Nationalpark Eifel, Dahlem-Kronenburg
Flora & Botanischer Garten
When Cologne’s Flora and Botanical Gardens were united in 1929, a wonderful 11.5-hectare park was created. The Flora focuses on highly detailed recreations of European landscape gardens from the Baroque and Renaissance eras, while the Botanical Gardens hothouses showcase the breath-taking diversity of tropical and sub tropical plants, orchids and palm trees. Admission is free.
›› Riehl, Amsterdamer Str. 34, www.freundeskreis-flora-koeln.de
Although this educational garden was conceived for children of school and pre-school ages, it’s also interesting for adults. With its exotic plant species that can be touched, smelled and discovered, colorful butterflies and over 130 bird species, Finkens Garten is a wonderful place to visit.
›› Rodenkirchen, Friedrich-Ebert-Str. 49, Tel. 2 85 73 64, www.stadt-koeln.de
The opening of this wood and forest botanical gardens created an idyllic retreat for Cologne people in 1964. It has a different appearance in each season due to the impressive changing colors of Japanese flowering cherries, rhododendron leaves and peonies trees, so that city dwellers seeking peace and quiet never get bored of it.
›› Rodenkirchen, Schillingsrotter Str. 100, Tel. 35 43 25, www.stadt-koeln.de
Set sail in the MS Rheinland, Rheinperle or Rheintreue boats and marvel at Cologne Cathedral while cruising on the Rhine. Real sea dogs can book a day ticket and voyage as far as the Siebengebirge, past Bonn and the saga-enveloped Drachenfels mountain.
›› Altstadt-Nord, Konrad-Adenauer-Ufer, Tel. 12 16 00, www.koelntourist.net
This park in Cologne city forest is home to ponies, sheep, goats and many birds. The park celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2008. This is a place where you observe animals at close quarters free of charge.
›› Kitschburger Straße car park
›› Trame line 7 to Brahmsstraße
›› Tel. 43 34 96, www.lindenthaler-tierpark.de
A science adventure park for the whole family covering 7,500 sq m. At the 200 adventure stations you can discover knowledge such as the secret of life, look at space from outside Earth, become small enough to walk across a computer circuit board or set sail in an underwater research ship.
›› Kalk, Corintostr. 1, Tel. 69 06 82 00, www.odysseum.de
This planetarium in a former school building dating from the 19th century period of economic boom brings you close to the stars. Through two large glass domes in the school tower, you’ll get an extensive view of the heavens and the opportunity to mull over God and the Earth.
›› Nippes, Blücherstr. 15-17, Tel. 71 66 14 29, www.koelner-planetarium.de
A place where you can touch and try out everything with no restrictions. It covers two floors on which children and their parents can find their way through a maze made from cardboard tubes, experiment with distortions and images in a room full of mirrors or get down to work in the wood workshop.
›› Porz, Glashüttenstr. 20 (in the youth center Glashütte), Tel. 0 22 03/59 24 97
Declared Germany’s most beautiful park in 2007, this attraction offers recreational possibilities over 40 hectares. The extensive green landscape with play area is a fun and leisure facility for young and old. On especially hot days, you can jump into the walk-through fountain.
›› Deutz, Rheinparkweg, www.rhein-park.de
Cologne’s only cable car connects residents on the left bank of the Rhine with those on the right bank, at least in summer. You can take the cable car from the Zoobrücke. The cable car also runs at nights during special events such as the Long Nights at the next-door zoo.
›› Riehl, Riehler Str. 180, Tel. 5 47 41 83, www.koelner-seilbahn.de
This expansive park offers the perfect opportunity to spend a quiet and relaxed day in green surroundings. A walk along the Adenauer small lake or a visit to the next-door Lindenthal zoo makes a welcome change from Cologne’s hustle and bustle. The park also has lots of sports and play areas and pony rides for children.
