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Living in Cologne?

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Cologne at a Glance

Living in Cologne

As a cultural hub in the west of Germany, Cologne is famous for its spectacular cathedral, various museums and prestigious universities. Living in Cologne can be a great experience. Find out more information about leisure activities, local transportation and the city in our guide.

Culture and Leisure

The cultural significance of Cologne in Germany is very large, and the city takes great pride in their history. There are several museums throughout the city, notably the Roman-Germanic Museum, which is home to artifacts and artwork from the past. There are also more modern museums and galleries, such as the Museum Ludwig which has a large collection of modern art from great artists. Not only is Cologne a center of art, but also a center of music — the city boasts the Gürzenich Orchestra and the WDR Symphony Orchestra. Each year, Cologne hosts the November street festival called the Cologne Carnival, where crowds flock to the city, and bars and pubs are filled up with people celebrating and the streets are jam-packed with dancing people wearing elaborate costumes. The Christmas markets of Cologne are world famous, as is Cologne's long-standing rivalry with neighboring Düsseldorf, which has grown over decades of differences over beers, football and other sporting events. 

Transportation in Cologne

Cologne Bonn Airport is the closest airport to Cologne, and is therefore the easiest way to get into the city, but the benefit of being so close to a neighboring city is that Düsseldorf International Airport is also only a 40 minute train journey away, so this can also be very convenient. Once expats have made it into Cologne, the public transportation networks have a very good reputation for efficiency. The tram, bus and subway networks are excellent throughout the city, and tickets can be purchased which are valid on all of these forms of transportation. The city is laid out in zones, and transportation is generally a universal price which rises each year, but there is also the option of a slightly cheaper ticket for short trips of four of fewer stops. It is also possible to hire bikes around the city, and in order to do this you can register an online account, on which you can place credit. This will then charge your account per minute the bike is used. The bikes can then be dropped off at different locations in the city. Often, the nicest way to get around and to immerse yourself in the culture is to walk, and it is not impossible to walk from one side of the city to the other, if you are that way inclined. 

Safety and Security

Cologne is not dissimilar to other European cities in terms of safety and security. The city center does have pickpockets who will target tourists, so be aware of your possessions at all times. The Ring is an area of the city with many clubs and bars, and the streets can become particularly crowded — this place is an especially high risk place regarding opportunist thieves. Certain areas of the city have higher crime rates, particularly Chorweiler, Seeburg and Porz, so it is best to avoid these places, or not walk through on your own, particularly late at night. Violent crimes against tourists are incredibly rare, but if you are a victim of a crime, the police can be reached by phone on either 110 or 112.

InterNations Expat Magazine