Cologne (Köln) Travel Guide

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This city guide is an introduction to Cologne (Köln in German) and will help you start planning your visit to this city on the beautiful Rhine River (Rhein in German).

Cologne is a must-see for many visitors to Germany. Home of the magnificent Cologne cathedral (Kölner Dom), a chocolate museum, the famous Kölsch beer, river cruises, and hip neighborhoods, you’ll find plenty to do, see, and experience in Cologne.

We’ve visited Cologne (and the nearby Rhine/Moselle area) several times and Cate even spent a couple months living just outside of Cologne and also in a smaller town in the region. Keep reading this page for an overview of what to do and see in the Cologne area. It’s a beautiful area!

Cologne (Köln) on map

What to Do and See in Cologne

Cologne is located in western Germany in what’s called the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region of the Bundesland Nordrhein-Westfalen (state of North Rhine-Westphalia). Because the famous cathedral, compact Old Town, and Rhine river is so close to the train station, Cologne makes a great stopover. Or spend a day or 2 exploring all the city has to offer.

Cologne (Köln)
Best Things to See and Do in Cologne

View our top recommendations!

Cologne Accommodations

You’ll find a wide variety of accommodation options in Cologne, including hotels, B&Bs, and apartments. If you’re only in Cologne for a couple days, we recommend a hotel in downtown near the cathedral or in the Old Town so that you can easily walk to sights, shopping, restaurants, and the Rhine River. You can also easily catch public transportation to other parts of the city from this area.


If you have our Germany Travel Planner you’ll find recommended hotels on our interactive planning map. Seeing where these hotels are in relation to the top sights makes it a lot easier to find the perfect place to stay. If you don’t yet have it, click here to get access. Book your Cologne accommodations in advance! They tend to fill quickly during peak travel times (summer, Christmas, etc) so I recommend seeing what’s open for your travel dates.

Cologne hotel room
Best Hotels in Cologne, Germany

See our top recommendations – including where we stayed!

Castles Near Cologne

Looking for day trip ideas near Cologne? Step outside the city center and discover beautiful castles to visit near Cologne!

Burg Eltz
Castles Near Cologne

See the best castles to visit near Cologne!

Cologne Tours and Tickets

Know Before You Go

Airport: Düsseldorf International Airport (DUS) and Cologne-Bonn Airport (CGN)
Currency: Euro
Language:  The official language of Germany is German (Deutsch)
Time zone: Central European Time (CET / GMT+ 2 / 6 hours ahead of US EST)
Germany Visa: tourists from the US, Canada, and several other countries do not need a visa to visit Germany for under 90 days.
Germany Electricity Socket: Germany uses different voltage and sockets than in North America, the UK, and other parts of the world. Read our guide to adapters and converters so you can safely use your tech in Germany.
Germany SIM card: Read our guide here to SIM cards and other ways to use your phone in Germany.
Germany Car Rentals: We find great deals on rental cars here. You can also check out our scenic Germany road trips article here.

Great St. Martin Church
Great St. Martin Church
Cologne Cathedral
Cologne Cathedral
Cologne Chocolate Museum
Cologne Chocolate Museum

Recommended Day Trips from Cologne

One of the best things about making Cologne your home base is that you have countless day trip options! A few ideas are below but do check out this list of day trips here.

Cologne Travel FAQ

Where is Cologne Located?

Cologne (Köln in German) is located in the German state of Nordrhein-Westfalen (North Rhine-Westphalia), just south of Düsseldorf and northwest of Frankfurt.

Map of Cologne in Germany

Where do I Get That Map?

If you have our Germany Travel Planner, you’ll find recommended hotels on our interactive planning map. Seeing where these hotels are in relation to the top sights makes it a lot easier to find the perfect place to stay. If you don’t have it yet, click here to get access.

What is Cologne, Germany Famous For?

Cologne has a famous cathedral right across from the main train station, the Rhine river that flows right through the city, and Kölsch beer, to name a few.

Is Cologne, Germany Worth Visiting?

It really depends on how much time you have in Germany, how close you’ll be to Cologne, and what you most want to do and see. If you’ve always wanted to see the cathedral and you’ll be within a couple hours of Cologne, it’s worth a day or overnight trip. If you’re only planning to be in Berlin or Munich, however, going all the way to Cologne might not be worth it.

Getting to Cologne

Cologne is easy to reach via train, bus, car or plane. If arriving from the US, consider flying into Düsseldorf International Airport (or even Cologne’s airport) as an alternative to Frankfurt. You can take public transportation to Cologne (it takes about an hour) or hop in a taxi or use the FreeNow app.

If you’re arriving via train or bus, you’ll arrive at the central train station downtown (Hauptbahnhof). From there you can walk to many downtown hotels (check out our Cologne hotel guide here) and tourist sights, take public transportation or grab a taxi.

Getting Around Cologne

The city center is very walkable and you should be able to easily walk to many hotels and tourist sites. For the ones that are further away you can hop on a tram, bus, U-bahn or S-bahn. There’s also a HOHO (Hop On Hop Off) bus and a Bimmelbahn train for visitors.

Cologne Cathedral
Cologne Cathedral
Cologne Cathedral stained glass window
Interior Cologne Cathedral
Interior Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Basics

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Cologne is the largest city on the Rhine River and in North Rhine-Westphalia. It’s the 4th largest and one of the oldest cities in Germany.

Düsseldorf International Airport (DUS) & Cologne/ Bonn Airport (CGN)

North Rhine-Westphalia

Train Travel Times to Cologne
Berlin ➔ Cologne = 4 hrs 20 min
Frankfurt ➔ Cologne = 1 hr – 2 hrs 20 min
Hamburg ➔ Cologne = 4 hours
Salzburg ➔ Cologne = 6 – 8 hours
Paris ➔ Cologne = 3.5 hrs – 5 hrs
Rome ➔ Cologne = 12 hrs 45 min – 14 hrs 45 min
Prague➔ Cologne = 7.5 hrs – 8.5 hrs

Fun Facts
Cologne’s airport has the only runway in Germany that is also an emergency landing site for NASA shuttles!

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Cologne Guide