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The Gay Cologne Guide (Germany 🇩🇪)

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The Gay Cologne Guide (Germany 🇩🇪)

Table of Contents

  1. Intro
  2. Gay Map of Cologne
  3. Where to Stay in Cologne
  1. Gay Nightlife in Cologne
  1. Gay Saunas in Cologne and North Rhine-Westphalia
  2. Gay Restaurants and Cafes in Cologne
  3. Gay Shops in Cologne
  4. What To Do in Cologne
  5. Day Trips from Cologne
  6. TL;DR: Plan Your Cologne Trip (Logistics)
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Please help us improve this guide 💖: Our gay guides undergo regular updates to ensure that all listed establishments are current, popular, and, most importantly, safe. The recommendations and descriptions provided within this guide stem from personal experiences and/or reports. We welcome any input regarding new venues or updates to existing ones included in the guide. Please feel free to reach out to us by email with your suggestions or updates.

Intro

What can I say about Cologne (or Köln in German)? Well, after calling it home for a solid six years, there's a multitude of reasons why I stayed so long! I even put together a guide on the best restaurants in Cologne - that's just one more reason to love it here. Ryan also spent a lot of time in the city, visiting me in the early days of our relationship🥰.

Cologne stands out as a German city with a distinct cultural identity, setting it apart from the likes of Munich, Berlin, and Hamburg. With a history that traces back to its days as Colonia during the Roman Empire, its ancient roots still echo through its historic sites despite the tumultuous events of the world wars.

Cologne's iconic Gothic Cathedral stands illuminated against the night sky, with the Hohenzollern Bridge aglow and a river cruise boat sailing the Rhine, reflecting the vibrant nightlife of gay Cologne.

Beyond its rich history, Cologne's strategic location along the Rhine River positions it as a central hub in Europe. Offering direct train connections to Paris and Berlin, and being in close proximity to Belgium and the Netherlands, Cologne serves as a gateway to the continent.

Cologne has played a pioneering role in LGBTQ+ rights in Germany, with some of the country's earliest gay demonstrations taking place here in the 1970s. The city boasts one of Germany's oldest gay communities, fostering an atmosphere of inclusivity and vibrancy that has drawn LGBTQ+ individuals for generations.

One of the highlights of Cologne's LGBTQ+ scene is the annual Christopher Street Day (CSD) celebration, which ranks among Europe's largest pride events, standing as a beacon of unity and advocacy. Complementing this, the city offers a diverse range of LGBTQ+ bars, clubs, and cultural spaces, creating a sense of community and acceptance that cements its reputation as a welcoming destination for LGBTQ+ travelers and residents alike.

And, oh, to not forget about Kölsch - they take their local brew pretty seriously around here!🍻

A crowded scene from Cologne's gay pride parade, with people of all ages celebrating diversity and equality on a sunny day, embodying the inclusive spirit of gay Cologne.

A Roman Tower sashaying during the Cologne Pride


Gay Map of Cologne


Where to Stay in Cologne

Let's say the center of Cologne is a big gay neighborhood. It is probably still one of the most densely populated city with gays in Europe.

For accommodation, the ideal spot in Cologne is the Heumarkt area. Here, you'll find a vibrant atmosphere with numerous festivals like Pride, Carnival, Saint Nicholas and the Wine Fest. Additionally, there are gay cruising bars such as Pullermans, catering to a more mature clientele. Another excellent option is around Rudolphplatz, where Schaafenstrasse, the gay street, is located. Alternatively, Ehrenfeld offers a hip vibe with plenty of restaurants and clubs, attracting a mixed crowd akin to the Kreuzberg of Cologne. Südstadt is also well-connected and convenient, especially for accessing Heumarkt, the historical center. While there aren't many gay bars in Südstadt, it's a tolerant area.

Best Gay-Friendly Hotels in Cologne

Here are some of our personal recs for gay friendly hotels around the city!

Let's cut to the chase! Book the Steigenberger Hotel Köln, 25Hours Hotel, MotelOne, Neumarkt, or Wohngemeinschaft Köln now 🏩.

