Things to do in Cologne

Activities, attractions and tours
Hohenzollern Bridge which includes a bridge, a church or cathedral and night scenes

Cologne Attractions

Situated on the river Rhine, Cologne has a reputation as being one of Germany’s most liberal cities. It’s dominated by its huge Gothic cathedral, whose twin spires tower over the city. It’s one of Germany’s most visited attractions, and you can really see why. There’s a lively museum scene in Cologne, with a number of exceptional art galleries too. The people are well known for their love of life and open minded outlook. Pop in for a cold one at one of the local beer halls in the old town, or Altstadt, or visit during carnival, and you’ll experience the warm welcomes first hand. With a mix of ancient architecture dating from the Roman period right through the middle ages, Cologne is a town with a long history and big future.

Areas & Neighbourhoods in Cologne

Altstadt - Narrow alleyways and colourful buildings characterise the old town, and it’s a popular location for tourists. Stroll the streets and take in the picturesque views of the city’s ancient hub.

Central/Cathedral - The area around the cathedral is the major tourist destination. A visit to the cathedral is a must, as is Museum Ludwig. It’s also great for shopping.

Rudolfplatz - The hippest area of town where you’ll find cool cafes, bars and restaurants. A young, vibrant and open minded area where anything goes.

Belgian Quarter - One of the more upmarket and trendy areas of the city. Boutiques stocking high-end fashion labels mix with junk stores selling vintage goods, with plenty of street art to check out too.

Things to See in Cologne

You can’t ignore the cathedral, in any sense of the phrase. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Germany’s most visited attractions, this Gothic masterpiece is as beautiful as it is imposing. Construction began in the 13th century but wasn’t finished until 1880. Walk across the Hohenzollern Bridge, covered with ‘love locks’, or appreciate the street art in Ehrenfeld. Art lovers will also relish the chance to explore the Museum Ludwig, and foodies should visit the Chocolate Museum. At night, check out the beer halls of the Altstadt or the more bohemian bars around Rudolfplatz and the Belgian Quarter.

Things to Do in Cologne

Visit in February to experience the Kolner Karneval, a huge winter festival with a street party to match. The city’s Gay Pride festival is another major event, celebrating Cologne’s liberal and inclusive atmosphere. Also during winter, the city comes alive with traditional German Christmas markets, the most famous being at Neumarkt. If you’re in the mood for relaxation, spend the day at the Claudius Therme, where you’ll find indoor and outdoor pools, saunas and steam rooms. Take a ride on the Kolner Seilbahn, an aerial tramway that crosses the river, and the only one of its kind in Germany.

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Top things to do in Cologne

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Top places to visit

1. Cologne Cathedral

The Cologne Cathedral is the tallest Roman Catholic cathedral in the world. It was built between 1248 and 1880 in order to house the precious Shrine of the Three Holy Kings. The cathedral stands 516 feet (157 meters) tall and is one of the most popular attractions in the city.
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Marvel at the Gothic architecture and the shrine of the three wise men at one of the largest churches in the world.

2. LANXESS Arena

Catch an event at LANXESS Arena during your trip to Cologne.Amble around this culturally rich area's riverfront or experience its fascinating museums.
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Catch an event at LANXESS Arena during your trip to Cologne.Amble around this culturally rich area's riverfront or experience its fascinating museums.

3. Cologne Zoo

Cologne’s zoo is in Riehl, north of the city center along the Rhine River. It was founded in 1860 and is Germany’s third-oldest zoo. It’s home to more than 500 species of animals from every ocean and continent, including predators and big cats.
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This is one of the country’s oldest zoological gardens, and has the biggest collection of animals in Germany.

4. Alter Markt

Alter Markt, which means “old market” in English, is a focal point of Cologne. The square is located just steps from the Rhine River and Cologne’s main shopping precinct, and is overlooked by the City Hall. Pull up a chair at one of the many cafés lining the square and enjoy a locally brewed beer.
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The city’s former marketplace is now a lively spot known for its café culture and carnivals.

5. Chocolate Museum

Cologne’s Chocolate Museum (Schokoladenmuseum) presents an extensive history of one of the world’s favorite treats, from its South American beginnings to modern production methods of Swiss chocolate manufacturer Lindt & Sprüngli. Learn how the delicious confectionary is made as you follow the process from cacao tree to chocolate bar. Located in the historic Old Town district of Cologne’s Rheinauhafen, the museum’s interesting architecture makes it a landmark building in the revitalized harbor quarter.
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Delve into the delectable history of chocolate and sample the confectionary as you find out about the different ways that it is produced around the world.

Day trip destinations from Cologne