20 BEST THINGS THAT SHOULD DO IN COLOGNE, in the state of North-Rhein Westphalia, Cologne is one of Germany’s busiest industrial cities. Spending a few days in this city on the Rhein will allow you to easily see its stunning architecture, which is known across the world for its distinctive cathedral, week-long Karneval celebrations, and unusual architecture. Long weekend trips are common in Cologne, which is well-connected by train and air to the rest of Germany and other countries. Cologne is also known for possessing the largest cathedral and the oldest perfumery in the world.

In the summer, the city sees an influx of visitors enjoying cruises on the Rhein, sipping coffee by the harbour and exploring its cobbled streets. In winter, the normally heavy snow transforms it into a winter wonderland. The city also hosts an astounding variety of Christmas markets that draws visitors from around the world.


20 BEST THINGS THAT SHOULD DO IN COLOGNE, in the state of North-Rhein Westphalia, Cologne is one of Germany’s busiest industrial cities. Spending a few days in this city on the Rhein will allow you to easily see its stunning architecture, which is known across the world for its distinctive cathedral, week-long Karneval celebrations, and unusual architecture. Long weekend trips are common in Cologne, which is well-connected by train and air to the rest of Germany and other countries. Cologne is also known for possessing the largest cathedral and the oldest perfumery in the world.

Cathedral And Great St. Martin Church at night
Visiting the famous cathedral and Great St. Martin Church is another thing to do in Cologne at dusk.

Cologne Cathedral ranks as the number one thing not to miss when visiting the city, and if you arrive at the central train station, it’s the first thing you’ll see.

Towering over the city’s skyline, the Gothic church took more than 600 years to build and houses stunning interiors.

It’s so popular and is Germany’s most visited (and largest) cathedral, so you’ll want to book a cathedral and old town tour to make sure you get to see it.

Although it gets busy, the best time to visit is at sunset, when you can climb to the top of one of the spires for incredible views over the entire city.


Colourfully Illuminated Cologne Old Town And The Banks Of The Rhine
Wandering around the Old Town and the banks of the Rhine at night is one of the fascinating things to do in Cologne.

Cologne’s Old Town is one of the most important areas of the city, home to traditional old German buildings and winding cobblestone streets.

This neighbourhood is very central and the location of several of the city’s sights, such as the cathedral and Town Hall.

You’ll also find many cute shops, quirky cafes, restaurants, and other things to do – street musicians or weekend events may be happening while you’re in town.

The colourful houses make the perfect backdrop for photos, and local bars and clubs come alive in the evening – ideal for sampling some German beer.

You may also like to explore on a brewery or pub tour, such as these:

  • Cologne: Brewery Tour with Three Kolsch Tastings
  • Pub Crawl Cologne, Including Admission Fees for Bars and Shots


Chocolate Museum With The Crane Houses And The Glass Palace
Visiting the Chocolate Museum is another fun thing to do in Cologne, Germany.

Also known as the Imhoff-Schokoladen Museum, this museum was created in conjunction with the renowned Swiss chocolate brand Lindt.

Inside, you’ll find a huge collection of almost everything to do with the history and creation of chocolate (and yes, you’ll get to sample some!).

Aside from the cool exhibits, there’s also a chocolate café serving dreamy cakes, brownies, milkshakes and everything else cocoa related.

The Lindt store has a huge array of sweet treats in every flavour imaginable, which makes great gifts or souvenirs for taking home with you – provided you don’t eat them first!


German Flower
Wandering around the Cologne botanical garden is one of the top things to do in Cologne.

Cologne’s Botanical Gardens, often known as The Flora, come into their own in summer.

Located close to the city’s zoo, the 11 hectares (27 acres) of parkland is covered in beautifully manicured gardens, floral displays, greenhouses and even an orangery.

The gardens house plant and flower species from around the world, as far as Africa and South America.

On warmer days, you’ll spot dozens of people enjoying a day out here or sitting in the café with a drink since admission is free and it’s one of Cologne’s prettiest green spaces.



Cologne Koln Germany During Sunset, Cologne Bridge With Cathedral
Cologne bridge over the Rhine River at sunset.

The Hohenzollern Bridge sits on the Rhein, directly in front of Cologne Cathedral and is a popular landmark, often spotted on postcards and keyrings.

The bridge caters to both pedestrians and trains, and you might cross it if you’re taking a train from one of the nearby cities.

The Hohenzollern spans the width of the Rhine and offers breathtaking views of the city; however, it is most famous for the thousands of padlocks attached to its railings.

The best way to see it is to stroll across the bridge, enjoying the scenic views and taking in the skyline from the opposite bank.

