20 Best Day Trips from Cologne

19 Feb, 2022

20 Best Day Trips from Cologne

Feb 19, 2022

Day Trips from Cologne

Exhausted all the things to do in Cologne and looking for new adventures? Living in Cologne and want to explore the surroundings? No matter why you’re looking for day trips from Cologne, we have some fantastic options for you. Some of these places are easy to access by public transport while you may need a car for others. Anyway, let’s get started. Oh and if you travel in winter, you might want to bundle up, as some of these locations can get a bit frosty. (ladies, we’ve got a great write up about warm leggings you might want to consider picking up before heading into the mountains.)

 1- Monschau, Germany

Day Trips from Cologne: Monschau

Travel time by train: 1 hour 25 minutes
Travel time by car: 2 hours and 5 minutes

Less than 2 hours away from Cologne, going to Monschau is like a journey back in time.

This quaint village near the Eifel National Park is brimming with old world charm, cobblestone streets, picturesque views and beautiful half-timbered houses.

The Rur river flows right through it. Founded in the 12th century and largely unchanged over the last 300 years, Monschau is guaranteed to make you feel like you’ve landed right in the middle of a fairy tale.

Must-do things in Monschau:

There is plenty to do in Monschau but we’d recommend starting with a walk around the historic (and very instagrammable!) centre. The village was one of the few in Germany that remained largely untouched by the wars. 

If you’re a mustard lover, you should also go to the Senfmuhle Monschau (just means mustard mill). This small-scale, family-owned mustard business has been producing delicious mustard for four generations.


The most well-known landmark in Monschau is the Rotes Haus (Red House) built in the 1700s by textile manufacturer Johann Heinrich Scheibler. Despite it’s unpretentious facade, the mansion is actually quite showy and lavish inside.  You can see it all at a price of 5 Euros per head.

When it’s time to take a break and sip some beer, head over to Zum Haller for some Eifeler landbier and schnitzel.

2- Bruhl, Germany

Day Trips from Cologne: Bruhl

Travel time by train: 25 minutes
Travel time by car: 26 minutes

Also known as Bruhl castle, Augustusburg is one of the easiest day trips from Cologne. Less than 30 mins from the city by regional trains RB48 and RB26, both Augustusburg and Falkenlust have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The castles were built in the 18th century. Augustusburg was one of Germany’s first rococo buildings and the favourite residence of Cologne’s Rector and Archbishop Clemens August.

The present-day construction was built on the ruins of a medieval castle. Falkenlust, on the other hand, was used by Clemes August as a hunting lodge.

Must-do things in Bruhl:

You should absolutely visit both palaces in Bruhl. Augustusburg palace can be visited only by guided tour. Sadly, guides tours are available only in German.

If you don’t speak German, you have to purchase an audio guide and tag along with the guide. However, you’re free to explore Falkenlust palace and the gardens at your own pace. A combined ticket will cost you 15 euros.

3- Bonn, Germany

Day trips from Cologne- Bonn

Travel time by train: 31 minutes
Travel time by car: 32 minutes

Bonn, the former capital of Germany, is a gorgeous city on the banks of the Rhine river. It dates back to 12 BC when the Romans called in Castra Bonnensia.

No trip to Cologne is complete without a trip to Bonn. The city is packed with beautiful buildings, interesting museums (along the museum mile), great food and surprisingly good shopping options for a town of its size.  Bonn is also the birth place of Ludwig Van Beethoven.

Must-do things in Bonn:

Beethoven haus, the birthplace of Beethoven is one of the few remaining houses in Bonn built in the 18th century and houses a museum dedicated to the musician. It is also one of the most visited places in Germany.

Bonn Minster is one of Germany’s oldest churches and was constructed some time between the 11th and 13th centuries. Kunst museum for lovers of 20th century art.

Bonn, the former capital of Germany, is a gorgeous city on the banks of the Rhine river. It dates back to 12 BC when the Romans called in Castra Bonnensia.

