fun things to do in Cologne, Germany

Known as one of Germany’s oldest cities and the country’s 4th largest city, Cologne is a historic city oozing charm, but don’t let that fool you! There’s plenty more to do here aside from its epic museums and art galleries.

Start your adventures on a walking tour, with the main landmark, the Cologne Cathedral being the main focal point. Climb up the 533 steps to the top for epic views of the city below!

Don’t want to overexert yourself on the first day? Take the Kölner Seilbahn Cable Car at Rheinpark, and overlook one of Germany’s most beautiful parks, the historic city, and the Rhin River!

Sports lovers, make it to an FC Köln soccer game at RheinEnergieSTADION, or cheer on the home hockey team Kölner Haie in a riveting game at Lanxess Arena!

Smell the origins of Eau de Cologne (water from Cologne) at Farina Fragrance Museum, because come on now, you’re in Cologne! So stop by and learn about the perfume-making process!

And that’s just the beginning! Let’s dive more into all the things to do in Cologne!

1 – Tour the majestic Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral

Visit the 2nd tallest building in Cologne, the Cologne Cathedral with over 8,000 square meters and a capacity of 20,000 people!

Admire the gothic architecture of the Catholic cathedral, exploring the inside where you can witness the statue and shrine of the Three Wise Men and the beautiful light that pours through the stained-glass windows.

Look closely at the different works of art inside the cathedral, indicating the history of the church as well as a few important biblical scenes.

Don’t have time to go inside to explore the cathedral? Check out a Cologne city tour, and pass by the cathedral to learn about the exterior of this historic church, plus other main sights!

Entry into the museum is free. Double-check the times on the cathedral’s website to see the opening times, which vary depending on the day.

2 – Explore Old Town on a walking tour

Old Town, Cologne

Explore the stories tucked throughout the historic streets of Old Town on a walking tour through Cologne!

Walk through the narrow streets and alleyways as you admire the Gothic architecture and the traditional homes nearby. From the historic City Hall to the Cologne Cathedral, and a few museums not to miss, exploring Old Town is one of the best activities to do in Cologne to get its essence, past and present.

Acquaint yourself with the city, learn about the founding of the city, and other not so easily known facts that you’ll have access to from your knowledgeable tour guide!

Depending on your tour, you may choose to do a walking tour of Old Town in the day or the evening, and your guide may even be dressed as a typical person from the Medieval era of Cologne!

3 – Book a panoramic boat tour through the River Rhine

boat tours in Cologne

Row down the famous River Rhine, one of the major European rivers that starts in Switzerland, and crosses Cologne, on an incredible boat tour!

See the best views from the cruise as you see the different sides of the city in one go! From the modern skyscrapers and contemporary designs to the historic buildings and glimpses of Old Town right from your seat!

The tour is accompanied by a guide who will be eager to share some fascinating facts about the city’s history, present, and future, and while you’re on board, you’ll also get to snack on a few bites – from a beer to a slice of cake and a cup of coffee.

Cross under the city’s 5 bridges, pass by the city’s main harbors, including Germany’s largest inland harbor, and much more!

Boat tours start at $16 USD.

4 – Peruse the modern art inside the Museum Ludwig

Museum Ludwig, Cologne

Tour the Museum Ludwig, and all of its modern pieces of different styles, from surrealism, to pop art, abstract, and much more!

Check out the works of some of the most renowned artists, from Andy Warhol to Roy Lichenstein, and even check out one of the largest Picasso exhibitions and collections in all of Europe!

Wander through the museum’s permanent collections, and appreciate examples of Russian avant-garde photography, graphics, and many of the most prominent twentieth-century images that reflect movements in both history and culture.

The Museum Ludwig is located only 5 minutes away from the city center of Cologne, so make sure to stop by, and add this museum to your list of things to do in Cologne, especially perfect for a rainy day!

5 – Get wild at the Cologne Zoo

Cologne Zoo

Learn and interact with some of Cologne’s wildest residents at the Cologne Zoo! Located only a 15-minute public transport ride from the city, the Cologne Zoo is home to tigers, elephants, hippos, monkeys, and much more!

