February.

Living in Cologne

Cologne, or Kölle as the locals say, is not only Germany’s fourth largest city, but also a very special metropolis. Those who decide to move to this beautiful, unique city should be prepared to get to know a special place with extraordinary people. Et hätt noch jot jejange – it has always gone well so far – means no less than the following: What went well yesterday will go well today. Every Jeck is different. Which means as much as: Every fool is different. Exercising tolerance and forbearance towards the other in the knowledge of one’s own imperfection characterizes the life of the people of Cologne, just like the local dialect in general. This attitude makes it easy for foreigners in particular to gain a foothold in this city.

The people of Cologne are extremely fun-loving and have a mischievous streak. For example, the city is divided into left and right of the Rhine. The left side is the so-called good side, while the right side, the Schäl Sick how it is called, symbolizes the bad because that’s where the poorer people lived. Today, of course, this is no longer the case and you can find apartments and beautiful neighborhoods on both sides of the city.

Must Visits

One of the hippest neighborhoods in Cologne is the Belgian Quarter. There you will find the Aachener Straße, one of the most popular streets in the city, with chic cafes and trendy stores. The locals also call it the heart of Cologne. It is multicultural and reflects the cosmopolitanism of the Rhinelanders.

At the same time as being cosmopolitan, the people of Cologne are rooted in their traditions. The numerous breweries, which also characterize the image of the city, offer both the traditional Kölsch (a special type of beer), as well as traditional dishes, which are usually served by the so-called Köbesse (semi-friendly waiters). But with time, you get used to them.

Cologne is an exciting city, especially for those with an interest in the field of media. Several TV stations are based here, so there are lots of interesting jobs in this industry in particular. Of course, Cologne also offers perspective jobs in other areas.

Cologne does not have to hide culturally either – the most impressive sight is the Cologne Cathedral. Today, it is hard to believe that the Cologne Cathedral in its current form was only completed in 1880. Its architecturally uniform image and quite weathered face make it appear older than most parts actually are. Construction of the Cologne Cathedral began in 1248, and after the presumed relics of the Magi were brought to Cologne from Milan in the 12th century, Cologne developed into a highly frequented pilgrimage site. The old cathedral, which had been standing since 870, was no longer able to cope with the crowds. The style of the new cathedral was to be French Gothic. The cathedrals of Amiens, Paris and Strasbourg served as models.

Museum Ludwig and Roman-Germanic Museum

Not far from the Cologne Cathedral are two of the city’s best-known museums: the Museum Ludwig, dedicated to 20th and 21st century art, and the Roman-Germanic Museum, dedicated to the archaeological history of Cologne. With its extensive Pop Art collection and the third largest Picasso collection in the world, as well as numerous Expressionist, New Objectivity and Russian Avant-garde paintings, the Museum Ludwig is one of the most important art museums in the world and one of the best Cologne sights in the old town.

No less interesting is the Roman-Germanic Museum. On more than 4,500 square meters of exhibition space, you can discover the Roman city history of Cologne.

One of the most diverse sights in Cologne is the Old Town, located in the city center. Not only are the best Cologne sights located here, all within comfortable walking distance from each other, but the city center also stands out for its unique houses, gastronomic and cultural scene and wide shopping offer. Especially famous are the Old Market, Hohe Straße and Schildergasse.

The most famous of the seven Rhine bridges is the Hohenzollern Bridge. Built between 1907 and 1911 to replace the increasingly overloaded Cathedral Bridge, it was the only one of the Rhine bridges in Cologne that was not destroyed by bombs during World War II. The Wehrmacht preferred to do that itself, to make it harder for Allied troops to cross the Rhine. After the war, they rebuilt it as a railroad and pedestrian bridge only. Cars have no access here. However, what the Hohenzollern Bridge is most known for are the love locks, which now number over 500,000. The bridge is one of the main attractions in Cologne for couples.

The Fifth Season: Carnival in Cologne

If you plan on living in Cologne, you can’t miss the fifth season. Carnival, or Shrovetide, has a long tradition in the Rhineland, which can be traced back to the Middle Ages and had a peak especially in the early modern period. Even then, people dressed up and performed carnival games. Today, carnival is associated primarily with costumes, carnival speeches and the Rose Monday parade. The “fifth season” begins every year on 11.11. when at 11:11 a.m. in the old town, accompanied by carnival music, the “Cologne Triumvirate” is introduced. However, it then still takes a while until the world-famous street carnival begins. It is not until the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, Women’s Carnival (which is usually sometime in February) that the big party actually begins. Then, the first big carnival celebrations take place and the streets are filled with revellers and party animals.

But be warned: Men should be careful when visiting the Weiberfastnacht. It is customary for women to cut off men’s neckties!

Public Transportation

The public transport network in Cologne is well established. The streetcars in Cologne also become the subway on many routes. This efficient and comfortable transport system in Cologne has 34 subway stations and 11 different lines. The trains in Cologne are also called S-Bahn (urban railroad), which is also very well developed with its 5 lines. The S-Bahn trains almost all stop at the stations of the Deutsche Bahn and the different Park&Ride parking lots on the outskirts of the city. In addition, there are about 50 bus lines that travel throughout the city. Thus, living in Cologne can be easily managed without a car. In addition, there is the airport Cologne/Bonn “Konrad Adenauer”. It is an international commercial airport in Cologne, located 12 km from the center of Cologne and 16 km from the center of Bonn.

Cologne’s Culinary Culture

Living in Cologne has something to offer for everyone in terms of cuisine. Be it the numerous breweries, the traditional dishes such as Himmel und Äd, (heaven and earth) a traditional dish of mashed potatoes mixed with apple pieces. Often “Himmel und Erde” is served together with bratwurst, bacon and roasted onions, but also with fried liver sausage or black pudding.

There is also international cuisine in Cologne, from sushi to French to Creole. This selection of restaurants reflects the openness and internationality of the city, which makes it easy to settle down and start a new life in Germany.

We hope this city guide has been helpful to you in getting a better picture of what living in Cologne is like. Should you visit or make this beautiful city your home, we wish you all the best!

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I think that would be a great initiative and an added value service for expats like myself.


What a great idea to set up a website for English-speaking ex-pat's in Munich to help with everyday challenges.


I am looking forward to your services in the mentioned topics in the survey.


Sounds exciting and we would definitely use it for a myriad of reasons. Particularly as we are getting ready to move to Germering and require all of these services. Specifically, sometimes it is hard finding doctors who speak English. And both Cecilia and I work with auslanders who do not speak German, either (and would as well be interested).