Things to Do in Cologne: Germany Travel Guide

Welcome to Cologne, Germany! This vibrant city lies along the Rhine River in western Germany whose roots go back 2,000 years. It’s the fourth most populous city in the country and is famous for many things, including the invention of eau de cologne. The things to do in Cologne are varied, from its cathedrals and museums to unique factories and charming Old Towns. With its rich history, stunning architecture, and lively atmosphere, Cologne is a city no traveler should miss.

When I travel, there’s a certain feeling I seek out. It’s the feeling you get when you go back home to the house you grew up in to see family members and old friends you haven’t seen in a while. I’ve experienced that same vibe with strangers on the other side of the world who have completely different ways of life than I do. I felt it when I traveled through German cities like Cologne, Berlin, and Munich in 2005, and I think you will, too. This is what to do in Cologne, Germany.

Discover the Captivating Charm of Cologne’s Old Town

Colorful buildings in the Old Town of Cologne, one of the top things to do in Cologne | Davidsbeenhere
The Old Town of Cologne is both colorful and charming. Photo by Ketevan Salia on Unsplash.

I love it when exploring a new city can take you back in time. In Cologne, the place that does that for me is its Altstadt, or Old Town. Nestled along the banks of the Rhine River, Cologne’s historic Old Town is a treasure trove of architectural marvels and cultural delights. Between its quaint cobblestone streets and colorful half-timbered buildings, walking its streets feels like an adventure in a different era.

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Its Renaissance-era City Hall Tower and ornate Jan von Werth Fountain are stunning centerpieces of the Old Marketplace. I recommend stopping for a refreshing cup of coffee or tea as you explore. No place in Cologne blends Germany’s timeless traditions with modern influences quite like the Old Town. It’s an easy entry on my list of the best things to do in Cologne!

Explore the Magnificent Cologne Cathedral

Looking up at the spires of Cologne Cathedral, one of the top things to do in Cologne, Germany | Davidsbeenhere
Cologne Cathedral is the third-tallest church in the world. Photo by Dominik Kuhn on Unsplash.

No visit to Cologne would be complete without marveling at the awe-inspiring Cologne Cathedral. Located in the Old Town, this stunning Gothic structure is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most iconic landmarks in Germany. With its soaring spires and intricate stained glass windows, it’s the second-tallest church in Germany and the third-tallest in the world.

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Inside, you can marvel at its ornate interior, which features magnificent artwork and ornate architectural details. Don’t miss the revered shrine of the Three Wise Men! And if you brave the 533 steps to the top of the cathedral’s tower, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the city and the winding Rhine River below. I love seeing cities from above, so this is easily one of my favorite things to do in Cologne!

Indulge in the Sweetness of the Cologne Chocolate Museum

Stacked bars of chocolate | Davidsbeenhere
You’ll find chocolate everything at the Cologne Chocolate Museum. Photo by Tetiana Bykovets on Unsplash.

I’m not much of a sweets guy, but I must admit, chocolate is one of my weaknesses. If you’re a chocoholic and wondering what to do in Cologne, the Cologne Chocolate Museum is a must. This awesome attraction along the Rhine offers a fascinating journey through the history and production of chocolate.

Inside, you can watch as skilled chocolatiers craft perfect chocolate candies. Visitors can even customize their own unique chocolate bar at the Chocolate Studio. Of course, this wouldn’t be one of my top things to do in Cologne if you couldn’t try the chocolate! Be sure to savor a freshly baked waffle coated in fresh, decadent chocolate. And if you still have room in your belly, visit the Chocolate Grand Cafe for a slice of rich, indulgent chocolate cake and a hot beverage.

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Admire the Art at Museum Ludwig

A book about Picasso at Museum Ludwig, one of my favorite things to do in Cologne | Davidsbeenhere
Museum Ludwig houses a massive collection of Picasso’s work. Photo by Tobias Rademacher on Unsplash.

If you’re an art enthusiast looking for things to do in Cologne, look no further than Museum Ludwig. This incredible museum is a treasure trove of modern and contemporary art. Established in 1976, it boasts an extensive collection of works from the 20th and 21st centuries, making it one of the most important museums for modern and contemporary art in Europe. It’s home to the third-largest collection of Picasso’s works in the world, with around 900 pieces.

Museum Ludwig also boasts an impressive collection of German Expressionism and Russian avant-garde pieces. You’ll also find an extensive photograph collection. It’s not hard to see why you can easily spend hours inside! No list of what to do in Cologne is complete without it.

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Discover the Vibrant Belgian Quarter

A mural celebrating love in Cologne, Germany | Davidsbeenhere
Murals are commonplace throughout the Belgian Quarter. Photo by Abi Schreider on Unsplash.

Need an escape from the bustling crowds while exploring the best things to do in Cologne? Never fear, as you can beat the hordes of tourists in the trendy Belgian Quarter. This lively neighborhood gives visitors a taste of Cologne’s contemporary and artistic side. Many of the buildings along its charming streets are adorned with vibrant street art and colorful, splashy murals.

There’s also a thriving culinary scene in the Belgian Quarter. Pop into a cozy cafe to explore what to do in Cologne next, or dip into a farm-to-table restaurant for a delicious and sustainable meal. Adults will enjoy the lively pubs that serve up the city’s famous Kölsch beer. For a truly unique experience, join a guided bike tour to discover the Belgian Quarter’s hidden gems. It’s an exciting and chill place, and it’s one of my favorites.

Visit the Top 5 Things to Do in Cologne

Cologne Cathedral, one of my favorite things to do in Cologne, with Hohenzollern Bridge in the foreground | Davidsbeenhere
Cologne is a beautiful city that’s well worth the time it takes to explore. Photo by Ertabbt on Pexels.

As you explore these top 5 attractions in Cologne, you’ll discover a city that seamlessly blends its rich history, vibrant culture, and modern sensibilities. From the awe-inspiring Cologne Cathedral to the charming Belgian Quarter, each experience will leave you with a deeper appreciation for the captivating charm of this German gem. So pack your bags and book a trip to Germany to experience the top things to do in Cologne ASAP!

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