Wondering what there is to do during 2 days in Cologne?
Cologne is the perfect destination for a city break, with scenic parks, beautiful architecture, and one of the most famous cathedrals in the world. It is also very compact, so you can get around easily on foot without any need to use public transport.
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Yet unlike other popular German cities like Berlin and Munich, Cologne (Köln in German) is still relatively undeveloped in terms of tourism. This gives the city a much more authentic feel and allows you to enjoy its sights at a more relaxed pace.
2 days in Cologne is the ideal amount of time to spend in the city and acquaint yourself with its history and people. In this guide, we have put together a useful itinerary with suggestions for what to do and see each morning and afternoon of your stay.
We have also recommended some great places to eat and our favorite places to stay, with ideas for every budget.
Tip: A great way to save money during your weekend in Cologne is to invest in the KölnCard.
Available in both 24h and 48h versions, it gives you free travel on public transport should you need it, up to 50% off attractions and guided tours, and discounts at shops and restaurants. You will find that it very quickly pays for itself!
On your first day in Cologne you will visit its magnificent cathedral and the most significant memorial in Germany for the victims of the Nazis.
You’ll then spend time seeing the exhibits at the Roman-Germanic Museum before heading to the city’s second most popular attraction – the Hohenzollern Bridge.
After lunch, you’ll have the opportunity to indulge your sweet tooth, then enjoy a little retail therapy!
Start your day with breakfast at the stylish Funkhaus Cafe-Bar-Restaurant on the west side of the city. The lively patio outside will give you a hint as to how good the food is – so be patient, it’s worth the wait.
Once pleasantly full, it’s time to head to Cologne’s gem – the Kölner Dom (cathedral), just a 2-minute walk away. This UNESCO World Heritage monument overlooks the Old Town, its magnificence almost defying description.
A wonderful example of European Gothic architecture, it is equally impressive inside as it appears from the outside. The high arched ceilings and beautiful stained glass windows will take your breath away!
The cathedral is free to visit, but opening times vary, so check ahead. And do be prepared for crowds – this is the most visited church in the whole of Germany!
From there, make your way to the sobering but educational NS-Dokumentationszentrum der Stadt Köln. Once the headquarters of the Gestapo, it now houses exhibitions related to the 3rd Reich.
Here you can learn about social, political, and community life in Cologne during the Nazi era and see inscriptions and drawings made by prisoners on the cell walls.
A 10-minute walk from there via Burgmauer will take you to the fascinating Roman-Germanic Museum in the Roncalliplatz. One of Germany’s most important archaeology museums, it features a collection composed of artifacts recovered from the Roman city of Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium.
Just before lunch, head to the Hohenzollern Bridge – popularly known as the Love Locks Bridge.
This historic bridge – originally built in 1907 and then later demolished and completely rebuilt – is decorated with locks placed there by visiting lovers. So many, in fact that they are estimated to weigh over two tons!
Hopefully, you didn’t indulge too much at lunchtime, as your next stop is the famous Cologne Chocolate Museum (Schokoladenmuseum Köln in German).
Opened late in 1993 and working with Swiss chocolate maker Lindt & Sprüngli since 2006, the museum teaches you everything you could want to know about chocolate production, from ancient times right up to the present day.
There is something here for everyone to enjoy, with family-friendly exhibits, a tropical rainforest greenhouse, and a Willy Wonka-style candy shop on the 3rd floor.
Be sure to visit the cafe, which overlooks the Rhine and serves all kinds of chocolate-based treats. And you won’t be able to miss the museum’s incredible chocolate fountain – it is 3 meters high!
Opening hours and ticket prices vary according to when you visit.
Sweet tooth satisfied, it’s time to hit the shops. The best place to do this is The Schildergasse, just a 15-minute walk away.
You’ll find every type of store here with something for every budget, from typical high street giants to upmarket designer stores. Children will be happy, too – The Schildergasse is home to a huge LEGO store!
Just one thing to note – all shops along this popular route are closed on Sundays.
After dinner, it’s time to experience a taste of the local beer! Kölsch is the most popular, and you’ll find it everywhere, although each brauhaus makes its own version, and you may need to sample several to find your favorite!
If the supply of Kölsch seems to be endless, that’s because there are certain rules governing the way it’s served.
It comes in 0.2L glasses that are refilled automatically, with each refill noted on your coaster. Once you’ve had enough, you’ll need to place that coaster on the top of your glass.
For a wider selection of beers, head to Craftbeer Corner Coeln. The city’s first proper taphouse, it has an ever-changing menu of more than 15 craft beers from Germany and all over the world.