Enter the different themed houses within the museum, from the Africa House to the Jungle House and the Rainforest House, each housing animals that reign from these different and unique ecologies. The aquarium is also another hot spot to get close to the vibrant sea life!

Guided tours of the zoo are also offered for groups of up to 15 people, and evening tours are also a possibility. Enjoy the zoo at night, listening to the nocturnal animals come back to life like wild cats and owls!

See the animals get fed by checking out the zoo’s main website! Day passes start at 23 euros.

6 – Strut across the Hohenzollern Bridge

Hohenzollern Bridge, Cologne

One of the city’s main landmarks, the Hohenzollern Bridge crosses the River Rhine and is one of the main stops for anyone visiting Cologne, from romantics to locals strolling into the city, and more.

Popularized as another European lock bridge, with an estimated 40,000+ locks hung onto its structure, it’s a common sight to see couples come for the first time to seal their love to the city.

Dating back to 1907 when its construction first started, the Hohenzollern Bridge proves to withstand the test of time and war, as it was one of the bridges that didn’t get bombed during WWll.

Walk the historic bridge, originally used as a railway and road bridge, admiring the bridge’s history, and romantic present. Snap photos of the city and river from the bridge, which are nothing short of spectacular during dusk.

7 – Pedal through Cologne on a bike tour

bike tours in Cologne

Want a good workout while sightseeing?

Take a ride along Cologne’s ever-charming streets, discovering the must-see sights, while biking into some hidden and local areas that you may not see on any other tour! Enjoy a 15-kilometer bike tour, taking around 3 hours to complete, with the guidance of your bike guide, and get ready to learn some of the most interesting facts that the city holds.

Pass by the iconic Hohenzollern Bridge, learn more about the details on the facade of the Cathedral, check out the zoo for a later visit, and get some foodie recommendations for dinner later on!

Check out the local art scene on a specialized Street Art Bike Tour! Maybe you want to peddle around the city on an e-bike? Check out the E-bike Riviera Tour Along the Rhine!

Bike tours start at $39 USD.

8 – Enjoy a fun day at Rheinpark

Rheinpark, Cologne

With over 40 hectares of park near the Rhine River, the Rhinepark which was named the most beautiful park in Germany in 2007, offers different activities for any travel style!

Whether you’re looking to relax on the green with a picnic and your friend’s company, or you’re looking for community events or sports, it’s all here!

Hop on the scenic Kölner Seilbahn Cable Car, and get expansive views of the park, the Rhine River, and the city across the river! If you’re traveling with children, there are tons of playgrounds and even a little train for children to ride across the park. Mini golf is also available for older kids and other activities as well.

The winter also packs a punch with things to do, with tons of winter sports, local gatherings, and celebrations taking place!

9 – Bite into some gourmet chocolate at Cologne Chocolate Museum

Cologne Chocolate Museum, Germany

Entice your sweet tooth with a visit to the tempting Cologne Chocolate Museum! Devour the sweet treats inside, as you learn more about the chocolate confections and traditional chocolate-making processes in Germany.

Book a chocolate museum tour when you buy your tickets ahead of time, and learn everything from the origins of chocolate from a large cacao bean, inside the museum’s greenhouse, to the different symbolism that chocolate has had in Central American countries, to how it was transported to Germany, and how it dominated German’s sweet tooth in the coming years.

To finalize your sweet journey, stop by for extra bites of chocolate perfection at the Chocolat Grand Cafe, offering everything from chocolate drinks to pastries, and much more!

Tickets start at 14.50 euros per adult and children under 6 enter for free. Tours are sold separately.

Sponsored placement

Experience a live concert by candlelight in Cologne

Catch live performances of classics, such as Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, or tributes to your favorite musicians, like Rihanna, all with the ambiance of lit candles. Candlelight concerts take place in scenic venues across the city that don’t typically host concerts and events for an unforgettable backdrop to live renditions of your favorite tunes.

10 – Take a cruise to Königswinter

Königswinter, Germany

Only 33 minutes from Cologne, a cruise through the Sienbengebirge to Königswinter, a beautiful summer resort town, is the true definition of a relaxing and scenic activity to do while in Cologne.

For half a day, explore the beauty of Cologne’s countryside, from viewing the towering Drachenfels mountain range, and if you look a bit close, maybe even catch a glimpse of a few abandoned castles.