›› Between Friedrich-Schmidt- & Dürener Straße
Pedal boat hire on the Kahn lake, lots of restaurants, a beer garden and children’s play areas make the Volksgarten an attractive place to switch off. An Orangery hidden among trees in the park’s heart stages events such as concerts and drama performances.
›› Neustadt-Süd, Volksgartenstraße
Special walking routes have been created so visitors can explore the Wahner Heide without disturbing animals and plants in North Rhine-Westphalia’s most species-diverse heath, marsh and forest landscape. Stress seems distant when you look at the richly varied area of moorland and peat bogs, lowland forests and dunes. The area is a last retreat for about 700 endangered animal and plant species.
›› Info center: Wahnheide, Flughafenstr. 33, Tel. 7 39 28 71, www.wahner-heide.com
Wildpark Dünnwalder Mauspfad
Wildlife park with over 200 animals including fallow deer, wild boar and moufflons. A special attraction in this free-to-enter reserve is the herd of European bison, a species that has died out in the wild in Germany.
›› Dünnwald, Dünnwalder Mauspfad, Tel. 60 13 07
Zoologischer Garten Köln
Cologne’s zoo in the Riehl city district is home to about 10,000 animals and 700 species. Old buildings from the zoo’s foundation and new animal houses create a charming mix. The zoo celebrated its 150th birthday in 2010.
›› Rhiel, Riehler Str. 173, Tel. 0 18 05/28 01 01, www.koelnerzoo.de
Botanischer Garten Bonn
One of the world’s oldest botanical gardens, created in 1650 as a magnificent Renaissance garden. When Bonn’s university opened in 1818, it became a scientific facility. Today about 11,000 plant species are cultivated.
›› Bonn-Poppelsdorf, Poppelsdorfer Schloss, Meckenheimer Allee 171, Tel. 0 228/73 22 59, www.botgart.uni-bonn.de
A 200 m high wooded recreation area with lakes and ponds in the Bonn district of Beuel. Its highest point is Paffelsberg at 195 m. The ridge is part of a Volcanic landscape, dating back 27.5 million years.
The lovely Rheinaue park is the city’s largest and the place where Bonn people come to relax amid nature. It was created in 1979 for the national garden show. On sunny days countless numbers of people come to enjoy its grassy areas, hills, lakes, boat hire, garden restaurants, play areas, Japanese garden and cycle paths as well as regular festivals and big events.
A popular 530 km walking route marked by signs with a black letter R on a white background. A small and pretty six-hour section leads from Bonn railway station to Rolandseck with great views of Siebenbirge.
›› Length: ca. 25 km, start Bonn train station via Ließem to Rolandseck
A forested area in Bonn that is part of the Rheinland nature park. Popular among walkers, cyclists and in-line skaters for days out.
›› Forsthaus Schönwaldhaus: 53343 Wachtberg-Villiprott, Dorfstraße
›› Bahnhof Kottenforst: 53340 Meckenheim, Bahnhof Kottenforst 8
Tel. 0 22 25/73 22, www.kottenforst-bahnhof.de
A popular place with children. The natural history museum and nature house explain the animals and plants of the surrounding forest.
›› Bonn-Ippendorf, An der Waldau 50, Tel. 0 228/28 51 07, www.hausdernatur-bonn.org
Weg der Demokratie
A tour of Bonn’s government quarter. There are 18 stops including the Langen Eugen former German parliamentary offices and chamber where those interested can learn about the history of Bonn’s time as Germany’s capital.
›› Start: Haus der Geschichte der BRD, Bonn-Zentrum, Willy-Brandt-Allee 14, Tel. 0 228/91 65-0, www.wegderdemokratie.de
Affen- & Vogelpark Eckenhagen
The name means primate and bird park but as well as the pink flamingoes, Hottentot teals and different apes and monkeys, you can also see many other creatures from the animal kingdom including meerkats, turtles and raccoons.
