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New to Cologne?

Even though a large part of student life takes place in the university, there are many things to do in the cultural metropolis of Cologne in your free time.

Art and Culture

Those interested in art and culture can enjoy the numerous municipal and private museums in Cologne. Some examples: Museum Ludwig (art of the 20th century and contemporary art), Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum (non-European history, culture and art), Chocolate Museum, Romano-Germanic Museum, NS-Documentation Centre, Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Museum of East Asian Art, Fragrance Museum and many more. The highlight is the annual museum night, during which the museums remain open to visitors overnight and offer special events.

Schauspiel Köln regularly hosts productions by Nordic authors – the diverse cultural offers for theatre enthusiasts range from Jonas Hassen Khemiri to Henrik Ibsen.


Cologne has many cafés. In addition to regular cafés, special ones stand out, such as the cat café near the Hansaring. Besides, there are so-called language cafés in Cologne, where you can improve your foreign language skills.

Evening entertainment

A great spot for going out is Zülpicher Straße, where you can find different clubs and bars. For quiet evenings, students can go and see a movie at one of the many cinemas. Cologne-based cinemas, which often offer Nordic films with subtitles, are the ODEON, OFF Broadway, Filmpalette, Cinenova and Metropolis. On the large green around the university, you can relax and end the long university days in the summer.

Central location

Due to the central location of Cologne, the airports of Cologne/Bonn, Frankfurt and Düsseldorf can be reached in less than an hour. From these airports, you can reach many destinations in the north at fairly reasonable prices.

But many cities outside Germany can also be easily reached by train:

  • Paris (3 h 22 min)
  • Brussels (1 h 51 min)
  • Amsterdam (2 h 42 min)

Additionally, you can reach many places within NRW with the semester ticket. You can travel to cities all over NRW by local transport (e.g. Aachen, Paderborn, Bielefeld, Münster or Neandertal). A day trip to the World Heritage Castles Augustusburg and Falkenlust in Brühl is also worthwhile. Nature lovers might be interested in a trip to the Eifel National Park (1 h 20 min), which offers many hiking trails and activities such as stand-up paddling.

Literature festivals

Two important literary events take place in Cologne every year. The Poetica, Festival for World Literature, invites authors from all over the world to public readings and talks. The big literary festival LitCologne presents many writers every March since 2001. Nordic authors frequently participate in this event. Within the framework of the PhilCologne, the little sister of LitCologne, you can listen to inspiring philosophical debates.

Events in Cologne

Every year, the fifth season (carnival) is celebrated in Cologne. But there is much more to discover in Cologne. Every year in summer, the event Kölner Lichter, one of the largest music-synchronous fireworks in Europe, enchants numerous visitors. Another fireworks spectacle called Rhein in Flammen takes place every year, which can be admired in Bonn.

Another big event is Christopher Street Day, CSD for short. This is a day of remembrance and demonstration, which takes place as part of the ColognePride. Highlights of the ColognePride are a 3-day street festival, which is topped off with the CSD parade.

Film lovers will also not miss out on Cologne: In the summer there are a lot of open-air cinemas, while at the annual Short Film Festival (KFFK) in November regularly current short films (also from the North!) be presented. It is worth taking a look at the programme of the four-day festival.

Student jobs

In Cologne, there are various student jobs that are offered. In some museums, supervisory staff are regularly employed, as are cinema staff. Cafés and restaurants also provide jobs for students who want to earn extra income. The WDR offers students the opportunity to gain experience as a student assistant in addition to their studies. Students can also find exciting part-time jobs at various trade fairs, including Gamescom, which is popular throughout Europe.


You can find more tips in Regina Jucknies ‘Der Norden in Köln. Ein nicht nur literarischer Reiseführer’.