+++ Coronavirus: Current information on the situation in Cologne due to efforts to contain COVID-19 can be found here: Corona in Cologne. +++
Cycling during the evening hours
As dusk approaches, Cologne is transformed into a sea of lights, especially along the Rheinpromenade and the Rheinboulevard. Many of Cologne’s tourist attractions and notable buildings are artfully illuminated at night, and their lighting creates a mood of enchantment.
You can see the cycling route directly at komoot: Night Lights.
Description of the route
The tour begins at the RheinEnergieSTADION, the home of Cologne’s football team, 1. FC Köln. The stadium’s pylons are illuminated at night in one of the team’s colours, red or white. On special occasions such as during Advent, the pylons shine forth as candles. If you’d like to fortify yourself before you start the tour, a good choice is the Club Astoria, which offers a view of the Adenauer Weiher pond. After making sure you have lights on your bicycle so that you can see and be seen, cycle through the Stadtwald Forest and along the Lindenthal Canals toward the city centre as a peaceful evening stillness descends and the streetlights glow.
At the end of the canals you’ll reach the Aachener Weiher pond. From the top of the hill you’ll have a wonderful view of the Television Tower and the MediaPark, both of which are brightly lit at night — the TV Tower in magenta and the MediaPark in cyan blue. Many Cologne natives and “Imis” (people who have settled in Cologne) like to wind down at the end of a day with a cool drink from their local kiosk or in the beer garden at the Aachener Weiher pond. Besides, one meets in the neighbouring Belgian quarter at the "wohngemeinschaft", which becomes a bar in the evening and is also a bike-friendly hostel.
If you’d like to see the play of lights at the MediaPark up close, follow the path northwards through the inner-city green belt. You’ll pass the Television Tower, which is known as “Colonius”. It’s the highest TV Tower in North Rhine-Westphalia, and it shines brightly above the roofs of this metropolis on the Rhine.
Next, the tour takes you to the MediaPark, whose 165-meter-high KölnTurm tower is transformed at night into a green-and-blue play of lights. If you’re standing in the right place, the bluish light is reflected in the MediaPark Lake. If you’d like to pause for dinner, the Pantanal Rodizio restaurant, which offers Brazilian specialities and an appetizer buffet, is a good choice. The Vapiano, which lies directly opposite, also offers pizza and other takeaway meals.
From here you can cross the Agnesviertel district and reach the main building of Cologne’s Botanical Garden, the Flora. At night this listed building is enveloped in magical light, thanks to a modern LED lighting system. In combination with the gardens, it conjures up an especially romantic mood.
Further eastward along the route, there’s a lovely panoramic view of the city from the bank of the Rhine. Cologne Cathedral is illuminated at night from every angle, as its neighbour the Musical Dome, which glows in brilliant blue. After crossing the Hohenzollern Bridge you will be in the Deutz district on the right side of the Rhine. This bridge is known especially for the approximately 500,000 “love locks” hanging upon it. After being retrofitted with modern LED technology, the bridge glows in a golden light.
Visitors who want to see Cologne’s sea of lights from above should make a detour to the observation platform of the KölnTriangle tower. From this platform, you’ll have one of the best panoramic views of Cologne and its surrounding region.
The view from the Rheinboulevard and the outdoor stairway directly on the Rhine is also unique. This incomparable view of Cologne in lights will surely reward night owls for their lost sleep. Two recently opened restaurants on the Rheinboulevard have enriched Cologne with additional culinary highlights: Grissini, which offers Italian food, and Sticky Fingers with its extensive menu of delicious street food.
As you cycle along the Rhine toward the south, you’ll soon see the Rheinauhafen on the opposite bank. The tour takes you across the Südbrücke, which can only be reached via a staircase. If you want to cross the Rhine without having to carry your bicycle, you can also reach the Rheinauhafen via the Severinsbrücke bridge. In between the three striking crane towers called “Kranhäuser” you’ll find older buildings that testify to the history of this district. During the evening hours it’s pleasant to bask in the light of the high-rises and the streetlights between them.
The tour continues toward the city centre and the beer garden of the Brauhaus Johann Schäfer, which lies directly on the Rhine and sells food and beverages from a snack van. You will soon reach Cologne Cathedral via the Rheinpromenade. In the evening, the cathedral is radiant in soft blue-white light that makes it stand out from its dark surroundings. The traditional breweries Früh and Gaffel Kölsch are located in the direct vicinity of the cathedral.
And it’s only a hop, skip and a jump from Cologne Cathedral to the House of Fragrances 4711, which is a museum as well as a perfume shop. At night this building is bathed in golden light, and during the Christmas season its lighting is especially striking. This is where the “Night Lights” cycling tour ends.
Take your impressions of Cologne’s sea of lights home with you. But if you’re a restless cycling fan who’s longing for your next bike ride, you can swing onto the saddle again for one of our daytime cycling tours through the city centre.