Cologne, Speyer or Worms?

Nov 27th, 2006, 08:51 AM
  #1  
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Cologne, Speyer or Worms?

I'm going to Germany to spend Christmas with my in-laws, Dec 19-27. My husband will be there already by the time I arrive but otherwise busy, so I have a couple of days to sightsee on my own before he comes over to join me at my sister-in-law's place in Pforzheim (close to Stuggart and Karlsruhe). I will spend 7 days including arrival day, and will spend two of those in Stuttgart sightseeing and shopping.

Here's when I'm not sure what to do. I arrive in Frankfurt at 7:30 AM. I was thinking that since Cologne is only one hour away by ICE, I could go straight there from the airport and spend a few hours at the Dom and the museum of Roman artifacts. I have always wanted to see the Dom and missed it on my first trip to Germany a couple of years ago, so it would be great if I could visit it this time.

I will have to take the train down to Pforzheim arriving at 7 or 8 pm, so if my flight arrives on time, I would have about six hours in Cologne. As an alternative, I can spend my first night there if I find that I want to see more of Cologne. From what I've read so far, I could be happy just seeing the Dom and the museum, but I may be wrong. My husband and MIL have never been but have heard mixed reviews. I love big cities, Paris, Rome and Berlin being my favorite places in Europe, so I think there is a chance I will like it enough to spend the night. I'll be jet lagged, but I usually do ok sightseeing on that first day without napping. It's always better if I can check-in early at a hotel and take a shower, and I could do that if I spent the night at a hotel in Cologne. However, I am somewhat concerned that I would have to stay at a hotel very close to the train station so that I can walk there, and I don't know if the neighborhood near the train station is safe for me to walk in the evening by myself.

On the other hand, I could just take the train down from Frankfurt and stop in Worms or Speyer to visit their cathedrals and their Christmas markets. I liked smaller cities like Erfurt when I was there before, so I would enjoy it too and would be less of a hassle. I may have a chance to visit these two towns when my DH arrives on the 23rd but I'm not sure. I'd like to get some sightseeing under my belt just in case.

So if you had the chance, would you go up to Cologne to see the Dom for a day, spend a night there, or just come down to the smaller cities on the way to Pforzheim?

Thanks in advance for any comments.

Regalada
regalada is offline  
Nov 27th, 2006, 03:57 PM
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This IS a difficult choice.

My personal preference would be Speyer. It is a friendly, nice Historical and compact city; the Dom is spectacular and it also has an excellent museum. In the past I have stayed at the Hotel Loewengarten. Although it is a bit at the fringes of the city (I has a car; you may wish to take the bus or cab to the Dom), it is very nice and well run hotel, wityh an excellent restaurant.

If you haven't been along the Rhein, then taking the train from FRA to Koeln obviously will give you a nice view of the river. Try to sit on the right side of the coach, that's where the river is on the way to K.

Again the K. cathedral is impressive, as is the nearby museum. Also, the pedestrian street is nearby. I wouldn't worry about safety around the station/Dom in the evening. It's a very busy area. There have been some negative comments made about the condition of the Dom. Haven't been there for a few years so can't verify that.

Not very familiar with Worms, just know about its history. So can't weigh Speyer vs. Worms. I probably would let convenience of train connections dictate that choice (check www.bahn. de for schedules)

treplow is offline  
Nov 27th, 2006, 06:08 PM
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I agree with Treplow, Speyer makes more sense as it'll simplify your travel and especially if you prefer small towns over big cities. Cologne however will provide a contrast to the more conservative Stuttgart area in case that's what you're looking for.

I've been to Cologne 6 times, mostly for conferences,and can tell you that the Dom is not worth a tiring day trip right after you just land. IMHO if you must see Cologne, you should consider overnighting. I've attended mass at the Cologne Dom and liked it fine along with the christmas market spread between the Dom & the museums. Just to keep your expectation in check, they are great but not as grand/memorable unless you're a fan of roman history.

Since you mentioned shopping in Stuttgart, Cologne does have a huge sprawling shopping area (bigger than Stuttgart) starting just in front of the Dom. My wife calls it normal stores & dept stores shopping not the super designer boutique shopping which Stuttgart & Dusseldorf offer along with regular shopping.

The area around the train station is safe even at night though you should stay on the Dom side of the station for better comfort & convenience. Based on my personal experience, Cologne hotel rooms in general are better than those in Stuttgart(comparing to the 5 major hotels I've stayed in Stuttgart). I was just in Stuttgart last month and started an info thread in case you wan to add info now or after your trip:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...name=DAX&fid=2



DAX is offline  
Nov 27th, 2006, 06:55 PM
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Here's the correct address:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...01076ere's the correct thread address:

DAX is offline  
Nov 27th, 2006, 07:00 PM
  #5  
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Still learning from my mistakes, here's the proper address:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34901076

DAX is offline  
Nov 28th, 2006, 12:55 AM
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You are correct in the timing from the FRA airport station to Cologne...57 minutes or so if you take the high-speed route.

The cathedral is directly across from the train station.

