Located in the western half of Germany is Cologne – a beautiful 2000-year-old city nestled along the Rhine River. Köln, as the city is known in Germany, is bustling with life and character.
There is a great mix of activities to see and do in Cologne that you won’t want to miss.
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Cologne Cathedral, the Chocolate Museum, Cologne’s Old Town and Old Market are some of the highlights you will want to explore during your trip.
Read my travel guide for Cologne if you are planning your trip to visit Cologne Germany.
Struggling with planning on how to fit in all the attractions in your trip? Read this guide on how to plan your next Cologne weekend break.
This post will help you decide the best time to visit Cologne, giving an in-depth seasonal guide to the city. Once you have decided on when you want to visit – this post will help you best plan your trip to the city no matter the season.
It’s the guide I which I had when I was planning my visit to Cologne.
Best Time to Visit Cologne, Germany
Cologne, Germany Weather – Seasonal Guide
Irrespective of the weather in Cologne, the city always has something to offer each visitor. Summers are pleasant and warm but can get a little crowded at times.
Autumn and Spring are the perfect seasons for sightseeing. Winters get cold and chilly, yet the festive atmosphere warms up the people and the city is absolutely buzzing with its Christmas market.
Summer in Cologne – Weather & Temperature
June, July, and August make up the summer months. This is the warmest time of year to visit the city. The season starts off wet with a lot of rain – make sure to pack a raincoat!
But warms up to an average temperature of 23°C, sometimes soaring up to 30°C. Per month you can roughly expect 180 hours of sunshine. Don’t forget to pack your sunglasses and sunscreen.
As the sun makes its appearance during these months, it also attracts large numbers of tourists each year.
Visitors from all over the world, flock to this magnificent city. Eager to enjoy the beautiful weather in one of the many parks or outdoor spaces.
A bustling city tends to lead to increases in price during these months. Prices on hotels, airfare, and car reservations are often at their highest during this time. Find the best accommodation deals here for your trip to Cologne.
Things to do in Cologne in June
Held every year the c/o pop festival sets the pace for summer and the latest vibes in electronic music. During this epic five day festival, Cologne transforms into a pop-culture mecca.
The festival offers a mix of newcomers and established artists. