One Week Around Cologne? Lucky You! You Can Do This…

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In this article, I’m thrilled to share with you a meticulously crafted one-week itinerary that uncovers the best of Cologne and its surroundings. It’s perfect if you have a week to spare in this fantastic part of the world.

Cologne, with its majestic cathedral piercing the sky, is just the beginning of an adventure that spirals into a journey through time. But why stop there? The nearby towns, each with their historical charm and unique attractions, offer a kaleidoscope of experiences that promise to enrich your travel diary.

One of the best parts about Cologne is that there are so many awesome day tripping opportunities very close by. This one week itinerary takes advantage of that. So with the ease of one hotel stay, you can see so much of Germany.

From the ancient beauty in Bonn to the enchanting alleys of Monschau, every day unveils a new chapter of discovery.

Cologne one week itineraryPin

Along the way, we’ll dive into the modern art scenes of Düsseldorf, find solace in Aachen’s historic baths, and stand in awe of Bonn’s architectural marvels. Plus, indulging in the local cuisines and uncovering hidden gems in each city makes this itinerary not just a trip but a treasure hunt for the senses.

I’ve designed this guide to help you navigate through these experiences with ease, all while keeping it simple, engaging, and, most importantly, exciting. Join me as we embark on this journey, and let’s make memories that will linger long after our return.

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Incredible One Week Cologne And Surrounds Itinerary

Now that we’ve set the stage for our journey around Cologne and its neighboring cities, it’s time to dive into the heart of our adventure – the detailed day-by-day itinerary. In this section, I’ll guide you through each day’s highlights, from majestic cathedrals and serene parks to immersive museums and vibrant market squares.

Note that this itinerary moves FAST! If you are someone who wants to see and experience the most of every day, you’ll LOVE this itinerary. If you prefer to take things slower, cut back this itinerary. Pick your favorite four days and spread them into seven days for a more relaxed pace.

You could hire a car for this itinerary, but it’s doable on public transport and I think easier. So I recommend public transport.

You can check out train timetables and options here.

The only exception is day 7 when you visit Monschau. This would be quicker and easier in a car. You can check out car hire options and prices here.

Day 1: Cologne’s Historical Heart

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Views from Cologne Triangle
  • Settle into your hotel
  • Visit the iconic Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom); explore its interior and climb the south tower.
  • Stroll through Old Town (Altstadt) checking out the historic Town Hall (Rathaus)
  • Visit the Roman-Germanic Museum (Römisch-Germanisches Museum) or Cologne City Museum (Kölnisches Stadtmuseum).
  • Dinner at a traditional brewery in Old Town, experiencing Kölsch beer and local dishes.

Day 2: Art, Views, and Shopping

  • Explore Museum Ludwig for modern art.
  • Cross the Hohenzollern Bridge.
  • Visit the Cologne Triangle for panoramic city views.
  • Shopping at Schildergasse Shopping Street.
  • Jazz concert at Stadtgarten or opera performance at Cologne Opera House.



Cologne is a city where history whispers from every corner, blending seamlessly with a vibrantly modern lifestyle. It’s the fourth-largest city in Germany, with roots that stretch back over 2,000 years, making it a treasure trove for anyone intrigued by the past.

The iconic Cologne Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, stands as a testament to human ingenuity and the spirit of the Gothic era. It’s not just an architectural marvel; it’s an invitation to marvel at panoramic city views from its south tower, a must-visit to truly understand Cologne’s historical grandeur.

Wandering through the Old Town, you’ll be greeted by picturesque streets and the Historic Town Hall. After you’ve wandered and taken in the Old Town, consider visiting the Roman-Germanic Museum. Here, ancient Roman artifacts tell tales of Cologne’s early days.

Similarly, the Cologne City Museum showcases the city’s journey through time, making both museums essential for piecing together Cologne’s vast historical puzzle.

Art lovers rejoice in Museum Ludwig, a modern art haven with an extensive Picasso collection among other contemporary masterpieces. It’s a vibrant contrast to the historical narratives, showing off Cologne’s diverse cultural fabric.