No trip to Cologne is complete without a trip to Bonn. The city is packed with beautiful buildings, interesting museums (along the museum mile), great food and surprisingly good shopping options for a town of its size.  Bonn is also the birth place of Ludwig Van Beethoven.

4- Konigswinter, Germany

Day trips from Cologne- Konigswinter

Travel time by train: 36 minutes
Travel time by car: 51 minutes

Located just south of Bonn, Konigswinter is super easy to access via public transportation from Cologne.  It’s also situated along the Rhine cycle route that runs from  the Swiss Alps through Germany all the way to the Dutch coast. So if you like cycling, you can easily rent a cycle from Cologne and get to Konigswinter in about 2 hours.

Konigswinter is ideal for nature lovers and history lovers alike. The hills around Konigswinter offer fantastic views of the Rhine valley and surrounding villages. Schloss Drachenburg built in the 19th century, is the most visited landmark in Konigswinter.

Must-do things in Konigswinter:

Schloss Drachenburg is a picture-perfect castle perched on a hill. It was a private villa fashioned like a castle. Once you’re done exploring the castle and its gardens, head uphill to the ruins of the old

Drachenfels castle built in the 11th century.For those who love green spaces, the Siebengebirge nature park is a veritable paradise that offers beautiful hiking trails and picnic spots. This nature park is the first of its kind in the state of NRW and is an amazing place to just spend time with friends and family in the spring and summer months.

For those who love green spaces, the Siebengebirge nature park is a veritable paradise that offers beautiful hiking trails and picnic spots. This nature park is the first of its kind in the state of NRW and is an amazing place to just spend time with friends and family in the spring and summer months.

5- Aachen, Germany

Day trips from Cologne- Aachen

Travel time by train: 44 minutes
Travel time by car: 1 hour 4 minutes

Aachen, also known as Aix la Chapelle, is one of the western-most cities in Germany and situated close to the Dutch and Belgian borders. It is flanked by extraordinary greenery with the Eifel National Park on one side and the Ardennes on the other side.

Historically, Aachen was a well-known spa town with over thirty thermal springs in and around the city. The curative properties of the Aachen hot springs have brought scores of people here for centuries starting with the Roman settlement in the 1st century AD. 

Must-do things in Aachen:

The Aachen cathedral is the most famous attraction of the city.  The octagonal core of the cathedral was constructed in AD 796 as a palace church for Emperor Charlemagne. Construction was expanded in the subsequent centuries. It is also the final resting place of the Emperor himself. 

The Aachen townhall is located near the Aachen cathedral and is the administrative building of the city. It was built in the 13th century on the ruins of Charlemagne’s palace as the seat of the administration and a celebration hall for festivities.

“Baroque” style extensions were added following a fire in 1656 that destroyed parts of the building.Ponttor and Marschiertor are two of the last surviving city gates of Aachen. At one point, the city had 11 gates. These gorgeous fortifications are definitely worth a visit.

6- Ahr valley, Germany

Day trips from Cologne- Ahr Valley

Travel time by train: 1 hour 38 minutes
Travel time by car: 48 minutes

Beer holds a major place in the German drinking culture. But, Germany is not just about beer. The country also produces some extraordinary wine.

The Ahr valley is one of Germany’s most popular wine regions and one of the northernmost wine regions in the world. Thankfully, the vineyards in the region are protected from freezing harsh winds by the Eifel hills.  It is located just an hour south of Cologne. The Ahr river, a tributary of the Rhine, flows through it.

The rolling hills and the vibrant green of the Ahr valley make it a great destination for those who want to get away from the city for a day or two.

The valley is home to idyllic little villages surrounded by vineyards with charming wineries, boutiques and tasting rooms and you will not be disappointed.

Must-do things in the Ahr valley:

The Ahr valley is all about its VINO! Visit some of the region’s countless tasting rooms and bars.  What wine should you go for? A semi-dry Pinot Noir (locally known as Spatburgunder) is the most produced wine here.

