Hohenzollernbrücke und Hochhaus Köln Triangle
One of Cologne's most photogenic views: KölnTriangle in the evening sun. Photo: Adobe Stock

Picture-perfect Cologne

The cathedral may be Cologne’s most photographed sight but the city has lots more photogenic places. Here are our eight recommendations for views to capture as you explore.

The Rhine Boulevard

Der Dom von der Hohenzollernbrücke aus gesehen
The cathedral looks particularly handsome against a slightly cloudy evening sky. Photo: Getty Images

Hardly anyone manages to get the whole of Cologne Cathedral in a picture – it’s almost like an Olympic discipline! No matter how agile the photographer or how wide the angle, you can’t do it close up. Either there’s a corner missing or a branch or roof ridge sticking out somewhere. The answer lies not very far away, on the other side of the river. Cross over to the Rhine Boulevard and position yourself on the stairs up to Hohenzollernbrücke bridge and you get an almost completely unobstructed view of the city’s most famous building. With the Rhine, the Altstadt district and the historic railway bridge in the foreground, you also create a harmonious composition.

It’s a good idea to bring a tripod and try out different time exposures in the hour after sunset when the cathedral, the Altstadt and the bridge are illuminated.


Das Hochhaus Köln Triangle mit Aussichtsplattform
The KölnTriangle viewing platform offers unrivalled views plus a unique background for portrait photos. Photo: Adobe Stock

The viewing platform on the 29th floor of the KölnTriangle skyscraper is around 100 metres above ground level. From the top of the tower, there’s a magnificent view across the city. The large glass panes around the platform are also a great place to take portrait photos against the backdrop of the Cologne skyline. Whilst no other view of the city comes close at sunset, bear in mind that the panes reflect the light from the stairwell. Depending on what you’re aiming for, you’ll have to experiment a little to get the perfect shot.

Ottoplatz 1


Die Kranhäuser im Rheinauhafen
The Kranhäuser buildings are the stand-out landmarks in Cologne’s Rheinauhafen harbourside redevelopment. Photo: Getty Images

The architecture of Cologne’s Rheinauhafen harbourside redevelopment has a modern, metropolitan feel. The cubed shapes and gleaming glass facades are favourites with photographers, and the three Kranhäuser (“crane buildings”) provide a great opportunity to play with perspective. But the Silo 23, Siebengebirge and Kap am Südkai buildings and the skatepark at the southern end of the site also offer ideal backdrops for photographic experiments – with lines, reflections or for fashion or portrait photos. You’ll find the world’s second longest underground car park – 1.6km long – beneath this area too though it’s not as interesting for photographs as the buildings above ground.

Kolumba art museum


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Many museums don’t let you take photos. But Kolumba (the art museum of the Archdiocese of Cologne) isn’t one of them. The building was designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor and built on the ruins of the St. Kolumba church, which was destroyed in the war. The exhibitions change once a year and are usually themed around social issues. Kolumba sees itself as a “museum of contemplation” and an “open space contributing to the debate on life turned into art”. And the best thing about it all is that you can take as many photos as you like of the exhibits – as long as you don’t use a flash.

Museum Kolumba
Kolumbastraße 4

Heumarkt and Severinstraße underground stations

U-Bahnstation Heumarkt
The Heumarkt underground station is reminiscent of the inside of a spaceship. Photo: dpa picture alliance

For many years, Cologne’s underground stations, with their outmoded looks and total lack of big-city vibes, were the source of considerable embarrassment. The new North-South line that’s currently being built has changed all that and the Heumarkt and Severinstraße are practically asking to be photographed. You can either take snaps of the futuristic architecture itself or use it as a backdrop for portraits and short films. At the Heumarkt station, the huge mezzanine space has an aesthetic all of its own; at Severinstraße, the seemingly never-ending escalator is just as fascinating as the panelling on the mezzanine floor and along the stairs.


Eine Skulptur aus dem Kölner Skulpturenpark
American artist Mark di Suvero created this giant sculpture from untreated steel girders. Photo: imago

This 3.5 hectare triangle between Zoobrücke bridge, the Rhine and Riehler Straße is dotted with sculptures (some of which you can walk through) by international artists like Anish Kapoor, Jenny Holzer and Heimo Zebernig. The remarkable combination of art and nature and the different perspectives offered by the Skulpturenpark make it an inspiring place for photographers. It’s also an out-of-the-ordinary location for portrait photos. The park is fenced and guarded though so make sure you check the opening hours!

Skulpturenpark Köln
Riehler Straße (main entrance)

Flora botanical garden

Die Flora in Köln
The Flora botanical garden is home to more than 12,000 species of plants. Photo: Chris Weiher

As well as presenting plants in all their beauty, Cologne’s Flora botanical garden also illustrates their practical uses. In addition to summer flowers and other ornamental plants from around the globe, there are various types of vegetable, cocoa, coffee and nut trees and other plants we depend on in our daily lives. The one thing they all have in common is that they make for superb photos. A tip from us – take a lens or a camera with a good close-up function.

Flora und Botanischer Garten
Alter Stammheimer Weg

Katzenbuckelbrücke bridge in Mülheim harbour

Die Katzenbuckelbrücke im Mühlheimer Hafen
Katzenbuckelbrücke bridge is an ideal spot to start a photo walking tour of the Mülheim harbour area. Photo: alamy

The harbour area in Cologne’s Mülheim district offers plenty of inspiration for urban hobby photographers too. The best place to start is Katzenbuckelbrücke bridge, so named because of its resemblance to a cat’s arched back. The bridge leads to “Mülheim Island”, a long stretch of recreational space with tall trees, untouched nature and a wide gravel beach – lots of subjects for impressive close-ups. Back in the actual harbour, the former factory buildings also provide thrilling backdrops but with more of an urban industrial look.

Katzenbuckelbrücke bridge
Mülheimer Hafen

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