Three cities in one weekend: A sporting undertaking that promises plenty of variety. And the destinations are not far apart. It's about 50 kilometers from Düsseldorf to Cologne, and just under 30 from Cologne to Bonn. Especially in the warmer seasons, these distances can be covered wonderfully by bike. You don't need a road map, the Rhine will show you the way.
You can get to the capital of North Rhine-Westphalia in an environmentally friendly and relaxed way by train. But beware: not every train can take bicycles, and the seats are quickly sold out. So take care of the bike ticket and the parking space reservation for your bike in advance.
Since there are three cities on the schedule for this weekend, we recommend that you arrive before the afternoon. This way, you can freshen up after arriving at your accommodation, drop off your luggage and set off in the direction of Königsallee.
Because even if Gucci, Chanel and Escada are not part of your fashion taste, a walk on the Königsallee a must. The approximately one-kilometer-long shopping mile is considered the most visited luxury street in Germany. On the "Kö" it is not only fun to admire the wonderfully designed shop windows. The customers are also real eye-catchers, as they combine shopping and catwalk here.
Those who like things more alternative are in good hands in Düsseldorf's trendy Flingern district. Large murals decorate the houses. Small stores sell special jewelry and accessories. And you'll also find a design café or two here.
Düsseldorf will also host the "Japanese metrolopes on the Rhine". Around 8,300 Japanese live in the Düsseldorf city area alone. Around Immermannstrasse are colorful shopping stores and the best Japanese restaurants in Germany. Here you can find everything from stuffed dumplings to hot noodle soups, sushi and teppanyaki. Cuisine at (Michelin) star level is offered, for example, at the Nagaya served. Lovers of ramen and udon soups will enjoy the restaurant Takumi found.
If you are very hungry, you should pack a small snack. Long lines tend to form in front of the restaurants.
A popular after-work meeting place is the Düsseldorf Media Harbor. Between industrial buildings and unusual structures are hip bars, clubs and cafes. Whether you sit down in a bar, on the banks of the Rhine or simply stroll between the architecturally impressive buildings - at the Medienhafen you can end the evening in comfort.
Today we're getting up early. To sweeten the 50-kilometer drive, you should definitely go to the market beforehand. On the Carlsplatz about 60 stands offer their goods from Monday to Saturday. Five bakeries, nine delicatessens, seven fruit and vegetable stands and 18 restaurants are among them - everyone will find the right travel provisions here. And now get in the saddle, we're heading south.
If you cover the nearly 50-kilometer route on the Rhine Cycle Path without a break, it will take you about three hours to reach Cologne. However, there is plenty to see along the way. For example, the baroque Benrath Castle in the south of Düsseldorf. The beautiful estate was once the summer residence of Elector Karl Theodor von der Pfalz and today houses the Museum of European Garden Art. Concerts and other events are held in the grounds during the summer.
The Rhine Cycle Route runs on both sides of the Rhine and is signposted with the blue Rhine cyclist. Over bridges and with ferries you can change sides again and again.
With the ferry you also reach the next destination. The pretty town Zons, which lies just a few kilometers south of Benrath Castle. With its well-preserved fortifications from the 14th century, Zons is a real treat for all medieval fans. The narrow alleys, the streets with their watchtowers and the sweeping view over the Rhine meadows also form a beautiful contrast to the modern state capital.
As soon as the two towers of Cologne Cathedral are visible, the longed-for destination is not far away. So it's off to the hotel, freshen up and head out into the city bustle. If you want to relax in a quiet environment after the trip, you should stop by Cologne's Botanical Garden. In the café "Thanks Augusta"At the picnic, you'll find everything from lunch to coffee and cake to a sundowner - and served in a very special way. You get your own picnic bag, which you can fill at the bar. You can choose from regional and seasonal dishes, homemade and freshly packed in jars. With the baskets packed, you can then find a nice spot on the sunny south terrace and reward yourself for the bike ride.
Of course, a visit to Cologne also includes a detour to the Cologne Cathedral, he finally waved to you from afar. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most important pilgrimage churches in Europe and has about six million visitors a year. One attraction is certainly the golden shrine of the Three Kings, which is said to contain the bones of the Magi. The three skulls have been in Cologne Cathedral for about 900 years and are among the most famous relics in the world. An unusual sight for a house of worship is the south transept window, also called the Richter window. The stained glass window consists of a total of 11,263 hand-blown squares and was designed by artist Gerhard Richter. If you want to learn more about the cathedral, you can join one of the guided tours. One of them will take you to the roofs of the church.
If you like it hip, Cologne's Belgian Quarter on the western edge of the city center is a good place to be. Here you'll find exciting souvenir stores and cool boutiques. What's special: Many of the goods on offer are made in Cologne. If you are still hungry after your visit to the Botanical Garden, you can eat your way around the globe at Brüsseler Platz. Here you can find everything from Peruvian to Vietnamese cuisine.
If the weather doesn't cooperate, that doesn't have to be a reason for a bad mood. On the contrary, because in Cologne there is a wonderful place called Chocolate Museum. It is open daily and takes you on a journey through the 5000-year history of sweet sin. And, of course, there's plenty to sample. Freshly made Nappos, for example, chocolate loaves filled with nougat and served by a helpful robot at the push of a button.
Whether you drink your Kölsch in the maze of alleys in the old town, in a corner pub in the Veedel or on the banks of the Rhine with a view of the illuminated cathedral, it ultimately doesn't matter. The main thing is to treat yourself to this moment. Because at the latest now your heart will also arrive in Cologne.
Bonn is waiting for you! And along the 30-kilometer route, there are a few sights that could really mess up your schedule. In Cologne's Rheinauhafen harbor, the imposing crane houses bend over the Rhine and your bike path. Modeled after the port's historic cargo cranes, the three buildings house offices, restaurants and apartments.
Ewa halfway between Cologne and Bonn are the Augustusburg and Falkenlust Castles. The magnificent buildings are located in Brühl, about five kilometers from the Rhine Cycle Route, and they are magical. A Cologne elector and archbishop had a summer residence (Augustusburg) and a hunting lodge/private retreat (Falkenlust) built there in the 18th century. On the huge estate with its magnificent buildings, gardens and extensive parks, it is easy to forget the time.
Destination in the former German capital Bonn: Leave your bike at the main station and lock your luggage in a locker. It's only a few minutes' walk to Bonn's famous cathedral. The huge Haribo store is also not far away! Yes, you read correctly, a store only with Haribo sweets. Because the treats were invented here in Bonn.
A must for music enthusiasts is the Beethoven House. The composer Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn in 1770. His birthplace at Bonngasse 20 is a true pilgrimage site for classical music fans and houses the largest Beethoven collection in the world.
Anyone who still has a head for culture now can join the Bundeskunsthalle in the south of the city. But a visit is also worthwhile for another reason: On the roof of the Kunsthalle, an almost 8000 square meter garden has been created. Here you can stroll around, relax and admire the sculptures.
If you would like to add some water to the greenery, the Rheinauenpark is just a few meters further south. With its area of 160 hectares, the park is almost as large as Bonn's city center. Grab a boat and take a ride across the Auensee, or take a last stroll along the beautiful Rhine before taking the train back home.
For those who prefer to travel on the Rhine: The three cities can also be reached by water. This way of traveling is ideal for those who want to take it easy. The Boat trip from Düsseldorf to Cologne for example, takes between three and six hours.
Of course, you can also take the train along our suggested route. If you would still like to discover the respective cities by bike, you can easily rent a bike via app. For example at this Provider.
Cover photo: From the opposite side of the Rhine you have a great view of Cologne Cathedral © Johannes Höhn
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