Cologne is the largest city in North Rhine-Westphalia and the fourth largest city in Germany. Cologne is modern, exciting and divided in two by the river Rhine. The city’s famous cathedral is not only its major landmark, but also one of the most recognised and visited in Germany. Cologne should be on everyone’s must-visit list: Magnificent churches, architecture, internationally renowned museums, incredible local cuisine and great beer – this city has it all. In medieval times Cologne was the largest city of the Holy Roman Empire, nowadays it is one of the nation’s media, tourism and business hubs. Whilst not necessarily one of the prettiest German cities, Cologne’s inhabitants take a huge pride in their city and are very friendly, cheerful people who take an interest in and welcome tourists wherever they hail from.
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You can’t be in Cologne without visiting and photographing the Cathedral, Germany’s most visited attraction and most visible landmark in the city. By far the most famous and biggest event is the Cologne carnival, one of the largest street festivals in europe. People all over Germany and Europe come to celebrate this event which usually attracts up to 2 million visitors. Not to be missed in July is Cologne Lights (Kölner Lichter), an impressive firework display synchronised with music which transforms the view of the Rhine into a colourful sea of banyan lights, waterfalls and hundreds of thousands of sparklers. Every year a new musical score is composed for this major event. Also to be enjoyed are the Christmas Markets (Weihnachtsmarkt) which spring up in December in several locations across the city..
You can visit Cologne at any time of year. Spring and summer are the best months with all the major festivals and events. Cologne is a fairly safe city, but exercise common sense during your stay and as you photograph. Keep an eye on your camera, gear and wallet as pickpocketing does happen. I highly recommend renting a bike and cycling around the city. Parking is a nightmare in the center of the city and often limited to residential parking so you end up parking in an expensive car park which is not always convenient for the photographic spots. Germany uses standard two-pin plugs at 220V. There are several mobile network providers with good network cover throughout the city. Many cafes and restaurants offer free WIFI connections.