Renowned for its Romanesque churches, including the magnificent Cologne Cathedral, Cologne is a vibrant commercial and cultural hub along the River Rhine. It boasts Roman remains that date back to its establishment as a Roman military stronghold, together with medieval churches, ornate Baroque palaces and cutting-edge modern museums.

Be sure to visit the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Cologne Cathedral, which is considered a masterpiece of High Gothic architecture. It boasts 157-meter-tall twin towers and a soaring interior decorated with the 12th-century Reliquary of the Three Kings and the 15th-century Adoration of the Kings relief. For some of the best views of Cologne, climb the more than 500 steps that lead up the south tower.

Cologne’s Old Town is also worth a wander and filled with traditional old hous-es and historic churches, together with boutiques, art galleries and eclectic cafes and restaurants. Admire the diverse architectural influences of the Kölner Rathaus whose history dates back more than 900 years, then get a different per-spective on Cologne’s skyline during a river sightseeing cruise or on the Cologne Cable Car.

Art enthusiasts shouldn’t miss a visit to the Wallraf-Richartz Museum, which is renowned for its paintings of the Cologne School, as well as the Ludwig Museum that focuses on modern and contemporary art. If you’re interested in life under the Nazis in Cologne, stop in at the National Socialism Documentation Center that’s situated in a building where prisoners were once held by the Gestapo.

Indulge in the chocolate fountain of Cologne's Chocolate Museum, which features interactive displays and antique chocolate memorabilia, as well as a working production line. Then escape to the green oasis of the Botanical Garden or get up close to animals from across the world at the Cologne Zoological Gardens, which is one of Germany’s oldest zoos.