›› 51580 Reichshof Eckenhagen, Am Bromberg, Tel. 0 22 65/87 86, www.affen-und-vogelpark.de
Unique combination of zoo and natural history museum, where numerous animals and exhibits are showcased in 25 theme areas. Attractions include fossils, a tropical center, reef aquarium and a shark pool.
›› 40200 Düsseldorf, Kaiserswerther Str. 380 (in Nordpark), www.duesseldorf.de/aquazoo
This picture book museum is unique in Europe. It has a collection of historic and modern picture books, including an exhibition of work by German children’s book author Janosch as well as litho stone drawings and wooden prints. The exhibits have been displayed since 1982 in the picturesque Burg Wissem, a stately home and landscaped park with a games reserve and adventure playground. The museum is a true gem on any list of leisure days out.
›› 53840 Troisdorf, Burgallee 1, Tel. 0 22 41/88 41-421, -427, www.bilderbuchmuseum.de
The grounds of this 13th century castle and moat have been transformed into an exciting adventure playground. If you dare to climb up to the Bubenheimer tower, you can descend on a slide. Besides the castle grounds, you can explore a wave slide, hover cushion, cornfield maze and try go-karting.
›› 52388 Nörvenich, Burg-Bubenheim, Tel. 0 24 21/711 94, www.bubenheimer-spieleland.de
After a romantic walk around the ruins of the Medieval castle, you can enjoy a wide view across the Eifel volcanic region from the Bergfried plateau.
›› 56651 Niederdürenbach-Hain, Burgstraße, Tel. 0 26 36/97 40-0, www.olbrueck.de
Germany’s best-preserved Medieval moated castle. The Middle Ages come alive throughout the year with events such as jousting tournaments, a witches festival and a castle Christmas fair.
›› 3894 Mechernich-Satzvey, An der Burg 3, Tel. 0 22 56/ 958 30, www.burgsatzvey.de
Once upon a time... a certain Wilhelm Scheider created a fairy tale wood in Altenberg with many well-known figures from the fairy tale world. Today, this attraction, opened in 1931, is still very popular.
›› 51519 Odenthal, Märchenwaldweg 15, Tel. 0 21 74/404 54, www.deutscher-maerchenwald.de
Life at the end of the 15th century is recreated here in 65 half-timbered houses amid cultivated fields, cottage gardens and fruit orchards. Actors bring the past to life with stories and when you taste the fresh bread baked in a wood stove, you’ll feel like you’ve gone back in time.
›› 53894 Mechernich-Kommern, Eickser Str., Tel. 0 24 43/998 00, www.kommern.lvr.de
Freilichtmuseum Lindlar & Schloss Heiligenhoven
In this open air museum for ecology and farming and craft skills the fields are not cultivated using machinery and tractors, but in the old-fashioned way using horses and plows. Everything to do with agricultural life is showcased close up here. The Heiligenhoven castle and moat is only a few hundred meters away. With its wonderful romantic park landscape, this a good place for nice walk.
›› 51789 Lindlar, Tel. 0 22 66/901 00, www.freilichtmuseum-lindlar.lvr.de
This landscaped garden was created in 1912 as a private retreat for Carl Duisberg, head of the Friedrich Bayer dye factory, who had a passion for things Japanese, and it has been open to the public since the 1950s. The artistic sculptures, pretty streams and waterfalls and the elegant Japanese garden-style bridges and lattice frames make it one of Germany’s most beautiful parks.
›› 51373 Leverkusen, Kaiser-Wilhelm-Allee
A fairy-tale park that’s a magic day out! Showcased are 13 famous fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm with figures that move and speak.
›› 53498 Bad Breisig, Am Kesselberg 1, Tel. 0 26 33/85 34, www.maerchenwald-bad-breisig.de
The Eifel national park shows the rich variety of nature with its 4,500 animal and plant species and breath-taking landscape. Visitors can get a close-up view of the plant and animal life on special guided tours through the forests, watercourses, rocks and marshes. There are also theme tours and a four-day wilderness expedition.
