A Fun-Packed Weekend In Cologne – Itinerary & Guide

A weekend in Cologne - view of the Dom from the other side of the river.


How To Spend A Weekend In Cologne – Itinerary Suggestions

The tallest cathedral in the world, the most famous perfume in the world, Europe’s largest display of Pop-Art, the home of Lindt chocolate and the inventors of the Kölsch beer system. All USP’s for a weekend in Cologne – as you can see, you won’t be running out of things to see and do any time soon!

But a Cologne city break is much more than the sum of its parts. It’s known as a bit of a party city, with a great nightlife, some cool music venues and a local charm that oozes from its establishments and its people. If you want to dip your toe into real German life then a weekend in Cologne might be just the ticket.

We’ve been privileged to visit Cologne twice in the last few years and we think it’s a great choice for a quick and super fun weekend away that comes with no hassle. There are several UK airports that fly to Cologne (including budget airline Ryanair), the flight is only one hour, and the airport transfer less than 20 minutes – it really couldn’t be any easier.

So, what should you definitely get up to on your Cologne weekend break? What do you not want to miss and where do you best want to spend your money? Let us help you with your Cologne itinerary… a weekend in Cologne packed with fun!

2 Days In Cologne…

City breaks can be a little bit hectic by nature but we think 2 days in Cologne is enough to get a good enough feel for this laid-back, joyful, and beautifully gothic city. It might be Germany’s 4th biggest city and it is a city of two halves, split by the Rhine River, but the transport system is good and it’s still pretty compact to conquer at a leisurely pace in 2 days. And, there’ll even be plenty of time for Kölsch-stops and pretzel breaks!

So, how do you fill 2 days in Cologne?…

Old medieval houses in the Fischmarkt Cologne. What to see in Cologne

Day One of Your Cologne Weekend Break


Start your day in Cologne with the sweetest breakfast you can get your sticky paws on at the Chocolat Grand Cafe. As part of the Schokoladen Museum owned by Lindt, you can purchase your tickets, check in your coats at the cloakroom and be ready to take a seat as the cafe opens at 10am. By the time you’ve finished your waffles or fruit fondue you can smugly skip the queues to the museum and enter with a full belly and less temptation to eat everything in sight!

The Grand Cafe is right on the river and the full glass front grants you one of the prettiest views to enjoy your coffee. There’s also an outside terrace if the sun is out.


Whilst we all know we’re only there for the freebies and a shot at the famous chocolate fountain, there’s no denying that the museum does a pretty stellar job of interpreting 5000 years of chocolate history. Weave your way around interactive displays, a micro-rainforest, informative models, and the mini chocolate factory where you get to watch workers genuinely create Lindt products. You will definitely leave with a greater appreciation of the cocoa bean and the industry that serves our sweet palate. You’ll probably also leave the gift shop with a big box of multi-flavoured Lindor chocolates too if you’re anything like us. Pistacio Lindor… need I say more?

Cologne weekend break - visit the chocolate museum owned by Lindt

TIP: You really do need to get in early with this museum, it’s one of the most popular Cologne attractions for all ages.


In World War 2 sadly 95% of Cologne city was bombed. The beautiful buildings which still remain from the Gothic era can be found in the Old Quarter just along the river from the Chocolate Museum.

Cologne Old Town is fronted by a row of prettily painted buildings adjacent to the Rhine known as the Fischmarkt, no doubt you’ve made their acquaintance on Instagram. There’s also a healthy number of cafes and restaurants at the Fischmarkt, claiming the pavements and cashing in on the views. Hang around for a while and absorb the atmosphere, but don’t take a seat just yet. We suggest you wind your way through some of the old narrow alleyways to the heart of Cologne Old Town known as the Alter Market – it’s time for some Kolsch!


No Cologne weekend break would be complete without a bit of Kölsch!

Kölsch is a light and crisp beer native to Cologne and the foundation of the city’s Brauhaus culture. Every Brauhaus (or Beer Hall) in the Alter Market will be competing for your custom and my advice… try them all! Well maybe not all of them, but since each Brauhaus brews its own and each Kölsch is only 200ml, surely you’ve got to give it a good go? Be warned though, when you’ve finished your drink you need to cap it with the beer mat, otherwise the server will keep bringing you refills. The beer mat is also their way of calculating the bill as they mark down your drinks on it. If you’re getting a bit peckish by this point, the Beer Halls are a good place to find some traditional snacks too. You could try a Halve Hahn – Germany’s answer to the cheese and onion sandwich, or a Frankfurter. But don’t fill up too much – we’ve got a belter of a suggestion for dinner this evening!

