Streetart Köln
Cologne has masses of urban art. A bile ride is a quick way of visiting the hot spots. Photo: Adobe Stock

Street art in Cologne: a cycling tour for fans of art in public spaces

Cologne offers street artists plenty of space to let off steam creatively. The best way to see the results is on an urban bike tour.

Colourful concrete: From Cologne Cathedral to the Eigelstein and Agnesviertel districts and on to the Nippes neighbourhood

At a leisurely pace, this street & urban art tour of Cologne takes a good hour, covering 21 kilometres. Our starting point is Cologne Cathedral. If you’re coming from outside the city, just step out of the Hauptbahnhof (central station) and you’re ready to roll.

If you haven’t got a bike with you, you can hire one at Radstation on the north side of the station. At our first destination, the Eigelstein and Agnesviertel districts, the street art is still quite sparse. Here, it’s the coffee that’s developed into something of an art form.

Photo: Fabian Paffendorf

Moving north to the neighbourhood of Nippes, we arrive at Wilhelmplatz, whose surrounding narrow streets reveal the rough and ready side of Cologne. Near the Neusser Straße/Gürtel stop, we strike street-art gold: a dozen or so concrete pillars that support the tram tracks above have been given a bold makeover.

Ehrenfeld: the creative heart of Cologne street art

Next stop is Ehrenfeld, the beating heart of the city’s street-art scene. This district is, after all, where the CityLeaks Festival for contemporary urban art and culture has taken place every two years since 2011, generating countless landmarks along the way.

Murals turn previously drab façades into works of art that tell a story. Watch it unfold on this special tour as you take in the skinned rabbit by Belgian artist Roa and Swiss artist duo Herakut’s wide-eyed girl carrying a dog in a striped top.

Photo: Fabian Paffendorf

The arches of Ehrenfeld station were once devoid of colour but the festival has transformed them into a canvas of stone. Today, it depicts a woman bathing in a gigantic cup of coffee next to a paparazzi pigeon with its stare fixed on passers-by.

From Ehrenfeld to the epicentre of the street-art scene

Ehrenfeld is a breeding ground for urban art, with “paste-ups” springing out of nooks and crannies all over the district. They’re little pieces of art on paper that people stick to building exteriors, street lamps and billboards, much like wallpaper.

In 2021, the epicentre of the festival was on Hüttenstraße with the result that there are several newer works to admire there and on nearby Lichtstraße, Heliosstraße and Gerhard-Wilczek-Platz.

Photo: Fabian Paffendorf

With its inviting cafés, restaurants and ice cream parlours, this area is a great place to park up and take a short break. There are some fantastic little eateries, particularly off the beaten track. If you like your food more basic, you’ll be happy to know there are stacks of kiosks and snack bars here too.

From Merheimer Straße into the Belgian Quarter

On Merheimer Straße, there’s a bird-headed, fiery-haired creature dancing on the side of a building. And on Eckewartstraße, the supporting pillars for a railway line provide another outdoor exhibition space with action heroes, monsters, robots, apocalyptic soldiers and graffiti illustrating the multi-faceted nature of street art.

Passing slow-moving traffic, we pedal on to the Geldernstraße/Parkgürtel tram stop, where numerous artists have turned the crisscrossing bridges into an outdoor gallery.

Photo: Fabian Paffendorf

Beneath the tramlines, a spiderman with a rollator, a wrinkly dino and a nicotine-addicted dolphin have moved in together. We get moving too, via Vogelsanger Straße and Venloer Straße on to the Belgian Quarter, where CityLeaks has left its mark – in the form of some witty murals – especially around Brüsseler Platz and Brüsseler Straße.

Awe-inspiring paste-ups and stickers in Südstadt

Gradually approaching the home stretch, we travel through the student quarter and Südstadt district, where Debug Visuals and Low Bros have immortalised themselves in murals. There are also tons of small gems and a profusion of paste-ups, stickers and tiles to marvel at as well as mosaic aliens by street-art pioneer Invader for connoisseurs to look out for.

We finish with a ride along the Rhine, heading back to the cathedral, where our urban art tour comes to an end.

0 comments on “Street art in Cologne: a cycling tour for fans of art in public spaces

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *