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Things To Do And See In Cologne

Things To Do In Cologne


Cologne, located in the western part of Germany along the Rhine River, is indeed a great holiday destination. It offers a wide variety of attractions to suit different kinds of travellers.

Cologne Cathedral
Photo: Cologne Cathedral

Some popular activities and attractions include:

  • Historical Sites and Architecture: Cologne is known for its rich history and impressive architecture. The Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom), a stunning Gothic masterpiece, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the most visited landmark in Germany.
  • Museums: The city hosts more than 30 museums and hundreds of galleries. You can visit the Ludwig Museum, which holds a large collection of modern art, the Roman-Germanic Museum (Römisch-Germanisches Museum) that documents the city's ancient history, or the Chocolate Museum (Schokoladenmuseum), which is always a hit with kids.
  • Cultural Events: Cologne is famous for its carnival celebrations, which are some of the largest in Germany. If you're visiting in November, you might catch the beginning of the Carnival Season. In addition, Cologne hosts a number of music festivals, film festivals, and has a lively theater scene.
  • Shopping: The city offers a variety of shopping experiences, from the high-end shops in the Belgian Quarter to more affordable and vintage options in the Ehrenfeld and Belgian neighborhoods. There's also the Christmas Market if you're visiting in December.
  • Food and Beer Culture: Cologne has a vibrant culinary scene with a wide range of local and international cuisines. You can't leave without trying a traditional Kölsch beer in one of the city's many brewpubs.
  • The Rhine River: Boat tours on the Rhine are a popular activity and offer a great way to see the city and its surroundings.
  • Green Spaces: For those who enjoy nature, the city has beautiful parks and gardens such as the Rheinpark and the Botanical Garden.
  • Accessibility: Cologne is well connected to other major European cities by high-speed train, making it a convenient base for further exploration.

Remember, as with any destination, it's always best to do your research and see if what the city offers aligns with your interests and travel style. Also remember to sort your travel insurance before you go. There are a range of policies available from including Single Trip Travel Insurance.

German Food & Drink
Photo: Refreshments German Style

Cologne Weather

Cologne has a temperate-oceanic climate, with moderate to heavy rainfall throughout the year. Here's what you might expect, depending on when you plan to visit:

Winter (December - February): These are the coldest months, with temperatures typically between -1°C and 6°C (30°F - 43°F). Snow is possible but not frequent. This is also when you can experience Cologne's magical Christmas markets.

Spring (March - May): Temperatures in the spring can vary quite a bit, ranging from around 4°C to 20°C (39°F - 68°F). This time of year sees a gradual increase in daylight hours and blooming greenery in the city's parks.

Summer (June - August): These are the warmest months. Average high temperatures usually hover around 22°C to 25°C (72°F - 77°F), but it can occasionally reach up to 30°C (86°F). Summer is also typically the wettest season, with more rainfall than other periods of the year.

Autumn (September - November): Temperatures start to drop, with averages ranging from 3°C to 18°C (37°F - 64°F). The city's parks and gardens are beautiful in autumn with changing leaf colors.

It's a good idea to check the forecast shortly before your trip, so you can pack accordingly. The weather can be somewhat unpredictable, so it's often wise to prepare for rain, regardless of when you visit. Don't forget an umbrella or raincoat!

German Christmas Markets
Photo: Christmas Markets, Germany

Cologne Christmas Markets

Immerse yourself in the festive charm and warmth of the Cologne Christmas Markets, an annual tradition that transforms the city into a true winter wonderland. As the temperatures drop and the holiday spirit ascends, the city comes alive with vibrant market squares, each twinkling with thousands of lights and filled with the sweet aroma of seasonal treats. The markets typically run from late November through December, bringing a buzz of joy and excitement that makes a winter visit to Cologne unforgettable.

The city plays host to several Christmas markets, but none is more famous than the one held at the foot of the Cologne Cathedral. This iconic market is known for its stunning backdrop of the towering Gothic cathedral and the large Christmas tree adorned with twinkling lights. Strolling through the narrow lanes of the market, you'll discover over 150 beautifully decorated wooden pavilions offering a plethora of handcrafted gifts, from wooden toys and holiday ornaments to artisanal candles and ceramics.

The culinary delights of the Cologne Christmas Markets are second to none. The air is filled with the warm, inviting scents of freshly baked gingerbread, roasted chestnuts, and mulled wine, known as Glühwein. Savoring a warm mug of this spiced wine while enjoying a hearty bratwurst is a must-have experience.

Another unique market is the Harbour Christmas Market set against the backdrop of the Chocolate Museum on the Rhine River. This market offers a maritime flair with its high-quality crafts and extensive gastronomic offerings.

Overall, the Cologne Christmas Markets offer an authentic and unforgettable way to experience the festive season. Their irresistible combination of traditional food and drink, unique shopping opportunities, and heart-warming festive cheer make them a truly magical highlight of a winter trip to Cologne.

Accommodation in Cologne

Cologne offers a broad range of accommodations to suit different tastes, budgets, and travel needs. Here are some options you can consider:

  • Hotels: As a major city, Cologne has numerous hotels ranging from luxury to budget options. You'll find international chains such as Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt, as well as local hotels offering a more German-style stay.
  • Boutique Hotels: For a more unique or intimate experience, there are many boutique hotels scattered around the city. These typically offer fewer rooms and personalized services.
  • Hostels: If you're traveling on a tight budget or looking to meet fellow travelers, consider staying at one of Cologne's many hostels. They often offer both dormitory-style and private rooms.
  • Bed and Breakfasts (B&Bs): These are smaller, more intimate establishments that typically include breakfast in the room rate. They can be found both in the city center and in quieter, more residential areas.
  • Serviced Apartments: These are a great option for longer stays or for those who prefer more of a home-like setting. Serviced apartments often include a kitchen and living area, providing more space and flexibility than a traditional hotel room.
  • Vacation Rentals: Platforms like Airbnb and VRBO offer a wide range of private homes, apartments, and rooms for rent in Cologne. This can be a good option if you want to live like a local during your stay.
  • Luxury Villas: For a more luxurious and private stay, there are several high-end rental properties and villines available.
  • Eco and Wellness Hotels: For those interested in sustainable or wellness travel, there are several establishments in and around Cologne that focus on eco-friendly practices and wellness amenities.
When choosing where to stay, consider factors like location, cost, amenities, and the type of experience you want to have. It's recommended to book in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons and during major events such as the Carnival or the Christmas Markets.

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