7- Brussels, Belgium

Day trip from Cologne- Brussels

Travel time by train: 2 hours 9 minutes
Travel time by car: 2 hours and 30 minutes

Brussels is not in Germany but you can reach Brussels in under two hours from Cologne and spend a full day there before you head back.

The city has a fascinating history and its fair share of gorgeous buildings to gawk at! The city’s most famous exports are beer, moules frites, Belgian chocolates and chips (or French fries).

French fries are actually Belgian. They just came to be called French fries because the American soldiers who tried them in Belgium during WW2 just called them “French” as they were in a French-speaking province in Belgium.

Must-do things in Brussels:

The Grand Place is one of the most breathtaking squares in all of Europe. It’s smack in the centre of the city and damn near impossible to miss.

The Grand Palace is home to a 15th century city hall as well as 6 Baroque-style guild halls that were used by the city’s merchants back in the day.

The square’s history dates back to the 12th century. Grand Place has also witnessed some of the most important historical events in Belgium. We’d definitely recommend a walking tour of Brussels city centre to discover the city’s history, culture and architecture to start your day.

In the afternoon, scarf down a delicious Belgian meal before you go on a beer tasting tour to sample Belgian beers and understand the basic’s of the country’s beer culture.

Squeeze in a chocolate tour if you can as Belgium has a long history of excellence in the field of chocolate-making and can give Swiss chocolates a run for their money.

8- Rudesheim am Rhein, Germany

Day trips from Cologne- Rudesheim am Rhein

Travel time by train: 2 hours 16 minutes
Travel time by car: 2 hours and 17 minutes

Rudesheim am Rhein is an enchanting little town located close to Frankfurt in the Rheingau wine region of Germany. They’re famous for their Reisling and pinot noir wines.

The town hosts an annual wine festival in summer usually with live music and food from around the region. The region in and around Rudesheim was first settled by the Celts and later by the Romans.

The easiest way to get from Cologne to Rudesheim is by car which takes about 2 hours. The fastest train takes about 3 hours.

Must-do things in Rudesheim:

Drosselgasse is the most popular tourist spot in Rudesheim. It is a narrow alleyway packed with half-timbered buildings, shops, cafes and wine bars. Just stroll down this street, check out some shops, buy some souvenirs and relax with some wine.

You should also visit Eibingen Abbey, which was founded in the 12th century by Hildegard of Bingen. The existing buildings were constructed in the 1900s.

If you’re an avid wine lover, stop by Schloss Vollrads that has been producing wine since 1330. The wine estate consists of vast vineyards, a beautiful manor house and a restaurant. You can taste their Riesling wines in a converted coach house in their courtyard.

9- Maastricht, Netherlands

Day trips from Cologne- Maastricht

Travel time by train: 1 hour 42 minutes
Travel time by car: 1 hour and 17 minutes

Situated on the banks of the Meuse river near the German-Dutch border, Maastricht is one of the oldest towns in the Netherlands.

Present day Maastricht is a vibrant university town that still retains a delightful old world charm and youthful appeal. With a slew of museums, churches and historical buildings  worth visiting, there is plenty to do in Maastricht,

Must-do things in Maastricht:

If you’re just in Maastricht for a day, start with a walking tour that gives you a crash course on the city’s main sights and history. Vrijthof is the centre of the city, peppered with charming old buildings, a gorgeous townhall and a main square with numerous bars and restaurants.

The neighbourhood is also home to the spectacular Basilica of Saint Servatius built between the 11th and 12th centuries. The Saint Pietersberg Caves are also a must-visit for anyone who can spare the time.

The caves are a manmade labyrinth of subterranean tunnels hewn out of rock over the course of centuries to mine Marl. The cave walls are filled with centuries of graffiti. During world war 2, city dwellers often used these caves as refuge.

