Sat on the banks of the mighty Rhine is the fourth largest city in Germany - Cologne.

A major calling point in the North Rhine-Westphalia region, the city is home to stunning architecture, friendly locals and delicious cuisine. The inhabitants have an enormous sense of pride in their city and their region, making it a hugely welcoming stop-off point during your cruise along the Rhine.

Approaching the docking point, you will be met by the unmistakable sight of both the Hohenzollern bridge, connecting the east and west side, and the Kolner Dom, a huge cathedral which acts as a symbol for the city. Beyond this beautiful skyline there is so much just waiting to be explored. With Cologne a port of call for many Iglu river cruises, here is our guide to a day in Cologne.

Cologne rhine river

Kolner Dom

Starting with the focal point of the city, the Dom is a truly magnificent feat of architecture standing tall over all of Cologne. One of the largest cathedrals in Europe, work began on building this monument to the city in 1248, eventually being finished in 1880. It is a true masterpiece of High Gothic architecture and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. It has seen a lot during the hundreds of years it has sat in the heart of city and even survived 14 aerial strikes during the Allies' bombing of Cologne during World War II. Repaired and renovated it is now one of the most popular attractions in Cologne with around 20,000 people visiting each day.

Take a stroll inside to discover the Reliquary of the Three Kings, the famous relief of the Adoration of the Kings in 1440 and the Treasure Chamber with a host of relics and artifacts. You can even climb the over 500 steps to the top of the tower to get an amazing panoramic view of the city.

Entrance to the Dom is free but access to some sections carry a charge.

cologne-cathedral

Museum Ludwig

In the shadow of the Dom is the Museum Ludwig, an absolute must for any art lovers among your party. Open since 1976, it is home to a huge collection of modern art ranging from Pop Art and Abstract to Surrealism, not to mention the largest range of works by Picasso across all of Europe.

Situated next to the Wallraf-Richartz Museum, which focuses on fine art from the medieval era, the gallery was bestowed with 350 modern artworks by chocolate magnate Peter Ludwig. The pieces, valued at around $45 million (£28.8 million), allowed the museum to get off the ground and blossom.

Among the artworks currently housed at Museum Ludwig include Kazimir Malevich's 1909 Landscape (of Winter), August Macke's 1913 Lady in a Green Jacket and Gottfried Helnwein's 1987 Last Supper. These sit alongside various works by Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns and Roy Lichtenstein. Admission is €11 (£8) for adults.

Kolner Rathaus

Take a stroll into Cologne's Old Town and you will find the Kolner Rathaus, the Town Hall. The oldest public building in Germany, it can trace its history back over 900 years and was a focal point of the city during medieval times.

Over the years its architecture has been influenced significantly with main buildings suiting a 14th-century style, while the tower resembles more 15th-century styling with some Renaissance influence thrown in for good measure. The atrium even shows signs of a more modern twist. You are able to stroll around inside and see the likes of the Hansasaal and the Gothic figures of eight prophets, the nine "good heroes" and hear the sonorous carillon which plays three times a day.

Hohenzollern Bridge

Another iconic figure of Cologne is the Hohenzollern Bridge. Carrying railway tracks from the east into Koln Hbf, it has remained a hugely important gateway to the city providing a crossing point over the Rhine.

Built between 1907 and 1911, it was originally known as the Cathedral Bridge with the view of the Dom as you cross it. With three beautiful arches it is a great example of classic German engineering but was destroyed during World War II. As Allied troops began their assault on Cologne, the bridge was blown up by the Germans to prevent further access.

Rebuilt in 1959, the bridge is used for both trains and pedestrians. Take a stroll along the bridge and lay your own mark by attaching a 'love lock' along with the thousands of others that dot the walkway.

love-locks-Hohenzollern-Bridge

Enjoy a Kolsch or two in the Old Town

With a full day of sightseeing behind you, why not unwind in Cologne's Old Town? Like their neighbours in Dusseldorf, the people of Cologne are immensely proud of their roots and have their unique customs.

As the sun goes down head to the Fruh am Dom bar, just a short walk from the Dom itself. Here you will get a real flavour of life in the city with waiters filling glasses with a delicious Kolsch. You won't find many more beers on the menu here, but why would you need anything else as this light, flavoursome beverage hits all the right notes?

Another quirk of Cologne, is the serving of Kolsch. Traditionally poured out in 0.2 litre glasses, waiters will keep the beer flowing until you say stop, so maybe best to enjoy a pretzel or two to soak up the booze.

If you are feeling hungry after touring the city then head to Haxenhaus, on Frankenwerft 19. Here you will find an array of traditional German fare ranging from Knuckle 'Cologne Style' (pork knuckle with red sausage, onions, cheese with red cabbage and mash), Jagerpfanne (pork in a mushroom sauce) and Rhine Style beef with dumplings and red cabbage.

Cologne is such an amazing city to explore and will no doubt be a highlight of your Rhine river cruise.

Read our blog on Cologne's Alternative Attractions and explore more with your next Rhine River Cruise