10 Reasons To Visit Cologne, Germany

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A few reasons to visit Cologne, Germany while traveling in Europe. 

Situated on the Rhine River in eastern Germany, Cologne is a beautiful city that is often overlooked by travelers.

Most backpackers prioritize Berlin, the capital, or head to Munich for the famous annual Oktoberfest.

But Cologne is another wonderful city in Germany, I was lucky enough to visit here a few weeks ago with my dad for a weekend.

Cologne is packed with culture, delicious multicultural food, and impressive architecture.

If you’re backpacking through Europe by train or bus, Cologne is conveniently located between popular cities like Brussels, Amsterdam, or Paris, and Berlin and other European cities further west.

So you can easily fit it into a trip around Europe, and I highly recommend you do so!

If you’re still not convinced, enjoy the following photos of the view while climbing the Cologne Cathedral, and a beautiful shot of my Dad posing in front of said Cathedral.

If that still doesn’t convince you, read on for 10 reasons to visit Cologne, Germany.

10 Reasons To Visit Cologne, Germany

1. The Cologne Cathedral

This is the most famous Cologne attraction, and easily the best place to visit in the city.

If you only have one day in Cologne, make sure you visit this gigantic Catholic masterpiece.

Construction of the cathedral began in 1248, and it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

There are over 500 steps to climb to the very top of the Cologne Cathedral, but the view is so worth it.

When you get up to the spires, the stairs get a bit narrow and scary, but if I made it to the top alive, so can you!

  • Address: Domkloster 4, 50667 Köln, Germany
  • Hours: 6 am to 7:30 pm, 1 pm to 4:30 pm on Sundays
  • Cost: Free to enter, 3 Euros to climb to the top
Cologne-cathedral
The Gothic architecture of the Cologne Cathedral is absolutely incredible!

2. The Museums

Cologne has a rich history, and there are lots of interesting museums where you can educate yourself and learn some new things.

Art lovers should check out Museum Ludwig, which showcases a wide range of works from famous artists as well as indigenous and queer artists.

  • Address: Heinrich-Böll-Platz, 50667 Köln, Germany
  • Hours: 10 am to 6 pm, closed Mondays
  • Cost: Free!

My Dad and I both love history, so we spent hours inside the Roman-Germanic Museum. This place is full of historic artifacts from all throughout the ages, and it’s fascinating to see so many old tools and art works still preserved today.

  • Address: Roncalliplatz 4, 50667 Köln, Germany
  • Hours: 10 am to 5 pm, closed Mondays
  • Cost: 6 Euros

Another interesting museum to visit in Cologne is the Farina Fragrance Museum. Ever heard of the phrase “Eau De Cologne”? This is actually the French phrase for “water of Cologne”, referring to perfume created in this part of Germany. You can learn all about it at the Fragrance Museum.

  • Address: Obenmarspforten 21, 50667 Köln, Germany
  • Hours: 10 am to 7 pm, 11 am to 5 pm on Sundays, closed Thursdays
  • Cost: 5 Euros

3. The Chocolate!

Cologne has its own chocolate museum, and the chocolate is just so good that this deserved to be its own point on the list.

At the Chocolate Museum, you can learn about the entire history and process of chocolate making through the exhibitions, or just visit the cafe and indulge in some delicious treats.

My Dad and I bought a nice big bag of chocolate truffles and they were a dream.

  • Address: Am Schokoladenmuseum 1A, 50678 Köln, Germany
  • Hours: 12 pm to 6 pm, 10 am to 6 pm on weekends, closed Mondays
  • Cost: Between 7 and 13 Euros for the exhibitions, free to enter the cafe
chocolate
It’s worth visiting the Chocolate Museum in Cologne just for the treats.

4. The Breweries

Germany has some of the best beer in the world! I say that because in general, I hate beer. Sorry, but it’s the truth. I try it often and just never like it, EXCEPT in Germany. There’s been a few times in Germany that I can actually drink half a beer instead of just a couple sips.