The journey is as fun as the activity, but even then upon arriving, you’ll walk along the water, or if you’re looking for some adventure, hike up Drachenfels Railway on the mountains for views unlike anywhere in the city below.

You can choose between a oneway experience, or book the roundtrip. Nonetheless, this experience sells fast, so make sure to book your seat soon!

11 – See the minimalistic interiors of the Great St. Martin Church

Great St. Martin Church, Cologne

Built between 1150 and 1250, the Great St. Martin Church was built over a chapel that was built previously in the 10th century. In fact, pieces of the chapel made it into the construction of the grand church, which was later on discovered!

The interiors of the church prove to be a bit different from its Romanesque exterior with its high cross tower. Its neutral-toned minimalistic appearance with a few stained glass windows at the top, adds a beautiful and often unique touch to a church of its kind.  You can also visit downstairs into the basement to see remnants of the old chapel!

Don’t have time to go inside? Book a city tour in Cologne and get a crash course on the church when you stop by it, and learn about its beautiful facade and historical significance.

12 – Refresh your palette on a beer tasting

beer tasting in Cologne

If you went to Cologne and didn’t go to a beer tasting, did you really go to Cologne? Mingle with other tourists and the local bartenders at the best breweries when you hop on a brewery tour, tasting the best and most authentic beers local to Cologne!

Walking through the historic center, you’ll check out some of the city’s best watering holes, and receive priority entry up to the bar, sampling local beers and yelling “Ein Prost!” before taking a sip.

Taste test traditional beers inside the 700-year-old Brauhaus Sion Brewery and other local beers known as Kölsch, a light brew.

What’s more, is that you’ll also get a behind-the-scenes look at the process of making beer in Cologne, from start to finish. By the end of the fun experience, you’ll have a deeper knowledge of German beers!

13 – Explore the best fine art pieces at the Wallraf – Richartz Museum

Wallraf - Richartz Museum, Cologne

Step in for a while inside the Wallraf – Richartz Museum, one of the 3 main museums in Cologne dedicated to fine arts between the medieval period to the early 20th century.

Walk through the art exhibits, browsing through 700 years worth of some of Europe’s finest art pieces, from Stefan Lochner’s “Madonna of the Rose Bower” to examples of Baroque, Impressionism, Realism, and much more.

Step inside the eclectic Print Room on the 2nd floor, and check out numerous drawings from Leonardo da Vinci to Auguste Rodin. Museum staff recommends making it to the 3rd floor to the “Picture Window” to get an overall view of a few of Cologne’s major sites like St. Martin the Great Church, City Hall, and the Cathedral.

Admission starts at 8 euros per adult and 4.50 euros per child, student, and senior.

14 – Roll through Cologne on a bus tour

bus tours in Cologne

Give your feet a rest and book yourself in for an exciting bus tour that will take you through Cologne’s best sites!

Hop on a hop-on hop-off bus, and explore one of the different routes to take through the city, where you’ll get to observe the Cathedral, Zoo, the River Rhine, the historic City Wall, and many more landmarks.

Those looking for an extra layer of fun and can understand German, should check out the 1.5-hour-long comedy bus tour, where a comedian will double as your guide, gaining a funnier perspective on the city’s history. On this tour, you’ll also receive a complimentary beer.

For the history and car enthusiasts, check out a Nostalgic tour of Cologne where you’ll board a bus from the 50s/60s, with the staff inside also dressed in the fashion of the time!

15 – Check the views from the top of the Cologne Triangle

Cologne Triangle

Get all of Cologne in one shot when you visit the magnificent observation deck, Cologne Triangle, located in the heart of the historic center beside the River Rhine.

With a total of 29 floors, the impressive observation deck has tall glass windows that safely protect you from any strong winds, while not obstructing the incredible views before you. The platform itself is in the shape of a triangle, hence the name of the observatory.

From the cathedral to the Rhine River, and beyond, stay for a while as you become mesmerized by all there is to see from the sky!

Entering the building is free, but to reach the top admission is 3 euros. The Cologne Triangle is open 7 days a week, 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM on weekdays and 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM on weekends.