Steigenberger Hotel Köln

  • Location: Located in arguably the best place in Cologne, in the middle of the biggest shopping areas and historic places, Steigenberger Hotel Köln epitomizes convenience. It is renowned for the prime location that offers easy access to everything the bustling city offers.
  • Amenities: This world-renowned hotel with its modern style and comfort offers facilities of the highest standard and top services that will make each guest's stay unforgettable.
  • LGBTQ+ friendly touch: Steigenberger Hotel Köln greatly respects each of its guests regardless of sexually orientation.

25Hours Hotel

  • Location: 25Hours Hotel enjoys an ideal location within the core of Cologne, with an extremely lively bar at the rooftop that offers panoramic city skyline views. It has, therefore, become a hit place among local people and tourists that boast immense popularity as one of the favorite hangout places.
  • Amenities: The hotel comes in with an eccentric decor and lively spaces appealing to creative spirits. The top is where the rooftop bar is at, fit for a cocktail above the city any evening.
  • LGBTQ+ Touch: 25Hours Hotel isn't shy to welcome with wide hands all of its LGBTQ+ guests, therefore creating a community touch.

MotelOne, Neumarkt

  • Location: Neumarkt, MotelOne is excellently positioned in the middle of shopping and dining, with easy access to plenty of area attractions.
  • Amenities: Renowned for its chic and modern setting with reasonably priced quality, MotelOne Neumarkt features pleasant lodgings and useful services designed for different types of travelers on their trip.
  • LGBTQ+ Touch: The hotel ensures a friendly and befitting environment that evokes pride for its guests from the LGBTQ+ community, to feel at ease and gain access to essentials, enjoying hassles and intimidation-free experiences.

Wohngemeinschaft Köln

  • Location: Wohngemeinschaft Köln is conveniently located near the much-frequented Phoenix Sauna 😏 (IYKYK). Their location gives them affordability without losing the experience of the colorful cultural life Cologne offers.
  • Amenities: This inexpensive hostel offers a homely ambiance in its individually designed rooms, all reflecting some concept. This is ideal for travelers in search of something unique in personalized lodging.
  • LGBTQ+ touch: Wohngemeinschaft Köln offers its tolerating environment even to the young LGBTQ+ traveler who might aim for getting an experience of the life in a vivacious, bubbly community.

Gay Nightlife in Cologne

Undoubtedly charming and able to compete with Berlin as the gayest city in Germany across different categories, Cologne offers a lively and inclusive gay nightlife scene, ensuring a delightful and welcoming experience for gay travelers. From bustling clubs to cozy bars, saunas, and seasonal events, there's something to suit every taste. Can we say it's an adult playground, considering everything is close, and it's pretty safe to navigate in the late hours compared to many other city? And here's a fun fact: Cologne boasts some of the oldest gay bars in Germany!🍺

Dazzling red and blue stage lights at Sexy in the Club Boothaus in Cologne, with a crowd enjoying the dynamic entertainment scene that gay Cologne is known for.

The DJ Offer Nissim at the Sexy in the Club Bootshaus

Before diving into the nightlife, let's mention the gay festivals in Cologne with the dates and descriptions:

Gay Festivals in Cologne

  • Cologne Pride is an expansive and highly anticipated festival that encompasses the entire area of Heumarkt, along with the vibrant gay streets of Schaafenstrasse. This massive event celebrates LGBTQ+ pride with a myriad of activities, including parades, performances, and cultural events. Additionally, Phantasialand, the amusement park close to Cologne, hosts a one-day Pride fest called Phantasialand Pride.
  • St. Nicholas Festival🎅 is another noteworthy celebration, featuring festive parties (SNF festival by World of Sexy) and the renowned Gay Christmas Market, known as Heavenue. This market offers a unique and inclusive space for revelers to enjoy the holiday spirit.
  • Cologne Fetish Pride, hosted in May, is highlighted by the Fetish Party Boat, which sets sail during various festivals, providing a one-of-a-kind experience on the river.
  • Bear Pride🐻, held at the end of November, just before the St. Nicholas Festival, is a celebration of bear culture and community.
  • Weinfest Am Rhein - Not really gay, but gays love wine and this one has a lot of it. Features wines from all over the Rhine area.
  • Other notable events include Gayoween🎃, a Halloween event, and Puppy Pride, catering to the puppy play community.
Two men at Weinfest am Rhein in Cologne

A little drunky at the Cologne Wine Fest

A man in a sleeveless shirt and aviator sunglasses takes a selfie with Cologne's bustling street below, showcasing the energetic atmosphere of gay Cologne during a city event.

