Cologne is a beautiful city located in the western part of Germany, known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and charming atmosphere. Whether you’re a history buff, a lover of art and culture, or just looking for a fun and relaxed city break, Cologne has something for everyone. Here’s a 2-day itinerary to help you make the most of your time in this wonderful city.
Are 2 Days In Cologne Enough?
Two days in Cologne can be enough time to see many of the city’s highlights and experience some of its unique culture. However, your experience in Cologne will depend on your interests and how much you want to see and do while you are there.
With two days in Cologne, you can visit the city’s most famous landmark, the Cologne Cathedral, and explore its impressive Gothic architecture. You can also take a stroll along the Rhine River, visit the Old Town (Altstadt) area with its charming streets and traditional pubs (called “brauhauses”), and check out some of the city’s museums and galleries, such as the Museum Ludwig, which houses a large collection of modern art.
If you have more time, you may also want to take a day trip to nearby attractions, such as the picturesque town of Brühl with its beautiful castles, or the Phantasialand amusement park.
Ultimately, whether two days is enough time in Cologne depends on your preferences and priorities. If you want to explore the city at a leisurely pace and take in its culture, history, and atmosphere, two days can be enough. However, if you want to see and do everything, you may want to plan a longer stay.
2 Days in Cologne Itinerary
9:00 AM – Start your day with a visit to the city’s most iconic landmark, the Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom). This stunning Gothic cathedral, with its twin spires rising high above the city, is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Germany and a must-visit for anyone traveling to Cologne. Take a guided tour to learn about the history of the cathedral and climb the steps to the top for stunning views of the city.
11:00 AM – After visiting the cathedral, head to the chocolate museum (Schokoladenmuseum). Cologne is known for its love of chocolate, and this museum provides a unique and interactive experience for visitors of all ages. Learn about the history of chocolate, how it’s made, and sample some of the best chocolate from around the world.
12:30 PM – Stop for a bite to eat at one of the city’s many traditional German restaurants. Try local dishes such as sausages, sauerkraut, and Rhenish specialties like Himmel und Äd (Heaven and Earth), a dish made from black pudding, mashed potatoes and apples.
2:00 PM – After lunch, spend the afternoon exploring the Old Town (Altstadt). Stroll through the narrow cobblestone streets, lined with charming half-timbered buildings and colorful facades, and take in the lively atmosphere of this historic district. Don’t miss the impressive town hall (Rathaus) and the bustling square of Alter Markt.
5:00 PM – Head to the Römisch-Germanisches Museum, one of the largest archaeological museums in Germany. The museum showcases the history and culture of the ancient Roman empire, with exhibits featuring artifacts, sculptures, and mosaics.
7:00 PM – End your first day in Cologne with a visit to the city’s famous beer gardens. Enjoy a cold beer and traditional pub food in a relaxed and convivial atmosphere.
9:00 AM – Start your second day with a visit to the Ludwig Museum, one of the largest museums of modern art in Germany. The museum features a vast collection of contemporary art, including works by international artists such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Joan Miró.
11:00 AM – After visiting the museum, take a stroll along the Rhine river promenade, one of the most popular tourist spots in Cologne. Enjoy the beautiful views of the river and the city’s skyline, and stop at one of the many cafes and restaurants for a coffee or a light lunch.
1:00 PM – After lunch, head to the Wallraf-Richartz Museum, one of the oldest museums in Germany. The museum features a vast collection of paintings and sculptures, including works by old masters such as Rembrandt, Rubens, and Van Dyck.
3:00 PM – Spend the afternoon exploring the quaint and picturesque neighborhood of Belgisches Viertel. This charming quarter, with its narrow streets and colorful buildings, is known for its lively atmosphere, bohemian vibe, and numerous cafes, bars, and shops.
5:00 PM – End your day with a visit to the famous Hohenzollern Bridge, one of the most famous landmarks in Cologne. This iconic bridge, which spans the Rhine river, is a popular spot for taking in the views of the city and enjoying the evening atmosphere. As night falls, the bridge is lit up, creating a stunning and romantic setting.
7:00 PM – Finish your 2-day itinerary with dinner at one of Cologne’s many fine dining restaurants. Try traditional German dishes, such as Schweinshaxe (pork knuckle), or opt for international cuisine, with options ranging from Italian to Thai.
This 2-day itinerary offers just a taste of what Cologne has to offer. Whether you’re interested in history, art, culture, or just a relaxing city break, this charming and vibrant city is sure to provide a memorable and enjoyable experience.
Where to Stay in Cologne
Cologne offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. In Cologne, there’s not much of a price differential between staying in the city center vs. farther out. For only having two days in Cologne, I recommend spending the extra money to stay near the Old Town. Here are some areas in Cologne where you may want to consider staying:
- Altstadt (Old Town): This area is popular with tourists as it is close to many of the city’s attractions, including the Cologne Cathedral, the Rhine River, and several museums. It also has many restaurants, bars, and shops. However, it can be quite busy and noisy, especially during peak tourist season.
- Ehrenfeld: This trendy neighborhood is known for its vibrant nightlife, street art, and alternative culture. It has many bars, cafes, and music venues and is popular with young people.
- Deutz: Located on the opposite side of the Rhine River from the Altstadt, Deutz is a quieter area that offers easy access to the city’s main attractions. It has several parks and gardens, including the Rheinpark, and is home to the Koelnmesse exhibition center.
- Belgisches Viertel (Belgian Quarter): This neighborhood is known for its trendy cafes, boutique shops, and art galleries. It has a bohemian vibe and is popular with young professionals and artists.
- Neustadt-Nord: This area is located north of the Altstadt and is home to several museums, including the Museum Ludwig and the Wallraf-Richartz Museum. It also has many restaurants and shops and is well-connected to public transportation.
Ultimately, where to stay in Cologne depends on your preferences, budget, and itinerary. Consider what you want to see and do in the city and choose an area that is convenient for your plans.
Getting To & Around Cologne
Getting to Cologne: Cologne is well-connected to other cities in Germany and Europe by air, train, and road. Cologne/Bonn Airport is the nearest international airport to the city, located about 15 kilometers southeast of the city center. From the airport, you can take a train or bus to the city center. The city is also served by two major train stations, the Köln Hauptbahnhof (Cologne Central Station) and the Köln Messe/Deutz Station. Cologne is also well-connected to other major cities in Germany by the autobahn highway network.
Getting around Cologne: Cologne has an extensive public transportation system consisting of buses, trams, and trains operated by the Kölner Verkehrs-Betriebe (KVB). The public transportation system is efficient, reliable, and covers most parts of the city. You can purchase tickets at ticket vending machines located at most stations or on board the buses and trams. You can also buy tickets online or through the KVB app.
Another popular way to get around Cologne is by bicycle. The city has an extensive network of bike paths, and many streets have dedicated bike lanes. You can rent bicycles from several vendors throughout the city, including Nextbike and KVB-Rad.
If you prefer to explore the city on foot, many of Cologne’s attractions are within walking distance of each other, especially in the city center. The Altstadt and Neustadt-Nord areas are particularly walkable and offer plenty of opportunities for sightseeing, shopping, and dining.
Finally, if you’re traveling with a car, note that parking in the city center can be challenging, especially during peak tourist season. There are several parking garages and lots throughout the city, but they can be expensive. Consider using public transportation or renting a bicycle instead.