Picking your Cologne neighbourhood as an international without looking at it through the eyes of a local - someone who can point you to the cheapest districts in no time, who knows the best student cafés to study in, and for whom the city's greenest district is an obvious choice - can be a challenge.
After all, you don't want to end up living on the outskirts of Cologne as a student hungry for parties, with no bus or train to catch on Sundays. In the same way, expats might strive for that fine balance between living in the hustle and bustle of the city yet being able to escape to the nature.
Want to bet that you'll easily spot a Cologne neighbourhood that's just right for you? We've taken a close look at all nine Cologne districts, so you can see their costs of living, public transport connections and for whom it’s the best fit at a glance.
Your employment contract has been signed, your flight tickets have been booked. Off you go to a new country, or more precisely to the heart of North Rhine-Westphalia: Cologne! However, before you happily sing 'Kölle Alaaf' arm in arm with strangers in your colourful costume, there's a decision to be made that you shouldn't underestimate as an international: Where should I live in Cologne?
This metropolis of over a million inhabitants features a wide range of neighbourhoods. To be precise, there are 9 Cologne neighbourhoods from which you can choose:
So, before you rack your brains over the question 'Where should I live in Cologne?', we took a close look at all x districts and weighed up three aspects:
Curious about which district suits you best? Let's have a look!
Where do all the students in Cologne hang out? The top address for students is undoubtedly Lindenthal, a district with many student halls of residence and student flatshares close to the university.
Students also congregate in Cologne Sülz thanks to its proximity to the university. The trendy district of Ehrenfeld, with its countless pubs, clubs and lively artists' scene, is a popular place for students.
Now that you have decided you'll move to Cologne, you can begin to explore its wonderfully diverse areas.
Whether you’re looking for something in the centre of things or would like a quieter home base, you’ll be sure to find it in this welcoming city!
Also commonly known as the Ring, this vibrant area is the city centre, making up the heart of Cologne. It is filled with opportunities for shopping, dining, entertainment, nightlife and contains the majority of Cologne’s tourist attractions; yes, also the cathedral Kölner Dom is in the heart of the city.
It is also well-known for its Belgain Quarter, where you can find shops and stalls offering all sorts of wares, from furniture to secondhand books.
Of course, this is not going to be an area for budget accommodation. But if you’re set on being in the middle of the action and the nightlife, and want to be able to walk to a lot of places, then it might be worth paying higher rent for.
So it comes to as a little surprise that it is precisely the Altstadt in Cologne's city centre that is in the top 5 most expensive areas of Cologne.
|Old Town North||€17.08|
Small, narrow, confusing: these three words best describe the road network in Cologne's city centre.
However, if you can secure accommodation in Cologne's city centre, you will be rewarded with the best public transport system. Every ten minutes you can hop on a KVB (Kölner Verkehrsbetriebe) underground or suburban train and get to the other end of the city in no time.
Where do the carnival crowds head for in Cologne? Right outside your front door! Carnival is celebrated in every corner of Cologne, but Heumarkt and the Alte Markt in the Altstadt-Nord are the hotspots of the fifth season.
Official speeches and large stages catch the spirit of Cologne Carnival in the city centre when it's time to say: Kölle Alaaf!
Locals and visitors alike visit the Turkish groceries, and spend time at quirky cafés, bars and parks.
Rent can vary by area, but the more budget-friendly pricing is usually found in the northern section of the neighborhood.
With both tram and U-Bahn stations, Nippes easily connects to the Ring or to Cologne's university areas. Jump on S-Bahn lines 11 and 13, KVB line 12 or one of the many buses that take you from Nippes to the other end of the city.
Housing estates, allotment gardens and industrial estates characterise the cityscape of the Nippes neighbourhood. So it's no wonder that families and mature people are more likely to be drawn to Nippes. Guess what the average age is here? We'll tell you: 47.6 years.
Cologne's Ehrenfeld district is colourful and alternative. Vibrant street art, small clubs and pubs shape the artistic and cultural flair in Ehrenfeld Cologne.
Located to the northwest of the Ring, this is one of the most popular residential areas in all of the city. However, it’s also where you’ll find shopping, dining and Cologne’s best club scene. The artistic crowd will also find cinemas and galleries to explore, along with film and art studios.
In the next-door district of Neuehrenfeld, the alternative is changing into chic: well-off locals set up home in chic apartment buildings, with gardens even being laid out inside the apartment block. Village vibe in the middle of the trendy district!
The accommodation prices can be high in the areas closest to the nightclubs, but there is also more affordable housing on the further side of the neighbourhood.
Ehrenfeld is connected to the public transport system by its own suburban railway and by the KVB lines 4 and 5.
It's the place to be: "Ihrefeld", as the locals call the Ehrenfeld district, is home to a multicultural crowd making it feel vibrant and full of life. Similar to the Belgian Quarter, Ihrefeld features a bustling alternative and artistic scene along with many active creative projects.
Young academics, many migrant families and students live here, as well as native Cologne locals who fancy popping into one of the numerous Kölsch pubs at 10 am for an early morning pint.
Alongside some chains, there are plenty of small owner-operated shops and plenty of kebab shops and mobile phone shops along Venloer Straße.
When asked 'Which district in Cologne is the best place to live?', many Cologne locals will no doubt tell you Lindenthal Köln. It is no coincidence why Lindenthal Cologne counts as one of the most popular residential districts in Cologne.
A hub of vibrant nightlife is the Kwartier Latäng. Although the district sounds like a made-up language, it is based on the Parisian 'Quartier Latin', the idyllic student quarter with picturesque cafés and antique bookshops around the Sorbonne University. And you can picture the Kwartier Latäng in the heart of Lindenthal in a similar way.