16 – Inhale the lovely scents at Farina Fragrance Museum

Farina Fragrance Museum, Cologne

Take your sense of smell for a spin into the fragrant world of perfumes inside the Farina Fragrance Museum! Dive deep into the fascinating history and tradition of perfume-making in Cologne.

Discover up to 3 centuries of perfume making, from the time of Johann Maria Farina and when he began the cultural tradition of perfume-making up to today. Wander through the different exhibits, inhaling some of the most lovely and exotic perfumes as you hear more about the plants and herbs used as bases for some of the perfumes inside.

Check out the original cellar vaults where most of the perfumes produced by Farina were created. Learn about what inspired him to create certain scents, his formulas, and processes, amongst many interesting tidbits!

Visits are only available with a guide, so book your tour in your language with tickets online!

17 – Walk around the stunning Flora und Botanischer Garten Köln (botanical garden)

Flora and Botanical Garden, Cologne

Get lost in the ultimate beauty of the Flors und Botanischer Garten Köln, an 11.5-hectare garden located north of Cologne.

Commonly known as just “The Flora” the garden dates back to 1914, and today has over 11,00 different plant species from all over the world. From the perfectly manicured gardens to pretty greenhouses, stunning fountains, and ample spaces to walk or sit in a shady space, the garden is the perfect pit stop in the middle of sightseeing around Cologne!

Check out the specialized gardens dedicated to different botany, from herbs and spices, to roses, and other specific plants to admire.

The nearby beautiful historical building helps set the scene, which is typically open for concerts, flower shows, and other city events.

The garden is open all year round and is free entry.

18 – Check out the local art scene on a street art tour

street art tours in Cologne

Walk around the streets of Cologne, and gain a different appreciation of the city on a street art tour!

On a street art tour, you’ll get to either hop on a bicycle or walk through Cologne’s different neighborhoods, like the artsy Ehrenfeld district and the Belgian quarter, immersing yourself in the artistic murals depicting a reflection of local life, an important message or piece of history.

Your guide will take you through the different corners of the city, and drop fascinating stories and insight. Learn about some of the international artists that have left their mark in Cologne, and even learn about the different art techniques as you observe the different murals.

As part of your experience, you’ll enjoy a mid-tour pick-me-up at a local coffee shop. The street art tours typically last 2 hours and start at $16 USD.

19 – Stare at the historic beauty of Brühl Castle

Brühl Castle, Germany

Feel like you’re time traveling back to the 18th century with a stroll through one of Germany’s most beautiful castles – Brühl Castle.

Divided into 2 castles – Augustusburg and Falkenlust, and their incredible gardens, Brühl Castle makes you feel like you’re the main character of a fairy tale, and that’s not even counting the extravagant interiors.

Large frescoes, giant sparkling chandeliers, marble fireplaces, and gold details on the ceiling, are just a few details inside the 3 story castle. Augustusburg Palace took 40 years to complete and was built over a previous medieval castle, and was the home of Clemens August, the Prince of Cologne between 1729-37. The Falkenlust Castle near Augustusburg, was mainly used as a hunting space by the prince.

To see it all, consider getting the combo ticket, granting access to both Augustusburg and Falkenlust for 15 euros!

20 – Cheer on FC Köln at RheinEnergieSTADION

RheinEnergieSTADION, Cologne

Sit in for an exciting game at RheinEnergieSTADION, a stadium located only 14 minutes away from Cologne city center!

Whether it’s a soccer match, a concert, or any other large-scale entertainment plan you’re looking for, chances are it will be held at RheinEnergieSTADION! Tickets for a soccer match range anywhere between 23 euros to 53 and beyond sometimes, which can be purchased ahead of time online on the stadium’s website.

If you don’t have time for a game, make sure to check out a stadium tour, typically lasting between 75-90 minutes, where you’ll have behind-the-scenes access to the stadium. Check out the dressing rooms, and the hall of fame, and sit inside the stadium as you take in the size for yourself! The stadium tour costs 9.90 euros.

Pro tip: the city’s soccer team colors are white and red!

21 – Take an afternoon scooter tour

e-scooter tours in Cologne

Not much of a biker? What about zipping through the city on a fun scooter? Now’s your chance when you book a fun scooter tour through Cologne!

