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Things to do in Cologne

Things to do in  Cologne

Welcome to Cologne

Located in the heart of Rhineland in western Germany, the city of Cologne (Köln in German) is a testament to the rebuilding of a nation after World War II. Today, this busy urban center bustles with museums and art galleries. It’s also home to Germany’s most visited attraction, the Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom), an imposing Gothic structure with twin spires that dates from the mid-13th century. Cologne was among Germany’s most heavily bombed cities during the war and several bombs struck the cathedral; fortunately, it remained standing. Cologne straddles the mighty Rhine River, and cruising down this famed waterway is a great way to take in the modern and historic buildings that dot the city skyline. Sip a local Kölsch beer as you float by the cathedral, Old Town, and the Hohenzollern Bridge on a sightseeing cruise. Or book a dinner cruise to savor local fare with a backdrop of twinkling city lights. Longer cruising options take you beyond Cologne for views of castles, churches, and vineyards. Back on dry land, guided tours—such as a bike tour of the local landmarks—help you delve deeper into Cologne. Or make friends from around the world on a pub crawl—you’ll hit up haunts that only locals know about, and skip long lines at popular spots.

Top 10 attractions in Cologne

Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom)

With its imposing Gothic façade and dramatic twin towers, the Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) is the city’s most recognized landmark. Protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the magnificent cathedral is one of the most important in Germany and dominates the city skyline.More

Cologne Chocolate Museum (Schokoladenmuseum)

Opened by local chocolatier Hans Imhoff in 1993, theCologne Chocolate Museum (Schokoladenmuseum) is devoted to Cologne’s chocolate-making history. This fun family attractions lets visitors peek behind the scenes of a working chocolate factory, learn about the farming of cacao beans, and sample delicious Lindt chocolate.More

Cologne Old Town (Altstadt)

Stretching along the west bank of the Rhine River and presided over by the UNESCO-listed Cologne Cathedral, the Old Town (Altstadt) is both the navigational and historical heart of Cologne. With its colorful old buildings, beautiful Romanesque churches, and scenic riverside promenades, it’s an obvious starting point for any exploration of the city.More

EL-DE Haus

Cologne’s EL-DE Haus—home to the NS-Documentation Center (NS-Dokumentationszentrum—was a jewelry business until it was taken over by the Nazis in 1934. Transformed into a headquarters for the Gestapo secret police, it was used for interrogation and torture during World War II. Today, it stands as a monument to the victims of fascism.More

Hohenzollern Bridge (Hohenzollernbrücke)

The best-known of Cologne’s seven bridges, the Hohenzollern Bridge (Hohenzollernbrücke crosses the famed Rhine River. First debuted in 1911 and later reconstructed following the devastation of World War II, the Hohenzollern Bridge is located near the Cologne Cathedral, and is today celebrated as a romantic destination.More

Roman-Germanic Museum (Römisch-Germanische Museum)

Part antiquities collection, part archeological dig, the Roman-Germanic Museum (or Römisch-Germanische Museum) sits atop the last vestiges of the Roman town villa. In the museum's basement is a well-known Dionysus mosaic, undisturbed from its original installation.Remnants of Roman architecture, inscriptions, portraits of Caesar Augustus and his ceramics and more piece together the story of Cologne's development from a Germanic tribal settlement (the Ubii), to the Roman Cologne, to the capital of the Lower Germania.Other highlights of the museum are the 15 meters (50 foot) high sarcophagus of Poblicius, a legionnaire from the first century AD. Like the mosaic and the Roman road outside, this funereal monument was uncovered during excavations in the city. The collection also contains the largest collection of Roman glass, more mosaics and ceramics, as well as the stone, clay and bronze idols specific to various Roman cults.Tours are available, but the museum is fairly easy to negotiate by oneself. Given the wealth of archeological finds in the surrounding area, the Roman-Germanic Museum is one of the most important museums in the world, and is one of the most popular museums in all of Germany.More

Museum Ludwig

Cologne’s major modern and contemporary art museum, the Museum Ludwig has been a top cultural stop since its opening in 1976. Housed in a strikingly modern, wave-like building near the Cologne Cathedral, the museum is known for its expansive range of modernist, pop-art, and surrealist pieces, including an enormous Picasso collection.More

Farina Fragrance Museum

Step into the sensory world of Giovanni Maria Farina, the legendary Italian perfumer who created the original eau de cologne in 1709. The Farina Fragrance Museum chronicles the rise of the family’s perfume dynasty in Cologne and offers a fascinating insight into perfume-making throughout the centuries.More


Part science museum, part adventure park, Cologne’s Odysseum is the perfect place to get kids excited about science. The hands-on exhibits, interactive displays, and puzzle-solving activities are designed to engage all ages, while adventure playgrounds and a high ropes course inject a hefty dose of fun.More
Hard Rock Cafe Cologne

Hard Rock Cafe Cologne

Since the 1980s young travelers have been collecting iconic Hard Rock Café t-shirts from far reaches of the globe. In April of 2003, another opportunity to secure serious Hard Rock swag opened in historic Cologne. Tucked into the landscape of one of the oldest cities in Germany—near the Gothic spires of St Peter and Mary’s cathedral—this American staple serves up traditional comfort food and some pretty incredible live music, too.Travelers can pop in for one of the Hard Rock Café’s famous live performances, or tuck into a juicy burger with an ice cold beer while taking in a truly spectacular collection of music memorabilia. From Eric Clapton’s hallow body electric guitar to Sting’s autographed Fender and Bob Dylan’s black leather Harley vest, Hard Rock Café Cologne showcases some of the best of American food and international music, too.More

Trip ideas

Ways to Celebrate the Cologne Carnival

Ways to Celebrate the Cologne Carnival

Top activities in Cologne

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People Also Ask

What is Cologne known for?

The city of Cologne is known for Cologne Cathedral—a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most-visited sites in Germany—due to its popularity with Christian pilgrims. Other popular attractions include Cologne Old Town (Altstadt), Cologne Chocolate Museum (Schokoladenmuseum), and the romantic Hohenzollern Bridge (Hohenzollernbrücke) where lovers leave padlocks.

How do I spend my day in Cologne?

If you’ve only got 24 hours in Cologne, head straight to Cologne Cathedral, the city’s most famous landmark. Once you’ve explored the Treasure Chamber and climbed the bell tower, admire the Romanesque and Gothic architecture of Cologne Old Town (Altstadt) and satisfy your sweet tooth at Cologne Chocolate Museum (Schokoladenmuseum).

What are the top sights in Cologne?

Cologne Cathedral is one of Germany’s most-visited landmarks and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other top sights include Museum Ludwig, with its extensive Picasso collection; the Cologne Botanical Garden, home to hundreds of flowers from around the world; the romantic Hohenzollern Bridge; and the colorful houses of Cologne Old Town.

How do I get around Cologne?

The best way to get around Cologne is on a bike. The city’s extensive network of bike lanes, some of which follow the scenic Rhine River, ensure that cycling is a fast and safe option. You also can take trams or buses—most stops have live departure boards.

What is there to do in Cologne for teens?

Top picks for things to do in Cologne for teens include cycling around the Old Town and along the banks of the Rhine River, visiting the Chocolate Museum (Schokoladenmuseum), taking the super-speed elevator to the KölnTriangle observation deck 360° city views, and riding the zipwire and slides of Rhinepark.

Is Cologne worth visiting?

Cologne is worth visiting for its rich history and modern culture. The city boasts a varied museum scene, the Cologne Cathedral (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the Belgian Quarter, and botanical gardens. It’s also great for kids and teens, offering family-friendly activities, such as cycling and visiting the Chocolate Museum.


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