With more than 2,000 years of history, it’s no wonder the German city of Cologne is known as a cultural hub in both Germany and all of Europe.
Cologne’s location along the Rhine River, combined with medieval architecture, including the iconic Cologne Cathedral, makes the city appealing to the eye.
A beautiful riverside district and historic Old Town area are just the beginning. The city is home to dozens of museums, hundreds of art galleries, and one of the oldest and biggest universities on the continent.
With a population of just over one million people, Cologne is the fourth largest city in Germany. The city’s residents are known for their upbeat, live-in-the-moment lifestyle. Cologne has more pubs than any other city in the country.
A number of festivals also take place in Cologne throughout the year, including The Cologne Carnival, Ringfest, and the Christmas Market.
Below are 14 of the best tours in Cologne.
1. Tour Cologne with a Local
The second best way to get familiar with any city is to leave the confines of your hotel and explore on your own. The top way to get familiar with a new city is to explore with someone who lives there and has all the insider tips and tricks to get around more easily; they will know the best places to eat, drink, and experience the history and culture.
Meet your local guide at your hotel and start your walking tour with an introduction to your immediate surroundings. Share your interests with your guide so they’re able to customize the tour to suit you.
Spend the next several hours seeing top attractions and hearing about the history of the city and what it’s like to live there. End the tour feeling confident that you have all the information to make your stay in Cologne the best it can be.
2. Take a Virtual trip Back in Time
While you won’t actually travel back in time at TimeRide Cologne, this virtual reality experience is the closest thing to it.
Don a pair of VR glasses and get ready to be taken back to the earlier part of the 20th century to see Cologne how it was then.
For 45 minutes, you’ll take a ride through Old Town and see an accurate depiction of the city in the year 1900, tram and lively street scenes included.
Visit a cinema where you’ll watch a short movie about Cologne’s past and present and see 3D pictures of iconic landmarks.
3. Experience the Darker Side of Cologne
Cologne was a very different place in Medieval Times. This two-hour evening walking tour takes you back to those times when life in the city was marred by hardships.
Meet your guide at Heumarkt and take a walk through the historic heart of Cologne. Listen carefully as your guide tells you stories of witches, ghosts, and murders.
4. Learn About the History of Chocolate at Cologne’s Chocolate Museum
Chocolate has been around for a long time. This Cologne Chocolate Museum ticket, which is valid for an entire day and allows ticket-holders to skip the line-ups, is a collection of exhibits about 5,000 years of chocolate history.
The museum, which is situated in the Old Town district, is a must-see for chocolate lovers. Learn about the origins of the world’s favorite treat and how cocoa was used in South America before it made its way to Europe. See how chocolate has changed over the centuries.
5. Tour Cologne on a Bicycle
Meet your guide and get fitted with a bicycle, helmet, and rain poncho before taking a ride through the beautiful city of Cologne.
Start your journey at the Eigelsteintor in Old Town, and for the next three hours, soar through the streets of this Medieval city with the wind flowing through your hair.
Cross the Zoobrucke bridge, and along the way, see various attractions and landmarks, including Prussian Fort X, Philharmonic Hall, the 3 Crane Houses, Museum Ludwig, the Siebengebirgshaus, and Rheinpark, which is one of the most beautiful parks in the country.
Kick back with a cold beer in a brewery and visit the exclusive district of Rheinauhafen. Head back to where you started via a route that runs along the Rhine.
6. Taste Local Beer on a Cologne Brewery Tour
Cologne, like the rest of Germany, is known for its beer. In this city with more pubs than any other in Germany, there are plenty of opportunities to sit back with a cold one.
Meet your guide at the cathedral near the Kreuzblumen monument and embark on a fun and enlightening tour of Cologne and its breweries.
Spend two hours admiring the attractions in between brewery stops. As you go, your guide will get to know everyone in the group so that they can choose which breweries are most suitable.
Stop at three different breweries and sample three local beers while learning about the history of local brewing and hearing interesting stories.
7. Take a Cruise Along the Rhine
See the city of Cologne from a different viewpoint with a one-hour cruise along the Rhine. Discover many of the city’s top attractions from the water, including Old Town and Cologne Cathedral.
Snacks and beverages are available from the bar. You also have the option to take a Sunday Brunch cruise or evening buffet cruise.
8. See Cologne from a Rickshaw
Another unique way to tour the city of Cologne is by rickshaw. Meet your guide and rickshaw driver in the city center and set out for a 1.5-hour journey through the streets of Cologne.
During the tour, your guide will show you some of the top attractions, including the Cologne Cathedral, Middle Age Town Hall, Old Town, and Rhein River Boulevard. Warm blankets and rain gear are provided in case of bad weather.
9. Fast-track your way into the Hard Rock Cafe Cologne
A meal at the Hard Rock Cafe Cologne is a must. This ticket allows you to skip the line-ups and dine in style. The ticket is good for one full day, and while there, you can dine on a wide variety of tasty options, including authentic American cuisine and decadent desserts.
Admire the rock and roll memorabilia or purchase a souvenir to take home as a reminder of your memorable meal.
10. See Cologne from the Air
Seeing a city from the air provides you with a bird’s eye view of the city’s landscape and attractions. Visitors to Cologne have the opportunity to take such a tour with a one-hour flight over the city.
Make your way to the Bonn/Hangelar Airport and meet your well-trained pilot, who will provide you with an overview of the flight before you take-off on the adventure of a lifetime. See iconic attractions such as the Cologne Cathedral, Rurstausee, Hohenzollern Bridge, and the Rhine River.
During the flight, you’ll be equipped with a headset so you can easily hear your pilot.
11. Unlock Haunted Cologne
If you’re looking for an independent but interactive experience in Cologne with a unique twist, this walking tour game is a fun way to get to know the city and its darker side.
Your experience starts with purchasing access to the game through your Smartphone.
Follow the map and make your way through areas of the city that are said to be haunted. As you move along, you’ll need to solve clues to unlock spooky stories about various locations and attractions, including the Cologne Cathedral and Alter Market.
There’s no set time limit to complete the game, so you can go at your own pace. You can play alone or with a group.
12. Party Your Way Through Cologne on a Private Pub Crawl
Cologne is known for its lively nightlife, and this four-hour tour allows you to experience it with the help of a knowledgeable local who knows where all the top party spots are.
There’s no need to plan anything; you can meet your guide at your hotel at whatever time is most convenient for you. Get the party rolling with your first drink of the night – a welcome shot. Head out with your guide to experience the hottest nightspots in the city, where you’ll enjoy live music, drinks, and an exciting atmosphere. You won’t have to worry about waiting in any lines: this tour guarantees you immediate entry, and you’ll receive a free schnapps at each bar you go to.
13. Discover Melaten Cemetery
Melaten Cemetery is a peaceful place immersed in history and art and the contrast between life and death. During this two-hour tour, you’ll walk the beautiful grounds, which are home to 55,000 gravesites.
Admire these natural surroundings in the center of Cologne and learn about the history of the cemetery and the people who rest there.
14. Admire Cologne’s Street Art while Touring on a Bicycle
Head to Eigelsteintor, where you’ll meet your guide, acquire your rented bicycle, and head out for a three-hour tour through the Belgian Quarter and Ehrenfeld District of Cologne.
As you navigate through the city streets, you’ll see different types of street art by artists from all over the world. Your guide will tell you about the different techniques used in this type of art and the history of the art-form itself. End the tour with a break in a cozy cafe.