Anyway, one of the best reasons to visit Cologne is all the brew houses in the city where you can drink local beer and enjoy the warm, welcoming atmosphere.

A fun way to hit all the best breweries in Cologne is to do a guided tour with a local expert.

This Brew House Tour from Get Your Guide costs only $30 and takes you to 4 of the best brew houses where you get drinks at each places included in the price. This tour has over 500 great reviews from other travelers, so it’s a fun way to experience the city and its beer!

5. The Old Town

You’re going to have to walk around the city a lot to balance out all the beer and chocolate you’re consuming in Cologne!

Luckily, the city is incredibly scenic, especially the Old Town. The historical center of Cologne is set right on the edge of the Rhine River and it full of quaint houses and lovely architecture.

You’ll find lots of colorful houses, cobblestone streets, and charming public squares.

reasons to visit Cologne-old-town
The outskirts of the charming Cologne Old Town

6. Christmas Markets

Definitely one of the best reasons to visit Cologne, Germany is the Christmas Markets.

If you have the chance to visit Cologne in December, do it! You’ll get to witness the magic of the Christmas season.

Open air markets pop up all throughout the streets, selling hot mulled wine and sugary Christmas treats.

All the decorations and twinkling lights make the city glow like a scene from a snow globe.

7. The Rhine River

Sure, most major cities are set on a river. So what makes it so special?

Cruising along the Rhine River by boat is a fantastic way to see the city from a different perspective.

A river cruise sounds like something expensive, and therefore out of price range for a budget traveler. NOT TRUE IN COLOGNE!

You can book a Panoramic River Cruise for only $12, and it comes with free food and a drink. This tour has a 4.6 out of 5 star rating from over 800 travelers, so it’s definitely a good one!

reasons to visit Cologne-germany-night
An evening river cruise on the Rhine provides some gorgeous views of Cologne.

8. The Multicultural Food

Germany is a super multicultural country, especially in the big cities.

If you’re an adventurous eater, the food is one of the best reasons to visit Cologne.

My Dad and I ate pretty much everything except German food in Germany!

We ate Indian curry, Lebanese falafels and hummus, and saw many other International restaurants.

You can find everything from Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese, to Italian and French, to health-conscious vegan cafes and special gluten-free restaurants.

9. The Botanic Gardens

If you’re looking to escape the city streets and spend a day surrounded by greenery, the Cologne Botanic Gardens are the place to be.

This massive green space is full of unique plants, spacious lawns, and walking trails so you can really immerse yourself in the natural world.

  • Address: Schillingsrotter Str. 100, 50996 Köln, Germany
  • Hours: 9 am to 8 pm every day
  • Cost: Free
reasons to visit Cologne-botanic-garden
Immerse yourself in a bit of greenery at the Cologne Botanic Gardens.

10. The Entertainment

Cologne is a super lively and vibrant city full of fun things to do.

Though my Dad and I stuck to just the general exploring and eating while we were there, I’ve spoken to some other locals and travelers who rave about the fun nightlife in Cologne.

From live music to comedy shows to drag shows to crazy bars, dance clubs, and pubs, the nightlife is one of the main reasons to visit Cologne if you love to party!

I’ve heard someone recommend a Comedy Bus Tour, where you drive around on a guided tour of the city for 1.5 hours while the local comedian/tour guide makes you cry from laughing so hard.

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So there’s 10 reasons to visit Cologne, Germany! There are definitely more, and seeing as I only explored Cologne for a weekend, I’m sure there are more attractions that I didn’t get the chance to see!

But I loved my weekend in Cologne, and I’d love to spread the word to more travelers about how awesome this place is! So don’t skip it while backpacking around Europe!

Before you travel to Germany…

For more travel tips and inspiration around Central Europe, check out these articles!

10 Incredible Things To Do In Interlaken, Switzerland

Why Warsaw Changed My Life

6 Reasons To Visit The Czech Republic

Hidden Gems of Budapest

The Ultimate Budget Travel Guide To Budapest, Hungary

10 REASONS TO VISIT COLOGNE GERMANY

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