Things to do in Cologne

About Cologne

The Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) with its magnificent Gothic architecture is a must-see. Equally compelling are the charming streets of the Old Town (Altstadt), the bustling Hohenzollern Bridge, and the panoramic views from Köln Triangle. Other significant sites include the Cologne Chocolate Museum and the historic Roman-Germanic Museum.
Visiting the Köln Zoo, exploring the interactive exhibits at the Odysseum Science Museum, and enjoying the immersive world of Phantasialand Theme Park are among the best activities for children in Köln.
Enjoying a scenic cruise on the Rhine River, cycling along the river promenades, and picnicking or playing in the city's vast green spaces like the Rheinpark and Stadtgarten are popular outdoor activities in Köln.
Exploring the art at Museum Ludwig, experiencing the unique fragrances at the Farina Fragrance Museum, and engaging with interactive displays at the German Sports and Olympic Museum are top indoor activities in Köln.
The best tours in Köln include guided walks of the historic Old Town, river cruises on the Rhine, and brewery tours to discover the Kölsch beer tradition. Self-guided audio tours of landmarks like the Cologne Cathedral provide insightful, at-your-own-pace experiences.
Popular museums in Köln count the Wallraf-Richartz Museum, the Ludwig Museum for modern art, and the Römisch-Germanisches Museum. Each offers unique insights into art, history, and Cologne's cultural heritage.
For rainy days, visitors can embark on indoor self-guided audio tours of the Cologne Cathedral, enjoy the Chocolate Museum's sweet exhibits, or delve into history with a walkthrough of the EL-DE Haus – the NS Documentation Center.
Short tours in Köln perfect for those pressed for time include express guided tours at the Cologne Cathedral, quick visits to the Fragrance Museum, and succinct yet informative riverboat tours along the Rhine.

Best Things to Do In Köln

Discover the vibrant city of Köln, where its rich history and modern flair offer an array of unforgettable experiences.

Köln: Cologne Zoo

What is it?
A world-renowned zoo featuring a diverse collection of wildlife in naturalistic habitats.
Why you should go?
The Cologne Zoo is a sanctuary of wildlife conservation, home to over 10,000 animals and renowned for its elephant park and rainforest house. Families and wildlife enthusiasts will find this to be one of the best things to do in Köln, gaining the opportunity to see rare animals up close, attend engaging feeding sessions, and support conservation education. The zoo's commitment to biodiversity makes it a must-visit for a fun and educational day out.

Köln: Rhine River Cruises

What is it?
Scenic river cruises offering breathtaking views along the Rhine.
Why you should go?
Embarking on a Rhine River cruise is among the quintessential Köln activities, allowing visitors to experience the city from its historic waterways. Discover picturesque landscapes, stunning architecture, and the tranquil beauty of the Rhine Valley. Whether opting for a panoramic daytime tour or a romantic evening cruise, these excursions provide a unique vantage point of what to see in Köln, from the comfort of a riverboat.

Köln: Wallraf-Richartz Museum

What is it?
An esteemed fine arts museum showcasing European art from the Middle Ages to the 20th century.
Why you should go?
The Wallraf-Richartz Museum houses an impressive array of masterpieces, including works by Rembrandt, Rubens, and many others, offering a cultural journey through the ages. Art lovers considering what to do in Köln will be delighted by the extensive collections and thought-proving temporary exhibitions. The museum not only celebrates art history but also encourages an appreciation for the evolution of European artistic expression.

Köln: Belgian Quarter

What is it?
A trendy neighborhood with chic boutiques, lively bars, and avant-garde galleries.
Why you should go?
For a touch of Köln's contemporary vibe, the Belgian Quarter is a dynamic area brimming with creativity. It's one of the places to visit in Köln where one can enjoy international cuisines, explore independent fashion, or attend one of the many cultural events. A stroll through the Belgian Quarter reveals vibrant street art and a pulsating nightlife, making it a hotspot for travelers seeking the best Köln tours through local urban culture.

Köln: Green Belt Park

What is it?
A lush, expansive park encircling Köln, perfect for outdoor recreational activities.
Why you should go?
The Green Belt Park offers a natural retreat from the city's bustle and is among the fun things to do in Köln for outdoor enthusiasts. Joggers, cyclists, and families can revel in the park's serene paths, playgrounds, and picnic spots. The beauty of the park changes with the seasons, featuring blooming meadows, autumnal foliage, and snow-dusted landscapes, making it a picturesque destination for Köln excursions regardless of the time of year.

Köln: Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom)

What is it?
An imposing Gothic cathedral that defines Köln's skyline.
Why you should go?
The Cologne Cathedral is not just an architectural marvel, but it is also the heart of the city. As one of the tallest churches in the world, its twin spires dominate the urban landscape. Visitors can marvel at the intricate stained glass windows, the Shrine of the Three Kings, and even climb the south tower to take in breathtaking views over Köln. It's an essential part of Köln activities, offering insight into the city's spiritual and cultural life.

Köln: Hohenzollern Bridge

What is the luck?
A historic railroad and pedestrian bridge spanning the Rhine River.
Why should you go?
Hohenzollern Bridge is more than a means of crossing the Rhine; it's a historic monument and a canvas for modern love locks. The bridge offers picturesque views of the river and the Cologne skyline, especially during sunset. It's also a popular spot for photography, making it a significant Köln tour highlight for visitors who want to capture memories of their travels.

