Whether you’ve blown your travel budget on a Rhine River cruise or you’re simply trying to stretch out your euros, there are plenty of free things to do in Cologne. Here are a few ideas.
1. Admire the city’s architecture
Cologne is a trove of architectural masterpieces, with an incredible 12 Romanesque churches dotted around the city. Marvel at the stunning St. Gereon church; explore the blend of modern and historic buildings in the Rheinauhafen harbor; then take a stroll around the historic Alter Markt (Old Square) presided over by the elaborate 12th century city hall – the oldest in Germany. Don’t miss a visit to the 4711 Cologne House, the birthplace of the world famous Eau de Cologne, where you can plunge your hands in a fountain of pure Eau de Cologne.
2. Take a sunset stroll along the Rhine
With so many beautiful buildings lining its banks, a walk along the Rhine Promenade is one of the city’s best free attractions. Wander around the idyllic Rheinpark on the west bank, home to a number of river-side beaches, a sculpture garden and colorful flower displays, then head to the Deutzer Bridge in time to watch the sunset over the city skyline.
Enjoy the rivier – on the river – with a Cologne Sightseeing Cruise
3. Visit the Cathedral
The breathtaking Kolner Dom cathedral is the centerpiece of Cologne’s Old Town, a 13th-century Gothic masterpiece that towers over the city. The cathedral, the third tallest in the world, features the highest church spires ever built and is preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visiting the cathedral is free but if you can spare a few euros, take a peek in the treasury and scale the 509-steps into the tower for a magnificent view over the city and along the Rhine River.
4. Declare your love
Like the famous Pont des Arts on the Seine in Paris, Cologne also boasts a ‘love bridge’ – the Hohenzollern Bridge, near the Kölner Dom – where couples famously seal their love by attaching a padlock to the bridge and throwing the keys into the river. Inscribe your names and the date onto the padlock before you add it to the thousands of other locks or for the most romantic experience, time your visit to catch the spectacular sunset over the Rhine.