Waiting for the Cologne PRIDE Parade to start in from the other side of the Rhein River (Deutz) - Can we just point out how cool this hair style is? 😄

Gay Clubs in Cologne and Gay Bars in Cologne

The majority of cologne gay bars or gay-friendly bars are concentrated around Heumarkt, a central area just south of the cathedral and the main station. Also reachable with a walk from there is the gay street, Schaafenstrasse, which transforms into a lively club scene, particularly on Thursdays through Saturdays. You can easily hop from one bar to the next, as they're all lined up side by side. This setup allows for seamless transitions between venues, depending on the music you're in the mood for.

Gay Bars and Clubs on Schaafenstrasse

  • Exile on Main Street: The first bar on the street, offering a mix of pop, techno, and occasional live music, attracting a diverse and friendly crowd.
  • Excorner: A historic German Schlager bar, providing an authentic experience for lovers of traditional German music and beer!
  • Hennes Terrasse: A popular spot, particularly in the warmer months, hosting events during festivals. This venue offers outdoor dancing and a festive atmosphere.
  • Die Mumu: A quirky and laid-back bar with eclectic decor, perfect for relaxed evenings with friends. It gets lively on weekends, and on Tuesdays, they host a popular gay karaoke night.
  • Iron Bar: Known for its excellent selection of cocktails and themed events, such as karaoke on Wednesdays. It transforms into a vibrant Latin hip-hop club on weekends.
  • Kinkz: A new bar with a kinky vibe, though dark rooms are not yet permitted in this street🤨. Nevertheless, it's a great place to meet like-minded individuals.
  • NachtEule: A revived gay bar, offering a unique experience just a bit further from the main street but worth the visit.

Other Cologne Gay Bars and Clubs

  • Sexy + Guyz and Play: All Parties known for their sexy vibe and eclectic mix of techno and circuit music, the World of Sexy also organizes festivals during Pride, Carnival, St. Nicholas Festival (SNF), and Easter.
  • Green Komm and Naughty: Historically held at Nachtflug Club in the Ring of Cologne, Green Komm offers an after-party on the first Sunday of the month, attracting a lively crowd. During festivals, they also host a night party called Naughty, previously known as Naughty Control, typically hosted at Club Diamonds on the Ring. Additionally, they used to host the Hustaball party.
A packed dance floor with blue lighting at Green Komm, one of Cologne's famous gay parties, where attendees are immersed in a sea of fog and revelry.

