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How to spend 48 hours in Cologne - Cologne Travel Guide - Things to do in Germany

Updated: Oct 22, 2023

Cologne is Germany's 4th most populous city and is located on the left bank of the River Rhine in the North Rhine Westphalia state of Germany.

The city has had significant historical importance since medieval times and was a Military Area Command Headquarters during the Second World War. The city was severely damaged due to the bombing in the war and was also taken over by Americans in 1945.

How to reach Cologne:

Various transportation choices, such as regional and high-speed trains, buses, and flights, are available. The ideal option depends on your starting point. Click below to explore more travel deals and plan your journey to Cologne.

Cologne, Germany

The City of Cologne:

The city has a lot to offer for historians, travellers, artists, fashion addicts, and party lovers in short, for EVERYONE. If you are planning a trip to Germany. It's a MUST-visit city to be included in your travel plans. It's one of my favourite cities in Germany. I have been to Cologne thrice but believe me this city always comes up with new surprises.

How to reach Cologne:

I visited Cologne for the first time in August 2017 during my Euro Trip for 32 Days. Since then, I have visited this Cologne in different seasons, and almost every season, it sparkles with its never-ending charm, and you don't wanna miss this out during your Euro trip.

Cologne Koln, Germany

In August 2017, I was coming from Düsseldorf, just 40 to 50 minutes away from Cologne. If you are staying in another city in the NRW State of Germany, you can also visit Cologne for one day.

I would suggest you take the Day ticket costing 30.50 for one person and if you are in a group, there is also the option of buying a Day ticket for a group which highly decreases the cost per person.

Of course, there are other options, like FlixBus or BlaBla Car (carpooling), but it’s a bit of a hustle for me, so I always prefer trains. If you are coming from Germany, I recommend using Train Services such as SNCF, DB, SNCB, and NS.

Cologne-Bonn Airport is another option for international and Domestic flyers from Europe to reach Cologne city, and you can use Skyscanner to find cheap flights. You can also use Omio, formerly Go Euro, for Cheap bus, Train, and plane tickets.

Cologne, Germany

Cologne Dome:

When you go out from the Central Station of Cologne, you can see the magnificent Cologne Dome right infront of you. The catholic dome is a tall building with twin towers and is declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Dome has a free entrance and is always crowded with tourists.

Cologne Dom, A Master Piece of Architecture

The church's interior is impressive, with beautiful paintings on the walls. For a 360-degree view of the city and the Rhine River, the narrow stairs take you to the top of the Cathedral.

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Cologne Dom

Eau de Cologne:

Cologne is a city where the famous Cologne ‘Eau de Cologne was invented in 1709 by Johanna Maria de Farina. There is also an original Cologne shop in the famous shopping street where you can buy the famous ‘Eau de Cologne.

You can also go for the perfume tour, which costs 5, and best way to learn about the making and testing of different fragrances and get some free samples as a Souvenir.

Cologne Fashion Street:

The city has the best shopping streets with all the best and most affordable brands for the shoppers.

You have many options to find the things according to your choice and price range. It also has a shopping mall for indoor shoppers.

Cologne Shopping Street

Neumarkt Square:

The city has a unique old town with colourful architecture and buildings and narrow streets with small cafés, Restaurants, and bars. Neumarkt has two shopping malls and is famous for its Christmas market in the square.

Hohenzollern Bridge:

The famous Hohenzollern Bridge is the most photogenic place in Cologne. The heavy bridge has train tracks and pedestrian walking, and it's used by thousands of people daily for commutating from one part of the city to other.

The iconic bridge is known for locking the love by putting the lock with your and your lover’s name.

Hohenzollern Bridge in Cologne, Germany

There are countless locks on the bridge, and it’s really hard to find an empty place on the primary side. I would suggest looking at the empty place on the other side if you want to lock your love forever.

Hohenzollern Bridge in Cologne, Germany
Cologne Dom and Hohenzollern Bridge in Cologne, Germany

I crossed the river and went to the other side of the river. It has a perfect spot to enjoy the sunset with a fantastic view of the river, bridge, and Cathedral.

The calmness of the place made me indulge in my thoughts and took me to another world. It is the best place for meditation. After enjoying the amazing view, I went to Hyatt Hotel to enjoy their fantastic coffee and special lemon cake.

Cruise in River Rhine:

A must-do activity in Cologne is a cruise trip on River Rhine. Many cruising companies are set on the bank of the Rhine river, offering within the city and cruises to surrounding areas and cities such as Dusseldorf.