The area next to the train station has several hotels (some such as LeMeridien can be expensive, especially the rooms with cathedral views) but as others have said, it is safe at night.
Dukey is offline  
Nov 28th, 2006, 01:48 AM
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Speyer and Worms could also be done as day trips from Pforzheim, so if Cologne is your dream, why not? The cathedral and the museum are both next to the train station. I'd stay overnight, though - jet lag, getting rid of luggage, having a place to relax, and enough time for a stroll around the city centre and the Christmas markets. As you seem to like medieval architecture, have a look at some of the smaller churches in Cologne as well, there is a lot to discover. St. Gereon was my favourite.
There are several upscale hotels in the surroundings of the train station, so the area can't be too dangerous.

P.S. Welcome to Baden. This is Karlsruhe speaking...
quokka is online now  
Nov 28th, 2006, 01:51 AM
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Not very exciting, but the Hilton in Cologne is new, very close to the Dom and station, and rooms are spacious. It's the first room I stayed in that had a Nespresso machine in the room.
Maybe not a bad idea if you are jetlagged.
I like Cologne; the Dom is worth seeing, and the shopping is great, but I can't compare it to the other places.
Tulips is offline  
Nov 28th, 2006, 12:59 PM
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Thank you all for your responses. I've been thinking about it today and I think Quokka makes a really good point. I always wanted to see the Dom so if I don't see it I'll probably miss not seeing it. Speyer or Worms, on the other hand, I hand't even considered until a couple of nights ago. So if I get to see those good, if not, I will not feel like I missed out.

So I'm leaning towards taking the train and overnighting it in Cologne. That way I'll be able to rest and take my time there exploring. I'm on a budget so I'll be looking at budget hotels close to the train station to see what's available.

Again, thanks so much for your replies. Your perspectives were very helpful!

And Quokka, Danke for the welcome .

Regalada
regalada is offline  
Nov 28th, 2006, 01:12 PM
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We spent an hour or so in Koln seeing the Dom with our kids. although it was in the middle of a long journey, we were all very impressed.
I would reckon on spending a couple of hours there, then heading for speyer to spend the night. I was taken there by my penfriend's family over 30 years ago, and I still remember the splendour of the cathedral there.
you could do both and still get to the in-laws in good time.
viel Spass!
annhig is offline  
Nov 28th, 2006, 01:27 PM
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Glad you decided on spending the night in Cologne. You're a bit late to get the good rates, but for single occupation, I would recommend the Sofitel MONDIAL am Dom which is 90 EUR for Dec 20. It has the best room quality & location for the price. It's right next to the museums, If you walk toward the Dom you have the choice of going thru the Weihnachtsmarkt & museum area or go under them thru the Trankgasse. The Mondial room quality is excellent though on the small side for two people (no problem for one person). The service is great as well as the breakfast. Cheaper than that is Dorint Novotel on Bayenstr(49 EUR) which is farther south along the river near Severins bridge in old town (a bit of a walk to the DOM but doable), you can take the underground. Novotel is a couple step below Sofitel(below Mercure). Other choices are the older small hotels near the Hauptbahnhof like Hotel Central Am Dom, Hotel Crystal (60-70 EUR). There are lots of cheaper hotels with out of the way locations. There are also several better hotels but cost more than the Sofitel Mondial. Note that there are several Sofitels, Mercures, Dorints at www.Accor.com. Le Meridien & Hilton are considerably more expensive. Enjoy your stay in Cologne.
DAX is offline  
Nov 29th, 2006, 12:19 PM
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One final update. I looked at your hotel recommendations and they looked great but I needed something even cheaper (we just had a destination wedding in the Caribbean and a honeymoon in Venice so we have to save for a while). So I booked a single room at the Im-Kupferkessel hotel for 44 euros with private bathroom and breakfast. It has decent reviews on trip advisor, so I'll hope for the best. It's a 10-15 minute walk to the train station and the Dom.

A bit of good news, the daughter of a friend at work works in Cologne and lives in Koblenz, so I might be able to meet up with her during my short stay there.

Thank you so much for your thorough replies and thoughtful comments. And happy holidays!

Regalada
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Nov 29th, 2006, 12:35 PM
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Went to Speyer last December and loved it - short stroll from train station to town centre and cathedral - all along the High Street was strung out the Christmas Market - really nice atmosphere. I've been to Cologne dozens of times on business and it never has excited me - but the Dom is exceptional and sure its Christmas Market much more substantial than Speyer.
PalenqueBob is offline  
Nov 29th, 2006, 03:01 PM
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Regalada:
You didn't waste anytime deciding. The hotel you picked is in a quieter area & close to the Christophstrasse U Bahn station. The train station/Dom are quite a bit of a walk from your hotel (about 7 long block away).I've stayed at the Renaissance just a couple block south from your hotel and did the 15-20 minute walk to the Dom. The Neumarkt shopping street is just a few blocks south of your hotel and make a better route to walk towards the Dom, Hopefully your friend's daughter will take you to one of the good friendly taverns(Kneipe) in Cologne.
DAX is offline  
Nov 29th, 2006, 03:29 PM
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>The train station/Dom are quite a bit of a walk from your hotel (about 7 long block away)

Just a word of warning. I was in Cologne two days ago. There is a huge new subway station in construction under the main train station and many subway/tram lines are diverted. As result, the north side of the main station is a huge deep hole with narrow walkways around it, extremely uncomfortable to get through with luggage.
altamiro is offline  
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