The Green Komm in Nachtflug, One of the BEST AFTER HOUR in Europe SINCE 1993

  • Station 2B: Established in 2006 at Pipinstrasse 2, Station 2B is currently undergoing renewal while remaining a popular choice for its energetic ambiance, top-notch music, and friendly atmosphere. Celebrating its 18th anniversary on June 1, 2024, with a grand reopening.
  • Homoriental: Popular within the Arab community, Homoriental hosts a club event every fourth Saturday of the month, historically at Rich Club Cologne.
  • Beatz and Boyz: Formerly located in Ehrenfeld, now at Reineke Fuchs, Beatz and Boys attract a younger crowd with their vibrant atmosphere.
  • Xtreme: Held at Essigfabrik, Xtreme offers a techno-kinky party experience. Xtnd serves as the official after-hour of Xtreme, providing further party opportunities.
  • Pullermans and Deck 5: Located in Heumarkt, Matthiastrasse, Pullermans and Deck 5 are cruising bars catering to a mixed crowd, including discreet visitors.
  • 3B: Offering a welcoming environment for the bear community, 3B is a bear bar in Cologne.
  • Backstage Diaries at Art Theatre: Situated in Ehrenfeld, Backstage Diaries is a gay-friendly venue offering a mixed yet welcoming crowd. With a beer garden and three rooms featuring different music genres—pop in the bar, alternative and revival in the main area, and techno in the basement—it provides an inclusive space for diverse party experiences.
  • Schampanja: Queer bar known for its cultural events, such as concerts in Cologne. They offer a wide selection of drinks to choose from.
  • Maki Asia's Lounge: A charming karaoke bar near Rudolfplatz, situated in front of the Phoenix Sauna.
  • Kitkat Cologne: The famous Berlin party occasionally makes appearances in Cologne, hosting events at Bootshaus or Bohème Sauvage Colonia.
  • Pipe and B-low in the Phoenix Sauna: Serving as the official party venues of Cologne Fetish Pride, Pipe and B-low provide memorable experiences for fetish enthusiasts.
  • Dynasty Party at Élite Club: A relatively new addition to the Cologne nightlife scene, Dynasty Party features drag performances at Élite Club.
  • Odonien: Studio, laboratory, and open-air cultural center for artistic and community events, boasting a friendly crowd and a Berlin-style club ambiance.
  • Coco Schmitz: Metzgerei/Bar primarily used for private or small parties. Check the program! They used to host gay parties featuring pop icon showdowns. For example, I attended Britney vs. Kylie. It was all about the music of these pop icons. So much fun!
  • Anyway: A queer association organizing various events and activities, Anyway offers a diverse range of experiences for the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Star-Treff, Travesty Cabaret: Showcasing performances from Thursday to Sunday, Star-Treff features Mimi, one of the world's biggest Mariah Carey drag queen impersonators, in its Travesty Cabaret.

Additionally, keep an eye on other clubs that occasionally host gay and lesbian events, including Club Bahnof Ehrenfeld, Helios 37 in Ehrenfeld, Diamonds Club/Bollwerk in the Ring Cologne, Club Zimmermans, Domhof and The Cage, as well as events at the Gloria Theatre.

Some old parties, such as Gym - Get Your Man and Male Party, may also make a comeback, so be sure to check for updates!


Gay Saunas in Cologne and North Rhine-Westphalia

Germany boasts some of the world's finest saunas (and by far the cleanest!) , and Cologne plays a significant role in maintaining this reputation. Among the standout establishments:

  • Phoenix Sauna: Renowned for its comprehensive sauna experience, serene garden balcony, and vibrant event hosting. Notable events include the B-Low party, with enticing offers such as 2-for-1 specials on Wednesdays and inclusive events like "Secrets," catering to all genders and open minds on Mondays.
  • Babylon Sauna: Known for its stunning ambiance and attracting a more mature clientele. Highlights include the annual Babylon Pool Party during Pride.
  • Vulcanus Bar and Sauna: Offering a unique blend of relaxation and socializing.
  • Agrippabad Cologne, not specifically a guy sauna however knowns for male cruising.

Beyond Cologne, the sauna scene extends across North Rhine-Westphalia, with notable mentions including:

  • Pluto Sauna in Essen: Highly regarded for its exceptional facilities and welcoming atmosphere.
  • Phoenix Sauna in Dusseldorf: Part of the same chain as the renowned Phoenix Sauna in Cologne, ensuring a consistently high-quality sauna experience.

Gay Restaurants and Cafes in Cologne

The culinary scene in Cologne is renowned for its diversity, influenced by the city's vibrant communities, including Italian and Turkish. While We've previously curated a detailed post on the overall best restaurants in the city, let's focus on the standout gay-friendly establishments here:

  • Cafe Rico in Rudolfplatz: A charming café known for its cozy atmosphere and delicious Rührei (scrambled eggs).
  • Era Cafe and Bar: Offering a trendy setting with a diverse menu, ranging from brunch options to evening cocktails.
  • Zum Pitter: A popular spot known for its hearty German cuisine and welcoming ambiance.
  • Baustelle4u: A stylish restaurant and bar serving up innovative dishes alongside creative cocktails.
  • My Lord by Olli: A favorite among locals for its upscale dining experience and impeccable service.
  • Amadeus: Known for its elegant décor and fine dining, offering a fusion of European flavors.
  • St. Louis Breakfast is a gay-friendly bar known for hosting drag queen events.