Cruise in River Rhine in Cologne, Germany
Ticket of Cruise Trip in River Rhine in Cologne, Germany

I opted for a city cruise with a guided tour. The Cruise costs me 11, but if you are a student in Germany. It costs 6. It was a cruise tour for an hour and covered all the city's famous spots.

Your trip to Cologne is not completed without a Cruise on the River Rhine, and this activity must be included in your "Things to do in Cologne, Germany" list.

For me, It's the best way to roam around the city and learn about the history and importance of the recorded guided tape. I sat on the ship's deck and enjoyed the city's beautiful architecture.

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Cruise in River Rhine in Cologne, Germany

Chocolate Museum:

For chocolate lovers, you can experience the fantastic Chocolate museum in Cologne.

The museum has exhibited the origin of chocolate beans and also presented the machines which are being used for the production of chocolates.

Chocolate museum in Cologne

You can see the live preparation of chocolate. For me, the most fantastic thing was the chocolate fountain and tasting the yummiest chocolates. The ticket to the museum is 11.50. Don’t forget to buy your favorite chocolate from the Museum shop. There's also a café in the museum where we can enjoy our favorite hot chocolate drinks.

Walk on the bank of the Rhine River:

Walking on the river Rhine bank in Cologne, Germany, at night is highly recommended. One of Europe's largest rivers offers a lot of restaurants.

Rhine River in Germany
Night view of River Rhine in Cologne, Germany

Finding a place to stay in Cologne:

Cologne has some excellent centrally-located hostels and hotels that provide great value for money. But if you're spending more time in the city, you don't necessarily need a hotel or hostel.

You'll also be able to find affordable and fully equipped rental apartments in the heart of the city (for more convenience). To find apartments in Cologne, check out sites like Homelike and Airbnb. If you like the hustle and bustle of city life, we'd suggest staying in neighborhoods such as Altstadt, Heumarkt, Rudolfplatz, and Belgische Viertel.

Question Arises: Where to eat in Cologne

i) Hard Rock Café:

For the Hard Rock Café fans, Cologne is among those German cities offering you the Hard Rock Café experience. The typical Hard Rock Café with great ambiance and live music makes your dining experience incredible.

Hard Rock Cafe, Cologne
Dinning at Hard Rock Cafe, Cologne with Wifey

The Hard Rock Café is located in the City Center of Cologne and can be accessed quickly and with ample space to sit and relax it's one of the finest Hard Rock Cafés I have visited in Europe. With two floors and all the walls are well decorated.

ii) 3H's Burger and Kitchen:

Based on my experience, I would suggest the best burger place in Cologne called 3H’s. They have the best burgers and fillets combos and opened their restaurant in other cities.

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3H's Burger and Kitchen in Cologne

iii) Royal Punjab Restaurant:

Being an authentic Punjabi and Desi food lover, I recommend the Royal Punjab Restaurant. The restaurant has the best taste with the perfect fusion of spices and a great ambiance with friendly staff. You have to try their Biryani and Butter chicken.

Royal Punjab Restaurant in Cologne, Germany
Royal Punjab Restaurant in Cologne, Germany

iv) Beirut Restaurant:

The Beirut Restaurant is also an excellent place for Arabian food lovers. The restaurant is located in the heart of Cologne and is always full of people. Sometimes you have to wait for your turn to get into the restaurant but it's also highly recommended to try this restaurant during your trip to Cologne, Germany.


You can also book the city tour on Hop On Hop Off bus and explore different parts of the city with a guided tour.

I would also recommend visiting Roman-Germanic Museum. It contains a vast archaeological collection of Roman Glass and medieval jewelry. For art lovers, I would highly suggest the Ludwig Museum. It exhibits a modern art collection.

I explored the Christmas Market of Cologne. Cologne hosts the seven most beautiful Christmas markets and is ranked 3rd among the most famous Christmas Markets in Germany and 6th best in the World. In 2018, It started from Nov 26th until Dec 3rd and hosted millions of guests from all over Germany and the world.

Chrismats Market in Cologne, Germany
Christmas Market in Cologne, Germany

Ending Note:

Cologne also has the best Light Festival every year in the month of July. Every July, the Rhine is lightened with mind-blowing firework and welcomes the Kölners and people from other cities to enjoy the summer festivity.

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Alex Thompson
Alex Thompson
18 feb 2022

Great Post! I'd love to visit here, I love all the pictures! happy Travelling!

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Thanks a lot

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