Five games of the European Championship will be played in the Cologne stadium, four group games and one round of 16. The teams and fans from Hungary, Scotland, Belgium, England and Romania are expected to attend, and Switzerland will even be playing twice in the Rhineland capital of good humor. As Cologne has earned its reputation as a party stronghold over the years, fans can look forward to plenty of opportunities to have a good time away from the stadium. 

Day 1

10 am. To familiarize yourself with the customs of the Rhineland and the local version of beer, we recommend a visit to the famous Kölner Bräuhaus Päffgen in the Friesenviertel district, very close to Cologne Cathedral. The pub has room for over 200 people and opens early. Päffgen Kölsch has been served here since 1883, and hearty Rhenish specialties are also on offer, from meatloaf to goulash with broad beans. For robust fan stomachs, this wouldn't be a bad idea for breakfast either, as a basis. It is conceivable that the Cologne service staff - called: Köbes - will have fun with their foreign guests again and accept the order of Halven Hahn with Röggelchen without comment. The fact that this is a bread roll with cheese and not half a chicken, as the name suggests, only becomes clear later at the table. But what the hell, it's only breakfast time anyway. 

12 o'clock. A visit to Cologne Cathedral and its surroundings is a must even for people who belong to the religious community of Liverpool FC or Glasgow Rangers. However, there is an entrance fee to enter the church, which might make some fans from Hungary, Switzerland or Slovenia think twice about whether this investment is really worth it. A photo from the outside might be enough. Especially as the Domplatte, with its 7,000 square meters of space, is large enough to spread out and practice your fan chants for the evening in the stadium.

3 p.m. After so many cultural and religious distractions, the common soccer fan needs some peace and quiet in the countryside. A visit to the Cologne Volksgarten which extends over almost 14 hectares in the southern part of Cologne's Neustadt district. Sports enthusiasts can go pedal boating on a pond or watch the first international matches on the meadows, provided that fans of both nations have gathered to watch them clash in the old Müngersdorf stadium in the evening. Of course, there is also a well-stocked beer garden in the Volksgarten as well as Hellers Volksgarten an atmospheric establishment which, in addition to organic beers, also has a proper menu.

6 pm. Time for a little stroll through the city. After all, you want to see what Cologne has to offer in terms of a hip lifestyle and good shopping opportunities. For this purpose, we recommend a stroll through the Street of honor. It is known in Cologne for casual avant-garde, which means that you can find unusual clothes and designs here that you can show off to your parents without being disinherited. If there is one street in otherwise rather shirt-sleeved Cologne that functions according to the motto "see and be seen", then it is Ehrenstraße. Whether soccer fans from Hungary are more interested in the flagship stores of Fred Perry or Liebeskind Berlin or would rather turn in at Café Waschsalon or Frittenwerk must be decided on a case-by-case basis.

8 pm. Time for fun and music, preferably in a large group? One of the best places for group fun of this kind is the Dance Fountain in Deutz. Although it is located - as one is often told by die-hard Cologne residents without being asked - on the false Rhine side. However, with its 30,000 square meters of outdoor space and the many rooms inside, it is the perfect meeting place for larger parties with something to celebrate. (Or who need to console themselves after a defeat.) In addition, the Beachclub km 689 with fine drinks and a view of the Rhine. 

Day 2

10 am. Where do you hang out in Cologne on the morning of June 22 if you're a Belgian soccer fan and want to pass the time until your team's match against Romania in the evening? Very simple answer: in the Belgian Quarter, of course. There really is such a place in Cologne. In fact, it is one of the hippest districts in the city. Many small stores, cafés, bars and restaurants can be found here. Our favorite is definitely the Hallmackenreuther on Brüsseler Platz. Inside, the place is very stylish, but it's also nice if you're lucky enough to get a seat outside on the terrace. 

1 p.m. A short trip out of the city to get to know the surrounding area of Cologne? We recommend a double destination so that different leisure temperaments can have their fill. In Brühl, around 20 kilometers away, you could visit the pretty Augustusburg Castle, which invites you to take a lovely stroll through its baroque gardens. Quite the opposite of tranquillity and idyll awaits in the nationally renowned Phantasialand in Brühl, which is particularly popular with children and the young at heart. It is the second largest amusement park in the whole of Germany and a kind of German Disneyland. 

3 p.m. A visit to the museum? In Cologne during the European Championship? You can already see the Hungarian, Slovenian or English soccer fans whooping with joy at the thought ... But our suggestion is not so far-fetched: after all, the Chocolate Museum at the Rheinauhafen is a themed complex that even makes soccer fans smile with pleasure. During the guided tours of the building, visitors are constantly encouraged to try the "brown gold". There is also a chocolate fountain, always a nice photo opportunity. The Chocolate Museum is also located not far from Cologne's Rheinauhafen, where the futuristic Kranhäuser are located. They are architecturally avant-garde and also very popular with celebrities: Lukas Podolski reportedly owns one of the four penthouse apartments in the complex. 

6 pm. When you think of Cologne, you think of the cathedral, perhaps the carnival, but above all the Rhine. The river is part of Cologne's much-praised folklore, as are the imposing bridges between the right and left banks of the Rhine. If you want to experience all of this from a water perspective, you can either check into one of the excursion boats that depart from Cologne's Old Town or from the Hohenzollern Bridge, which operate on the Rhine in the city area. Numerous tour options are available, from a romantic panoramic cruise to a more relaxed musical passage. Nothing like the Rhine there! Bonus: Cologne has a so-called KD combination ticket, which combines a boat tour with a convertible bus tour on land. 

8 pm. It doesn't help. People have to eat. And when in Cologne, it makes sense to combine a meal of any kind with a visit to a brewery. After all, Cologne has made a name for itself with delicious beers, but for fine cuisine? With respect - not so much. Scoffers claim that Rhinelanders only expect the portions to be plentiful and still warm when they are delivered to the table, and that they drink the rest away. This is of course an exaggeration, but only a little. Back to the brewery: one of the nicest pubs in the old town is the Beer house en d'r Salzgass. It succeeds not only with its tasty Kölsch beer, but also with its spectacularly rustic interior design. Huge chandeliers, dark wood walls and a two-storey hall. People could have caroused here in the Middle Ages. And a crispy knuckle of pork with roast potatoes still makes it onto the table in the beer house, so nobody has to worry. 

Cover picture: A view over Cologne in spring © sborisov -

Geschrieben von Harald Brown

Travel and culture journalist Harald Braun, a native of the Rhineland, lives in the countryside of Schleswig-Holstein, regularly escapes to Australia in winter, likes FC St. Pauli, South Tyrol and, increasingly, selected corners of Germany that he has recently discovered - such as the "Greif" harbor crane in front of the Elbphilharmonie concert hall, where you can spend an excellent night.

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