A stroll across the Hohenzollern Bridge isn’t just about the view; it’s a passage through thousands of love locks that symbolize enduring love and connection. On the other side, the Cologne Triangle awaits with its breathtaking city vistas, offering a different perspective and a moment of awe.

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Crossing Hohenzollern Bridge – it has a crazy amount of locks on it!

Schildergasse Shopping Street is a bustling hub of retail therapy and one of the busiest shopping streets in Europe. As you wander through this vibrant thoroughfare, you’re greeted by a mix of high street brands, boutique stores, and traditional German shops, offering everything from the latest fashion to unique souvenirs.

The Chocolate Museum in Cologne is a sweet delight that offers more than just a taste of chocolate; it’s an immersive journey through the delicious world of cocoa. From the origins of chocolate in ancient cultures to the refined European confections we adore today, this museum educates and entertains with interactive exhibits, live demonstrations, and, of course, tastings.

Taking a Guided Brewhouse Walking Tour in Cologne is like taking a step into the heart of the city’s beer culture. Kölsch, the beer synonymous with Cologne, is more than just a beverage here; it’s a part of the city’s soul.

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Drinking Kölsch – your drink will keep being replaced until you put a coaster on top to show that you are done

This guided tour offers an insider’s look into traditional brewhouses, where the golden, crisp Kölsch is brewed. It’s an opportunity to learn about the brewing process, taste the distinct flavors of different Kölsch varieties, and soak in the lively atmosphere of Cologne’s historic taverns.

Along the way, you’ll hear stories that capture the spirit of Cologne, making this tour an essential experience for anyone eager to understand the city beyond its landmarks.

Click here for more information on these tours.

Day 3: Palaces, Chocolate, and Breweries

  • Visit Augustusburg and Falkenlust Palaces in Brühl; enjoy their Baroque architecture and gardens.
  • Explore the Chocolate Museum in Cologne; delve into chocolate’s history and enjoy tastings.
  • Experience Cologne’s brewing culture firsthand with a Guided Brewhouse Walking Tour.


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Brühl invites you on a journey through the luxe and grandeur of a bygone era, nestled just a 15-minute train ride away from the bustling city of Cologne. This town, steeped in history, houses two of Europe’s most magnificent palaces: Augustusburg and Falkenlust, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites that celebrate Baroque architecture at its most sublime.

Augustusburg Palace enchants with its opulent rooms and intricate ornamentation, while Falkenlust, a hunting lodge, complements it with more intimate, yet equally exquisite, splendor. The palaces are surrounded by sprawling gardens, perfect for a leisurely stroll to absorb the breathtaking beauty and tranquility.

Visiting Brühl, you’re not just observing history; you’re stepping into it, surrounded by the lavish lifestyles of the past aristocracy. It’s a place that captures the imagination, transporting you to a world of elegance and architectural mastery.

Click here to read our full guide to Brühl.

Day 4: Day Trip to Bonn

  • Explore the ancient Romanesque architecture of Bonner Münster.
  • Visit Beethoven-Haus to immerse yourself in the life and works of Ludwig van Beethoven.
  • Admire the Rococo elegance of Altes Rathaus.
  • View the exterior and gardens of Kurfürstliches Schloss.
  • Savor traditional dishes and locally brewed Bönnsch beer at Brauhaus Bönnsch.
  • Dive into the history of post-war Germany through the compelling exhibitions at Haus der Geschichte.
  • Experience the modern and contemporary art collections at Kunstmuseum Bonn.
  • Discover rotating exhibits on art, culture, and science at Bundeskunsthalle.


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Altes Rathaus

Bonn, a gem nestled on the banks of the Rhine, is a city where history, culture, and beauty converge, making it a pivotal stop on your itinerary. Just a 25-minute train trip from Cologne, the former capital of West Germany is also steeped in centuries of history, with its roots stretching back to Roman times.

