Planning a trip to visit the best city in Germany, if not Europe (we think it’s us in Cologne)? You may find yourself asking “How many days should I spend in Cologne?” So what is the right amount to spend here to get a feeling for the city? As usual, we’re here to help you figure out an itinerary.
(Speaking of which, if you’re looking for a more precise look at what we would do daily, check out the rest of our travel blogs for day trips and itinerary ideas here.)
How much time you want to spend in Cologne really depends on your interests and the activities you want to enjoy while you’re here in town. Cologne has a lot to offer but it’s not always completely visible in the typical tourist guides and websites.
Let’s start with a simple goal: check out the main sights and attractions. If you’re in a rush and moving through Europe collecting countries, maybe you just want to see the best of Cologne. We’ve got good news! You can do that in a day and night in Cologne. We always recommend a tour with us (shameless self-promo that you can book here, free after all) but after a few hours with us you’ll have an idea what the city is like. Our tour specializes in making Cologne’s Feeling accessible which isn’t always easy and will show you why we love the city.
After that, or before even, you’ll have the necessary time to visit the Dom, cross over the Hohenzollern Bridge to the panoramic view from the Triangle tower, explore the city’s Old Town and check out at least one museum. Follow that up at night with a great brewery (our list of recommendations is here) and you’ll have experienced some of the best of what Cologne offers.
But let’s say you want to get to know the area and the city more than just the average tourist and get to know why this city is so beloved by its inhabitants? Then three to five days may be more in your range of interest.
With a longer stay, comfortably check off everything from the one-day stay itinerary and then add in a few other museums (the Ludwig Museum and Wallraf-Richartz our favourites for art while we can’t recommend the EL DE Haus enough for wartime history, oh and for the sweet tooth crowd, the chocolate museum). This will also give you some time to explore the hip Beligian Quarter, the beautiful Agnesviertel and the Ehrenfeld student district.
Cologne also offers the great opportunity to explore nearby cities that often get overlooked. From here, you’re a short train ride from Bonn, the country’s historic previous capital with a beautiful south city, university and cherry blossom season. See Aachen with its beautiful Old Town and easy access to the cute Dutch city of Maastricht. And of course, Düsseldorf, our arch-rival in Cologne although we admit they have fantastic Japanese food and a decent old town and that’s it.
This of course doesn’t even mention the access to the Rhein Valley where you can visit the area with the highest concentration of castles in Europe and beauty at every turn. Here you could easily take a day trip or enjoy a bit of a longer weekend by hiking in between some of the beautiful towns in the region.
Naturally, you’ll spend your nights exploring our diverse food scene offering incredible Turkish and Italian food (Cologne has a large population of both nationalities – check out our favourites in our recommendations), our Brauhaus culture personified by the Kölsch beer, and of course our student night life full of great bars, kiosk-hopping and famous clubs.
Does any of that sound interesting to you? Then maybe a bit of a longer stay suits your interests.
If you’re time limited but have more than a night here, you can mix and match a bit of both quite easily!
If 5 days isn’t enough time, our other advice is just to move here. You’re a real Kölner and you’ll fit right in.