10 Things To Do in Cologne

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You may know Cologne for its cathedral and of course the origin place of perfume, but I bet you didn’t know that there were many other attractions that are a must-see.

When hearing the word “Cologne” you may think of perfume before you think of a German city. Well to be fair Eau de Cologne (the perfume) originated in Cologne (the city). I didn’t know this to be honest, but now it makes sense.

The city of Cologne seen at sunset

Where is Cologne?

Cologne is a 2000-year-old city in the West of Germany. The city lies on the Rhine river and is most famously known for its Gothic architecture and the twin-spired Cologne Cathedral which is one of the main attractions. This beautiful city is located on a once important trade route between East and West Europe.

Things To Do In Cologne

#1 Visit the Cologne Cathedral

The cathedral is the most-visited landmark in Germany with around 20 000 visitors a day. Its twin-spires are 157m (515ft) tall, making them the third tallest in the world. That’s not just impressive, and slightly imposing, but really beautiful when you see them up close. Take a tour and if your up for it climb to the top of the spires. The view is unbelievable from up here.

#2 Stroll Through Colognes Old Town

Enjoy a stroll through Colognes old town, it’s one of the best attractions on offer. There are great little alleyways to get lost in while you take in the view of Colognes traditional houses that line the streets.

Make sure to pass by the Heinzelmännchen (elve) fountain which was erected in 1899. Legend has it that the elves of the fountain used to wake up in the middle of the night and do cities work while the residents slept. Sadly the elves are long gone and the fountain is all that remains. Don’t forget to stop for a snack at one of the many restaurants in the old town.

Related Reading: Munich City Guide: How to Make the Most of Your Visit


#3 Spend the Day in The Botanical Gardens

The Flora and Botanical Gardens are located in the north of Cologne and should be on your list of things to do. There a whopping 10 000 plant species from all over the world in here. And the best part you ask? There’s no admission fee! Don’t forget to pass by the Lilly pond for some R&R.

A pink Lilly

#4 The KölnTriangle

The KölnTriangle is a building, well a skyscraper to be accurate. But a short one as the city of Cologne does not allow any building to be built that would affect the skyline that features the cathedral as its centerpiece.

The KölnTriangle has the best observation deck in the city and offers you the most amazing views of the city and its open till 23:00 every day so don’t forget to watch a sunset here at least once.

#5 The Belgian Quarter

This is the place to be if you are into food, art, music, and fashion. The Belgian Quarter in Cologne is best experienced over a coffee in one of its trendy cafe’s or by joining in on the excellent nightlife. The nightlife here has everything from cafes to high style cocktail bars and even hip hop clubs.

Streetart is massive in this area of Cologne and one of the best attractions for the area. You will find all types of art on street poles, walls and doors around you as well as some of the best little art galleries that showcase some of the best artists of the time.

Related Reading: Trier, Germany: All You Need To Know Before You Visit

#6 Get Sniffing at the Fragrance Museum

As mentioned before, modern-day cologne originated in, well, Cologne. Check out the Farina Fragrance Museum which is located in the old town. The building is the oldest fragrance factory that is still intact and belonged to the inventer of cologne, Johann Maria Farina.

#7 Imhoff – Schokoladen (chocolate)  Museum

Chocolate. What more can a person want out of a place? The chocolate museum belongs to Lindt & Sprüngli and you can take a tour that gives you an insight into how cocoa is grown and how it is made into chocolate. They have a 3m high chocolate fountain which you are allowed to taste from. Need I say more?

Lindt Chocolate

#8 Take a Boat Trip on the Rhine River

Your trip to Cologne won’t be complete without a boat tour on the Rhine. Enjoy a few hours relaxing and taking in the beautiful sites and take a trip to a fishing village to see what life in Cologne is really like. The boat tours take you under a total of 4 bridges and the guides will keep you entertained with interesting factoids about attractions in the city.

Related Reading: German Mulled Wine: The Best Part of Germany’s Christmas Markets

#9 Visit the Christmas Markets

Like any German city, winter is not complete without an epic Christmas market. Enjoy live music and several different markets scattered around each with a unique theme. Have a go on the outdoor skating rink or join the kids in a trip through St. Nicholas’s village. You’ll even find an upbeat

Christmas Market in Cologne

#10 Taste Kolsch & Halve Hahn

Once all the touring is done the best thing to do in Cologne is to have a good cold Kolsch and a Halve Hahn at the local pub. Kolsch is a local beer that is a staple for locals. Halve Hahn is a soft rye roll served with butter, tomatoes, sliced onion and big slices of gouda cheese. You’re free to assemble it the way you want.

Accommodation in Cologne


Hyatt Regency Köln has the best views of the cathedral spires and the river Rhine. Enjoy the indoor swimming pool and state of the art gym. The hotel’s restaurant is in a glass atrium that gives you perfect views of the old town below.


CityClass hotel residence am Dom has gorgeous modern furnished rooms. The hotel is located at the Alter Markt in the old town. The Cologne central station is located just 500m away from the hotel. Enjoy breakfast on the balcony of the hotel, overlooking the city.


Eden Hotel Früh am Dom is right across from the cathedral. The rooms and bathrooms have modern fittings and some of the rooms have the perfect view of the cathedral and surrounding buildings.

Cologne Tours

You must try the Panorama boat cruise is a 1-hour tour of the city of Cologne. Book a Sunday brunch tour or evening buffet cruise to enjoy a meal while you leisurely cruise the Rhine.

If your one for quirky tours then you have to try the Nightwatchman torchlight tour of myth and legend. The tour takes you through the alleys of Cologne at night exploring the legends and myths of the city. Contact the operator to find out more about English tours.

There are so many things to see in Cologne and each attraction seems better than the next. It is a city that has perfected the balance between old and new.