So you’re heading to Cologne? Great choice! Here’s a quick summary of the best things to do in Cologne, and what we did with 48 hours in the city.
A Short Overview of Cologne
Cologne is Germany’s fourth-largest city. Despite this, it’s super easy to get around and you won’t struggle to find the main attractions! This makes it perfect for a weekend break or short trip as there is a lot to see and do!
From chocolate and beer lovers to history and architecture geeks, due to the wide variety of things to do here, there’s something for everyone to do in Cologne.
Getting to Cologne
The best and quickest way to get to cologne is to fly especially since flights from Manchester (UK) take just over an hour and there are tonnes of budget options available from under £50.
Once you arrive at Cologne airport you’ll need to get to the city. The best, cheapest and quickest way is by train, it costs €3 per person and the station is located within the airport. Go check out my guide on getting around Cologne for more info.
Where to stay in Cologne?
Cologne being a modern city has hundreds of accommodation options, this means that there are plenty of hotels available for any budget or taste. We stayed in the Ibis Budget hotel which was a short walk from the main attractions (around 15-20 minutes) and we found it perfect for what we needed. If you’re willing to pay a little more or hunt down an airbnb then you’ll be able to get a little closer.
After arriving in ‘Koln Hbf‘ (the central train station), the city really is yours to explore. Head out of the station and take a stroll around to get your bearings. You’ll immediately be able to see Hohenzollern Love bridge and the Cathedral.
Hohenzollern Love bridge
For many years couples have fastened ‘love locks’ to the bridge to as proof of their love. The tradition has seen over 40,000 locks fastened to the bridge and their keys are thrown into the Rhine below.
The only real way to appreciate how many locks there are and also how beautiful they all look is to take a stroll along the bridge. Experts have estimated the locks to weigh a combined two tonnes!
One of the best views of Cologne and probably one of the most photographed is the bridge at dusk or during the night. The bridge and the Cathederal both light up and you can see the true beauty of this city.
Visit the Lindt Chocolate Museum
You like chocolate right? Who doesn’t! This is one place you shouldn’t miss if you’re a foodie or chocoholic!
There’s plenty to learn about the history of chocolate and also the manufacturing process around it. You can explore the museum on your own or opt to have a guided tour.
The museum takes you on a journey through time, teaching about the origins of chocolate. You’re shown how it turns from a cocoa bean (which don’t taste great as you can see by my reaction below) to that good stuff we get in the shops!
As you make your way towards the end of the museum you will also see chocolate being made by machinery and also chocolatiers. It’s quite fascinating to be able to witness the whole process.
There’s also plenty of opportunities to sample Lindt chocolate. You’ll also get to admire the 10ft(3m) high chocolate fountain at the end of the exhibition and get a wafer dipped in it.
If you plan to visit the museum I’d recommend picking up tickets in advance to avoid queues. It gets really busy, especially on weekends and holidays!
Tickets cost just over £10 per person and can be found here.
Try local beer
Cologne has some great bars and pubs. We used ‘RateBeer.com‘ to find ‘CraftBeer corner‘. A traditional German boozer which offered a wide range of beers to suit any taste! They have a large selection of local beers on tap and over 100 different canned beers.
TIP: Try Kolsh – this is the local beer, produced in Cologne.
The staff were very polite and helped us pick the right beers for our taste. This place is perfect for groups or socializing if you’re on a solo trip!
Climb 533 steps to the top of Cologne Cathedral
One of the main attractions in Cologne is the Cathedral. It is the second tallest building in the city and took over 600 years to build!
Climbing the Cathedral offers some of the best views of the city and a great workout! (It costs around €4 per person from memory). As you climb the 533 steps to the top keep your eyes peeled for the bell chamber which houses the world’s largest operational church bell (it weighs 24 tonnes)!
The summit of the Cathederal offers city-wide views and it’s only when you get here you appreciate the true size and height of the structure.
After climbing the cathedral make sure you take some time to explore the interior too. The stain glass windows and architecture here are truly stunning.
Take a walk or ride down the Rhine
For anyone who loves walking or wants to take in the scenery from a different perspective, taking a stroll down the Rhine is probably the best way to do just that!
As you head down the river you’ll pass locals fishing in the river and others just out for a jog or walk.
On both sides of the river and in both directions you’ll find plenty to take in and there are also lots of places to stop, rest and enjoy the city.
Visit Cologne Old Town
The old town is filled with narrow streets, plenty of pubs, bars, and restaurants. It is famous for its traditional old houses and rustic looks. Make sure you spend plenty of time here as it’s one of the more scenic places of the city however slightly more expensive for that reason.
Located on the Rhine, not far from the Cathedral you’ll find yourself getting lost in the narrow streets and stumbling across bars, museums and some of the best food in Cologne!
Don’t forget to grab a stein of beer and watch the world go by!
Try Local food!
Cologne may be known for its beer, but there’s some pretty amazing food too! Try a sausage (even though they’re not technically German).
Cologne also has some amazing Italian restaurants and take-aways, particularly in the Old Town. We had an amazing pizza here and also found some great bars and pubs!
Don’t forget the sweet pretzel or ice cream for dessert!
I tried to cover everything we got up to in Cologne. However, if you have any questions drop a comment down below or send me a message on Instagram.
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