Our favourite Brauhaus in Cologne Old Town was Brauerei Pfaffen in the corner of the Square, but to be honest, they all have their charm.

Finish up your wander of Cologne Old Town, there are lots of fountains and monuments, then make your way towards Schildergrasse.


The High Street might be almost dead in the UK but it seems Germany still has shopping nailed. Schildergrasse has the usual High Street favourites, Ehrenstrasse is lined with trendy boutiques, and Mittelstrasse is home to the luxury brands. Whatever your budget there’s a bit of Cologne shopping for everyone.

TIP: Cologne still holds to Sunday trading rules and the shops are closed so if you are planning a city break to Cologne on the weekend, keep this in mind.


If you do nothing else from this Cologne itinerary, please promise me you’ll at least book a table at Fruh Am Dom. This was the best Brauhaus we visited in Cologne, in fact, we’ve been back multiple times. There’s something about the buzzing atmosphere of folk gathered to break bread with friends in a setting that you know has seen some history! It’s been a beer hall since 1904 and the innards are an eclectic mix of vaulted ceilings, stone cellars, grand paneled dining rooms, and a glass-roofed terrace. Together they create a fascinating maze of one jolly dining room after another, after another.

During the daytime it’s easier to get a seat as a ‘walk-in’ but you’ve got no chance in the evening – you must book! This is where those in the know come for dinner. And, to say how neverending the place is that just emphasises how popular this Brauhaus gets.

You’re going to eat traditional German fare; Bratwurst, Snitzel, and pork knuckle served by waiters of an older generation who still value good service. And, you’ll be drinking their own brewery’s Kolsch of course.

The restaurant is open from 11 am till midnight every day, which makes it a great option for somewhere to eat outside of traditional lunch and dinner hours. We’d like to suggest you eat dinner early so that you can enjoy our next Cologne attraction before it closes at 8pm…


The Cologne Triangle is across the Rhine River from where you’ve spent the day and is one of the most popular Cologne tourist attractions. It closes at 8pm but that leaves you more than enough time to do a bit of Cologne sightseeing from way up high. The Koln Triangle is an observation deck 29 stories high, perfectly positioned to see the city you have just been exploring. It also has the best views of the Dom and if you’re lucky you might catch an incredible Cologne sunset with those Gothic twin spires in it.

It’s only a 15 minute walk across Cologne’s lovelock bridge (Hohenzollern Bridge) between The Triangle and The Dom.

The view from the Triangle Cologne - sightseeing opportunity of birds eye view

Finish the first day of your Cologne city break with a stroll along the river on the same side as The Triangle. This stretch is known as the Rheinpromenade and is also a great place to catch the sunset over the city from a much quieter perspective.

Day 2 Of Your Cologne Weekend Break


Book yourselves a table at the Cologne-famous Kaffeesaurus or you may have to stand in line and wait with all of the other locals who’ve cycled in from the suburbs for their morning feast. But why all of the hype? Put simply, this is the most phenomenal brunch spot in Cologne! The menu is extensive, the coffee is goooood and the ingredients are top-notch – organic this, seasonal that. You catch my drift.

Right, that’s you ready to soak up more Cologne attractions!


Cologne has its fair share of museums, many dedicated to art. There’s East Asian Art, Applied Arts, Medieval Art, Glass Art, and Impressionist Art but the one we like best is the Ludwig Museum.

The Ludwig Museum has Europe’s largest collection of Pop Art and the world’s 3rd largest display of Picassos. It’s modern art at its finest with an eclectic selection of artists from the last 125 years. You’ll find Dali’s, Mondrian’s, Hockney’s, and Klee’s all under one roof!

And speaking of roofs – head up to the deck for a major close-up of The Dom next door.

But, if modern art isn’t your bag, you could always visit the Sport & Olympia Museum or the Romano-Germanic Archeological Museum (set to reopen in Summer 2023 after some major renovations).

