The fourth-largest city in Germany, Cologne has existed for approximately two millennia, and is endowed with dozens of fantastic museums and one of the oldest universities in Europe.
Although much of Cologne was redeveloped after extensive bombing in the Second World War, some of the city's historic landmarks survived and were carefully restored in the second half of the 20th century.
Probably the most noteworthy historic site in the city is its enormous cathedral, which is almost 145 metres long and one of the largest Gothic churches in Europe. Although work began on this structure in the mid-13th century, it was not completed until more than 600 years later, in 1880, when it held the prestigious title of the tallest building in the world. The building, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list, offers spectacular views of the city centre from its 98-metre-high viewing deck, although the church's towers are nearly 160 metres high.
If you're a fan of Warhol and Picasso, don't forget to visit the Museum Ludwig, which opened in 1976 and is adjacent to the cathedral. This venue also houses many artworks from the renowned New York-born pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, and awards the Wolfgang Hahn Prize to one international artist each year at the Art Cologne fair.
Opened in 1946, the Romano-Germanic Museum has many intriguing Roman remains and has been based at its current location, next to the cathedral, since the 1970s. Here, you can observe ancient mosaics, the remnants of an ancient villa, and many other preserved architectural remains that are nearly 2,000 years old.
A must-see for art lovers, the Wallraf-Richartz Museum has a vast collection of fine art dating from the late Middle Ages to the 20th century, from Gothic masterpieces to enlivening Renaissance paintings. The venue, which was founded in the 1870s and is the oldest museum in the city, tells the story of the Northern Renaissance, and offers detailed explanations of each artwork, in German and English.
The city is known for its excellent Italian restaurants, some of the most popular of which are the Zippiri Gourmetwerkstatt & Wein-Bar, the Pasta Bar, and Marcellino. For divine Asian flavours, you could dine at the Bulgogi Haus, or try Plomari for other terrific Greek-inspired dishes.
Perfect choices for romantic city breaks in Cologne include the princely Excelsior Hotel Ernst, the chic, contemporary and very conveniently located Stern am Rathaus, and the friendly, deluxe Hyatt Regency Cologne. Meanwhile, for more affordable accommodation, you could consider the boutique Hotel Ludwig or the Ameron Hotel Regent.