›› 76 km south-west of Köln
›› Nationalparkforstamt Eifel, 53937 Schleiden-Gemünd, Urftseestr. 34, Tel. 0 24 44/95 10-0, www.nationalpark-eifel.de
Natur- und Tierpark Brüggen
This park landscape abounds with 130 exotic and native animal species from five continents. The imaginative play areas with names such as the “sunken ship’’ and “crashed plane’’ make it a great day out for families.
›› 41379 Brüggen, Brachter Str. 98, Tel. 0 21 63/54 47, www.natur-und-tierpark-brueggen.de
Naturpark Bergisches Land & Aggertalsperre
This giant, 2,100 sq km nature park offers a unique landscape as well as many recreational possibilities and things to see. It has the world’s oldest and second-longest suspension railway, historic castles, open air museums and craft houses. Particularly worth seeing is the Agger Valley Dam (Aggertalsperre), which was built in 1929 to generate hydro-electric power and now makes the region a true leisure paradise.
›› 39 km east of Köln
›› Contact: Zweckverband Naturpark Bergisches Land, 51643 Gummersbach, Moltkestr. 34, Tel. 0 22 61/ 88 69 09, www.naturparkbergischesland.de
›› Aggertalsperre: 51645 Gummersbach, Sonnenstr. 40, Tel. 0 22 61/3 60, www.aggerverband.de
This 1,045 sq m national park between the Rhine and Eifel encompasses beautiful woods, lakes, landscaped gardens and idyllic villages. You can see traces of ancient Romans with old aqueducts and ruins of villas dating from the time of Roman occupation. The wide-ranging choice of water sports, skate parks and barbecue huts also make the park very attractive to visit.
›› Contact: Zweckverband Naturpark Rheinland, 50126 Bergheim, Willy-Brandt-Platz 1, Tel. 0 22 71/83 42-10, -11, -12, www.naturpark-rheinland.de
The saga-enveloped mountain landscape of the Siebengebirge (seven mountains) starts at Bonn and stretches down the Rhine to Bad Honnef. A long walking tour through North Rhine-Westphalia’s first nature park is just one of the many attractions. The impressive Drachenburg castle, the mystical ruins of the Heisterbach monastery and the Nibelungenhalle transport visitors into a world of legends and adventure.
›› 45 km southeast of Köln
›› 53639 Königswinter, Königswinterer Str. 409, Tel. 0 22 23/90 94 94, www.naturpark-siebengebirge.de
A whole sea of roller coasters, carousels and entertainment shows awaits visitors to the region’s biggest and most famous amusement park. The attractions are divided into differently themed areas including China Town, Deep in Africa and Mystery. Thrill seekers’ dreams will come true on the wild Black Mamba roller coaster, the Stonewash Creek wild water ride and the impressive China artistic show.
›› 50321 Brühl, Berggeiststr. 31-41, Tel. 0 18 05/36 62 00, www.phantasialand.de
On a nice day this is the perfect place to make children and adults happy. While the kids burn off energy on the trampoline, carve pumpkins or play in the farmyard, parents can relax with cocktails and lounge music in the beach bar.
›› 41542 Dormagen, Kohnacker 200, Tel. 0 21 33/88 59 38, www.pumpkin-island.de
Reptilien Zoo Drachenfels
Right next to Drachenfels (dragon rock), there is, appropriately, a reptile zoo. The zoo’s terrariums house over 40 living reptiles including two giant alligators called Heinrich and Alice from the Nibelungenhalle.
›› 53639 Königswinter, Drachenfelsstr. 107, Tel. 0 22 23/2 41 50, www.nibelungenhalle.de
Schloss Augustenburg und Jagdschloss Falkenlust
These two stately homes are splendid examples of rococo architecture and, together with the Brühl castle and landscaped park, were declared World Heritage Sites in 1984. The homes are open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday, offering visitors a look at the extravagant and luxurious interiors from former times. The extensive park was created in the style of French landscaped gardens and is also a highlight well worth seeing.