Pass through the towering cathedral, the Deutzer Bridge, the Alter Markt, and so many more sights! Pass through some of the neighborhoods from residential to artsy and trendy, and get a feel of the city beyond the historic district!

Pass by the “Tünnes and Schäles” statue, a famous spot where tourists like to rub their noses for good luck and to return to Cologne again!

Along with your guide, you’ll get to listen to fun facts about the city based on where you are and what you’re looking at. The scooters are 3-wheeled so not to worry if you’ve never ridden on a traditional scooter before. Helmets are required for this experience.

22 – Time travel to 1920s Cologne on the Cologne TimeRide

Cologne TimeRide
Credit to TimeRide

Buckle up for a virtual ride with TimeRide! Venture through the history of Cologne, seeing and experiencing through your own senses some of the city’s most influential eras, from the First World War to the Spanish Flu, and so much more.

This 45-minute journey will include 3 steps: The Cinema where you’ll get to experience the grandeur of a 1920s cinema, which was a very opulent event, The Hatter’s Store where you’ll get a deep introduction to the fashion of the 1920s, specifically looking at hat fashion which was all the rage at the time.

Lastly, The VR-Ride and interactive journey will offer 360-degree views of the city throughout history, taking in the same landmarks as they looked when they first were built and more!

Do you wear glasses? No worries! The VR experience is perfectly suited for glasses-wearers!

23 – Sink your teeth into the best local cuisine on a food tour

food tours in Cologne

Discover the true essence of Cologne on a delicious trip around the best eateries on a food tour!

Explore the vibrant neighborhood of Südstadt, dipping into some of the neighborhood’s best local eateries showcasing both local and international cuisine. At each stop, you’ll get to entertain your tastebuds with a few handful of samplings, and even drinks.

As you venture through the area and the restaurants, you’ll also get to listen to the history of specific local delicacies like Himmel un’ Äad, a scrumptious dish consisting of sweet apple sauce and deep-fried or caramelized onions, or Halve Hahn, a traditional sandwich with rye bread, gouda cheese, and onion, and a few more delicacies.

The 3-hour experience will leave you with a deeper sense of appreciation of the local cuisine, and of course, a good taste in your mouth afterward!

24 – See WWll Cologne inside the NS Documentation Center

NS Documentation Center, Cologne

Visit the largest regional memorial site in Germany dedicated to the victims of the Nazis, the NS Documentation Center.

See what it was like to live in Cologne during the Nazi regime when you visit the museum, housed inside the EL-DE Hause, which was the headquarters of the Cologne secret police.

The house’s courtyard was the scene of hundreds of murders, mostly of foreign laborers in Cologne, and today, you can see the memorial dedicated to them. Inside the museum, walk through the main floor exhibitions, showcasing artifacts, photos, and many stories from the victims who died during this horrific time in history.

Go down to the basement and see remnants of the messages left on the wall of the prisoners who were kept there and even the bomb shelter.

Tours are available in English and audio guides for 2 euros.

25 – Treat yourself to a wellness massage at Claudius Therme

Claudius Therme, Cologne

Give your body a little TLC during your time in Cologne, and add a trip to Claudius Therme to your list of activities to do in Cologne.

Offering numerous services for health, well-being, and beauty, take advantage of the award-winning massages, healing thermal baths with mineral spring water, beauty treatments, and the sauna, all within a tranquil atmosphere.

With views of the Cathedral and Rhine River, the Claudius Therme is considered to be one of the most beautiful thermal baths in Europe!

Taking influence from a Finnish sauna and a Russian banya, you’ll be able to take your pick on which experience draws you the most, based on your needs.

Enjoy a stress-relieving massage, a makeover, facial treatments, or a hot stone massage, and those with medical questions can enter the physiotherapy department for extra care.

Appointments are completed online.

26 – Have a rockin’ good meal at the Hard Rock Cafe

Hard Rock Cafe, Cologtne

Looking for a classic American burger and some good rock and roll vibes? Head to the Hard Rock Cafe, located centrally in Cologne!

Choose from hearty Angus steak burgers, fresh and crisp salads, and other famous dishes only served at the Hard Rock Cafe, along with a great list of refreshing drinks to enjoy.

