7 Things Not To Miss Out On When Sightseeing Köln, Germany

You can easily spend a week exploring Cologne (Köln), one of Germany’s most diverse cities. A must-see stop on your German and European sightseeing itinerary, here are some highlights not to miss, even if have only a day to tour this vibrant city.

what not to miss in cologne koln koeln as curated by a local
Schloss Drachenburg: See below to see details on how to get here!

Cologne happens to be one of Kula’s top two favorite cities to date, so it’s been difficult to choose the “highlights” to visit in a day. We’ve curated the following to appeal to most travelers across ages coming to the city for the first time.  There’s plenty more to see in the city if you’re around for longer – we recommend seeing the Lindenthal and Ehrenfeld areas for greener, more student-based, alternative sightseeing. There are even areas in Köln that sometimes locals that have shown us around haven’t seen before, so walk around and explore!

what not to miss in cologne koln koeln as curated by a local
Visiting Cologne back in 2014!

The diversity of Cologne also means it has a fantastic array of international restaurants to offer, so take your time to explore the restaurant scene in the city as well.

Hohenzollern Bridge (Hohenzollernbrucke)

This bridge offers beautiful views over of the Rhine, and of the famous Cologne Cathedral. It was built in 1911.

what not to miss in cologne koln koeln as curated by a local

The Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom)

If you’re arriving in Cologne by train, it is likely that this Gothic church will shock you as you come out of the Cologne main station. A stunning epitome of Gothic architecture, this church is emblematic of Cologne, and is Germany’s most visited landmark. Construction of the cathedral began in 1248. It was bombed 14 times during World War II, but while badly hit, still stood standing. It was repaired in 1956. It is likely that you will see it being renovated in some form or other during your visit – the immensity and age of the cathedral make it inevitable.

what not to miss in cologne koln koeln as curated by a local
Cologne Cathedral

Allow yourself an hour to explore this vast cathedral. Don’t miss out on the Shrine of the Three Kings, located above and behind the main altar within the cathedral. Shoulders need to be covered during a visit to the church.

You can climb the Cathedral tower to see commanding views over Cologne. The viewing deck is more than 700 steps high. There may be a cut off of people for the day, so arrive early if you want to climb the tower!

what not to miss in cologne koln koeln as curated by a local
Cologne Dom

Cologne City Hall (Rathaus)

Over 900 years old, this is Germany’s oldest city hall.

Great St. Martin’s Church

This is a Romanesque Catholic church, built on the foundations of a Roman Catholic chapel dating as far back as 960 AD.

what not to miss in cologne koln koeln as curated by a local
Enjoy the green spaces in the city by the Rhine

Hahnen Gate (Hanhentorburg)

This is one of twelve gates on a medieval city wall built between 1180 and 1220 to secure access between Cologne and nearby Aachen and Jülich. There are many cafes by the gate to enjoy a coffee, cake, or meal at, especially if you’re visiting during a cold spell (which, of course, in Germany, can happen in mid-August!)

Cruise on the Rhine

Visiting in the summer? Take a cruise on the Rhine! Tickets are usually available daily depending on the season. Online reservations are strongly recommended. You can enjoy spectacular sunset views over the Cologne city-scape while enjoying a beer or wine on an hour long cruise along the beautiful Rhine – a great way to end your day-tour of the city! This cruise is suitable for families and couples alike, there’s plenty of room on (multiple) deck(s)!

what not to miss in cologne koln koeln as curated by a local
View from the boat

If you have more time: Visit Drachenburg Castle (Schloss Drachenburg)

We strongly recommend you take a trip outside of Cologne to visit Drachenburg Castle (Schloss Drachenburg) to explore picturesque towns outside of Cologne like Königswinter, and catch spectacular views over the Rhine.

what to see in cologne koeln koln
Drachenburg Castle

Drachenfels, where Dranchenburg castle is located, is most accessible by car. Alternatively you can take the train to Königswinter and walk or bike the 2 km from there. You can also take the train to Königswinter, walk to Drachenfels station and take a little tram from there to the castle which is charming in and of itself. The minimal entrance fee to visit this picturesque castle is well worth it, as you can climb the castle towers for stunning views, and enjoy the almost fairytale like gardens. Have a coffee at the in-castle restaurant, and perhaps even visit the Reptile House in Drachenfels. This area is great to spend half a day in, walking around exploring the other castle ruins, gardens, and nature nearby. It is best enjoyed in the summer.

Schloss Drachenburg loosely translates to Dragon Castle.

what not to miss in cologne koln koeln as curated by a local
Schloss Drachenburg

Top tip: Whether you’re visiting in summer or winter, July or December, take layers and a rain jacket/umbrella. German weather can be fickle!

what not to miss in cologne koln koeln as curated by a local
The castle also has beautiful grounds and a museum at the entrance where you can buy tickets.
what not to miss in cologne koln koeln as curated by a local
Touring inside the castle
what not to miss in cologne koln koeln as curated by a local
Views over the Rhine

Planning a trip through Germany?

Your guide to Bamberg is here.

Your guide to Berlin is here.

You guide to Bremen is here.

Your guide to Dresden is here.

Your guide to Hamburg is here.

Your guide to Nuremberg is here.

Inspired? Pin us!

what not to miss in cologne koln koeln as curated by a local

As always, be a conscious traveler: Take nothing, and leave nothing behind. Be conscious, be welcome! Read more about conscious travel here.

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. The We Goals says:

    Lovely blog. especially those fish eye type pics ,!!

    1. acoupleonabudget says:

      Thank you! 🙂 We appreciate it!

  2. Wow, the Drachenburg Castle looks amazing. Could be a great location for a drone video, or a fairy tale movie – can’t decide which one hehe.

    Have a great week.
    X Sulie
    http://sulielovesyou.com/1-night-in-paris/

    1. acoupleonabudget says:

      It IS incredible! They shoot many movies there actually 🙂

  3. Great article, thank you for sharing! We went there last May to visit our friends so had a very relaxed trip. Would definitely love to go back and take a cruise on the Rhine, it was still a bit too chilly for that when we went.

    https://2weekendwanderers.com/

  4. Kailah Fredette says:

    Hi guys! What happened to your Instagram page? I hadn’t seen you post in awhile and now I’ve noticed your account isn’t active anymore…

Thoughts?