›› 50321 Brühl, Schlossstr. 6, Tel. 0 22 32/440 00, www.schlossbruehl.de
The Drachenburg hilltop fortress towers over the Siebengebirge mountains like a cursed fairy tale castle. You reach the north tower up an imposing winding staircase and if you make it, the reward is a fantastic view over the Rhine. The cog railway that runs from Königswinter will stop at Drachenfels on request.
›› 53639 Königswinter, Drachenfelsstr. 118, Tel. 0 22 23/90 19 70, www.schloss-drachenburg.de
The history of this imposing castle built in the style of an English stately home dates back to 915. When you step inside you’ll be dazzled by the filigree decorated walls, paintings and historic furniture.
›› 65558 Balduinstein, www.schloss-schaumburg.de
Hidden treasures of a fascinating underwater world can be seen in this 2,000 sq m center. The 360-degree glass tunnel is unique in Germany and walking through it you’ll pass turtles, sharks and rays. New in the Königswinter SeaLife is a world of mermaids. With interactive displays, you can close to sea horses, and streaked mackerel.
›› 53639 Königswinter, Rheinallee 8, tickets: 0 18 05/66 69 01 01, www.sealife.de
Explore traces of volcanoes in the Eifel volcanic region. The 23 volcanological and culture-history projects spread around the Mayen-Koblenz district create a fascinating park, which includes the Meurin Roman mine, the Adernach geyser and the Lava-Dome underground lava tunnels.
›› Info center: 56637 Plaidt, Rauschermühle 6, Tel. 0 26 32/98 75-0, vulkanpark.com
Wild- und Freizeitpark Klotten/Cochem
Here you can kill two birds with one stone. First you can marvel at raccoons, emus, pot-bellied pigs and parrots in the animal park, then visit the amusement park with a giant slide, water ride, bouncy castle and roller coaster. Great fun for young and old.
›› 56818 Klotten, Tel. 0 26 71/60 54 40, www.klotti.de
Wildpark Leverkusen Reuschenberg
If you visit the Leverkusen wild animal park, you’ll meet wild cats, fish otters, turtles, storks and moufflons. If watching the creatures is too boring, the park has offered visitors a chance to spend the day caring for the animals since 2009. To obtain one of the sought-after places, you should register about four weeks before your visit.
›› 51373 Leverkusen, Am Reuschenberger Busch 6, Tel. 0 214/681 34, www.wildpark-lev.de
The historic town walls, castle buildings and the toll house mill are all well preserved and have a genuine Medieval atmosphere. The open air stage to the south of the grounds is a showpiece for annual fairy tale plays. The summer 2010 production is Rumpelstiltskin.
›› 41541 Dormagen, www.neusser-marktplatz.de
Water paradise for swimmers, sailors and divers at the Rurtal dam’s Untersee (lower lake) between the Niddeggen and Simmerath towns in the Eifel hills. Has sunbathing lawns and a snack bar.
›› 52385 Nideggen, Eschaueler Weg, Tel. 0 24 27/8 09 37
Popular lake in the Rheinland nature park that attracts lots of visitors from the Cologne area with its small sandy beach and large sunbathing lawn. In 2008, a water ski park was opened for the adventurous, including wakeboarding. Summer is fun here.
›› 50321 Brühl, Luxemburger Straße
›› Wasserski Bleibtreusee: 50354 Hürth, Bleibtreuseeweg 1, www.wasserski-bleibtreusee.de
A 35-hectare quarry lake 56 km from Cologne with a large white sandy beach, lots of sports possibilities and a children’s water adventure park. Also hosts regular parties and concerts, including the Rock am See (rock at the lake). It’s known, rightly, as the Düren Adriatic.
