24 hours in Cologne – the perfect one-day itinerary

Cologne is the 4th biggest city in Germany and the biggest of North Rhine-Westphalia state. The Rhine crosses the city and connects it to the sea and further inland. The river is what made Cologne (and the region) so important. Very close to Cologne, you have other big cities like Leverkusen, Gelsenkirchen, Aachen, Dusseldorf, Bonn…

Cologne probably isn’t your first choice when it comes to a quick getaway or a long layover (stopover). It isn’t the most touristy city around, but it does have its charm. And, it definitely deserves 24 hours of your time, particularly if you have a long layover…

In our case, we found an incredible 199 Euros, one-way flight from Cologne to Phuket, but we had to stay 24 hours in Cologne… Whatever is the reason, in this post you’ll find the things to do in Cologne in one day.

24 hours in Cologne

If you only have 24 hours in Cologne, you can’t lose much time in transportation. Luckily for you (and us), transports are fantastic! If you get the S13 or S19 trains at the Airport it will take about 15 minutes to get to the central station (2,8 Euros per person). The station is very central, next to the Dom and with many hotels and hostels nearby.

We stayed in “Pathpoint Cologne – Backpacker Hostel” and we definitely recommend it if you are doing 24 hours in Cologne. It’s cheap (for German standards), huge, with kitchen and luggage room and it’s 5/10 minutes from the station. This means you can go from the airport to your room in 30 minutes! Check the actualized prices here!

Things to do when you only have 24 hours in Cologne

Cologne Walking tour

Only having 24 hours in Cologne, the best option is to start your itinerary with a walking tour. As usual, we did a free Walking tour, which began in the Rudolph Platz and ended next to the Dom. It was a good way of going directly to some of the best places in Cologne, with someone who knew those places and talked a bit about it. We went the Belgium quarter (the most expensive neighborhood in Cologne), the Roman wall, the defensive tower, city hall, the Rhine margin, the Eau de Cologne original store (and its first “copy”), …

Cologne Walking tour

Eau de Cologne

If there’s one thing that Cologne is famous about is the Eau de Cologne or the Water of Cologne. We don’t think we need to explain what it is :), but in Cologne, you can go the original store (by Giovanni Maria Farina) that invented it, and to the ones that first copied it (the 4711 Cologne). Curiously, the copy is now more famous than the original, and we actually liked the 4711 Cologne better. Furthermore, in the 4711 shop, there’s a fountain of Eau the cologne! And you can try it 🙂 It was cool and definitely something different!

Top things to do in Cologne

Cologne Triangle

The Cologne triangle is a massive triangular building with apparently nothing all that special about it. However, you can go to the rooftop and get the most beautiful view of Cologne. It’s only 3 Euros and definitely worth the visit.

Top activities to do in Cologne

The Dom – Cologne’s Cathedral

This is obviously the pinnacle of Cologne. It’s the biggest attraction and obviously the most striking. It’s also the most visited monument in Germany and one of the most beautiful churches in Europe.

The Dom is a Gothic church with 157,4 meters high, and it was the world tallest building between 1880 and 1884. It took more than 600 years to be built and almost lead the city to go bankrupt. Inside the Dom supposedly there are the “remains” of the 3 kings in a golden box.

What to do in Cologne

In Conclusion, 24 hours in Cologne is enough for the basics and a perfect stopover. We were able to go almost everywhere we wanted and never felt rushed. We hadn’t even had the necessity of taking public transports inside the city. Everything we described was within walking distance.

On the downside, it was very cold so we didn’t get out at night. Nonetheless, the city has a huge student community, which brings a great vibe and nightlife. Again, as in almost every other German city, we found the people very nice and engaging, we don’t know why German has the reputation of not being friendly and helpful.

If you have the opportunity to go to Cologne don’t miss it!

6 thoughts on “24 hours in Cologne – the perfect one-day itinerary”

  1. Ha it actually hadn’t occurred to me that cologne comes from Cologne 😀 I thought it was France for some reason lol – now I know better!! It would be cool to have a fountain of cologne, at least it would smell nice!

  2. Looks like a great town . I am actually planning a trip to Germany and I want to cover beautiful towns and villages exactly like Cologne. Will bookmark your post for future reference

  3. I was in Cologne on my way somewhere else for about the same time as you on one of my very first trips abroad as a teenager. Very fond memories, although I am pretty sure we didn’t do half as much as you. I remember being awed at the size of the river though. Thanks for the memories!

  4. Cool! Some very loaded 24hours – I remember my half day in Cologne – it was super freezing and the Chocolate museum was closed 🙁

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