Gay Cologne: Beauty & bounty

Germanys fourth-largest city is one of the premier gay party capitals of Europe. Residents are nonchalant about sexuality in a way that will amaze and impress visitors, who enjoy spending time in this ancient European city with very modern ideas.

Cologne is positively bountiful with bars, clubs, boutique hotels and restaurants. Check out gayborhoods Alter Markt (just south of the Dom) and Rudolfplatz (near the intersection of Hahnenstrasse and the Hohenzollernring). Alter Markt (it means Old Market), as you might expect, is generally home to older crowds and/or more sedate venues, while dance clubs, baths and all-night partiers gravitate to Rudolfplatz. But dont confine yourself to gay venues; locals say kicking back with a mug (or three) of locally brewed Klsch beer in one of the citys venerable brewpubs is a highlight of any excursion in this magical, loving city.

By air & train
Direct air links exist between JFK and Cologne-Bonn Airport; you can also fly to Dusseldorf which is on a direct train line about 35 minutes away. Germany's main hub is Frankfurt, from where you can take German Railways flagship high-speed train, the InterCityExpress, at nearly 200 miles an hour directly into Colognes Central Station opposite the soaring Gothic cathedral begun in 1258. The whole trip can be very fast, sometimes just 1 hour 7 minutes.

Restaurants to check out