The second of your two days in Cologne will be spent exploring more of its Old Town and museums, plus discovering some of the city’s natural beauty.
Take the time this morning to explore the historic architecture of Cologne’s Old Town. Located along the Rhine, it is made up of narrow cobbled streets lined with traditional houses.
Look out for the many monuments and fountains, including the charming ‘Pixies Fountain’ right opposite the Brauhaus Früh brewery and the bronze Tünnes and Schäl statues opposite the Romanesque church Groß St. Martin.
Take a moment to rub the nose of Tünnes – doing so is said to bring good luck!
There are also ruins to visit, including the Old St. Alban Memorial, which was heavily damaged during the Second World War, the Archaeological Zone, and the historic Stapelhaus.
Take a stroll through The Old Market (Alter Markt), one of the city’s top attractions. If you are lucky enough to visit at the end of the year, this is where you will find Cologne’s world-famous Christmas market.
If not, then there are other markets held here daily that are still wonderful to visit.
For some peace after the bustle of the markets, head to the Rhine Garden (Rheingarten), Cologne’s oldest park. Filled with many species of plants and flowers, it is a beautiful place to relax for an hour.
Look out for the ducks – they are very friendly and will often come to say hello!
After stopping for lunch in the beautiful Fischmarkt with its candy-colored buildings, it’s time to visit one (or both) of Cologne’s excellent art museums.
The Wallraf-Richartz Art Museum is the best choice if impressionist art is your thing. It features works dating back to the medieval period up to the early twentieth century, with pieces by Monet, Van Gogh, Rubens, and Manet.
There are several floors to explore and plenty of explanatory text available in both English and German.
Just a short walk from there is the Ludwig Museum. This contains one of the largest Picasso collections in Europe, along with collections of Expressionism, Abstract, Surrealism, and Pop Art.
This is where you can view works by the likes of Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol.
Following an afternoon of culture, why not head back to nature with a visit to Stadtwald Park? It feels a million miles from the city but can be reached by tram in around half an hour.
An offshoot of the Stadtwald forest, this tranquil oasis features an animal park with wild deer, geese, and goats, plus kids’ activities and a hands-on children’s zoo.
After seeing the best of Cologne in 2 days, the ideal way to end your visit is with schnitzel!
This delicious thin slice of meat covered in crispy breadcrumbs and fried is best experienced at Bei Oma Kleinmann, a Cologne institution specializing in the dish!
You can get every variety of schnitzel here – including vegan and vegetarian options – all accompanied by tasty fries and a nice cold Kölsch.
Are 2 Days In Cologne Enough?
A weekend in Cologne is the ideal amount of time to experience everything the city has to offer!
It’s actually possible to see most of Cologne’s attractions in a day, although this would mean going at a pretty fast pace.
Spending that extra day allows you to slow down, with time to relax and really soak up the city’s atmosphere!
Where To Stay In Cologne
Accommodation costs in Cologne don’t depend too much on location, although it is generally a bit more expensive to stay near the Old Town.
If you are happy to spend a little extra then it makes a great base for this itinerary.
Here are some of our favorite places to stay both in the Old Town and beyond.
Best Budget Accommodation
The Hostel die Wohngemeinschaft is located in the Belgian Quarter, around a 30-minute walk from the Old Town or 15 minutes away by public transport.
Its selection of dormitories and rooms are individually decorated with unique themes, featuring parquet floors and cool city views.
The ground floor cafe becomes a bar in the evenings, with live DJs. Table tennis is available and there is a common lounge decorated in a classic 1950s style.
Best Mid-Range Accommodation
The Steigenberger Hotel Köln is located on Rudolfplatz Square, next door to the Rudolfplatz Underground Station, and surrounded by bars and restaurants. Cologne Cathedral is 10 minutes away by underground, so it provides the perfect base for exploring the city.
Offering a range of rooms and suites, the hotel features a restaurant offering buffet breakfasts and a bar serving drinks and snacks. The decor is beautiful and many rooms have excellent views of Cologne.
Best Luxury Accommodation
For the ultimate treat, spend your two days in Cologne at the Hyatt Regency, directly across the river from Cologne Cathedral.
Offering gourmet cuisine and a legendary Sunday brunch, this stylish hotel has classical-style rooms with elegant marble bathrooms.
The views are exceptional and all the main attractions are within easy reach, making this one of the most desirable places to stay in the city.
Final Thoughts On This Itinerary For Two Days In Cologne
If you have been wondering what to do in Cologne in 2 days, we hope this itinerary has helped you plan your visit.
Incorporating good food, culture, architecture, and some of the area’s natural scenery will give you a real taste of life in the city and a better understanding of its history.
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