10- Amsterdam, Netherlands

Day trips from Cologne- Amsterdam

Travel time by train: 3 hours 7 minutes
Travel time by car: 2 hours and 54 minutes

Hard to believe that Amsterdam is an easy day trip from Cologne? We hear you! We found it hard to believe too until we actually tried it ourselves.

The best way to make a day trip to Amsterdam from Cologne is by train. Start early. You’ll find trains from 3.30 a.m. onwards but there is no need to leave that early. We think a safe time would be 6 a.m. so that you arrive in Amsterdam by 9 or 9:15 a.m.

From its picturesque canals to its magnificent historic houses, Amsterdam is straight out of a fairy tale. This charming backdrop is made even more beautiful by the city’s colourful bikes, tulip stalls and vibrant shop front displays.

Just walk around and soak in this lovely Dutch city or rent a cycle and be a part of this city’s proud cycling tradition. The Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum should definitely be on your must-do list. The city’s “local coffee shops” are also a major attraction for visitors from all over the world.

Must-do things in Amsterdam:

If you’re just in Amsterdam for the day, these are the most important things you should do (according to yours truly).

  • Start your day with an Amsterdam walking tour
  • After the tour, get lunch somewhere. If you love seafood, we’d recommend the Seafood bar
  • Post lunch, get yourself to Jordaan where Anne Frank House is located
  • Do a quick tour of Anne Frank house (You need to book tickets online in advance)
  • After the tour, go on a canal boat tour. You’ll find boat tours that leave from outside Anne Frank House every twenty minutes
  • Once you’re done with the boat ride, take a bus to Food Hallen or go for a beer tasting experience
  • Towards the end of the day, head to the red light district (the red light district is usually quiet and empty during the day)

11- Cochem, Germany

Day trips from Cologne- Cochem

Travel time by train: 1 hour 54 minutes
Travel time by car: 1 hour and 28 minutes

Situated in Germany’s Mosel wine region, the lovely little town of Cochem is definitely worth a visit.

The town is famous for its quintessentially German half-timbered houses, narrow streets and fairytale ambiance. The river Mosel flows right along it. Cochem is a mere 1.5 hours away from Cologne by road and a little more than that by train making it a super easy day trip from Cologne.

Must-do things in Cochem:

Cochem’s main highlight is the majestic Reichsburg castle perched on a hill that dominates the surrounding valley. The castle terrace offers stunning views of the river Mosel and the Mosel vineyards. After visiting the castle, head to the castle cafe where you can just kick back and sip some regional wines while gawking at the impressive scenery.

If you have time and are wondering what to do next, walk downhill to Cochem’s Altstadt (Old Town) and revel in its old world charm. You’ll inevitably stumble upon the Marktplatz that hosts the town’s historic baroque-style townhall that can be traced back to 1739. The market place also has a few restaurants and bars where you can dine alfresco in spring, summer and autumn months.

Large parts of the old city have survived to this day. This includes three 14th-century gates. The largest surviving gate is called Enderttor and used to serve as the city’s prison as well.

Last but certainly not the least, visit one of the town’s many wineries to sample some delicious local wines. Riesling is the most popular grape variety in this region.

12- Heidelberg, Germany

Day trips from Cologne: Heidelberg

Travel time by train: 2 hours
Travel time by car: 2 hours and 35 minutes

Nestled on the banks of the beautiful Neckar river, Heidelberg attracts over 1 million tourists annually and is an easy day trip from Cologne by train.

The city of Heidelberg was ravaged during the wars of the 17th century and needed extensive reconstruction. In the 18th century, large parts of the city were rebuilt in baroque style. Heidelberg is home to the oldest surviving university in Germany and hosts a substantial student population.

Its historic Altstadt or Old Town boasts a combination charming cobblestone streets and gorgeous medieval architecture.

