In the 20s, the City of Cologne created the “Inneren und Äußeren Grüngürtel“, the inner and outer green belt, on the premises of former fortresses. The Innere Grüngürtel begins at the Flora in the borough of Riehl and covers the boroughs of Mauenheim and Ehrenfeld as well as the university campuses up to Luxemburger Straße street. Buildings of this semi-circle were creatively incorporated into the natural settings.
Today, the Green-Belt is one large linear park, making for a great 5 mile out and back. One can vary on the trails within the parks. A good starting point is the Eifelwall U-Bahn station. Head north, on the east side trails past the GeoMuseum and into the Innerer Grüngürtel State Park. The next section is the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Park, which features fields, paths, a pond, a Museum of East Asian Art on the west side and a beer garden on the east side(!). Continue through the park, crossing a couple of main streets, and reach the Colonius Fernsehturm at the 3k mark. Turn around at the 4k mark, just short of the busy Innere Kanalstraße. Do a loop back on the western side trails.
Add-On: You can continue through the linear park for a couple of km, through Lis-Böhle-Park and Johannes-Giesberts-Park, which feature nice paths. You’ll have to be on the Innere Kanalstraße for just short of 1 km, which is busy but features a separated pedestrian/biking path.
Longer Run Option: Instead of an out and back, we’ve also designed “loop option” of 13 km, incorporating the Green-Belt, a section of the Rhine from the Zoo to the old city, and then winding through some of the main sites of Historic Cologne, making your way back to the start of the Grüngürtel. See our separate ‘Cologne Grand Tour’ route.