Whenever I visit any new city, there are three things I always Google: where to find the best coffee shops, rooftop bars, and street art. So during my first trip to Cologne in Germany, I was delighted to discover Ehrenfeld – a quirky little neighbourhood, packed full of colourful street art (and some excellent spots for a caffeine fix too!)
Ehrenfeld is fast becoming Cologne’s “coolest” district, thanks to its gritty vibe, expressive arts scene, and influx of hipster coffee shops and design stores. We decided to take a couple of hours exploring the street art around Ehrenfeld at our own pace with this self-guided map but if you prefer, there are also some popular walking tours available, including Freewalk Cologne, CityLeaks Tours and Alternative Cologne Tours.
You may also be interested in: 10 Free Things to Do in Cologne
Getting to Ehrenfeld:
Ehrenfeld is located on the outskirts of central Cologne, just a 40-minute walk from the city centre or a 5-minute train ride on the S-19 or S-13 from Cologne’s main station (Köln Hauptbahnhof) to Köln-Ehrenfeld station. A one way ticket on the S-bahn will cost you €2.70 and can be purchased at the station but I’d highly recommend downloading the DB Navigator app for getting around Cologne. This handy app allows you to view live train, bus and tram times and make quick bookings on your phone.
Where to spot street art in Ehrenfeld:
If you arrive by train, you’ll be greeted with wall-to-wall murals, as soon as you step off the platform. Köln-Ehrenfeld station is one of the best places to spot street art, so you’ll want to spend a bit of time exploring the arches, tunnels and exterior station walls before moving on.
One of the most photographed art pieces, by Berlin-based street artist El Bocho, can be found just outside the train station, next to the bike railings.
You’ll also find a moving tribute to The Edelweiss Pirates (Edelweißpiraten) ourside the station – an anti-Nazi youth group, whose members were hanged outside Ehrenfeld train station in 1944.
As you exit the station, you’ll see the famous Captain Ehrenfeld mural at the corner of Glasstrasse and Stammstrasse, just behind the Goldmund LiteraturCafe (a cute little spot to stop, if you love books and cake!)
Continue along Glassstrase and you’ll come face to face with a flock of four-storey high animals and extinct creatures, bursting out of the walls. Be sure to make a stop at Kaffeebud, while you’re here – a real hidden gem in Cologne, serving freshly roasted coffee and pastries in a chilled out setting.
Once you’ve had your caffeine fix, head to Senefelderstrasse to see one of the most iconic murals by Belgian grafitti artist, ROA. This bleak painting of a skinned rabbit, hanging upside down from a building, is definitely a “love it or hate it” piece but is a must-see nevertheless.
Back on Ehrenfeldgürtel, you’ll find an eye-catching geometric piece brightening up a residential block. This was created during the CityLeaks Urban Art Festival, which invites artists from around the world to transform everyday buildings and city streets into works of art.
Art can be discovered around every corner in Ehrenfeld and there were many more pieces we didn’t get to. But we loved meandering around the streets and enjoyed the more authentic, local feel of this neighbourhood. It’s an absolute must-do on any first-time visit to Cologne!
Happy street art spotting! If you’re exploring more of the city, check out my article on 10 Free Things to Do in Cologne or take a look at my guide to Schloss Drachenberg, the perfect day trip from Cologne.