Gay Shops in Cologne

Shopping in Cologne offers a diverse array of options. The primary shopping street in Cologne is Schildergasse, where you'll find all the brands you desire. However, it tends to get overwhelmingly crowded, especially towards the weekend, which may not be our scene. The Rhein-Center is a large shopping mall, although it's situated a bit further from the city center. If you're looking for design items, these can be found in the Belgian district. Now, let's focus more on the gay shops:

  • MGV Cologne: Located near the Phoenix Sauna, this shop offers a good selection of items.
  • Best of Fetish Cologne: A newer and spacious shop situated on the gay street.
  • Bruno's: A shop belonging to the notable Bruno's chain.

What To Do in Cologne

  • Kölsch, Kölsch and Kölsch: Dive into the local culture by sampling Kölsch, the fresh beer of Cologne, served in 20 ml glasses. Dedicate an evening to savoring this delicious light beer, starting at a traditional brewery (Brauhaus) before exploring bars in the historic Old Town (Heumarkt) or the Belgian Quarter. For an immersive experience, visit the Kölsch brewery in Heumarkt.
  • Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom): Marvel at the awe-inspiring Gothic architecture of the Cologne Cathedral and ascend to the top of the bell tower, an exhilarating experience reached by climbing the stairs, for panoramic views of the city. The Cologne Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Germany's most iconic landmarks.
Two men in casual summer wear share a playful moment in a cage-like tunnel, capturing the camaraderie and lively spirit prevalent in the gay Cologne community.

On the top of the Cologne's Chathedral

  • Explore some of Cologne's Top Museums, including the Roman-Germanic Museum, the Ludwig Museum, or the Wallraf-Richartz Museum, which consistently offer engaging exhibitions that showcase diverse facets of art and history.
  • El-De Haus: Delve into history by visiting El-De Haus, the former Gestapo headquarters. Gain insights into Cologne's wartime past and the city's resilience during challenging times. (Note: Last time I visited, all descriptions were only in German!)
  • Ehrenfeld Art Quarter and Neptunbad: Immerse yourself in creativity by exploring the artsy quarter of Ehrenfeld. Wander through streets adorned with vibrant street art, dine at eclectic restaurants, and marvel at the imposing architecture one of the largest mosque in Europe. Then Treat yourself to a luxurious bath experience at Neptunbad, designed in the liberty style, and indulge in a historical dining experience at the accompanying Liberty restaurant.
  • Riverside Relaxation: Enjoy sunny days by the river at Poller Wiesen, perfect for picnics and leisurely strolls. For a beach experience, head to Rodenkirchen along the Rhine, or visit Cranachwäldchen, the city's gay cruising beach in the northern part of the Rhein.
Panoramic view of the Rhine River in Cologne, with the South Bridge foregrounding the serene waters and urban skyline, a peaceful yet vibrant part of gay Cologne.

The bank of the river turn into a beach and an area for parties and festivals when the weather allowed.


Day Trips from Cologne

  • Schloss Drachenburg and Königswinter🏰: Venture to the enchanting Schloss Drachenburg, a fairytale castle perched atop the Drachenfels hill overlooking the Rhine River. Marvel at its stunning architecture, picturesque gardens, and panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Afterward, explore the charming village of Königswinter nestled at the foot of the Drachenfels, known for its quaint streets, cozy cafes, and scenic riverside promenade.

  • Aachen and Therme♨️: Journey to the historic city of Aachen, renowned for its impressive cathedral, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore the city's rich history, vibrant culture, and charming old town. Afterward, unwind at Therme Aachen, a relaxing thermal spa offering rejuvenating wellness experiences.

    • Where to stay: Mercure Hotel Aachen Europaplatz

      • Location: Mercure Hotel Aachen Europaplatz is a convenient property strategically located near Aachen city center and several key historic sites, for instance, Aachen Cathedral, and major cultural attraction points such as RWTH Aachen University. It is, therefore, appropriate for tourists and those who make academic visits.
      • Amenities: Designed keeping in view the modern comfort of today, the hotel is built for business and leisure guests. The hotel has outdoor swimming pools and various dining options to make your stay comfortable.
      • LGBTQ+ Friendly: Mercure Hotel Aachen Europaplatz warmly welcomes and treats all the members belonging to the LGBTQ+ community. This open-minded place respects its guests, irrespective of origin, religion, or sexual orientation.
  • Bonn: Discover the cultural and political significance of Bonn, the former capital of West Germany. Visit iconic landmarks such as Beethoven's birthplace, the Beethoven House, and the picturesque Rhine promenade. Explore its museums, galleries, and lively city center, brimming with shops, cafes, and restaurants.