If you're looking for a more affordable option for housing, Lindenthal is typically considered quite a bit cheaper than the city centre.
Situated just west from Innenstadt (city centre), residents can still walk to the Ring, but even though there aren't as many options, Lindenthal also has its own nightlife if you want to party closer to home.
Müngersdorf and Lövenich have their own train station, and the KVB lines 1, 7, 9 and 13 connect the other districts with the city centre.
Lindenthal Cologne is home to the University of Cologne's campus, making it pretty popular with students. But young, well-off families also appreciate the charm of the district. If you walk towards Junkersdorf and Braunsfeld, you'll notice a transition from flats to posh single-family homes and estate houses. And for football fanatics it gets even better: in Müngersdorf you will find the stadium of the 1st FC Köln.
It’s often ridiculed by Cologne locals who live on the left side of the Rhine and mocked as the "wrong" side of the Rhine.
Yet there' s much to discover on the right side of the Rhine just as there's in Kalk. What was once a working-class district in Kalk Cologne is a district full of contrasts: People of different nationalities, long-established Cologne residents and young students meet here.
It doesn't get much more average than Kalk Cologne: rents on the right side of the Rhine are pretty much in the middle range. With a bit of luck, however, you can find a few bargains like in Neubrück!
Even though Köln Kalk is on the 'wrong' side of the Rhine, it’s easily accessible. For example, you can quickly get from Köln Kalk to another part of the city with the S-Bahn 6, 11 and 12 or with the U-Bahn 1 and 9. A number of buses such as the 159 and 171 also take you from A to B.
In Köln Kalk, contrasts come together and that's what makes the district so unique. From vegan heaven in trash chic to Kalk's brewing tradition and second-hand paradise, people with different interests come together, and at the same time, Kalk is home to many cultures. Fortunately, they have also brought their kitchens with them, so you can feast on Turkish and Syrian delicacies here.
So you can see for yourself: Cologne Kalk is colourful and diverse, really everyone feels at home here.
Porz is an area further out still, to the south-east, but is still connected by good transport links (the “S-Bahn” station is called Trimbornstrasse). The area has a village-y feel and is popular with families, but also has a lot of options if you want to sample international food.
In Cologne Porz, rents are relatively average, although you will find neighbourhoods with rents at both extremes.
|Porz (Porz centre)||€11.26|
At the Porz market in particular, various bus lines line up next to each other to take you in all directions. And the Stadtbahn 7 is also ready to take you to the other end of the city!
The neighborhoods Porz, Chorweiler and Kalk – all further out from the city center – offer more affordable accommodation, but are a lot more popular with locals than expats.
Fun fact:Where the creative scene hustles and bustles today, Mülheim was actually an industrial district until the 90s.
Today, it’s mostly companies from the film and IT industries, media and music that have found their home in Mülheim. And so some of Cologne's best-known concert halls are found here: the E-Werk and, directly opposite, the Palladium.
The contrast between the industrial flair and the creative scene is as glaring as the rents in the individual districts of Cologne. Between film and television, people in Mülheim live in Buchforst, which is the second most expensive area in Cologne. In Dünnwald and Stammheim, however, people live more cheaply than almost anywhere else in Cologne.
At the Mülheim regional train station, you can easily get from A to B with the Buchforst S-Bahn. Numerous KVB and bus lines also pass through Cologne with you on board.
The people of Mülheim are a motley bunch of young creative people, families and numerous residents from other countries. The creative scene makes Mülheim a dream come true for expats who don't have far to go to work. The area to the north of Cologne, in Flittard, is also characterised by the area of the Leverkusen Bayer company.
Chorweiler boasts a large shopping mall next to the station, where you can take the "S-Bahn" to the city center in 15 minutes. Nearby Seeberg is a pretty area by the water; its ‘Fühlinger See’ is hugely popular in warmer seasons, and the Summer Jam Festival is held in this scenic neighborhood every year.
Chorweiler Cologne features what are probably the cheapest districts in the whole of Cologne. And there's a reason for that: for Cologne locals, Chorweil is a synonym for high-rise dreariness and is often regarded as Cologne's problem child.
You can find the cheapest districts in Cologne here, but for a good reason too
With the S-Bahn 11 and 6, you can be in the heart of Chorweiler in no time, and there are just as many bus lines waiting to take you from A to B in Cologne. Tram 15 also runs to Cologne Chorweiler.
On the outskirts of Cologne, the north is marked by a district known to many Cologne locals only for its high-rise buildings. Often regarded as a problem child from the outside, it is precisely here that a sense of community can be found that seems to have been lost in many well-off neighbourhoods. It is true that the charm of Chorweil only leaps to the eye at second glance, because if you look beyond the concrete desert, you will find an island of creativity and lots of green.
When it comes to residential locations, Rodenkirchen is full of contrasts: while two large residential complexes for several thousand people shape a simple cityscape with the residential park in Bayenthal and Meschenich, you will find fancy living close to the city centre with top addresses in the villa districts of Marienburg, Hahnwald and Rodenkirchen.
The villa districts with lush properties push the rental price is Rodenkirchen to the top of Cologne's rental prices. Raderberg, and Zollstock are among the most expensive areas in Cologne.
Lines 16 and 17 of the KVB city railway run to Rodenkirchen station. The local public transport system also consists mainly of buses.
Families feel at home in Raderthal, which is within easy reach of the city centre as well as the adjacent green belt and city forest. Rondorf is a typical city district with an industrial complex on one side and allotment gardens on the other.