Are you planning a trip to Cologne Germany? and would like some inspiration on where you should visit, tips, and advice! Or you may not have an idea on where you would like to travel to next! You have come to the right place! In this post, we provide you with inspiration on the Things to do in Cologne on a budget, tips and advice that we have learnt from this short trip.
The first thing that’ll catch your eye, as you fly into Cologne Airport, is the large gothic cathedral (Dom). Witnessing this from the air, is sure to get you all excited. You’ll be ready to jump off the plane and explore everything Cologne has to offer.
On our visit, we explored various things in Cologne from the Gestapo museum, which taught us so much more about World War II in Cologne and Germany, to the incredible architecture at the Cathedral. We take you on our journey to the best Things to do in Cologne on a budget.
When to visit
The first key element of visiting Cologne on a budget is when you travel.
The cheapest time to visit Cologne and really save money is by visiting during the winter season. Prices will be at the lowest. However, the cold and unpredictable winter weather doesn’t make it the best time to travel.
If you don’t mind travelling during the cold winter months, then head to Cologne between November and February.
Why not visit Cologne during the shoulder months of September to October and March to May, prices are still at the lowest, yet weather conditions will be improving.
Of course, travelling during the summer months of June to August will be the best for weather, but prices will be the most expensive. If you are travelling on a budget, then you’ll want to avoid travelling during the summer.
We would also recommend were possible, to travel outside of the school holidays. Prices skyrocket during School holidays. Travel when children are in school and you could pick up a very good offer.
Germany is part of the European Union, and use the Euro.
We would advise purchasing Euro’s prior to your intended travel, although you can use debit/credit cards, and cash machines. Please note, you could be charged for the use of your debit/credit card, and cash machines whilst traveling in Cologne. Please check with your bank or card provider before you travel.
The first known settlers to Cologne were the Romans back in 38BC, with many discoveries of Roman artifacts still being found. The most recent discovery was made in 2007, when a 1,900-year-old Roman boat was discovered.
During World War II, Cologne suffered the most, with the city’s population reduced by 95%. Evacuation from the city to the rural areas saw much of the reduction in population. The Allied forces dropped about 35,268 tons of bombs on the city, destroying much of the city.
With Colognes turbulent history over the years, it is now the 4th largest city in Germany!
Things to do in Cologne Germany
It is very difficult to get lost in Cologne, when you have the large Cathedral towering over the city! You really can’t go wrong with visiting Cologne, with plenty of museums, architecture, sports, Roman history, and Chocolate. Here are the things to do in Cologne.
Kolner Dom (Cologne Cathedral)
Opening times: 6am – 5pm, during the summer months it is open later
The focal point of Cologne is the attractive architecture of the cathedral, and in a central location. Kolner Dom has two spires making it the tallest in the world! It was constructed in 1248, but it took over 600 years to complete.
Whilst the exterior of the building is remarkable to look at, wait till you get inside! The light that pours through the stain glass windows are just incredible, with so much detail, and colour.
This is a lovely place to get out of the busy streets, and into peaceful surroundings. You could light a candle and pray, or just sit in one of the pews soaking in the atmosphere.
It is possible to climb the south tower, and watch over the surrounding buildings below.
Just behind the main alter is the Shrine of the Three Kings. It is where the sarcophagus is said to hold the remains of the Kings who followed the star to Bethlehem when Jesus was born.
We loved the Cathedral so much, that every day we stopped by to admire its creation.
Cost: 9 Euros/£7.64/$9.94 for 2 adults, and 2 Euro/£1.70/$2.21 each for the English translation
Opening times: 10am – 6pm Tue-Fri, Weekends and bank holidays 11am-6pm
The NS Dokumentaionszentrum was the headquarters for the Gestapo (Secret Police) during 1935 – 1945. The exterior of the building looks like any other building in the area, even the upper floors on the interior of the building look like an office or police station, but the real surprise is downstairs in the basement!
The upper floors of NS Dokumentaionszentrum has become the exhibition, detailing what life was like during the buildup to the Nazi reign, and what work the Gestapo’s did within Cologne during the war years. This is interesting, and is an important part of German history.
