Cologne for canines
For me, being able to take my dachshund Henry with me adds to the pleasure of travelling. But taking your four-legged friend on holiday can result in some unexpected surprises – as Henry and I know all too well. So I’ve put together a few tips for those of you looking to visit Cologne accompanied by your canine companion.
Cologne is a very dog-friendly city. It’s no problem to take dogs into cafés and restaurants – in fact, they’ll often give you a bowl of water for your dog without you even having to ask. However, some restaurants with open kitchens don’t allow dogs so it’s always best to give them a call beforehand and ask.
From passports to pubs…
The following rules apply if you want to bring your dog to Germany from another EU country:
- The dog must be microchipped. Tattoos are only allowed if the dog was born before 2012.
- An EU pet passport is also compulsory.
- Your dog’s last rabies jab must not have been more than three years ago, has to be valid and must be documented in the passport.
- The rules for dogs entering Germany from non-EU countries are different. Certain dog fighting breeds are not permitted at all.
Finding somewhere to stay
Cologne has quite a few hotels (to suit every pocket) – that allow dogs. They can usually stay free of charge but sometimes there is an extra charge. Here are three hotels that take dogs:
- Flandrischer Hof, in the centre of the city, allows dogs at no extra charge. It’s located close to Cologne’s green belt, the perfect place for you and Fido to stretch your legs.
Flandrische Str. 3, 50674 Cologne | www.flandrischerhof.de
- There is no charge for small dogs at Rhein Hotel St. Martin either.
Frankenwerft 31-33, 50667 Cologne | www.rheinhotel-koeln.de
- Hostel A&O Köln am Dom accepts dogs for a surcharge of 5 euros per animal/day.
Mauritiuswall 64/66, 50676 Cologne | www.aohostels.com/de/koeln
My tip: There are various online platforms, like Airbnb or 9flats, offering a wide range of private, centrally located, dog-friendly accommodation that won’t break the bank.
Out and about in the city
If you want to have a look around the shops with your dog, Ehrenstraße and the Belgian Quarter are your best bet. Away from Schildergasse and Hohe Straße and all the other crowded shopping streets, there’s a lot less hustle and bustle.
Dogs don’t have to wear a muzzle in Cologne but they do have to be kept on a lead. Leads are compulsory on public transport, in pedestrian zones, on public roads, paths and in the city’s squares and parks. Dogs travel free on public transport.
If your dog needs to do a poo, you’ll have to take it somewhere where there are lots of trees or bushes. If it fouls anywhere else, make sure you clean up after it straight away otherwise you risk a fine of 45 euros.
Running free in the heart of the city
Cologne has more than 80 public spaces where you can let your dog run free. My personal favourite is the “Innere Grüngürtel” (inner green belt). It’s centrally located, big and you always meet lots of other friendly dog owners for a chat.
A district-by-district list of the public spaces where dogs are allowed of the lead can be found here: www.stadt-koeln.de
Doing the sights
I can really recommend going on a city tour with your dog. You can book a tour (via Cologne Tourist Board, for example) and just let the tour company know you’re going to be bringing a dog. The Kölntourist boat trip operator also allows dogs on its trips along the Rhine as long as they’re on a lead. There is no extra cost.
However, you cannot take your dog into Cologne Cathedral with you, nor into Cologne’s museums.
Taking your pup to the pub
A visit to a “Brauhaus” (brewery pub) is a must on any trip to Cologne. Haus Scholzen, Früh and Gaffel am Dom are among those that allow dogs. The pubs tend to get very full, noisy and crowded in the evening though so it’s a better idea to go during the day.