Sustainable Travel in Cologne

Travel is a huge part of many of our lives!  With almost all destinations easier to get to than ever, cheap flights, and constant social media reminders of new places to go, it’s hard to resist a quick trip here or there.  But, in a warming world with climate issues already effecting the planet, easy travel comes at a cost.  So, we decided to put together a list of 11 things you can do in and out of Cologne for more sustainable travel (and a more sustainable life)!  See what you can do of these 11 while your in Cologne!


1. Do you travel research with OpenTabs!

When researching travel, if you’re like us you’re looking everywhere on the internet for the best restaurants, the best souvenirs, the best walking tours (ahem) and of course making all your bookings.  That’s a lot of tabs on your internet browser.  Did you know that for every new tab you could be saving trees?  With the OpenTabs browser extension, with each new tab you open, you can raise money to protect trees.  So far they’ve saved over 6 Million!  It’s easy to install and you can set Ecosia as the search engine for new tabs to raise even more money for the environment.  Every little bit helps!



2. Offsetting with Klima!

Now that you’ve booked your trip, you probably know the biggest source of damage done while traveling is usually the impact of your flight so why not offset that cost? Offsetting is not the way out of climate change and it doesn’t stop pollution entering the atmosphere but it keeps pollution from being produced from another source! So whether you travel by train, plane, car or boat, you can pay to keep the same amount of emissions you’d create from being created somewhere else.  One of the best ways to do this is with Klima! Klima is an application that lets you track your emissions in your daily life (flights included) and pay a monthly fee to offset that damage!  The cost is usually low and goes to planting trees, building sustainable stoves, and sustainable energy.  It also gives you tips to lower your impact like switching to green power.  You can even choose to donate extra if you’d like to contribute more!



3. Use Cologne’s Public Transport or, better yet, Rent a Bike!

You’ve arrived at the airport and you want to get into the city.  Renting a car or grabbing a taxi is an option but in Cologne, both are more expensive and more inconvenient than our public transportation system!  Getting around is pretty simple, quite cheap with a weekend card, and allows you to get around the city with ease.  Getting to Bonn and Düsseldorf is easy too with the Regio and S-Bahn trains from the main stations.  Even getting down the Rhein valley to explore the different towns and castles is a normal summer trip with the train lines in between!

Renting a bike in Cologne is easy and very cheap! Plus getting around is simple too with wide and improving bike lanes.  You can either download the KVB bike app (Cologne’s transport system bikes) or rent a bike at the Radstation.  Some hotels (look at the next suggestion!) even offer free bikes.  This is the easiest way to protect the climate and get around the city quickly and cheaply and it is a great way to explore the city like a local!



4. Stay somewhere that has the environment in mind!

Cologne has plenty of options when it comes to accommodation but some are better than others when it comes to the environment.  Some of the best include the 25hours Hotel which reduces its footprint through less water use, less energy, free bikes and free use bags for all guests as well as sourcing local products.  Others like the Domstern source locally, produces certain food themselves, and are supplied by green energy providers!  There are others as well that make an effort!  Check out sites like ETICHotels to get an idea about where to stay.




chum chay
Eat vegan or vegetarian in Cologne or you’ll miss out on some of our best restaurants.

5. Eat Vegan and Vegetarian in Cologne!

You’re in the city and you’re hungry.  This one is the probably the easiest thing to do.  Grab a vegan or vegetarian meal!  Cologne is loaded with delicious restaurants and plenty of options to avoid meat.  And yes, we know Germany is famous for its Schnitzel but you can even get a vegetarian and vegan version at many breweries now (the best schnitzel in Cologne comes in both!).  Or check out some of the restaurants from our immigrant population that specialize in vegan options like Chum Chay and Veganland Çiğköfte!  No matter what, skipping meat for a few meals goes a long way and with the options in Cologne, we promise you won’t miss it!  Check out the map at the bottom of this page for our recommendations!



6. Shop Sustainable in Cologne!

While you’re in our city, you may want to bring home something nice to remember Cologne or just a cute new outfit, who can blame you?  Skip the fast fashion or Schildergasse and check out Cologne’s sustainable fashion!  Cologne has plenty of clothing stores and more that specialize in sustainable clothing, fair fashion and deco.  Here are a few to visit while in town to get the hippest styles from one of Germany’s hippest cities:

Check out the map at the bottom of the page for more!


7. Reduce your Impact

Travel can be a dirty experience.  You’re trying new foods, drinking new drinks, buying souvenirs and leaving a lot of laundry to be washed behind.  Everyone knows to use the same hotel towels the whole way through your stay to save on washing and bringing a reusable shopping bag, but how about toiletries?  Check out one of our many sustainable drugstores and markets to pick up some necessities for your current and future sustainable travel full of eco-friendly needs like bar shampoo, reusable liquid containers, bamboo toothbrushes and much more.

AND how about reducing your plastic consumption on to-go drinks and meals?  In Cologne, pick up a Vytal Bowl free of charge for all your eating needs that you can return to be washed and reused.  You can do the same with RECUP for to-go coffees (as paper coffee to-go cups are mostly NOT RECYCLABLE)!  This helps cut down on potential waste for you and for the environment all for free.


8. Join a protest or volunteer for the climate in Cologne!

Eco-tourism is often about more than just limiting your impact but also about raising awareness and helping to improve our environment.  So if you want to go the extra mile on your vacation, join in on an event or volunteer to help the climate!  Fridays for Future has an active and motivated presence in Cologne due to our large University population.  Check out their page to see what they have going on in and around Cologne or get in touch with them to see how you can help!



9. Join a Green Bank!

You’re back home and your credit card bill is about to come due.  You’ve got to pay but want to make an impact still.  How about shifting your cash into a Green Bank?  Often banks will reinvest your money to turn a profit while holding onto your cash.  Why not invest in a bank that invests in the future of the environment?  This is probably the most complicated step (although it still may only take a few minutes!) but there are several green banks all around the world that allow you to invest in the environment while holding onto your cash!  Check out a few of them for the US, UK, Canada and Australia here.  For the EU, try Tomorrow Bank or GLS.


We can protect this planet.


10. Remember, Climate Change is not about the Individual!

Still feeling bad about your trip?  Climate change is not about just what you do!  Corporations hold the vast majority of the responsibility.  Try your best but don’t be to0 hard on yourself and VOTE!  Bring green politics home with you.  Talk to your friends and coworkers, your crazy uncle, anyone who will listen.  Share this list and any other you’ve found helpful to inspire change.  We have the tools to fix this, let’s force the politics there now as well! And finally and maybe most importantly…


11. Keep Hope.

Climate anxiety can be crushing and exhausting.  Sometimes you can feel lost and hopeless when all you hear is bad news and that can lead to apathy, which is worse.  But despite all the bad news there is hope.  We have the tools to fix this.  They already exist and there are amazing people working everyday to add more tools to the toolbox.  Download the GoodNews App for a daily dose of news that will inspire you and keep you positive that things can change for the better and in many ways, are beginning to already.  This has helped us keep motivated to make the changes necessary to build a better future.


So, there you have it.  Some tips on how to explore Cologne with some sustainability in mind and some ideas to bring home as well! Here is a map of our environmentally friendly and sustainable shops and restaurants around the city:

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