Nestled on the western fringes of Germany is a beautiful German city! Bustling with life and character, there’s an incredibly diverse mix of things to do in Cologne that you won’t want to miss.
Cologne is one of Germany’s largest and most diverse cities to explore and with Cologne Cathedral, its many world-renowned museums and the vibrant Belgian Quarter, there’s something for every visitor to enjoy.
Take a look below at some of the best things to do in Cologne. 🇩🇪
How To Get To Cologne
Cologne is a well-connected city and easily accessible by train, plane, car or horse and carriage (though, the latter will take you quite a while). 😉
By train: We decided to take the train from London (via Brussels), which took around 6 hours of travel time with the most epic 2-hour transfer in Brussels where you can grab yourself a quick waffle and see the Grand Place before whizzing across on the ICE train to Cologne.
You can also travel from most cities via the train network across Europe.
By plane: Cologne has its own airport that’s a short train/taxi ride from the city centre and is one of Euro Wings hub airports (meaning lots of choice for flights).
River cruise/Boat: As Cologne hugs the shores of the River Rhine, there’s an opportunity to arrive at the city via river cruise or regional boats too.
Travelling Around Cologne
Cologne is a really easy city to navigate, especially with its tram network and bus lines. Trams operate every few minutes in the day, making it a breeze – we also had our Cologne Card that offers free public transport in the city (and discounts at many of the cities main sites).
Where to stay?
Cologne has a pretty epic list of fancy, quirky and downright amazing places to stay in the city. And, let’s be honest, you’ll probably want a plush pad after exploring all the things to do in Cologne. We decided to stay at the Ameron Hotel Regent, which was about 10 minutes (on the tram) from the really cool restaurants and bars of the Belgian Quarter.
Don’t forget to check out some of Cologne’s beautiful Airbnb options too. There are some really cool apartments where you can literally live like a local in the city.
Best Things to do in Cologne
1.) Scale the heights of Cologne Cathedral
With over 500 steps, this can be a pretty steep climb but well worth it to scale the heights of one of Cologne’s most iconic UNESCO World Heritage sights.
Take a bottle of water, a good pair of shoes and enjoy the views of the city.
2.) Party and gorge in the Belgian District
The Belgian District is one of Cologne’s most fun places. Filled with an array of cool bars and delicious restaurants, it’s the perfect district to spend your evening in the city.
3.) Visit The Museums
Cologne is well known for its world-class museums, make sure to explore the many places, including the incredible Ludwig Museum that hosts work from Picasso and other world-class artists.
Every year, Cologne also hosts one of the coolest festivals where you can explore, party and enjoy the museums in the middle of the night. Filled with DJ’s, plenty of bubbles and heaps of people – the Museums become the place to be, see and enjoy. Museum Night happens once every year.
Check in on the Tourism Cologne website to find next years dates. It really is one of the best things to do in Cologne.
4.) Gorge at the Chocolate Museum
You can’t travel all the way to the Cologne without visiting the Chocolate Museum. Take a tour of the processing area, enjoy a little chocolate and learn more about the craft of chocolate making.
Oh, don’t forget – the Chocolate Museum usually has members of staff wandering around. They don’t advertise it, but they usually have a bag filled with chocolates with them. Ask a few questions, or just say hello and see if they offer you a bar or two!
5.) See the quaint churches of the city
There’s a whole heap of beautiful churches to see in Cologne, make sure to take the time to visit St. Martin’s especially – its architecture is truly beautiful.
6). Walk across the Hohenzollern Bridge
For a beautiful view of the city, walk across The Rhine River via Hohenzollern Bridge to the Rheinboulevard where you can sit back, relax and enjoy the glorious sunsets that Cologne has to offer.
7.) Gorge on kölsche cuisine
When in Cologne, make sure to stop for some traditional kölsche cuisine at Früh am Dom. The relaxed vibe of the place, delicious food and Kolsh beer is most definitely a reason to take a pit stop here.
8.) Explore the historic Old town
Cologne dates all the way back to the Roman period, which can only mean there’s a whole array of different architectural styles and histories to explore. One place you should definitely see is the old town, here you’ll find colourful houses, quaint shops and cobbled streets that are reminiscent of life many centuries ago.
9.) Visit Cologne’s youngest districts, Rheinauhafen
One of the cities newest districts, Rheinauhafen is the perfect place to discover the cities coolest new buildings, the Crane Houses. This once bustling port area has now been transformed into a creative hub and some pretty cool buildings thats one of the best things to do in Colgone when the sun begins to set. The views are gorgeous.
10.) Watch the sunset 103 metres above Cologne
One of the best viewpoints in the city is from the brand new, Köln Triangle. For a few Euro, you can take the lift to the 103-metre pinnacle that overlooks the historic centre of Cologne. Head here around sunset and enjoy watching the city and the iconic Cologne Cathedral transform with sparkly orange hues. It’s gorgeous.