The Bonner Münster, with its ancient Romanesque architecture, offers a tranquil sanctuary that silently narrates stories from the past. Near this serene spot stands Beethoven-Haus, the childhood home of the legendary composer, turning into a museum that hosts an intimate exploration of his life and works.

Wander a bit, and you’ll find Altes Rathaus, the Rococo town hall, that dazzles with its elegance, serving as a backdrop to the vibrant city life bustling around it. Not far away, the Kurfürstliches Schloss impresses with its grandeur, a testament to Bonn’s aristocratic history.

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Bonner Münster

When hunger strikes, Brauhaus Bönnsch welcomes you with open arms, offering a taste of traditional dishes and the unique Bönnsch beer, brewed on-site, embodying the city’s warm hospitality.

For those intrigued by history, Haus der Geschichte provides a deep dive into Germany’s post-war era, while art enthusiasts will find solace in the modern masterpieces housed at Kunstmuseum Bonn. The Bundeskunsthalle, with its rotating exhibitions, promises something new with every visit, reflecting the dynamic spirit of Bonn.

Click here to read our full guide to spending one day in Bonn.

Day 5: Day Trip to Düsseldorf

  • Visit the Rheinturm (Rhine Tower) for panoramic views of the city.
  • Explore K21 Standehaus, delving into contemporary art in a historic setting.
  • Stroll along the Rhine Promenade, absorbing the vibrant atmosphere by the river.
  • Wander through Altstadt (Old Town), the heart of Düsseldorf’s historic charm.
  • Appreciate modern art at K20 Grabbeplatz, featuring key works of the 20th century.
  • Relax in Hofgarten, Düsseldorf’s green oasis in the midst of the city.
  • Shop at Königsallee, known for its luxury boutiques and high-end shopping experiences.
  • Discover the architectural wonders of MedienHafen, blending modernity and tradition by the waterfront.



Düsseldorf, with its artful blend of historic charm and avant-garde architecture, is a great addition to the itinerary just 22 minutes by train from Cologne. This city, thriving along the banks of the Rhine, dates back over 1300 years, offering a rich tapestry of culture and history for you to explore.

Start your visit with the iconic Rheinturm (Rhine Tower), where breathtaking panoramic views of the entire city await you, stretching from the winding Rhine to the bustling streets.

As you delve deeper, K21 Standehaus will enchant you with contemporary art showcased within the grandeur of a 19th-century building, offering a unique juxtaposition of the old and the new.

The Rhine Promenade offers a picturesque setting for leisurely strolls, lined with cafes and stalls, leading you into the heart of Düsseldorf, the Altstadt (Old Town). Here, there are lively breweries and eateries, inviting you to sample traditional Altbier and Rhineland dishes in a setting brimming with history.


For art enthusiasts, K20 Grabbeplatz is an indispensable stop, presenting a stellar collection of 20th-century art, including works by Picasso and Klee. A visit to Hofgarten introduces you to Düsseldorf’s oldest park, a serene retreat amidst the urban landscape.

The luxury boutiques of Königsallee offer an unrivaled shopping experience, while the architectural marvels of MedienHafen showcase the city’s modern flair and creativity.

Click here to read our full guide to spending one day in Düsseldorf.

Day 6: Day Trip to Aachen

  • Visit Aachen Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Delve into the history of Charlemagne at the Centre Charlemagne museum.
  • Relax in the historical Aachen Thermal Baths, if time allows.
  • Try the local specialty, Aachener Printen, a type of gingerbread.



Aachen, a city with a tapestry woven from threads of history, innovation, and natural beauty, is a compelling addition to your itinerary for its remarkable blend of past and present. Known as the westernmost city of Germany, it boasts a history that dates back to the Romans, who were drawn here by its hot springs. And it’s only 34 minutes by train from Cologne.

It’s most famous for its association with Charlemagne, the Father of Europe, making it a cradle of European history and culture. Read more about Charlemagne here.

The Aachen Cathedral, an architectural marvel, is the city’s crown jewel. As the oldest cathedral in northern Europe, it was the coronation site for German kings and queens—a place where history palpably resonates through its ornate walls and stunning Palatine Chapel. It’s one of my favorite attractions in Germany. I could just feel the history here.

