Top attractions in Cologne
Enriched by some of Europe's most striking churches, numerous museums, and one of the oldest universities in the world, Cologne is the Rhineland's cultural heart. If you're looking for its best places to visit, look no further!
By far the city's most famous attraction, the Cologne cathedral was built to house the reliquary of the Three Kings. Construction began in 1248, however, it wasn't finished until 1880!
Founded in 1860, Cologne's zoo is world renowned. With over 700 species on display, it has an aquarium and inveterbrate house, although its emphasis is on primates.
Located in the Old Town, Cologne's superb chocolate museum covers the entire history of the world's favorite treat from its Central American origins to its modern day production.
Cologne's Roman fortifications take you about as far back into the city's history as is possible to go. The tower is at Ulrepforte, along with the best preserved section of wall.
Known as the "Love Bridge" for its countless engraved padlocks honoring star-crossed couples, it's the best way across the Rhine to the cathedral, if not everlasting happiness!
One of the city's oldest museums houses an eclectic mix of religious art and iconography in its exemplary exhibition rooms. To this day it's run by the Archdiocese of Cologne.
Enter from the main entrance at Riehler Strasse to discover a modest yet picturesque park peppered with quirky, modern sculptures. The best part is that it's free!
Summer can get quite humid in Cologne, meaning the city's peak season is actually in the fall, so don't be surprised if your hotel costs more in October! Spring is also a good time as the beer gardens start to open up and the city awakens from its winter slumber. That said, it's worth going in winter too for the famous Christmas markets, and the city's carnival begins in February!
Cologne has 6 main Christmas markets, each with its own personality. (Check out the Medieval-themed one outside of the Chocolate Museum!) They run from November 23rd to December 23rd.
2 or 3 days should be enough to cover Cologne's top attractions but bear in mind that the city is located in a cluster of others worth visiting, such as Bonn and Düsseldorf. Also, the breathtaking Rhine Gorge is just a short journey south, so it might be worth booking more time to accommodate a day trip or two!
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- Spring and Fall offer milder temperatures, but the Winter brings with it the famous Christmas markets.
Things to Do in Cologne
Top Attractions in Cologne
Cities in Germany
Other Sightseeing Options in Cologne
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What people are saying about Cologne
We were a group of 4 from US and had a super fun time on the pub crawl. From the start Dustin and Erin were down to earth and funny, I accidentally overbooked by one ticket and they called their boss right away to get it refunded and then went on to explain the pubs/clubs on the crawl. I’ve done crawls in Berlin, Budapest, Vienna and Dublin and this one in Cologne was the most fun I’ve been on. Music was good, drinks were cheap, the guides Dustin and Erin were invested in everyone having a good time, and everyone just naturally socialized moreso than on other crawls. Would highly recommend.
Four hours ended up feeling a little long since I was traveling alone. I'm sure it was perfect for people traveling with a friend. I took the boat up and did the castle ruins in Kogniswinter and then took the train back. It ended up being the perfect little day trip. It got colder than expected and the server on the top level was quick to hand out blankets. I guess I must have looked cold because he didn't even ask, just brought one over! Also if you want to order a coffee or drink of some sort it was a little pricey.
Had a very good time - our guide was very good and spoke excellent English. The took their time making sure our bikes were adjusted correctly and off we went. The cobble stones are a little bouncy (still fun) but most of time we are on smooth surfaces. We were able to see parts of the city that we would never have explored on foot as it would have just been to far to walk. Recommend this tour!
If you want to see the sights this is not the way to go. Rather, I would do the hop and off boat they offer. Cruising along the river and seeing the towns and scenery made for a pleasant relaxing day. Each staff member I interacted with the waiters, bar tenders, crew and captain were friendly and helpful.
We did the 6pm 1hour cruise- it was a little chilly, but we still chose to sit upstairs and it was beautiful. It was a little difficult at times to hear the history of Cologne they were sharing with us but other than that, it’s a great experience to gat a lay of the land and beautiful views of Cologne