›› 52349 Düren, Am Badesee, Tel. 0 24 21/6 39 11, www.duerener-badesee.de
The excellent water quality makes this 40-hectare lake in Cologne’s north a true magnet with local residents. The Sundown Beach added Caribbean flair after it opened in 2007, keeping visitors in a good mood with its large sandy beach, eating possibilities, music and lively ambience.
›› Esch/Auweiler, Am Baggerfeld 4, Tel. 0 177/2 44 61 82 (Sundown-Beach), www.sundownbeach.de
This lake is a relic of former days when lignite was mined from the surface here. The holes from the mining quickly filled with water, allowing lots of lakes to develop in a natural way, including the Heider Bergsee. Besides a beach bathing area, there is a restaurant and campsite.
›› 50321 Brühl, Tel. 0 22 32/2 70 40 (camping-site), www.heiderbergsee.de
Liblarer lake is one of the region’s cleanest and so is always popular in the summer. You can sunbathe on the tidy sandy beach before jumping in the water to cool off. There’s a bathing island and a restaurant, making the lake a great day out.
›› 50374 Erftstadt, Tel. 0 22 35/38 99, camping-site Liblarer See, www.camping-liblar.de
Naherholungsgebiet Fühlinger See
This is an area of many lakes all connected to each other. Each lake has different recreational possibilities. One is used by visitors as a natural sandy bathing area and by divers, another for surfers and three of the lakes are used for swimming and sailing.
›› Fühlingen, Stallagsbergweg, Tel. 2 79 18 50, www.koeln-fuehlinger-see.de
This quarry lake with its inviting sandy beach is the perfect place for young and old to enjoy a sunny summer day with its non-swimmers area, floating island, children’s play area and beach volleyball court.
›› Vingst, Vingster Ring, Tel. 2 21 98 60, www.koelnbaeder.de
There’s always something happening at this popular bathing area. Children’s activities, beach parties and water sports happen every day. The beach club with its sandy beach, cocktails and snacks creates a vacation feeling.
›› 50354 Hürth, Tel. 0 22 33/3 52 48, www.otto-maigler-see.de
Two small beaches, a water play area and very good water quality are the special features of this small lake between Cologne and Bonn.
›› 53844 Troisdorf, Uckendorfer Straße, www.rottersee.de
This quarry lake has level banks, so it’s ideal for families with young children. The lake is also a popular attraction for sun worshippers and enthusiastic swimmers.
›› 41542 Dormagen, Am Straberger See, Tel. 0 21 82/17 05 70
This lake and surrounding area is exclusively for nudists. There are playing fields, sports facilities and barbecue spots as well as a snack bar, showers and even a sauna.
›› 50169 Kerpen, FamilienSportBund Erftland-Ville e.V., Tel. 0 22 37/97 24 00, www.fsb-erftland.de
A 27-hectare dam with lots of leisure possibilities. The southern part is an especially popular day out for families with young children with its large sun bathing lawn, boat hire, mini golf, snack bar and play area. About 90 km from Bonn.
›› 54589 Stadtkyll, Tel. 0 65 97/28 78, www.eifel.de
Freilinger lake is about 80 km south of Bonn and is surrounded by a wooded and meadow landscape. It has a large sunbathing lawn and various leisure possibilities including windsurfing, diving, swimming, row and paddle boat hire and fishing.
›› 53945 Blankenheim Freilingen, Tel. 0 24 49/87 222, www.eifel.de
Just 60 km south of Bonn is the biggest natural lake in the Mittelgebirge hill range. It’s also the largest volcanic lake in the Eifel volcanic area. The camping ground on the north side is open from April to October for surfing, sailing, rowing and pedal boat hire and bathing.
›› Camping Laacher See: 56653 Wassenach (Maria Laach), Am Laacher See/Vulkaneifel, Tel. 0 26 36/24 85, www.camping-laacher-see.de