Whether you’re traveling with kids or you’ve just finished a tour and you’re looking for some comfort food (we’ve all been there!) head to the Hard Rock Cafe, and order to your heart’s content!

Check out the website to see upcoming shows on the calendar, and make a plan out of it!

Lastly, don’t forget to check out their promotions and coupons available online, so you can be sure to get the best deal available, and don’t forget to peruse the Hard Rock Shop a bit!

27 – Run around the city on a scavenger game

scavenger games in Cologne

Tap into your clever problem-solving skills and download a fun scavenger game to make your way around the city!

Much like a walking tour, a scavenger game adds another layer of fun to your self-led tour throughout the city. Enjoy following a list of items to scout out through the historic center of Cologne, making the city your actual playground, and ticking each one off the list as soon as you find them!

In between finding these hidden gems throughout the city, you’ll be crossing through parts of the city you may not have seen before, so make sure to stop along the way to take a photo or two!

Scavenger games start at $5 USD, making them one of the least expensive activities to do in Cologne! Sort through the different themed scavenger games, from horror to historical.

28 – Witness the animals run free at Lindenthaler Tierpark

Lindenthaler Tierpark, Cologne

From cows to deer, peacocks and goats, these are just a few animals that reside freely at Lindenthaleer Tierpark!

With over 100 years of housing animals of all different sorts, Lindenthaler Tierpark has a great number of experiences to enjoy with the animals, whether you’re traveling with children or you’re solo traveling.

This park allows animals to run freely without many frills typically associate with a zoo environment, making the animals feel relaxed, and improving your experience of witnessing the animals being themselves.

Get to feed the animals with the special foods provided, and gently pet them as you feed them. If you have kids, take them to the petting zoo where they’ll get to pet baby goats and sheep!

The park is accessible via public transportation from the city center of Cologne, and to make the park even more attractive, admission is free.

29 – Take a walk through the Melaten Cemetery

Melaten Cemetery, Cologne

A cemetery with a sprawling park around it, Melaten Cemetery is unlike any other type of cemetery, as this one is frequently visited by people looking for a nice walk in the park.

With around 55,000 graves, each with its mini architectural design and flair of the time, people often love coming to the park to admire the different graves and read the tombstones of those who are buried there. Some of those buried here belong to the Millowitsch theater dynasty, a prominent theater family in Cologne.

To get the backstories and the creepy legends that roam this 1243 cemetery, consider a Melaten Cemetery tour! Walk through the graves of some of Cologne’s most historical figures, and learn about their stories along with a knowledgeable guide. The ticket includes entry into the museum and the guide.

30 – Speed away on a segway tour

segway tours in Cologne

Enjoy a lovely stroll through Cologne on a memorable segway tour! Whether you’ve already seen Cologne or it’s your first full day in the city, enjoy a tour around on these fun 2-wheel vehicles.

From the cathedral to the Rhine River bridge to the little corners of the city that not many others get to see on a regular walking tour, a segway tour offers a quick and fun overview of the city, unlike any other tour.

If you’ve never ridden a segway, then no worries! Before taking off you’ll receive a brief training on how to handle and move around on the segway, and then you’ll be off!

Explore the neighborhoods of Cologne, from the funky and artsy to the residential, further amplify your knowledge of the city layout!

Segway tours in Cologne start at $86 USD.

31 – Analyze the art your way at Kolumba

Kolumba, Cologne

Wander through the award-winning Kolumba Museum, a space where you’ll find an art museum quite unlike anything else out there in the world of museums.

A refreshing way to view art, Kolumba is a space where no one piece will have any explanatory text, plaques, or context, and it is up to you to analyze the piece for yourself, allowing the painting to inspire you to come up with your own conclusion of it’s meaning.

As a result, there is no specific “organization” throughout, as all pieces simply hang on the walls, not categorized by dates, styles, or artists. The museum is often changing the order of the pieces, except for a few of its permanent exhibits, therefore it’s always a refreshing new experience!

Reserve your tickets ahead of time on their website.

32 – Solve the riddles in an outdoor escape room

escape rooms in Cologne

Make the city your playground, and book yourself for an exciting outdoor escape room!

Use your best judgment and problem-solving skills in this exciting experience around Cologne, as you collect clues and solve riddles, trying to find the answer within the city, that will unlock the next round!