The bridge is popular for photographers, offering the classic view of Cologne’s most notable landmarks, especially at sunset.


For more about Germany, read:

  • 20 German Shows On Netflix
  • 22 Famous Landmarks in Germany
  • 15 Magic Things To Do In Munich
  • 25 Facts About Germany
  • 20 Castles In Germany
  • 10 Bavarian Castles
  • 20 Drinks In Germany
  • Best Time To Visit Germany
  • Berlin Nightlife
  • Munich Nightlife
  • 20 German Cities
  • 20 Things To Do In Stuttgart
  • 20 Things To Do In Cologne
  • 20 Things To Do In Dusseldorf
  • Where To Stay In Berlin


Bottles of Eau De Parfum
Learning the secrets of making perfume is one of the interesting things to do in Cologne.

It may be obvious once you think about it, but eau de cologne originated in this German city.

Cologne’s fragrance house and museum is one of the oldest in the world, having been one of the first producers of what we now call perfume.

If you are curious to try their original 4711 scent, learn about how to make perfume or find out what goes into some of the world’s most famous scents, you can do a 45-minute tour here.

They also have a stunning shop where you can buy your own bottles, as even a small perfume fountain.


Zoos are always a hit, especially if you’re travelling with kids, and Cologne’s Zoological Gardens offer a fun day out in the city.

Once again highlighting the city’s historical importance, Cologne Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in Germany, founded way back in 1860.

Inside, there are more than 700 species, however, there are constantly new enclosures and exhibits being added, and a total of more than 7,000 animals on the premises.

Animals you can spot include everything from lions and tigers to penguins and sea lions.

Many of them have daily feeding sessions for the public, so check ahead before visiting.



FC Köln is one of the most popular German football teams, competing at the highest level, so if you or your kids are a sports fanatic, visiting the stadium is a must-do.

The Club’s home is in the Rhein Energie Stadion, freshly renovated after Germany won the World Cup in 2006.

The best thing to do while you’re in Cologne is to catch a game, as the atmosphere is always electric.

It’s an experience like no other, however, don’t worry if you’re visiting out of season, as you can still do stadium tours which take you to behind-the-scenes locations and explain more about the history and success of the club.


Ship cruising on the rhine river in Germany.
Going on a Rhine River cruise is one of the things to do in Cologne.

Cologne is located on the banks of the river Rhein, which winds its way down through most of Germany.

This beautiful river is one of the most popular spots for a cruise, in fact, in Cologne, you’ll see many luxury overnight cruises docked on the riverside.

If you don’t quite have time for a longer trip, there are plenty of shorter river cruises to enjoy while you’re visiting.

The most popular one lasts around one hour and takes in the main sights, such as the Old Town and Cathedral, before heading further down the river to the Rheinhafen (harbour) neighbourhood while learning about the city on the way.

Longer day cruises often go even further to small towns, allowing you to jump off and explore castles and villages for yourself.



three women with balloons and party hats
Getting into the spirit of Karneval is one of the best things to do in Cologne for a fun time.

This particular attraction is seasonal, but if you’re in Cologne at the right time, it’s unmissable (and not just because the city will be packed with activities and people!).

Karneval proper happens yearly in Germany, mainly in the north, lasting for around five days.

Everyone dresses up daily and crowds into the city, with hundreds of parades, live shows, and entertainment occurring through the streets.

Fancy dress is encouraged;, if you’re not dressed up, you’ll look very out of place.

Plenty of drinking, singing and merriment continues for days on end, and if you’re planning to visit during the celebration, make sure to book accommodation and transport well in advance.


Christmas snow balls and santa stockings
Shopping in a Christmas Market is one of the top things to do in Cologne in December.

Another seasonal activity, Christmas markets are popular across Germany, but Cologne goes the extra mile in the festive season.

Hosting not one but up to nine different markets throughout the city, almost every inch of pavement has something Christmassy happening, from ice rinks and stages to traditional stalls and bars.

The markets all have different themes, so you’ll find a nautical one, selling lots of hot fish and themed gifts by the harbour and an old traditional one celebrating religion in the Old Town and near the cathedral.

There’s also an LGBT-friendly one and dozens of things to see and do for families with kids – glühwein, sausages, pretzels and more delicious German food is handy to keep you going.



Museum Ludwig is the place to go if you’re after a slice of art, culture and history when visiting Cologne.

The vast museum exhibits work from the 19th and 20th centuries, including many famous names such as Picasso, Andy Warhol and Henri Matisse.

The museum also houses a library and research centre.

There are many permanent exhibits and artworks, and the museum is huge, so it can take a few hours to get through everything, but its central location near the cathedral makes it the ideal rainy-day activity.

