With a kaleidoscope of costumes parading through the streets, music blasting out until the early hours and an electric atmospheric, celebrating carnival in Cologne is an experience like no other and the city hosts Germany’s biggest and most famous celebration. Up to one million revelers descend on the city to join the carnival festivities, which take place in the week preceding Ash Wednesday and date back to as early as 1823.
Several of Germany’s most beautiful castles are dotted along the scenic Rhine River and to really experience the grandeur of medieval life, you can even choose to stay overnight in one of the historic fortresses. Whether you opt for a luxury suite with a view or a budget backpacker haunt with a striking backdrop; these are some of the best castle hotels on the Rhine.
With its dazzling illuminations, open-air ice rink and sprawling Christmas market set against a backdrop of the UNESCO-listed Cathedral and the shimmering Rhine River, Cologne is an enchanting destination for the holidays and the best way to view the city is from the water. Cruising along the Rhine River is a popular pastime at all times of the year, but the views are particularly picturesque during the Christmas season and there are a number of seasonal Christmas cruises from Cologne that run throughout November and December.
A long standing tradition held in Berlin, Munich and many other German cities, the Long Night of Museums is one of Europe’s most popular cultural events, presenting a unique opportunity to discover the city’s top museums and galleries.
More than 40 of Cologne’s museums take part in the annual event, with highlights including the Wallraf-Richartz Museum, renowned for its Medieval and Renaissance art; the Ludwig Museum, home to an expansive collection of 20th-century art; the Roman-German Museum, which chronicles the city’s Roman history; and the Kölnisches Stadtmuseum (Cologne City Museum).
With its medieval castles and ample opportunities for hiking and biking, the romantic Rhine is a great destination for a family holiday, but even if you stay in the city, there are a surprising number of kid-friendly attractions in Cologne. From visiting one of Germany’s coolest theme parks to crossing the Rhine in a cable car, here are some ideas for things to do in Cologne with kids.
Drawing up to 17,500 runners from all over the world, the Cologne Marathon is among Germany’s biggest running events, eclipsed only by the Berlin and Hamburg marathons, and bringing huge crowds of spectators to cheer on the runners and celebrate the final sporting event of the summer.
Cruising along the Rhine or joining the festivities at the spectacular Rhine in Lights festival might be atmospheric ways to enjoy the scenic Rhine River, but the cheapest and easiest way to get a view along the riverfront is riding the Cologne cable car over the Rhine. Dating back to 1957, the historic cable car has been carrying passengers over the Rhine for more than 50 years and there’s no better way to see Cologne from above, with views taking in the UNESCO-listed Cologne Cathedral and stretching along the river.
We took a night cruise of the Rhine River , and from the top deck of the ship we watched Köln go by as the guide told us about the ancient city. With a local Kölsch beer in hand there is no other place I would rather have been in that moment. We enjoyed pleasant early summer temperatures and learned a bit about the city’s storied past. Cruising the river was the first thing we did after touching down in Germany and the ride was a perfect way to kick off our tour of the amazing city and country.
Whether you’re admiring the views from a riverside café, escaping for a hike in the hills or partying at a festival, summertime is the ideal time to experience Cologne. To help you make the most of your trip, here’s a rundown of the best things to do in summer in Cologne.
Cologne might be the gateway to the idyllic Rhine River Valley and a popular departure point for Rhine River cruises, but the cathedral city is also ideally situated for traveling around Western Europe. The borders of the Netherlands, France and Luxembourg are all less than 3 hours drive away, but visiting Belgium from Cologne is the most popular choice and with its ample UNESCO sites, grand architecture and legendary chocolatiers, there’s plenty to see and do, even on a day tour.