Under a specific time limit, gather your team to help look deep for clues around the city, oftentimes hidden gems which allow you to see beyond what the typical tourist sees. The experience is prompted by guided questions and riddles on your own iPad or phone.

The beauty of this activity is that once you book, you can start playing whenever you like, which allows you to squeeze in a bit of fun no matter how packed your itinerary and schedule are.

Outdoor escape rooms start at $24 USD.

33 – Watch a hockey match at the Lanxess Arena

Lanxess Arena, Cologne

Interested in watching some German hockey? Visit Lanxess Arena, home of Kölner Haie, the city’s ice hockey club beloved by local hockey heads.

With rankings like being among the top 10 arenas worldwide with the highest attendance and an arena that has hosted several international celebrities for their tours, you can rest assured there is always something happening at Lanxess Arena.

Amongst these incredible facts, many past event attendees have rated highly the effectiveness of staff from security to concession, the ease of finding your way around, impeccable lights and sound for a great concert experience, and more!

Back to hockey – the stadium’s capacity is 18,500 for a typical hockey game, making this stadium of largest one outside of North America!

Pro tip: if you’re attending a game, pack the colors red, white, and black to support the team!

34 – Book your seats for the next Moulin Rouge show

Moulin Rouge, Cologne

Practice your German language skills and make plans for your evening when you book your tickets for a Moulin Rouge show in Cologne! Feel like you’ve been transported to 19th-century Paris and enter the world of romance and temptation with the talented cast of this show!

Sing out loud, dance in your seat, and follow the story, whether you can understand German or not, or if you’ve seen the show before in your native language, experience what it would be like to see the show in a foreign language!

To secure your seat, make sure to book your tickets online! Seats are wheelchair accessible, and the show typically lasts 2 hours. Once you purchase your ticket, you’ll receive them electronically to your phone.  Tickets start at $65 USD.

35 – Tap into your inner kid at Phantasialand

Phantasialand, Germany

Phantasialand is an award-winning theme park only 26 minutes from Cologne, offering an immersive theme park experience unlike anywhere else!

Enjoy picking through numerous mini-worlds within the park, from Rookburgh, an industrial city, to a Mexican-inspired little town, a mini-version of Berlin, and even a trip to the wildlife of Africa!

Hear the sounds and music change from mini-world to mini-world, and hop on the numerous different games from high rollercoasters to twisty slides, hanging swings and so much more!

Speaking of rides, true thrill-seekers will want to hop on the Taron ride, known as the world’s longest multi-launch rollercoaster! Another awesome rollercoaster to consider is Black Mamba known to also pump up the adrenaline levels!

With ample restaurant options and theme park shows, you could easily spend a whole day enjoying every fun activity inside!

36 – Visit the lively and magical Cologne Christmas Market

Cologne Christmas Market

Visiting Cologne in December? A stop to the Cologne Christmas Market is a must to experience the magic of the season, as you wander through the differently themed markets, stopping to see what each one has to offer.

From ice rinks to beautifully lit-up buildings, and a massive Christmas tree in the middle of the historic center, Cologne surely knows how to dress up for the Christmas season! Take your time browsing through the different markets, from arts and crafts, specialty foods, sweets, live music, and other fun activities.

Weihnachtsmarkt in der Altstadt is one of the most famous markets, which is split into two sections: Heumarkt and Alter Markt. Heumarkt is the section where you’ll find ice rinks and merry-go-rounds, perfect for those traveling with children!

The market is in operation between November to a few days before Christmas.

37 – Go out to the best bars

best bars in Cologne

Listen to some live jazz as you settle in your seat with a cocktail or beer at the famous Papa Joe’s Jazz Lokal, a funky, cozy, and ambient place to unwind with locals! Make sure to come sooner to reserve your seat as this place gets packed quickly!

Enjoy the drink of the house as you sit under the string lights on the funky patio of Seiberts. Offering a world-class ambiance of elegance, the stylish interior and decor are sure to charm and intrigue anyone stepping in. For those with limited German-speaking capabilities, the bartenders are fluent in English!

Ona Mor offers a quiet, intimate space with live music and great drinks with small bites for the perfect night out. Make sure to ask the bartender for a recommendation, and they’ll be sure to blow your mind with their creative concoctions!

