Wedged between the hip Belgian quarter and the posh Lindenthal district and not far from Cologne University, this large green area attracts urban barbecue aficionados, sun seekers, joggers, dog walkers, and sports fans. On a sunny summer weekend, Aachener Weiher is one of the top spots to hang out for students. The beer garden of the same name offers draught beer and hearty food, though most people buy Kölsch and snacks at a kiosk nearby and sprawl out on the grass.
The Rheinpark does not only have amazing views of Cologne’s skyline from the other riverside, but also offers lots of activities for adults and children. Kids can climb, swing, and seesaw on the large playground, splash around in a paddling pond or – accompanied by an adult – ride the narrow-gauge railway around the park. Barbecues are prohibited, but adults come here for their early morning jog, picnics, and to watch the sunset.
The beautiful and vast park is ideal for endless strolls. Walking paths pervade the area between Lindenthal and Müngersdorf, and lead past artificially created ponds, canals and meadows. Large beech and oak trees provide shade for picnics, and the animal park, with donkeys, sheep, goats, and deer, is worth stopping at if you have kids with you.
Botanical Gardens (Flora)
Cologne’s botanical gardens wow with more than 10,000 species of native and exotic plants. Some of the highlights are an American sequoia tree, a waterfall, and a palm tree-lined alley. Two gatehouses mark the entrance to the Flora, and provide a picturesque backdrop of the beautifully planted gardens outside. It’s hardly a surprise that the romantic and palace-like event space is popular for weddings and anniversary celebrations.
Beautiful tree-dotted green areas, Hellers beer garden and a paddle boat rental draw people of all ages to the Volksgarten in Cologne’s south. If that’s not enough of a reason for you to spend a sunny day at the park, you might like the rose garden, or explore the ruins of Fort IV, a former Prussian fortification. The orangery of the fort has been converted into a theatre and is one of the city’s unique venues to watch a play.
Cologne’s rings of fortresses have been converted into modern green areas. The inner greenbelt stretches from the Flora through Ehrenfeld to the university district, with the stretch between the Colonius tower and Aachener Straße being the most popular. The outer green belt circles around the entire city and a signposted 63-kilometre walking and cycling path takes you along forests, fields, ponds, and the Rhine promenade.