So you’re arriving in Cologne but you’re only here for a day! You’re trying to figure out what you should do in the city beside the big famous cathedral that you can see from everywhere but looking at a map of the city makes it even more confusing.
Should you climb the tower of the Dom or take a cruise on the Rhein? Should you explore one of our Veedel or walk the Grüngurtel parks? What IS a Veedel and a Grüngurtel? And maybe most importantly, what Kölsch should you drink while you’re here?
But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Here’s our Perfect Day in Cologne – presented by Freewalk Cologne – the best tour guides in the city!
You’ve either arrived late at night or early this morning into Cologne. Stumbling out of the train station, the first thing you’ll see is maybe the most beautiful building in Europe, the Kölner Dom. But don’t go in just yet! That’s for later! If you’re just arriving, ditch your bags. It’s time to figure out what to eat.
Depending on where you’re staying, grab breakfast in your hotel or if you’re looking for a nice breakfast out, check out our list of breakfast spots in Cologne to find something nearby to get a tasty bite.
After fueling up for the day, head to the Belgian Quarter (the Belgisches-Viertel) for a stroll around one of the hippest districts in Cologne. This is a Veedel, a city district, of Cologne. Here you’ll see lively cafés, beautiful art galleries, and hip shops. Get there early enough to watch the Veedel open up and start to bustle with life. Keep your eyes out for spray-painted bananas on gallery walls to find the best art in the city (we’ll explain that to you on our tour) and get some local shopping done at great shops like Schee, Siebte Himmel, Things We Like & many more.
Checking your clock, you’re realizing its getting closer to noon. It’s time to move along to the self-promotion part of the blog. Hope on the 12 or 15 line from Rudolfplatz or Friesenplatz metro stations (more on transportation around the city here) and ride a few stops to Ebertplatz. You’ve made a reservation for our tour at 12:11 and don’t want to be late.
Arriving underneath the Eigelsteintorburg, one of our three remaining medieval gates, you’ll meet an awesome Freewalk Cologne guide for a free walking tour! In case you’re not familiar with the concept, a free walking tour allows you to visit a city with a guide who knows Cologne and instead of paying up front, you decide what the tour was worth for you at the end! Book here!
On the 2.5 hour tour, you’ll get to know the ins-and-outs of Cologne. We’ll show you everything from the medieval gate where we begin to the Old Town of Cologne. Along the way, we’ll teach you about the Cologne Constitution, a document that teaches you the rules of being from Cologne. We’ll take you to the Dom and tell you all about its history and meaning to Cologne. We’ll tell you about Roman history and what American Presidents have to do with our city and so much more. But most importantly, you’ll learn that Cologne is a feeling and that you won’t learn anywhere else (unless you want to live here)!
Tours aren’t your thing or you’ve been on ours before? Check out a river cruise with the extra time down at the waterfront with KD Cruises or a similar company. If the weather isn’t cooperating or boats aren’t your style, check out one of our great museums. For art check out the Ludwig Museum or the Wallraf Richartz Museum. For history, the EL DE Haus or the Roman-Germanic Museum.
The tour is over and it’s lunch time. Lucky for you, you’re now in the heart of the city, full of traditional Kölsch Brauhauses. There are so many to choose from but that’s why were here!
Here is our list of traditional breweries in the Innenstadt to try!
- Sünner im Walfisch
- Bierhaus en d’r Salzgasse
- Bierhaus am Rhein
And here our some vegetarian/vegan options near downtown as well in case that’s what you’re looking for (although many breweries now have veggie options!)!
- Krau Thai
After lunch, it’s time to actually get to know the most important building in town up close and personal. Head back to the Dom and take a long walk around and into the Dom. For the bold, climb the tower. Spend as much time as you need examining the heart and soul of our city.
As the day starts to end, head across the Hohenzollernbrücke (the bridge behind the Dom) checking out the love locks along the way and make your way to the top of the Triangle Tower for a few euro. From there, get the best view of our city and our cathedral as the sun sets. Walk around the panoramic view and get eyes on everything that surrounds you!
When you’re done, its time to finish off your day with one of the best restaurant experiences in Cologne; Lommerzheim. If you can’t make a reservation, prepare for a bit of a wait but enjoy Cologne’s best Kölsch while you do, Päffgen. After your seated enjoy a staple of Cologne gastronomy and one of the most exciting Cologne atmospheres.
Make your way back across either the Hohenzollernbrüchke or the Deutzer Brücke for some beautiful night time views of Cologne. You can grab another Kölsch in the Old Town if you’re in the mood or enjoy a night out in Cologne in a different spot.
By the end of the day, we promise you’ll be tired, maybe sore but you’ll have had an awesome day in Cologne!