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Chocolate Museum Köln invites visitors on a delicious journey through the world of chocolate, from its ancient beginnings to its current production. Indulge in tastings, watch confectioners at work, and learn about the entire process of chocolate making. It's one of the more fun things to do in Köln, combining education and pleasure in a sweet experience that's perfect for families and chocolate aficionados alike.

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TOP-5 Tours in Köln for First Time Visitors

  • Embark on a tour exploring the iconic Cologne Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage landmark, and delve deep into its Gothic architecture.
  • Uncover the historical charm of Old Town Köln with a stroll past colorful houses, ancient Roman walls, and lively squares filled with local culture.
  • Immerse yourself in the fragrant world of the Farina Fragrance Museum on a tour that reveals the origins of Eau de Cologne and its creator's story.
  • Indulge in Köln's art scene with a tour of the Ludwig Museum, showcasing a rich collection of modern art, including pop art and Picasso masterpieces.
  • Experience the effervescent side of Köln by joining a tour that guides you through some of the city's traditional breweries, offering a taste of local Kölsch beer.

Fun Things to Do in Köln with Kids

Köln is a family-friendly city teeming with activities that children will love. First on the list is the ever-entertaining Köln Zoo, where kids can get up close to their favorite animals, learn about wildlife conservation, and enjoy the excitement of the large playgrounds. Next, for an educational yet interactive experience, the Odyssey of the Mind Museum provides hands-on exhibits that fuel imagination and creativity, catering to young minds eager to learn through play. Lastly, no family visit to Köln is complete without a splash at Aqualand. This adventure water park offers thrilling waterslides, a wave pool, and dedicated kid zones that promise endless aquatic fun for toddlers to teens. These top attractions ensure that your Köln excursions with kids will be filled with joy, laughter, and cherished memories.

Things to Do in Köln with Family

Embark on a memorable journey through Köln, a city brimming with activities that cater to both the young and the young at heart. Families can begin their adventure at Phantasialand, an exhilarating theme park just outside the city, featuring thrilling rides, live shows, and fantasy-themed worlds. It's a magical escape where every member of the family can find their favorite attraction. For a dose of culture and history, the Roman-Germanic Museum is your next stop. This archaeological museum showcases fascinating artifacts from the Roman settlement upon which Köln was built, making it a fantastic educational experience for all ages. Finally, don't miss the chance to walk along the Rhine. Take a leisurely cruise, soak in the panoramic riverside views, and possibly catch a street performance, wrapping up your Köln visit with serene and picturesque moments to be shared by the whole family.

Free Things to Do in Köln

Exploring the charming city of Köln doesn't have to come with a hefty price tag. There’s a treasure trove of free activities that promise fun and culture without spending a euro. Delight in the architectural marvel that is the Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom). While free to enter and admire the awe-inspecting Gothic design, a small fee is only required for tower ascents and treasury visits. Stroll along the scenic Rhine Promenade, vibrant with street artists and market stalls—perfect for a family walk or a romantic amble. Lastly, uncover the allure of Köln's green spaces at Flora und Botanischer Garten. This botanical garden offers an enchanting escape, with beautifully landscaped grounds and greenhouse collections that transport you to different climates around the world, all for free.

Cheap Things to Do in Köln

Köln caters not only to those with lavish vacation budgets but also to travelers watching their wallets, offering an assortment of affordable attractions. For a modest fee, visitors can enjoy the Cologne Cable Car, which provides spectacular aerial views of the city and the Rhine River, adding a touch of adventure to your visit. Historical enthusiasts can explore the well-preserved Medieval city gates, such as the Hahnentor at Rudolfplatz, which offer a free glimpse into Köln's ancient past. Another cost-effective option is spending time at the Stadtgarten, a popular park with idyllic pond-side paths, live music, and open-air cafés. Here, you can experience the city's vibrant community atmosphere. Each of these activities underscores the best things to do in Köln on a budget, ensuring meaningful experiences that go easy on your finances.

Things to Do in Köln for Couples

Romance abounds in Köln, making it a perfect getaway for couples seeking both relaxation and adventure. Begin with a leisurely stroll through the enchanting narrow lanes of the Altstadt (Old Town), where timeless charm and picturesque cafés set the scene for love. For an unforgettable view, couples can ascend the south tower of the Cologne Cathedral. Though the climb is challenging, the panoramic vistas of the city and the Rhine at sunset are well worth the effort and create a picturesque backdrop for a shared special moment. Lastly, the Rheinpark offers a tranquil retreat from the urban hustle, with its beautifully manicured gardens and river views. It's an ideal spot for a leisurely picnic or simply lounging together on a sunny afternoon. Each of these recommended destinations presents couples with the opportunity to connect and create lasting memories in the heart of Köln.

Things to Do in Köln at Night

As the sun sets, Köln's nightlife scene comes alive, offering a plethora of activities for night owls and party seekers. Start your evening with a visit to one of the traditional Kölsch breweries in the Altstadt to sample the city’s unique beer culture and engage with friendly locals. Afterwards, take a nighttime stroll along the Hohenzollern Bridge, which transforms with thousands of twinkling lights and love locks, providing a romantic atmosphere alongside stunning views of the illuminated Cologne Cathedral. For entertainment, head over to the vibrant Friesenstraße, where chic bars, lively clubs, and cozy lounges await, offering a mix of music, dance, and cocktails to suit any preference. These top attractions prove that, from culinary experiences to dazzling views and electrifying social scenes, there are plenty of things to do in Köln at night.