Cologne’s huge array of thirst parlours range from grungy to grand. Centres of action include the Altstadt, student-flavoured Zülpicher Viertel, trendy Friesenplatz and Belgisches Viertel, and multicultural Ehrenfeld. Next to Berlin, Cologne has one of the best club scenes for electronic music; the best venues are located outside the Ring.

Kölsch Beer

Cologne has its own style of beer, Kölsch, which is light, hoppy, slightly sweet and served cool in Stangen, skinny, straight glasses that only hold 0.2L. In traditional Cologne beer halls and pubs you don't order beer so much as subscribe; the constantly prowling waiters will keep dropping off the little glasses of beer until you indicate you've had enough by placing a beer mat on top of your glass.

A ceaseless flow of Stangen filled with Kölsch, along with earthy humour and platters of meaty local foods, are the hallmarks of Cologne's iconic beer halls. Look for the days when each place serves glorious potato pancakes (Rievkooche or Reibekuchen in the local dialect).