Germany is a Western European country rich in beautiful landscapes, cultural cities and historical landmarks and monuments. With an infinite number of things to do, Germany is a perfect place for tourists to visit and explore the rich environment and history associated with it. In the North, you can enjoy sandy beaches. Central Germany is rich with forests and millennia-old pre-Roman historic ruins. The cities are rich with local cuisines and nightlife. If you fancy mountaineering and trekking in the Alps, southern Germany is the place to go.
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Cologne is the fourth most important city in Germany. A priori, do not worry too much about what to do in Cologne. Famous for its cathedral, for many the most beautiful in the world, it also has other treasures. After losing more than 95% of its population and remaining practically in runes after the Second World War, Cologne has emerged and your visit is essential. There are certainly hundreds of things to do in Cologne and here is a list.
One of the main things to do in Cologne: Visit the Cathedral
No word or expression defines the feeling you have when you observe it. A magical and unique monument. It took more than 600 years to complete, and it was the tallest building in the world until 1884, when the Washington Monument was built. Yet, after receiving the impact of more than 70 bombs, it has remained intact. It is made by the hand of God.
Walk around the Schildergasse
If you like shopping, you cannot miss a good walk here. One of the most liked was the Köln FC. If you like soccer, you’ll surely get a detail.
Visit the National Socialism Documentation Centre
If you are curious about the cruelty of war and put yourself in the shoes of those who lived it, you cannot fail. The price will not be an excuse, since it costs €4.50 for adults. Going down to the museum’s basement, which was in the hands of the Gestapo, left us very impressed. It is very well preserved, and you will be able to discover thousands of stories enclosed in those walls.
Walk along the Rhine River
The Rhine river that crosses Cologne is one of the most important in Europe. Undoubtedly, appreciate the beauty of the bridges that cross is a pleasure. It is also a good time to look at the contrast between the modern, located on the other side of the river, and the old houses next to the road. Finally, it is a perfect moment to reflect on a country and a city that has managed to rise up after the atrocities of the war.
Visit the Shokoladenmuseum
Do not be scared of this name! The Shokoladenmuseum is the chocolate museum in Cologne. Your visit is very curious and even let you try a little chocolate, being a perfect choice for the sweet tooth. The price of the ticket is €8.
Cross the Hohenzollern Bridge
Surely you’ve seen thousands of postcards of the Cologne Cathedral located at the end of a bridge. This is the Hohenzollern Bridge, the most used railway bridge in Germany. Although before it was also used for cars, now it is exclusive for trains and pedestrians. Also, as a curious fact, if you thought that there were only padlocks in Paris or Rome, you will see that you were not right.
Take advantage to get the best photo of the city
If you want to have one of those postcards of Cologne with the bridge and the cathedral in the background, you will only have to cross this famous bridge. We advise you to do it in the evening: seeing how the night falls with this landscape is essential in Cologne.
If you want good views, go up to the KölnTriangle
If you are a lover of good views, you cannot miss the KölnTriangle, the quintessential viewpoint of the city. Although there are indeed more spectacular, 360º views are not bad. The building itself is already an attraction, and the entrance costs €3.
Relax in the botanical garden of Cologne
It has more than 11 hectares of land and is spectacular, especially in summer. Also, you will have no excuse not to visit it since it is free. Furthermore, it has more than 10,000 types of plants, some of them considered as natural monuments.
Soak up modern art at the Museum Ludwig
If modern art is of your interest, you have to visit the Museum Ludwig. They have fascinating exhibitions and works by artists such as Kandinsky, Picasso, Miro or Dalí. Do not miss it. The entrance is a bit more expensive than the average and costs € 11.
Do not miss the Gross St. Martin
It is one of the twelve Romanesque churches in the city. Near the Rhine, it is next to some very nice houses. If you are looking to relax the mind, its interior is perfect.
Get lost in the historic centre of Cologne
It’s not very big, but it’s beautiful. So if you have the opportunity, get lost at night to enjoy its incredible nightlife.