Just a stone’s throw away, the Cathedral Treasury showcases medieval treasures, connecting you to a bygone era.

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Inside Aachen Cathedral

Don’t miss the Centre Chalemagne to learn more about the history of the city and its importance in European history.

But Aachen is not just about peering into the past. The city’s vibrant squares are lined with cafes and restaurants where you can savour traditional German dishes or enjoy a piece of the famous Aachener Printen, a type of gingerbread linked to the city.

The Carolus Thermen Bad Aachen provides a modern-day echo of the city’s ancient Roman baths, offering a relaxing escape with its therapeutic waters. Aachen invites you to journey through time—from Roman days to the Middle Ages, right through to the present.

Click here to read our full guide to Aachen.

Day 7: Day Trip to Monschau

  • Wander through the medieval streets of Monschau.
  • Visit the Rotes Haus (Red House) Museum to learn about local history.
  • Explore the Monschau Castle.
  • Soak up the beauty of the town as much as possible


Beautiful MonschauPin
Stunning Monschau

Nestled in the hills of the Eifel region, Monschau beckons with its postcard-perfect scenery and a historical tapestry that tells tales dating back to the 1100s. This fairy-tale village, with its cobblestone streets, timber-framed houses, and a gently flowing river, captures the essence of medieval charm, making it an unmissable stop on your itinerary. It’s one of the prettiest towns in Germany.

Monschau is the furthest place you venture on this itinerary. You first need to go back to Aachen and then take a bus another hour.

Venture into the Red House (Rotes Haus), a testament to the prosperous textile industry that once flourished here. Its opulent interior and the grandiose staircase offer a glimpse into the lives of the wealthy Scheibler family.

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Wandering the Old Town

Craftsmanship in Monschau is not a thing of the past. The Glassworks offers you a chance to see skilled artisans at work, creating beautiful pieces that echo the village’s artistic heritage. Food in Monschau is a delightful experience, with quaint cafes and traditional German pubs offering hearty meals like schnitzel and bratwurst, perfectly complemented by a local Ahr wine or a refreshing beer.

You should also head to Monschau Castle, perched above the town, for panoramic views and a backdrop to the town’s vibrant events.

But the main reason to come to Monschau is to wander its pretty streets and waterways and soak in the atmosphere of this crazy beautiful town. As soon as you step foot here, you’ll know the journey was worth it.

Click here to read our full guide to Monschau.

Map Of Your Cologne One Week Itinerary

The following map shows you the places you will go on day trips during this week.

Cologne one week itinerary mapPin
Click on the map above to open it in Google Maps

As our journey around Cologne and its enchanting neighbors draws to a close, it’s clear that this region holds a mosaic of experiences, each piece significant in its own right. From the historical depths of Aachen to the artistic streets of Düsseldorf, and the quaint charm of Monschau, this itinerary offers a taste of the diverse cultural, historical, and culinary landscapes that define this part of Germany.

I hope this guide inspires you to embark on this journey, armed with insight and excitement for what lies ahead. Cologne is an amazing city in part because of how much there is to explore around Cologne as well.

You can find our guide to day trip options from Cologne here. Looking for more itinerary options? You could head from Cologne to this one week itinerary for Central Germany here or head down to Frankfurt and explore southern Germany in this itinerary. You can also find all our travel guides to Western Germany here.

Sharon Gourlay in the Rhina Valley

By Sharon Gourlay

Sharon first fell in love with Germany back in 2000 on her first visit. She loves the long history, the picturesque Old Towns, the castles, the food, everything really! Since then, she has visited many times and loves writing about Germany here so you can enjoy it too. In fact, Sharon loves German culture so much that she sent her kids to a German primary school in Australia. She especially loves Berlin and towns with charming Old Towns like Celle and Quedlinburg. Sharon also has a Certificate III in International Travel Sales and understands the nitty gritty of travel planning. Through this site, she'll help you have the perfect trip to Germany whether it's your first or tenth time!

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