Must-do things in Heidelberg:

  • Visit the historic Heidelberg castle. Although large parts of the castle are in ruins, some rooms are still intact
  • Check out the Heidelberg Tun in the castle cellars. It is a large wine barrel dating back to 1751
  • Pop into the German pharmacy museum to understand the evolution of medicine and healing sciences
  • Stroll around the lovely town centre and gawk at all the delightful old buildings
  • Check out the historic old town bridge
  • Get a view of Heidelberg from the castle hill after sunset

13- Giethoorn, Netherlands

Day trips from Cologne: Giethoorn

Travel time by train: 2 hours
Travel time by car: 3 hours

If you’re looking for a truly unique travel destination from Cologne, then look no further than Giethoorn, Netherlands.

This charming village is located in the province of Overijssel and is often referred to as the “Venice of the North.”

Giethoorn is a popular tourist destination for those looking to explore Dutch culture and history. Here are just a few of the many things you can do in Giethoorn.

Must-do things in Giethoorn:

– Take a boat ride through the canals: Giethoorn is famous for its canals, and there’s no better way to explore them than by boat. You can rent a boat from one of the many companies in town or take a guided tour.

– Visit the Museum Boerderij: This museum is located in an 18th-century farmhouse and offers a glimpse into traditional Dutch life. You’ll see everything from vintage farm equipment to traditional costumes.

– Enjoy the outdoors: There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors in Giethoorn. Take a stroll through Nikkeler park or go for a hike in the nearby De Weerribben-Wieden National Park.

14- Marburg, Germany

Day trips from Cologne: Marburg

Travel time by train: 2 hours 51 minutes
Travel time by car: 2 hours 13 minutes

If you’re looking for things to do in Marburg, Germany, you won’t be disappointed. This historic city is home to a number of must-see attractions.

The first stop on any visit should be Marburg Castle. Perched atop a hill overlooking the city, this imposing fortress was once the seat of the Landgraves of Hesse-Kassel.

Today, it houses a museum with a wealth of exhibits on the history of the castle and the region. Other top sights in Marburg include St. Elizabeth’s Church, the Gothic Town Hall, and the Museum Laurissilva.

For a dose of culture, be sure to catch a performance at the Marburger Schlossfestspiele, an annual festival held in the grounds of Marburg Castle. With so much to see and do, Marburg is sure to keep you entertained.

Things to do in Marburg

  • Explore the Marburg castle: The castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. It is a beautiful example of medieval architecture and offers stunning views of the city below.
  • Stroll through the old town: The old town is full of narrow streets and historic buildings. It is a great place to wander and explore, and there are plenty of shops and cafes to enjoy along the way.
  • Visit the Landgrafenschloss: This imposing palace was built in the 16th century for the Landgraves of Hesse-Marburg. It is now open to the public and houses a museum with an extensive collection of art and artifacts.
  • See the Elisabethkirche: This Gothic church is one of the most important religious sites in Marburg. It was built in the 13th century and features a beautiful interior with stained glass windows and elaborate stone carvings.

15- Utrecht, Netherlands

Day trips from Cologne: Utrecht

Travel time by train: 2 hours 23 minutes
Travel time by car: 2 hours 43 minutes

Utrecht is a quaint city in the Netherlands that is often overshadowed by Amsterdam. However, Utrecht has a lot to offer visitors, from its canals and Churches to its lively bars and restaurants. It is a super easy day trip from Cologne. Here are some of the best things to do in Utrecht:

Things to do in Utrecht

  • Visit the Dom Tower: The Dom tower is the tallest church tower in the Netherlands, and it offers stunning views of the city from its top. You can take a guided tour of the tower, which includes climbing to the top, or simply admire it from below.
  • Explore the Canals: Utrecht is known as the Venice of the North, and its canals are one of its most iconic features. Take a leisurely stroll along the water or rent a boat and explore the canals at your own pace.
  • Visit Muziekcentrum Vredenburg: This concert hall is one of Utrecht’s most popular tourist attractions. Muziekcentrum Vredenburg hosts a variety of musical events throughout the year, so there’s sure to be something to your taste.
  • Explore Groninger Museum: This museum is dedicated to contemporary art and culture, and it houses an impressive collection of work by Dutch artists.

