10 Very Best Things To Do In Cologne

Cologne, often overlooked in favor of more famous German cities, is an incredible destination for intrepid explorers like you! 

Unlike the high expectations concept that can lead to “Paris Syndrome”, Cologne is a modest city that quietly reveals its captivating attractions, history, and culture. Let’s dive into the top 10 things to do in Cologne, from its iconic cathedral to the quaint charm of its old town. Are you ready? 

Dive into the vibrant heart of western Germany with this essential guide to the top 10 things to do in Cologne

A city where history, culture, and modernity converge! 👇👇👇

⛪ Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral) 

This towering Gothic masterpiece dates back to 1248 and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It houses the relics of archbishops, a Polish queen, and lords. Its completion in 1880 marked the end of a 632-year construction journey. A must-see when you’re wondering what to do in Cologne! 

10 awesome things to do in Cologne - decorated stained glasses at the Kölner Dom
Stunning stained glass windows of the Kölner Dom, weaving together centuries of history and artistry

👣 Kölner Altstadt (Old Town) 

Step into history where Romans once had a bathhouse and harbor. The old town is a great mix of traditional pubs and modern food spots.  

Don’t miss the “Masks of Shame” in Cologne’s Old Town; these are quirky decorations on many historic buildings and depict humorous or exaggerated facial expressions. They were traditionally used to mock people who had fallen out of favor with the community. Today, they’re playful reminders of the city’s past, and add character to the old town’s architecture.  

💧 The Rhine River 

The Rhine is central to Cologne’s allure. A stroll along its banks or a river cruise offers you a different perspective of the city’s beauty. 

❤️ Hohenzollern Bridge & Love Locks 

This bridge decorated with love locks symbolizes unbreakable love, making it a romantic spot for all of you lovebirds visiting Cologne.

10 awesome things to do in Cologne - locks on the Hohenzollern bridge
Where love meets eternity: the Hohenzollern Bridge, adorned with countless love locks

👹 Cologne Carnival 

Experience a fantastic celebration before Lent with parades, costumes, and revelry, and enjoy the Rose Monday parade, a colorful spectacle. Add a dash of color and frenzy with our insider’s scoop on the Cologne Carnival!

🍻 Südstadt 

This vibrant neighborhood blends history with modern culture, featuring trendy cafes, Kölsch breweries, and the peaceful Volksgarten Park

🎨 Rheinauhafen 

Once a harbor, it’s now a hub of contemporary culture, home to the Chocolate Museum and the German Sports and Olympia Museum

10 awesome things to do in Cologne - Rheinauhafen skyline view
Rheinauhafen: Cologne’s modern waterfront oasis, where contemporary architecture meets the timeless Rhine

🍫 Chocolate Museum 

Indulge your sweet tooth with tastings, chocolate-making demos, and workshops. A must for all of us… chocoholics. 

📜 Historisches Rathaus Köln (Historic City Hall) 

With over 800 years of history, this architectural treasure and wedding venue punctuates the city’s skyline. Get your camera ready! 

10 awesome things to do in Cologne - Historic City Hall statues
Steeped in history, Cologne’s Historic City Hall stands as a testament to the city’s rich political and architectural heritage

🏞️ Rheinpark 

A protected urban oasis offering you green spaces, fountains, and playgrounds. It’s perfect for anyone on a trip to Cologne, including families and nature lovers. 

After reveling in Cologne’s vibrant array of attractions, why not uncover the city’s hidden gems and vintage wonders with our exclusive article Second-hand shopping in Cologne?

Summing up… 

From the majestic Kölner Dom to the lively streets of Südstadt, Cologne blends history with modern charm. Each corner has a story to tell whether it’s the inviting aroma of the Chocolate Museum, or the echoes of history in the old town‘s cobbled streets. Cologne is a hidden gem with more to offer than meets the eye. So, if you wonder what to see in Cologne, remember, this city is full of surprises which you’re going to love! 

10 awesome things to do in Cologne: FAQs

Why should I consider visiting Cologne instead of more popular German cities?

Cologne offers a unique blend of rich history, captivating attractions, and vibrant culture, all without the overwhelming crowds or high expectations that can lead to tourist burnout. It's a city that promises authentic experiences and hidden gems, making it perfect for intrepid explorers.

What makes the Kölner Dom a must-see attraction in Cologne?

The Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) is not just a towering Gothic masterpiece but also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, reflecting the city's deep historical roots. Its stunning architecture, the relics it houses, and the remarkable story of its 632-year construction journey make it an unmissable destination.

What unique experiences does Kölner Altstadt (Old Town) offer?

Cologne's Old Town is a vibrant historical area where you can walk on the same ground as ancient Romans once did. It offers a mix of traditional pubs, modern eateries, and the unique "Masks of Shame" on its historic buildings, providing both a cultural insight and entertainment.

How can I best enjoy the scenery of the Rhine River in Cologne?

The Rhine River is central to Cologne's charm, offering various enjoyable activities. You can take a leisurely stroll along its banks or embark on a river cruise, both providing unique perspectives on the city's picturesque beauty and skyline.

What is the significance of the Hohenzollern Bridge & Love Locks?

The Hohenzollern Bridge isn't just a transportation route; it's a symbol of enduring love, adorned with countless love locks. Visitors often bring a lock to add to the collection as a romantic gesture, making it a heartfelt landmark for couples.

Can you tell me more about the Cologne Carnival?

The Cologne Carnival is a grand pre-Lenten celebration marked by parades, vibrant costumes, and city-wide revelry. One of the highlights is the Rose Monday parade, known for its colorful spectacle. It's a cultural extravaganza that immerses participants in local traditions.

What's notable about the Südstadt neighborhood?

Südstadt is a bustling area that marries Cologne's history with its contemporary culture. Here, you'll find trendy cafes, traditional Kölsch breweries, and tranquil spots like the Volksgarten Park, making it a perfect locale for both relaxation and exploration.

Why should I visit the Rheinauhafen?

Rheinauhafen, a former harbor, has transformed into a modern cultural hub. It boasts attractions like the Chocolate Museum and the German Sports and Olympia Museum, making it an essential stop for those interested in contemporary culture, history, and, of course, chocolate.

What can I expect at the Chocolate Museum?

At the Chocolate Museum, you'll dive into the delicious world of chocolate, from tastings to chocolate-making demonstrations and workshops. It's a haven for chocolate enthusiasts, offering interactive and indulgent experiences.

Are there any architectural landmarks in Cologne that I shouldn't miss?

Definitely! The Historic City Hall (Historisches Rathaus Köln) is an architectural gem with over 800 years of history. Its striking façade and role as a traditional wedding venue make it a picturesque and culturally significant site.

What does Rheinpark offer for visitors to Cologne?

Rheinpark is a protected urban oasis, ideal for visitors looking for a natural retreat within the city. It offers lush green spaces, serene fountains, and playgrounds, catering to everyone from families to nature enthusiasts seeking relaxation amidst their travels.

🛎️ Where to stay in Cologne

Only at the MEININGER Hotel Köln West, next to all the city’s hotspots.

Address: Stolberger Str. 347, 50933 Köln 

Visiting Cologne soon?

MEININGER Hotel Cologne West is the perfect accommodation for those aiming to visit Cologne without breaking the bank.

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