Over the course of our busy season of Cologne walking tours, here at Art of Touring we often get asked about the Cologne Cable Car (Kölner Seilbahn). This is understandable as the brightly colored gondolas are easily visible, crossing the river Rhine on the north side of the city centre.

Cologne’s Cable Car has recently reopened following extensive renovation. The reopening was cause for celebration as the route is great for day-trippers. It connects the RheinPark, the largest green space in the city centre, with the city’s Zoo and Sculpture Park.

For those willing to leave the old city behind, a trip on the Cologne Cable Car is well worth it. With locals as well, it is a favorite weekend activity. After all, in Germany Sunday shopping is not an option so people have to come up with other ways to spend their free time.

Seeing Cologne from the air is a special experience. In our view, the Cologne Cable Car is the best way to do it (and avoids having to climb the 533 steps of the Cathedral Tower!).

Adult tickets are around €5.00 for one way, €7.00 for a return trip. The cable car is open every day between April and October from 10.00am to 6.00pm. There are also special late opening events (“Nachtfahrten“) throughout the year,

Reason 1: Set off from one of Cologne’s best green spaces – the Rheinpark

The Rheinpark is a great spot: a nice restaurant on the southern edge of the park, the Rheinterrassen, offers great views of the cathedral. Numerous other stands also offer refreshment and there is even a miniature railway which is a family favorite.

Much of today’s green space in Cologne was used by the Prussians in the 19th century for military purposes. The Rheinpark is no exception. Foundations of what the Prussians built are still visible and will soon be topped by a renovated cafe.

The Cologne Cable Car has been a feature of the park since 1957. It was opened for the 1957 National Flower Show, which attracted over 4 million visitors. Reaching a height of 50 meters at its highest point, the system can can carry 1,600 people per hour. It has 41 four-seater gondolas and travels a distance of just over 900m, taking 6 minutes.

Reason 2: Get to know the city a little better – 4 things to spot on the way

Claudius Therme

On the right as you leave the Rheinpark cable car station is one of Cologne’s best known spas, Claudius Therme. It offers a range of saunas, pools, and wellbeing treatments together with a great roof terrace with a view over the city.

The Zoo Bridge

Cologne is nothing without its bridges, used by hundreds of thousands of commuters each day. The Zoo Bridge, in common with other bridges in Cologne, has its own color called Kölner Brückengrün (“Cologne Bridge Green”). This shade has a history stretching back to the 1930’s and is manufactured by Bayer just up the river in Leverkusen (whose football team’s stadium is also worth a visit).

Cologne Cathedral / Colonius Tower and the Cologne skyline

From this height on a clear day, the whole city is set out before you. The view stretches to the hills to the east and west which lie outside the city. The star of the show is clearly our 157m high French Gothic cathedral. Other notable structures include the Colonia TV tower – a rare example of a structure in the city which is taller than the cathedral towers.

The busiest waterway in Europe, the Rhine itself

The river is by a long way the most significant inland waterway in Europe. Just shy of 50% of Europe’s inland waterway traffic uses the stretch of the Rhine where Cologne is located, between Basel in Switzerland and the Dutch-German border.

Reason 3: Outdoor art as a follow-up activity: Cologne Sculpture Park (Skulpturenpark Köln)

A stone’s throw from the western terminal of the Cologne Cable Car lies the city’s Sculpture Park.

The park is home to a wide variety of works of art from German and international artists. It celebrated its 20th anniversary with the opening of its current exhibition, its 9th overall.

Famous names represented here include Anish Kapoor, the architect of the Orbit tower in London’s Olympic Park and Cloud Gate (also known as the “Chicago Bean”).

View of Cologne Sculpture Park with artworks dotted across a park
Skulpturenpark Köln, Parkansicht KölnSkulptur #9 © Stiftung Skulpturenpark Köln, 2019. Foto: Veit Landwehr, bildpark.net
Sculpture of an abstract white dog by Lin May Saeed
Lin May Saeed, Thaealab, 2017. Besitz der Künstlerin © Stiftung Skulpturenpark Köln, 2019. Foto: Veit Landwehr, bildpark.net
Claudie Comte's white cacti in the Sculpture Park, Cologne
Claudia Comte, The Nordic Cactuses, 2017. Claudia Comte und KÖNIG GALERIE, Berlin/London © Stiftung Skulpturenpark Köln, 2019. Foto: Gunnar Meier

One favorite of Art of Touring’s visit was Edwardo Navarro’s “Letters to Earth”. It is a set of 60 bronze walnuts lying in the grass, each with a walnut seed inside. The work highlights the connection between the human and natural world, a theme shared by many of the park’s artworks. Navarro’s walnuts will eventually be buried, serving as small time capsules for future generations to discover.

Bronze Walnuts nestled in grass, an artwork by Eduardo Bavarro
Eduardo Navarro, Letters to Earth, 2017. Courtesy of Eduardo Navarro © Stiftung Skulpturenpark Köln, 2019. Foto: Veit Landwehr, bildpark.net

The park is open throughout the year with opening times varying according to the seasons: April – September 10.30am – 7.00pm and October – March 10.30am – 5.00pm.

Roughly every two years the park’s curators change the exhibition and replace a whole swathe of the exhibits. This will next happen early in 2020. We are already looking forward to what the new additions will bring.

And that’s not all…

There are other great venues in the area which Art of Touring can include on our customized walking tours of Cologne. These include Cologne Zoo and the Cologne Flora Gardens. And just a little further west is Nippes, one of Cologne’s most vibrant quarters waiting to be explored. If you have any questions or comments, leave them below or contact us.