As we mentioned though, you’ve very close to Cologne Cathedral so we think it’s about time you take a look…


No bit of Cologne sightseeing would be complete without a visit to Germany’s most visited landmark, The Dom Cathedral.

It’s the tallest twin-spired cathedral in the world, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and probably the biggest looking church you’re ever going to see. It draws in 20,000 visitors a day and interestingly could also hold that amount of people too – so you don’t need to worry too much about the door getting jammed shut now!

Many visitors are on a pilgrimage to see the relics of the Three Kings of biblical fame but many more are simply here to see its grandeur. Or the largest hanging bell in the world – whatever floats your boat. No matter your reasons though, you cannot fail to stare in wonder at this colossal piece of blackened gothicness.

NOTE: The Dom Cathedral is only open between 1pm and 4pm on a Sunday due to services.


We did originally check the Michelin Guide for some BIB restaurant choices in Cologne and whilst there were plenty of options we would’ve been happy to sample, many places are closed on a Sunday. But no worries, we still found a gem of a Brauhaus to recommend to you, and one that has earned a reputation with the locals.

Beer halls can get a little rowdy on Sundays, with weekend drinkers and football crowds, but Peters Brahaus was a more civilised affair than some of the others. You will probably need to book though.

We recommend the Beer Menu which is comprised of Rhenish Potato Soup, Beef in beer stew with dumplings and a dessert of Bieramisu (basically tiramisu made German!). It cost €33, which for the quality of the food and the delightful atmosphere we thought was a steal.

And on to your final afternoon in Cologne…


At 2pm and 3pm on a Sunday afternoon the Farina Duftmuseum puts on an English tour like no other!

Reincarnated, Mr Johann Maria Farina, the inventor of perfume in 1709, takes you around his offices and perfumery and lets you into a few little Cologne secrets. This is the birthplace of perfume per se, and a fascinating story in a fascinating building. You leave with your senses overloaded and a selfie with the guy himself! Oh, and a little sample of the world’s first perfume, worn by Napoleon during the French Revolution.

Farina Duftmuseum - Fragrance Museum in Cologne. City break ideas

It’s the quaintest thing and well worth the €12 entrance fee.

NOTE: If your 2 days in Cologne happen to be midweek, you can still tour the museum (€8) but you don’t get the historical actor in costume. Such a shame but I guess he’s busy concocting new fragrances Monday to Friday.


Regular readers of the blog will know I can never pass up an opportunity for a bit of Anish Kapoor. Perhaps you’ve never heard of him and truth be told neither had I until Nottingham installed the Sky Mirror, but his works of art are a treat. He’s the guy responsible for The Bean in Chicago btw.

Anyway, Cologne has some works of his, along with other famous sculptors, and it’s free to roam. The Cologne Sculpture Park is a great finale to a great weekend in Cologne, especially if the weather is pleasant and you’re keen to walk off some of those German dumplings you’ve been devouring.

It’s a good 30 minute walk from the Fragrance Museum or you can shorten the journey by taking line 16 or 18 on the Metro from Koln Hbf Station.

Where To Stay In Cologne

We have stayed in 2 hotels in Cologne and can honestly recommend both.

Art’otel Cologne is right by the chocolate factory with fantastic views of the river from the bedrooms and is a really stylish and cool place to stay that also won’t break the bank.

Enjoy a Cologne weekend break at the Art'otel on the River.

Art’otel Cologne

Alternatively, you could try the Limehome Köln Friesenplatz apartments on the edge of the trendy Belgian Quarter neighbourhood. We’ve stayed at a few Limehome apartments around Europe now and we’re always impressed by the attention to detail. The kitchen is fully equipped and there are loads of complimentary goodies like coffees and treats and even a cool tote bag and coffee cup.

Spend a weekend in Cologne at the Limohome apartments

Limehome Köln Friesenplatz apartments

So there you have it, our Cologne city break itinerary and guide – what to see in Cologne in 2 days. We hope we have helped you discover what to see in Cologne, attractions and more.

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Explore the best things to do in Cologne on a weekend city break. Where to eat, see and stay in Cologne, Germany. Travel Guide with top tips and best bits.

One Comment Add yours

  1. D says:

    Cologne’s history is so fascinating! If you want to dive deeper into the city’s past, our audio tours are a must-try. Head over to http://www.wman.com/cologne to discover more and tell us how to improve our free audio guides!

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