    • Where to stay: Dorint Bonn

      • Location: Dorint Bonn is located in a quiet part of Bad Godesberg, close to the romantic Rhine River and green Siebengebirge hills.
      • Amenities: The hotel will appeal to its guests by providing comfortable, well-equipped rooms, excellent service. Among the amenities of the hotel are a spa and wellness area.
      • LGBTQ+ Touch: The staff and the policies of Dorint Bonn are designed to ensure that every member of the LGBTQ+ community feels right at home, even away from home.
  • Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen🏭⛏️: Discover Germany's industrial past at the Ruhr Industrial Coal Mines. Explore historic sites like the Zollverein Coal Mine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offering guided tours and exhibitions. Experience the unique atmosphere and learn about the miners' lives underground.

    • Where to stay: Moxy Essen City

      • Location: Moxy Essen City is located in the heart of the city, set in one of the best-known industrial history and cultural revival cities in the world. The location is perfect for area visitors and tourists to visit the museums, theatres, and shopping districts located close by.

        Amenities: Famous for the welcoming philosophy of the house that carries it through, Moxy Essen City is a modernly and functionally furnished hotel, offering quality at reasonable prices.

        Embracement of LGBTQ+: Moxy Essen City is a very exclusive, embracing hotelier to the LGBTQ+ community and all their clients' cultural diversity. It is proud of having staff with warm and embracing qualities that ensure all their guests experience exceptional comfort.

View from a glass-enclosed walkway overlooking the industrial architecture of the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Cologne, a testament to the city's rich industrial heritage and a nod to gay Cologne's blend of history and modernity.
  • Brühl and Phantasialand🎢: Embark on an adventure to Brühl, home to the magnificent Brühl Palace and the thrilling Phantasialand amusement park. Explore the palace's opulent interiors and lush gardens before experiencing the exhilarating rides and attractions at Phantasialand.
  • Frankfurt🏙️: Immerse yourself in the dynamic metropolis of Frankfurt, known for its futuristic skyline, historic landmarks, and vibrant cultural scene. Explore attractions like the Romerberg square, St. Paul's Church, and the Palm Garden. Don't miss the opportunity to experience Frankfurt's gay district known as The Bermuda Triangle, renowned museums, shopping districts, and culinary delights.

We also made The Gay Guide to Frankfurt, Germany for your viewing pleasure 😏

  • Where to Stay: 25Hours Hotel Frankfurt

    • Location: 25Hours Hotel Frankfurt enjoys a perfect location in the vibrant city, which is the cultural and financial capital. The hotel is set right in the city center, close to the main focal points of attraction and business points.
    • Amenities: The hotel prides its theme and design that reflects local culture and eccentric modern amenities. Every public area, including guest rooms, is furnished with inspiration and comfort for every age.
    • LGBTQ+ Touch: 25hours Hotel Frankfurt tends to offer the best environment to the LGBTQ+ community since it has a liberal, friendly environment, meaning that it is a favorite among those in search of a personality hotel surrounded with such a diverse atmosphere.
  • Eifel National Park🏞️: Escape to nature in the serene surroundings of Eifel National Park, a pristine wilderness characterized by dense forests, sparkling lakes, and rugged hills. Enjoy hiking, cycling, and wildlife watching amidst breathtaking scenery, or simply unwind in nature's embrace.


TL;DR: Plan Your Cologne Trip (Logistics)

Best Time to Visit Cologne

The optimal time to visit Cologne is during the spring and summer months when the weather is warmer, and the city is bustling with events and festivals. However, Cologne's allure extends throughout the year, including its enchanting atmosphere during the Christmas markets in winter. Additionally, October and November offer relatively dry and warm weather compared to the earlier months of the year.

Visa Information

For EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens: You can travel to Germany without a visa for up to 90 days within a 180-day period.

For citizens of other countries, check visa requirements through iVisa or consult the German embassy or consulate in your country.

