Best things to do in Cologne
Enriched by some of Europe's most striking churches, numerous museums, and one of the oldest universities in the world, Cologne is the Rhineland's cultural heart. If you're looking for its best places to visit, look no further!
By far the city's most famous attraction, the cathedral was built to house the reliquary of the Three Kings. Construction began in 1248, however, it wasn't finished until 1880!
Cologne Zoological Garden
Founded in 1860, Cologne's zoo is world renowned. With over 700 species on display, it has an aquarium and inveterbrate house, although its emphasis is on primates.
Imhoff Chocolate Museum
Located in the Old Town, Cologne's superb chocolate museum covers the entire history of the world's favorite treat from its Central American origins to its modern day production.
Roman Tower and Walls
Cologne's Roman fortifications take you about as far back into the city's history as is possible to go. The tower is at Ulrepforte, along with the best preserved section of wall.
Known as the "Love Bridge" for its countless engraved padlocks honoring star-crossed couples, it's the best way across the Rhine to the cathedral, if not everlasting happiness!
One of the city's oldest museums houses an eclectic mix of religious art and iconography in its exemplary exhibition rooms. To this day it's run by the Archdiocese of Cologne.
Enter from the main entrance at Riehler Strasse to discover a modest yet picturesque park peppered with quirky, modern sculptures. The best part is that it's free!
Planning your Cologne visit
When to go?
Summer can get quite humid in Cologne, meaning the city's peak season is actually in the fall, so don't be surprised if your hotel costs more in October! Spring is also a good time as the beer gardens start to open up and the city awakens from its winter slumber. That said, it's worth going in winter too for the famous Christmas markets, and the city's carnival begins in February!
When are the Christmas markets?
Cologne has 6 main Christmas markets, each with its own personality. (Check out the Medieval-themed one outside of the Chocolate Museum!) They run from November 23rd to December 23rd.
How many days should you spend in Cologne?
2 or 3 days should be enough to cover Cologne's top attractions but bear in mind that the city is located in a cluster of others worth visiting, such as Bonn and Düsseldorf. Also, the breathtaking Rhine Gorge is just a short journey south, so it might be worth booking more time to accommodate a day trip or two!
Good to Know
Time ZoneUTC (+02:00)
Best time to visitSpring and Fall offer milder temperatures, but the Winter brings with it the famous Christmas markets.
Things to Do in Cologne
Top attractions in Cologne
Other Sightseeing Options in Cologne
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