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Street & Urban Art
Cycling through Cologne’s art jungle
On our Street & Urban Art Tour, we’d like to guide you through our city’s multifaceted art jungle. Lining the route are works by international and local street-art specialists as well as nameless creative artists who are part of this scene.
Urban art, also known as street art, has been part of the urban scene ever since people started living in cities. Prehistoric cave paintings testify to human beings’ need to create a record of their lives and the world around them. Street art is often (not without reason) dismissed as mere scribblings, but it has evolved into a recognized genre of art and is nowadays even sold in renowned auction houses.
Cologne is an ideal place to take a closer look at this mix of styles. Another good reason to take this tour is that in Cologne many one-way streets are open to cyclists in both directions. We wish you lots of fun and a good eye for detail as you explore and discover!
You can see the cycling route directly at komoot: Street & Urban Art.
Description of the route
The Urban Art Tour begins at Cologne Cathedral and takes you first to the Eigelstein and the Agnesviertel district, where you can see the first set of urban artworks. At the city gate Eigelsteintorburg or the St. Agnes Church you’ll have very good options if you wish to fortify yourself for the road ahead with a coffee or a snack.
The tour continues northward to the Nippes district. Here you can find quite a few highlights of street art. This formerly working-class neighbourhood also stands out because of its traditional “Kölsch” flair. Especially in the small streets around Wilhelmplatz, it will be worth your while to get off your bicycle and take the time for a good look around. If you already feel hungry, you’re sure to find an eatery you like on Neusser Straße, and there are also plenty of dining opportunities near Wilhelmplatz.
The route now leads you through the Sechzigviertel district and across Liebigstraße from Nippes towards Ehrenfeld, the heartland of Cologne’s street-art scene. This is where the first City Leaks urban art festival was held in 2011. The festival has been held at two-year intervals ever since. It has gradually extended its scope, giving selected street artists from Germany and abroad the opportunity to decorate house facades all over the city. The cycling route takes you past some of their works. The festival’s headquarter is located in Hüttenstraße in 2021. It’s worthwhile to get off your bike at this point, pushing it along and taking a look at the new art projects in the making. It’s also a good idea to take an additional spin along Lichtstraße, walk along Heliosstraße and spend some time on Gerhard-Wilczek-Platz. This is where the Café Goldmund has a lovely little beer garden. You can also treat yourself to a delicious ice cream at the Eisfeld café next door.
The Ehrenfeld railway station, and its railway embankment in particular, are absolute hotspots for street art. And you’re sure to notice that Ehrenfeld offers an almost unlimited array of culinary delights. You‘re sure to find something to suit every taste, especially along Venloer Straße. As you look for a small café or an exceptional restaurant, you’ll be rewarded if you explore the side streets or make a detour to Lenauplatz.
Next, take Vogelsanger Straße and then Venloer Straße through the inner-city green belt and enter the Belgian Quarter. Here too, some of the motifs of this neighbourhood’s murals can be traced back to the City Leaks festivals. Others were created on the artists’ own initiative. This is especially evident around Brüsseler Platz and along Brüsseler Straße. Here, as well as on Aachener Straße, you can find a rich array of small retail shops, restaurants, cafés and bars. Among them is the distinctive hostel "die wohngemeinschaft", which is not only bicycle-friendly accommodation but also invites you to linger in the bar and its outdoor terrace. In this area you have the option of ending your cycling tour, getting off your bike, strolling around and letting the day wind down. The shortest route back to the city centre and Cologne Cathedral is to follow Ehrenstraße.
But if you’d like to take a close look at a further series of artworks, make a detour through the student district and the Südstadt district. In the student district, or Quartier Lateng (“Kölsch” for “Latin Quarter”), you’ll mainly find street art around Zülpicher Straße, while in the Südstadt you’ll in particular come across two huge murals at the Rheinauhafen district. You can round off your tour by cycling along the Rhine back to Cologne Cathedral.