Blick von oben auf den Rheinpark in Köln-Deutz mit grünem Gras und Dom im Hintergrund.
Considered by some to be on the "wrong" side of the Rhine, the district of Deutz has a vibe all of its own. Photo: Adobe Stock

Deutz – the best view of Cologne

Despite being part of the city centre, Deutz isn't quite like the rest of Cologne. But the people who live there love it all the same and for good reason. An ode to life on the "wrong" side of the Rhine.

There’s simply no better view. With a cold drink and a warm spot on the sun-soaked stone steps of the Rheinboulevard, it doesn’t take long to unwind as you look out at the Rhine, count the cathedral’s spires (just to be sure) and the high-speed ICE trains rolling across Hohenzollernbrücke bridge. Even if local folklore claims Cologne’s Deutz district is on the “wrong” side of the river, it still has the best view. And it’s also the only neighbourhood on the eastern bank of the river to officially be part of the city centre.

Blick auf die Hohenzollernbrücke, den Köln Triangle in Deutz.
The KölnTriangle tower in Deutz is Cologne’s second tallest building and offers a spectacular view of the city. Photo: Adobe Stock

A special vibe worth crossing the river for

I have to confess a certain bias here because my first flat in Cologne was in Deutz. In a pretty run-down building from the 1970s in a small, narrow side street. The size of a shoebox, it had a low ceiling and was in the attic, making it unbearably hot in the summer. And I thought it was a great place to live? You bet! Because Deutz has a special vibe all of its own, a special “Jeföhl” as the locals say. Plus there’s always a balmy breeze drifting across from the Rhine. Let’s just say Deutz is the most archetypically Cologne part of Cologne! The small in the large, the old in the new, smart hipster spots next to quirky corner pubs. There’s a lot that’s right on the wrong side of the river. And you don’t even have to live in Deutz to see why.

Blick auf eine leere Straße in der Deutzer Freiheit
Organic food store, coffee bar, ice-cream parlour, bookshop, pizzeria: the Deutzer Freiheit shopping street. Photo: Imago

But if you did want to feel like a local, Heimisch would be a good place to start. The route to get there is about as Deutz-ish as it gets! The main shopping street, Deutzer Freiheit, which was even part of a car-free pilot scheme, is much more akin to a conventional pedestrian zone now – except it’s more laid-back and not as lifeless as those you find in West German backwaters. Organic food store, coffee bar, ice cream parlour, bookshop and pizzeria – it’s all there within the space of a few metres.

A fresh take on the good old-fashioned sandwich 

Like in the old days but cooler – that’s Deutz but it’s also true of Heimisch, the local coffee, cake and co-working institution. The name could be translated as “like at home” and that’s the idea – a home away from home. So there’s really good coffee plus great bread like they used to make but with some “tuned” toppings to bring things up to date. Fabulous-looking sandwiches and salads, organic bread and rolls and – what else would you expect – homemade cake. Heimisch opened its doors on Deutzer Freiheit in 2016 and has become a firm favourite with locals and tourists alike. On top of that, there’s a quieter upstairs sure to get any remote worker excited. Whether you’re working, on your way home or enjoying a day off – more Gemütlichkeit than Heimisch just isn’t possible even if you live in an attic flat in Deutz!

A bird’s-eye view without all the stairs of the cathedral

Admittedly, Deutz isn’t a huge place – well, not on paper at least. Around 15,000 people live in the district, which, despite its compact size, has its own railway station and connects to the national rail network. Visitors arriving in Cologne from Munich, Frankfurt or the Ruhr region often pull into Köln Messe/Deutz first. From there, the city centre is just a stone’s throw away across the Hohenzollernbrücke bridge. But you don’t necessarily need to head straight for the centre if you’re clued up on all the things Deutz has to offer. And let’s not forget the most obvious crowd-pullers: the trade-fair grounds, LANXESSarena, Rheinpark and the Tanzbrunnen event venue located there, the Rhine cable car and the Claudius-Therme thermal baths.

Visitors arriving in Cologne by train from Frankfurt often pull into Köln Messe/Deutz first. Photo: Adobe Stock

To get our bearings, we can enjoy a birds-eye view without having to move far from the station – or having to climb the stairs of the cathedral! At 103 metres, the KölnTriangle tower in Deutz is Cologne’s second tallest building and its panorama views have provided the backdrop to various talent shows and chat shows on television. The spectacular view of the city from the glass-panelled viewing platform is now a popular motif for postcards and beermats and is worth the trip whatever the weather.

Lommi – a local legend

If you feel the need to get back “down to earth” after all that admiring the view, head for Lommerzheim just a few metres away. A narrow lane called Hans-Lommerzheim-Weg leads from the railway station to this legendary pub, which has enjoyed a decades-long reputation as the cult Cologne pub. The lane was named after the original landlord, who passed away in 2005. Lommerzheim was closed for a few years in the noughties only to make a triumphant return later. So what makes “Lommi” so spectacular? It’s not easy to say. But it’s something to do with the essence of Deutz – one foot in the past and one very much in the present. If you like Deutz, you’ll love Lommi – and vice versa.

Sonnenuntergang im Rheinpark in Köln Deutz
Along the riverbank in Deutz, the Rheinpark offers a magnificent view of Cologne’s old quarter and the city’s cathedral.
Photo: Dieter Jacobi/ KölnTourismus Gmbh

A story from 1999 says everything about this place – a place you wouldn’t have thought could even exist. One day, US President Bill Clinton decided he wanted to pay Lommerzheim a visit. Due to security concerns, that would have meant closing the pub to the public. But the landlord declined – he didn’t want to do that to the regulars! Moving away from the subject of presidents though, this place is shabbier than ever, the food is hearty and heavy (it doesn’t really matter what you order) and whether or not you get a friendly waiter is pure luck. This sort of capriciousness could raise a few eyebrows elsewhere but it’s all part of the package here. You get your kölsch and cutlet in the end – along with a smile (but then a genuine one!) and a little joke if you’re lucky.

Außenfassade des Gasthauses Lommerzheim in Deutz
Photo: Shutterstock

A pub experience from a time gone by

You just have to love these waiters – and accept them the way they are. In return, you get a pub experience from a time gone by. If you take an evening stroll afterwards to explore the district’s narrow streets, sit on the grassy banks of the Rhine and watch with a wistful eye as the German, Dutch and Belgian barges pass by, then you get a sense of real Jeföhl. Then you feel like you’re definitely on the right side of the river because anything else would just feel completely wrong!

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