Getting There

  • By air: Cologne is served by Cologne Bonn Airport (CGN), located about 15 kilometers southeast of the city center. From the airport, you can reach the city center by train or taxi. Alternatively, there is also Düsseldorf Airport (DUS), which tends to serve more long-distance international flights. Once you land in Düsseldorf Airport, there is a direct 30-ish minute train to Cologne.

  • By train: Cologne is well-connected by train to major cities in Germany and Europe. The central train station, Köln Hauptbahnhof, is one of the busiest railway stations in Europe.

  • By bus: Several bus companies offer services to Cologne from other German cities and European destinations. We tend to user FlixBus.

Book train tickets to Cologne with Omio 🚝, bus tickets with FlixBus 🚌, or plane tickets with Skyscanner 🛫.

Internet and Data in Cologne

The latest alternative that we have been using when travelling is eSIMs. We use Airalo religiously. Through them, you can get an e-SIM that has coverage for most countries in Europe for much cheaper than roaming. Just make sure to research whether your phone is e-SIM compatible before buying an e-SIM. If you go this way, buy it before your trip and make sure you set it up beforehand as well (and turn off your normal SIM before connecting to data).

Most cafes, restaurants, and hotels also offer free Wi-Fi.

Health and Safety

Cologne is generally a safe city with low crime rates. Emergency medical services are provided by the German healthcare system, but it's advisable to have travel insurance for medical emergencies. We love and trust SafetyWing.

For LGBTQ+ travelers, Cologne is known for its vibrant and inclusive atmosphere, especially during events like Cologne Pride.

Getting Around

  • 🚇 Public Transportation: Cologne has an extensive public transportation network, including trams, buses, and the S-Bahn (suburban trains). You can purchase tickets at vending machines or via mobile apps. If you want to get ahead of the game and purchase tickets electronically, download the KVB app. Here is some more information on ticket prices. Just remember that German cities always operate on a trust system, so you will need to validate your ticket at one of the machines (usually on platforms next to the ticket machines). At any point, someone can come around and check your tickets and if you do not have one or have not validated, you can get a hefty fine.

  • 🚲🛴 Biking: E-bikes, cycling, and scooters are popular modes of transportation in Cologne, with bike lanes and rental services available throughout the city. Apps like Lime and Voi will help get you where you need to go!

  • 🚖 Taxis and Uber: Taxis and Uber are readily available in Cologne, and you can hail them on the street or book them through taxi apps.

Currency

The currency used in Germany is the Euro (€). ATMs are widely available throughout Cologne for cash withdrawals.

Tipping Culture

Tipping is common in Germany but not mandatory. In restaurants, it's customary to round up the bill to the nearest mentally even number (for example. If the bill is €47, just round up to 50) or leave a tip of around 5-10% for good service.

Other Cologne Tips

  • 🔌 Power Plugs: Germany uses Type C and Type F power plugs. Make sure to bring a universal adapter if your devices have different plug types.

  • 💰 Cash is King: While the world moves forward with card payments and more high-tech electronic payments, Cologne (and much of Germany) is stuck in the past with its cash-reliant system! Make sure to have cash on you at smaller restaurants and bars as a back-up, or you'll be running to a nearby ATM after getting the bill like we always do 🤣.

  • 🍻 Beer Culture: Don't miss the opportunity to try Kölsch, the local beer brewed in Cologne. Many breweries offer guided tours and tastings.

  • 🎉 Festivals and Events: Gay Festivals and Gay Events: Be sure to check the event calendar for festivals and events taking place during your visit, particularly at the Köln Messe, where you'll find fairs such as Gamescom for gamers and FIBO for fitness enthusiasts.


Conclusion

If you're seeking a livable, vibrant city with a rich LGBTQ+ culture, Cologne is the place to be! From its historic landmarks like the Cologne Cathedral to its bustling gay district around Schaafenstrasse and Heumarkt, there's something for everyone to enjoy. Explore the city's diverse array of LGBTQ+ bars, clubs, and venues, or delve into its rich cultural heritage at museums and historic sites. Whether you're strolling along the Rhine River or immersing yourself in the city's vibrant nightlife, Cologne promises an unforgettable experience filled with history, culture, and community.


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