How many days should you spend in Cologne, Germany?
Is Cologne even worth visiting?
What can you do in Cologne besides visiting the Cologne Cathedral?
Like many other travellers, I had all these questions about Cologne prior to my trip.
After spending four days in Cologne last month, I can safely say:
The 2,000-year-old German city is definitely worthy of a stopover.
But if you are on a very tight travel schedule, I suggest you allocate no more than two nights in Cologne. In fact, I wouldn’t encourage any tourist to stay in Cologne for four days. Most of Cologne’s attractions are concentrated in the city centre and are easily accessible via foot – you can tick them off within a day or two.
Of course, spending four days in Cologne (also known as Köln) had its perks. I had the luxury to roam around the city’s cobblestoned streets at an incredible slow pace. However, I understand that wandering around aimlessly isn’t most travellers’ cup of tea – especially when most tourists only have a day to spare!
Hence, I have curated a concise one-day Cologne itinerary from my personal experience. Hope it helps!
1. The Coffee Gang – Cologne’s Best Specialty Coffee Shop
I love checking out specialty coffee cafes in every city I visit. Unfortunately, specialty coffee shops seem to be a rarity in Germany. The Coffee Gang has been unanimously coined as the best coffee shop in Cologne, and I knew I had to drop by for a perk-me-up drink to kick start my day of exploration.
An irresistible aroma of freshly brewed espresso permeated through the rustic café. Coffee is serious business here and the hipster-looking baristas are all busy at work. Aerospace espresso, flat white, siphon coffee – you name it, they have got it! The Coffee Gang only uses fair trade beans and locally sourced milk.
We heard their freshly baked homemade cakes are brilliant, but didn’t try any. Totally regretting right now.
Address: Neusser Str. 53, 50670 Köln, Germany
2. Eigelstein Torburg – A Landmark That Tourists Don’t Know About
Just a short five-minute stroll from The Coffee Gang is the Eigelstein Torburg.
I stumbled upon the huge gate, wondering what its historic significance was. Turns out, this ancient gate is called Eigelstein Torburg and is one of the last few surviving gateways of the former medieval city. Cologne was once a walled city, and Eigelstein Torburg gave me an inkling on how small it used to be!
Eigelstein Torburg isn’t your typical tourist attraction – which probably explains why it has never really been featured on any Cologne travel guides. Besides marvelling at its grand architecture, there isn’t anything else to do at this well-preserved gate… Unless you count the nearby shops and cafes as part of the experience.
Address: Eigelstein, 50668 Köln, Germany
3. Cologne Cathedral – UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Cologne Cathedral aka Kölner Dom is Cologne’s most beloved attraction.
Located right beside Cologne Central Station (Köln Hauptbahnhof), the UNESCO World Heritage listed Cathedral is ridiculously big and beautiful. It stands 157 meters tall and visitors can pay an entrance fee of 4,00 € each to climb to the top. Otherwise, it is totally free to just explore the gothic building’s ground floor.
My personal advice: Explore the interiors of Cologne Cathedral in the day, when there is plenty of sunlight. The stained glass windows definitely look their best when sunlight passes through them. I revisited Cologne Cathedral at sunset, and its interiors were certainly not as impressive as it is during daylight.
Address: Domkloster 4, 50667 Köln, Germany
4. Peters Brauhaus – An affordable Michelin Guide Restaurant
Featured in the Michelin Guide, Peters Brauhaus is famous for its fresh Kölsch beer and traditional German delicacies. The brewery is very popular and you can expect to wait at least 30 minutes for a table during peak hours.
Peters Brauhaus has been brewing the same Kölsch beer since 800 years ago.
Brewed in Cologne only, Kölsch beer is traditionally served in 200ml tiny, narrow glasses – and this tradition remains prevalent today. Mildly fruity and crisp, it is easy to chug many glasses of ice-cold beer at a go.
Despite its popularity, Peters Brauhaus’ prices remain wallet-friendly. A hearty creamy potato soup costs 5,40 € and a Chicken Schnitzel costs 15,70 €.
Address: Mühlengasse 1, 50667 Köln, Germany
5. The Chocolate Museum – Closest You Can Get To Willy Wonka
Warning: A lot of kids.
Nevertheless, I had a whale of a time at Cologne’s Chocolate Museum. It was extremely informative and I learnt a lot about cocoa, chocolate making and its history. I think I spent approximately three hours here.
The highlight would be the Chocolate Museum’s on-site chocolate factory and its three-metre tall chocolate fountain. Visitors get to sample chocolate-dipped wafers (straight from the whimsical fountain) and bite-sized Lindt chocolate (straight from the machine)! The glass machine allowed us to see the entire chocolate manufacturing process close up. It was such an fascinating experience – yes, even for adults.
Entrance fee costs (11,50 €) per adult. You can customise your own Lindt chocolate bar (not included in entrance fee) or sign up for a chocolate-making course (from 44,50 € per person, including admission fee).
Address: Am Schokoladenmuseum 1A, 50678 Köln, Germany
6. Fischmarkt, Old Town – Great Photography Opportunities
A quick clarification: The Fischmarkt is not a fish market, but a market square characterised by colourful quintessentially German houses. It is located right along the bank of Rhine River. Soak up all that bustling riverside atmosphere, or venture further into the historic old town’s narrow alleyways. There are many lovely sights to behold such as Great St. Martin Church (pictured right behind the colourful houses).
Address: Am Leystapel, 50667 Köln, Germany
7. Restaurant Schmittchen – Cosy German Restaurant
Restaurant Schmittchen was an accidental discovery, but a very pleasant one. We chanced upon the 40-year-old German restaurant whilst walking around Old Town and are glad that we gave it a shot. The comprehensive value-for-money menu features authentic German dishes such as Sausages with Sauerkraut (9,90 €), Goulash Soup (4,90 €) and other European classics. A 200ml Gaffel Kölsch beer costs (1,80 €).
By now you should have noticed that beer in Cologne is way cheaper than soft drinks and hot beverages.
Address: Breite Str. 38, 50667 Cologne, Germany
Here is a Google map of all the places featured in this Cologne guide:
Disclaimer: We last visited Cologne, Germany in mid January 2018 and are not liable for any inaccuracies. Please email us at email@example.com if you spot any outdated information.