38 – Satisfy your tastebuds at the best restaurants

best restaurants in Cologne

Looking for authentic German food? Look no further than Haus Scholzen, serving Cologne since 1907 with their famous dishes from Himmel und Ääd (a traditional potato dish), to pancakes with salmon, and other traditional Cologne dishes.

Vegetarians looking for authentic German cuisine, check out Gilden im Zims, offering vegetarian and gluten-free options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Meatheads, make sure to order the Pork Knuckle at Gilden im Zims – a hit dish time and time again with past visitors!

A gathering place for locals and visitors, consider stopping by Peters Brauhaus! Featuring an expanded menu of beers and delicious homemade German food, the rich interiors, true to German heritage, are beautiful to appreciate and admire from any seat in the house.

Stop by Früh am Dom, another great traditional German restaurant, raved by a few past visitors as the best beer house in Cologne!

How to get to Cologne?

The main airport that you’ll arrive at in Cologne is the Cologne Bonn Airport (CGN), which is only a swift 15-minute drive to downtown Cologne.

Though you could opt for the train or bus, to make your trip directly to your hotel, we consider pre-arranging an airport transfer. An airport transfer will effortlessly take you to your hotel’s door.

Where to stay in Cologne?

Enjoy the modern and futuristic interiors at Urban Loft Cologne, with views of the historic center, from the Cathedral to the Rhine River, and more. Centrally located, you’ll be in the middle of all the action in Cologne, whether you’re visiting for the Christmas Markets, or doing other sightseeing.

Stadthotel am Römerturm offers a delicious breakfast on the outdoor patio, as well as great hospitality from the staff, perfect for your trip to Cologne! Enjoy the clean and modern rooms, while staying only 10 minutes away from the Cologne Main Station as well as the Cologne Cathedral and historic district.

Check out Eden Hotel Früh am Dom, another great hotel with raving reviews in central Cologne. The bright and modern rooms have beautiful views of the historical buildings, including the Cathedral. The hotel offers daily breakfast, perfect to enjoy before the day’s adventures!

Visiting Cologne on budget?

Stretch your travel budget a bit more, and sign up for a free walking tour in Cologne! Admire the city’s main landmarks on foot, with the knowledge of a local tour guide.

Enjoy up to 50% off regular attractions and activities with the Cologne city card, allowing you access to the majority of the city’s main sights, discounted meals, and even theater performances!

Where to go next?

Looking for the best places to visit in Germany after your stay in Cologne?

Move northwest to Düsseldorf, getting lost in the city’s art and fashion scene! Relish the city’s mix of modern and historic style with the beautiful Altstadt and St. Lambertus Church!

Frankfurt overflows with activities from wandering the picturesque Römberg, getting epic views of the city from the Main Tower’s 56-story structure, and hanging your lock on the Eiserner Steg bridge.

Check out Luxembourg for all things castles! From the Palais Grand-Ducal, to the Vianden Castle. Enjoy local and international vibes in the historic center, while admiring stunning architecture!

Head to Brussels, and waltz your way around the Grand Palace just in time for its stunning Flower Carpet Festival! Of course, taste test the best chocolate around at Choco-Story Brussels!

While cruising the canals of Amsterdam is a must, enjoy a hop-on hop-off bus tour to really enjoy all the corners of the city, and visit the Jordaan district for the best food!

Final thoughts

What item on our list of things to do in Cologne caught your attention the most?

From gorgeous views from the Cologne Triangle to the lively street art mixed with the historic charm of Old Town, and taking a stroll through the fascinating Melaten Cemetery – Cologne has a long list of things to do. What are you waiting for?

Happy travels!

Maritza Chavez is a travel writer from the U.S., passionate about travel and culture. Her curiosity for traveling began after her first few trips to Mexico to visit family, and then studying abroad in Greece during college. After living in Spain as an English teacher, and more traveling, she decided to start her blog, Travel Notes and Things, to help fellow Latinas travel to their dream destinations while touching on other topics including reverse culture shock and transformative travel. Further expanding her horizons, Maritza frequently travels the globe to pen down exquisite articles for the TourScanner blog, bringing her unique perspective and insights to a wider audience.