Inside the basement, is where the Gestapo officers held their prisoners, tortured them, a bunker for the torture of prisoners and to escape the air raids above, and a court yard, where much of the killings took place.
Once inside the basement, the atmosphere changed drastically, from a warm light space upstairs, to a cold, and artificially lit area. You can really feel the sadness and horrors that would have gone on down here, without the passing public above knowing the real atrocities that went on.
One prisoner made the daring decision to escape, and made it out to tell the tale, they escaped via the coal shoot!
Descriptions in the basement are in English, but the upper rooms are in German only.
We would highly recommend purchasing the audio guide, as this’ll definitely help you understand the exhibition in the upper part of the building, but also details the basement.
The old town is located on the water’s edge of the Rhein from Hobenzollernbrucke to Deurzer Brucke, covered with cobbled streets and narrow road. This is the place to find a good restaurant, café, bar, or Brauerei (German Brewry).
This would be a great spot for a lovely evening stroll, or stop off at one of the restaurants or cafes for a bite to eat.
Also known as Love Locks, due to the large number of padlocks with loved up couples’ names, or initial scribbled on the back of the lock, and locked to the bridge.
Do you want to show your love to your partner, wife, husband, or the one you love, by locking a padlock with your name inscribed on it? You’ll be fighting the thousands of padlocks already here, but it is still worth dropping by to see the different sizes, colours and the vast number that are locked to this bridge.
Panorama (triangle Viewing Point)
Cost: 3 Euros/£2.55/$3.31 per person, group of 5 people it is 2.50 Euros/£2.12/$2.76 per person
Opening times: May – Sep 11am-11pm, Oct – April 12pm-8pm
Panorama (Triangle Viewing Point) offers 360-degree views of Cologne. With views of the entire city, including the Cathedral in the back ground, the scale of the city is evident from this position.
Tunnes and Schal statue
There are many statues dotted around Cologne, we visited Tunnes and Schal. It is believed that if you touch the noses of Tunnes and Schal it will bring you luck.
With Dusseldorf only a short distance from Cologne, you could easily add this onto your trip to Germany, by visiting Dusseldorf in Autumn.
Where to stay
On our stay in Cologne Germany, we stayed with a family member, which kept our expenses to a minimum. Our advice when it comes to choosing where to stay, is to choose somewhere that is, close to public transport, easy access to the sights that you want to see in Cologne, but most importantly within your budget. Here are a couple of options on where to stay, depending on these factors:
Station Hostel for Backpackers
This hostel is ideal for budget friendly travelers, with dorm rooms, and some private rooms. The biggest tick is that it is in the perfect location, it is next to Cologne central Station, and within a short distance from the many sights to see.
We have heard that it is clean, spacious, great communal areas, internet access and more.
Hopper Hotel et Cetera
This is an interesting hotel; it was once a monastery, that has been converted into a 49-room hotel. This is in a good location, close to all amenities, a little more expensive in price, but again it is all about what your budget is!
Its main feature advertised is the sauna and bar, which is located in the cellars, what a great way to relax after a long day.
There are some great reviews about the hotel, from previous guests.
Stern Am Rathaus
There are some really great reviews of Stern Am Rathaus, it is in a very good location, with it being close to the Rhine River. This is still reasonably priced, but again this is dependent on your budget, and how much you are prepared to pay per night, however for the luxury of this place you may think you have bagged a bargain.
How to get around Cologne
The closest airport to Cologne is Koln Bonn Airport, which is about 15 miles from the center. You can take a direct train from the airport to Cologne Central Station in Cologne, with the trains running frequently. Most European flights arrive and depart from Koln Bonn with some international connections.
There are train services between other major cities in Germany such as Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich and some international trains to Brussels.
There are bus and tram services connecting Cologne with suburbs in and around the area. We personally preferred to walk, it’s the healthier option, better on the environment, but also budget friendly. It can also be the quickest and most convenient way to travel.
We found it so difficult to get lost in Cologne, the simplest way to get your bearings is to use Koln Dom as your focal point.
Have you been to Cologne? What was your highlight? Was there anywhere that you would recommend that we have not included above? We would love to hear from you, all you need to do is leave a comment below.
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