The fourth largest city of Germany, Cologne is a city that offers glampackers a great taste of German culture and history. There are many fun things to do in Cologne on a budget including eating and drinking your way around the city. Having not been to Germany since 2007 I was incredibly excited to eat German foods like bratwurst and drink lots of beer!
Cologne is a compact city and very safe for solo travellers. One thing I love about Germany? Everything is clean and efficient! However, whist glampacking in Cologne and Bonn during Easter weekend I was very glad I packed my warm weather gear! The temperature was around 10 degrees and was often quite cold and windy in the afternoon. Regardless of the weather there are a lot of fun things to do in Cologne, even if you’re only there for 48 hours.
What are the fun things to do in Cologne, Germany? Explore the city – by foot, bus or tram!
Cologne is very easy to explore on foot. The old town or ‘aldstadt’ has many squares framed by restaurants and cafes. Cologne still has many Roman relics including a large part of the old city walls and Roman gates. Although much of the city was destroyed in World War II, Cologne was meticulously restored. Hopping on a city bus tour gives you a better feel for the size of the city which was much larger than I originally thought! Keep an eye out for the giant ice-cream cone on top of the shopping mall Neumarkt Galerie designed by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Brugge.
Climb the Dom – Cologne Cathedral
The Dom towers over the city of Cologne. Building of the French Gothic style cathedral started in the 1300s but wasn’t actually completed until 1880. The majestic structure has tall spires reaching 157 metres and features beautiful stained glass windows – including a modern rubix cube like stained glass window on one of the restored windows.
You can climb to the top of the Dom for three Euros. You just need to conquer the 509 steps up a very narrow staircase which leads up to the spire. Once you reach the top you’re rewarded by the sweeping views of Cologne.
Interesting fact about the Dom – in the old town of Cologne it’s illegal for any building to be taller than the Dom!
Visit Museum Ludwig
There are plenty of museums in Cologne such as the Roman-Germanic museum and even a chocolate museum right on the Rhine river.
However for a different arty experience I highly recommend visiting Museum Ludwig in Cologne. The modern art museum houses artworks by Kirchner, Kardinsky and Max Ernst and ceramic artworks by Picasso. There are various installation artworks that will blow your mind – imagine seeing patchwork quilted octopuses and soft toy clams! Cosima von Bonin’s interpretation of Cologne is definitely a sight to see with your own eyes!
An interesting way of interpreting the artworks is asking yourself – would you want to have the piece of art in your own house? I’m not sure where I would put the octopus to be honest.
Party in Barbarossaplatz
You can’t say you’ve done all the fun things to do in Cologne without sampling the nightlife! The Cologne locals go partying at the many bars and clubs near Barbarossaplatz station. Most clubs may have a small entry free to enter. Luckily the trams run all night long to get you back to your hotel/hostel!
Eat and drink your way around the city of Cologne
Start off a day of sight-seeing by enjoying a hearty German breakfast of eggs and ham or smoked salmon on rye bread. Cologne has many breweries, restaurants and cafes where you can sample traditional German cuisine at it’s finest and enjoy a koelsch beer or two. Or a non-alcoholic lemonade.