European travel is costly, but this itinerary introduces the couple to a very cheap Cologne weekend. Ditch the kids with the sitter and get ready to experience the true meaning of “kölsch.”
Where to Stay: Hotel Engelbertz
A weekend is not an awful lot of time, so rather than jumping around various Cologne hotels, pick one establishment for the duration of the stay. Hotel Engelbertz is centrally located within walking distance from the famous cathedral, the old town, a variety of museums, the railway station, and a major shopping district. The accommodations are relatively small — there are only 40 rooms — which make it possible to experience some of that famous laid-back German gemütlichkeit.
Where to Eat: Ech Kölsch
The restaurant is actually located inside the hotel. In Cologne, this type of accommodation is typical, and the wise traveler will do well to rely on it for Friday and Saturday meals. Closed on Sundays, Ech Kölsch opens at 11:11 a.m. (a nod to Fasching). Drink the Sion-Kölsch fresh from the barrel — aren’t you glad you traveled without the kids for once? — and eat the traditional halve hahn (half of a rotisserie chicken).
For another meal, order the knusprige reibekuchen (pan-fried potato cakes) with apple sauce and roast. Be careful if the server offers you Obstler! This liquor delivers quite a kick — after a while. Grab other meals as you are out and about and simply follow your nose; it is impossible to go hungry in the heart of Germany’s Cologne.
1. Arrive and settle in at the Hotel Engelbertz.
2. Eat a hearty lunch at Ech Kölsch.
3. Walk over to the Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral). Only 5 euros get you into the cathedral and also the treasure chamber. Climb up to the steeple if you are fit.
4. Spend an evening in Old Town Cologne. Leave the cathedral and head into the old portion of town. Cramped quarters are par for the course; watch your step on the cobble stones, and dash in and out of the many pubs, eateries, and beer gardens.
5. Return to the hotel.
1. Spend the morning at the Chocolate Museum. The cost of admission is 7.50 euros. Sure, you’ll learn about the history and production of chocolate, but it is really the samples you want to try.
2. Plan on an afternoon at the zoo. If you time it right, you can visit the Rainforest House to watch the 3 p.m. otter feeding. With more than 9,000 animals, there is a lot to discover. Be prepared to spend 15 euros a head on admission.
3. Shop near the hotel and see what eateries are close by. Once again, follow your nose for the telltale currywurst smell.
1. Take a ride with the Cologne Cable Car and admire the gorgeous Rhine River. At a round-trip cost of 6 euros, this is a steal! It presents great photo opportunities.
2. Return to the hotel to check out and leave this cheap Cologne stay behind.
Who knew that Cologne, Germany, was so inexpensive?
Hotel Engelbertz/Ech Kölsch
Obenmarspforten 1-3 in Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia 50667
Domkloster 3, 50667 Cologne
Open daily from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (November through April) or until 9 p.m. (May to October)
Rheinauhafen 1A, 50678 Cologne
Open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Riehler Straße 173 in 50735 Cologne
Open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cologne Cable Car
Riehler Straße 180 in 50735 Cologne
Open between April 1 and November 1 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.