16- Linz Am Rhein, Germany

Day Trips from Cologne: Linz Am Rhein

Travel time by train: 58 minutes
Travel time by car: 52 minutes

Linz Am Rhein is a town in the Rhineland-Palatinate state of Germany. It is located on the left bank of the Rhine river, opposite the city of Koblenz.

The town is home to a number of attractions, including the Linz Castle, the Linz Cathedral, and the Linzer Torte (a type of cake).

Visitors to Linz Am Rhein can also enjoy hiking and biking along the Rhine river, and sampling the local wine.

The town is well-connected by train and bus, making it easy to explore the surrounding area. Whether you’re looking for history, culture, or just a chance to relax, Linz Am Rhein has something to offer everyone.

17- Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Day Trips from Cologne: Luxembourg

Travel time by train: 3 hours 30 minutes
Travel time by car: 2 hours 35 minutes

Luxembourg is a small landlocked country in Western Europe. It is bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany, and it has a population of just over 600,000.

Thanks to its central location and excellent infrastructure, Luxembourg is a popular travel destination.

The capital city, Luxembourg City, is home to a number of historic landmarks, including the Fortress of Luxembourg and the Grand Ducal Palace.

Outside of the city, visitors can enjoy the country’s scenic Castles of the Valley area or go hiking in the Ardennes forest. Whether you’re looking for culture or nature, Luxembourg has something to offer everyone.

18- Limburg, Germany

Day Trips from Cologne: Limburg

Travel time by train: 1 hour 05 minutes
Travel time by car: 1 hour 25 minutes

Limburg is a small town in western Germany that is often overlooked by tourists. However, those who take the time to visit Limburg will be rewarded with a charming town with a well-preserved medieval center.

The town is located on the River Lahn and is surrounded by beautiful countryside. Visitors can explore the old town, which is full of half-timbered houses and quaint shops, or take a boat ride on the river.

There are also several museums and galleries to keep visitors entertained. Limburg makes for a great day trip from Frankfurt or Cologne, and travelers will find plenty to see and do in this charming German town.

19- Eifel National Park, Germany

Day Trips from Cologne: Eifel National Park

Travel time by train: 1 hour 19 minutes
Travel time by car: 1 hour

Eifel National Park is a great travel destination for those who love nature and hiking. The park is located in the Eifel region of Germany and is home to a variety of landscapes, including forests, rivers, and mountains.

There are also plenty of opportunities for wildlife watching, as the park is home to a number of different animal species.

In addition to its natural beauty, the park also has a number of historical and cultural attractions, such as the ruins of castles and Roman baths.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing vacation or an adventurous getaway, Eifel National Park is sure to have something for you.

20- Trier, Germany

Day Trips from Cologne: Trier

Travel time by train: 2 hours 18 minutes
Travel time by car: 2 hours `30 minutes

Trier is a city in Germany that is located on the Moselle River. The city is the oldest in Germany, and it was founded by the Celts in the late 4th century BC.

Trier was an important trading center during the Roman Empire, and it was even named as the capital of Rome’s Gaul province.

Today, the city is a popular travel destination, and its Roman ruins are some of the most well-preserved in Europe.

Visitors to Trier can also explore its medieval churches, visit its numerous museums, or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll through its historic streets.

Whatever your interests, Trier is sure to offer something for everyone.

Finding accommodation in Cologne

Many of our readers have reported difficulty finding appropriate accommodation in Cologne. From what we know, there is a supply shortage in the city and it is often difficult to find a property that meets all your needs even if you have an sizeable budget. We recommend regularly checking websites such as Homelike and Airbnb to find apartments in Cologne or short term rentals. If you’re unable to find something in Cologne, expand your search to neighbouring cities such as Bonn, Neuss and Dusseldorf.


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