Save money and buy the Experience Cologne: KolnCard to enter several attractions.


Cologne City Hall
Admiring the Renaissance architecture of buildings such as the Cologne City Hall is one of Cologne’s best things to do to soak up its historical vibe.

More commonly known as the Kölner Rathaus, Cologne’s City Hall is one of the most striking and recognisable in the city.

City Halls are usually at the heart of German cities, and this one is over 900 years old, still housing the offices of government officials in the city.

Entrance is free, although many people are content with admiring the architecture on the outside, which is some of the best Renaissance work in Germany.

The glockenspiel (clock tower) on the outside also draws visitors when it chimes daily, every three hours starting from 9 am.

However, you can also do tours inside to explore the various monuments, halls and offices.


Cable Cars Cross The Rhine In Cologne, Germany
Cable cars cross the Rhine by the Zoobruecke (Zoo Bridge) in Cologne, Germany.

Although the views from Cologne Cathedral and the Hohenzollern are stunning, Cologne’s cable car is one of the best ways to catch a bird’s eye view of the city.

The scenic ride, which travels across the width of the Rhein, is not only a convenient way to get from one side to the other, taking just six minutes, but is an easy and affordable way to get great views over Cologne.

Before you go, be aware that the cable car is only open between April and November – although outside of these months, there may be too much snow to see much anyway!


Rheinpark, Duisburg, Germany
Visiting Rheinpark is amont the top things to do in Cologne Germany.

The Rheinpark is arguably the best park in Cologne, containing 40 acres of parkland right on the beautiful bank of the river.

In the summer months, locals, students and tourists flock here to have a drink, picnic or relax, and it’s also popular for sports such as jogging, dog-walking and rollerblading.

Inside the park are many activities, particularly for kids, such as a playground, kids’ park and mini golf.

For adults, it’s even better: the park has its own beach in summer, an outdoor theatre and sports grounds, and is home to the Claudius Therme thermal spa, which is perfect for warming up in winter.

The park is also where the cable car goes from and to, so it’s super easy to reach when in the city.


Rheinauhafen In Cologne, Germany, at night
Exploing Rheinauhafen is one of the things to do in Cologne.

The Rheinauhafen isn’t a sole attraction but is actually a cool, laid-back district spanning around 2km along Cologne’s harbourfront.

After a significant renovation, the old cranes and dockyards were replaced with futuristic buildings, green spaces and a tonne of cool cafés, shops, restaurants and working spaces.

The promenade runs along the waterfront and is one of the best places to see the skyline or go for a walk in the sunshine, with plenty of buzzing local places to stop for a drink or snack.


Shopping along Schildergasse is one of the fun activities in Cologne.

After exploring so many beautiful old buildings, churches and museums, you may need a little pick me up.

For the best retail therapy, head to the Schildergasse.

Cologne’s main street, Schildergasse and the surrounding area is filled to the brim with shops from high street to luxury, along with the city’s best restaurants, cafes and bars.

If it’s your first time here, this central location is also where many hotels are located since it’s very close to most of the major attractions, so leave some space in your suitcase to pick up a few souvenirs.


St. Gereon’s Basilica is another one of the most famous churches in Cologne and can be instantly recognised on the skyline due to its unusual Romanesque architecture.

The church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its huge dome was one of the largest constructed in the world when it was built.

The apparent remains and relics of Saint Gereon and two other saints from the same period are inside the church.

The unique structure is very popular with lovers of architecture and history; if you’re in the area, it’s worth stopping to admire the building.



Like all other cities throughout Germany, Cologne did not escape the rule of the National Socialists and Hitler’s rule.

If you’re keen to learn more about this important part of the country’s history while you’re in Cologne, the city’s documentation centre is now a museum that contains all of the documents from the rule of the Third Reich.

The building was formerly used as offices for the Gestapo and as a prison.

Inside is a permanent exhibition with an array of interactive exhibits, documents and real-life accounts of life at the time.

You can also tour the basement where prisoners were kept, the execution room and the research centre, where many burned documents have been carefully recovered.



Cologne’s Belgian Quarter is probably the trendiest place to see and be seen in the city.

Although there are many modern shops and businesses here, its name was chosen for a reason – most of the buildings are beautiful old traditional structures, which contain boutiques, cafes and a variety of both German and Belgian beer halls.

It may not be a place to stay as it can get noisy at night, being close to multiple universities and home to many of the city’s best bars.

However, this little area which originated thanks to an influx of Belgian immigrants, offers quirky Belgian shops, food and drink – almost like visiting two countries in one go.

Check Also


ADVERTISEMENT BEST TRIP-DAY IN SAN FRANCISCO It’s a great shame that most people who travel …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *