Things to do in Cologne

Itineraries for Your Trip to Cologne

Cologne locals share their perfect days.
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1 Day in Cologne for First Timers

Curated by Jessica Colley ClarkeJessica Colley Clarke is a freelance writer and curious traveler based in New York City. Her stories have appeared in AFAR magazine, BBC Travel, The Daily Beast, and the New York Times, among other publications.

Located on the banks of the Rhine River, Cologne is a dynamic German city with a striking Gothic cathedral. With just one day to explore, you can hit the highlights and take a bike tour, river cruise, or pub crawl. Here are a few ways to spend 24 hours in Cologne. 


Begin the day with an introductory tour. Take the double-decker hop-on hop-off bus and see top city landmarks including city hall, the cathedral, and Roncalliplatz, the square where the cathedral stands. A combination ticket also includes a Rhine River sightseeing cruise. To explore the city at a slower pace, opt for a bike tour and follow your guide to the Hohenzollern Bridge, philharmonic hall, and the waterfront district set in the city’s former industrial port. Walking tours include options focused on history and private tours that can be customized according to your individual interests. 


Discover a new perspective on the landmarks of Cologne with a sightseeing cruise. Choose from several departure times and climb aboard a boat for a scenic trip along the Rhine River. Learn about local history while admiring views of Cologne Cathedral and the colorful Old Town. If you took a cruise in the morning, consider joining a photo-themed tour instead. Explore Cologne on foot and get advice from a photographer on composition and perspective while snapping shots of city landmarks. Then, skip the line with premium access tickets to the Chocolate Museum and taste a variety of hand-crafted chocolate. 


Explore Cologne after dark with an Old Town brewery tour. Taste a variety of German beers, and learn about local history during stops at several different traditional pubs. Travelers looking to experience Cologne’s nightlife may want to join other revelers and a local guide on a pub crawl that includes access to several trendy bars. Visitors looking for a more relaxed evening can check out a scenic dinner cruise on the Rhine River. Some cruises include a buffet dinner, complimentary drinks, and music from an onboard DJ. 

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