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.
Bavaria might be renowned as the center of Germany’s beer production, but Cologne also has its very own beer variety, produced exclusively in the city’s breweries. Kölsch Beer, Cologne’s local brew, has a history dating back centuries and the light, clear ale is now protected as a regional specialty and can be produced only by designated Kölsch breweries.
One of the city’s coolest and most fashionable districts and the ideal spot to escape the tourist hoards and mingle with the locals, Cologne’s Belgian Quarter is equally atmospheric by day and night. Located just west of the Old Town center, the Belgian Quarter (Belgisches Viertel) centers around Brüsseler Platz and the main streets of Aachener Straße, Antwerpener Straße and Brüsseler Straße are crammed with cafes, restaurants, shops and art galleries, lending a bohemian vibe to the area.
With dozens of galleries and world-renowned art fairs showcasing everything from classic painters to contemporary installation art, Cologne is a city with its finger firmly on the pulse of the global art scene. From top exhibitions to colorful street art, this is the art-lover’s guide to Cologne.
Cologne might be better known its, well, cologne, but the Rhine valley city is also the epicenter of Germany’s chocolate industry, famously home to the Stollwerck Chocolate Company, once the largest supplier of chocolate to the US. Those with a sweet tooth will find a host of attractions in cologne for chocolate lovers, but the undisputed highlight is the city’s Schokoladen Museum (Chocolate Museum), which opened in celebration of the Stollwerck factory’s 150th anniversary.
The Rhine Valley is one of Germany’s most picturesque regions all year-round, but with Christmas lights dancing across the water and snow dusting the surrounding hilltops, winter is a particularly enchanting time to visit.
Most travelers choose to visit the Rhine Valley either during the summer months or around the festive Christmas season, but lower prices and cooler weather make the autumn shoulder season a perfect choice for sightseeing. This is the time to hike to a hilltop medieval castle, take a bike tour along the UNESCO-listed Middle Rhine Valley or make the most of low season deals on Rhine River cruises.
At the heart of one of Germany’s most famous wine regions, Mainz has long been dubbed the wine capital of Germany and the Mainz Wine Market is the largest of eight annual wine events hosted in the city. Held over the last weekend of August and the first weekend of September, the Mainz Wine Market brings together vintners from over 40 vineyards around the Rheinhessen, Rheingau and Nahe regions for the enormous fair, which takes place in the Mainz Volkspark (Municipal Park).