Visit the Wallraf-Richartz Museum
For art lovers, another thing to do in Cologne is to get lost in this art gallery. It covers many periods and artistic styles. You can see from Rubens and Rembrandt to German Expressionism.
Go see a game of Köln FC at the RheinEnergy Stadion
If you like football, surely you will not miss it. Although it is not as good as Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund, you will see that they have a great hobby.
Visit the Neues Rathaus
Cologne is full of pretty squares. However, the new city hall and the cathedral of Cologne are the most beautiful. If you want to drink something, doing it in this beautiful square is a great option.
Another thing to see in Cologne is this large outdoor shopping mall. It is located in the city’s heart, so if you like shopping, you will love it. The most curious thing is that it has a pool in the centre of the building. So pre-dominate the products of adventure sports. And a tip, do not expect to find bargains since everything is quite expensive.
Visit some spas
Need a bit of relaxation? Colonia also has hot springs. A good option is to visit the Claudius Therme, which in addition to good is not expensive, or the Neptunbad, a little more dated and nudist.
Stroll through the Stadtwald Park
Although Colonia is a cold city, it has plenty of green spaces. One of them is Stadtwalk Park, located on the outskirts of the town. Inside there are several lakes and spaces with animals ideal for the little ones. So if you want an area where you can relax and unwind, you have to go to this park.
Escape to Bonn, the former capital of West Germany
If you have already seen everything and do not know what to do in Cologne, a day trip to Bonn is not a bad option. We are sure it sounds good to you. Bonn has a lot of history: apart from being the capital of West Germany until 1990, there was born one Ludwig Van Beethoven.
Take a trip to Düsseldorf
As you have seen, Colonia is a city that looks pretty fast. However, suppose you want a different activity. In that case, you can take a train and visit Düsseldorf, a modern city about 40km away. Thus, in less than half an hour, you will be walking in the most modern city in the country. The ticket costs around €10 each way.
Some quick tips for Cologne
- Cathedral (Kölner Dom): Start your visit with the magnificent Cologne Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s one of the most visited landmarks in Germany. You can even climb to the top for a panoramic city view.
- Local Transport: Cologne has an excellent public transportation system, comprising trams, buses, and S-Bahn trains. A day pass is a cost-effective way to travel around the city.
- Bike Rental: The city is also bike-friendly, with dedicated cycling lanes. Consider renting a bike for a different way to explore Cologne.
- Museums: Cologne is rich in culture, with over 30 museums. Museum Ludwig houses a collection of modern art, while the Romano-Germanic Museum provides insights into the city’s Roman history. The Chocolate Museum is a fun stop for families.
- Old Town (Altstadt): Stroll through the historic old town with its colourful buildings, cobblestone streets, and traditional breweries. Don’t miss the Great St. Martin Church.
- Cologne’s Beer Culture: Cologne is known for its unique beer, Kölsch. Visit traditional breweries like Früh and Peters Brauhaus for a glass of Kölsch, served in a small, narrow glass.
- Rhine River Cruise: Enjoy a boat tour along the Rhine River to appreciate the city’s skyline and the beautiful surrounding landscape.
- Cologne Carnival: If you’re visiting in February or early March, you might catch the Cologne Carnival, a festive parade known for its costumes, music, and street parties.
- Local Cuisine: Don’t leave without trying local dishes like Himmel und Ääd (Heaven and Earth – a combination of black pudding, mashed potato, and apple sauce) or Halve Hahn (a rye roll with cheese).
- Shopping: Visit the Schildergasse for a variety of shops and boutiques. For a more unique experience, the Belgian Quarter offers a range of independent stores and trendy cafes.
- Seasons: Cologne is beautiful year-round, but consider your comfort with the weather. Summers can be quite warm, while winter brings Christmas markets and chillier temperatures.
- Language: While most locals will speak some English, especially in the hospitality industry, it wouldn’t hurt to learn a few basic phrases in German to get around more smoothly.
Enjoy your trip to Cologne, a city of history, culture, and friendly people.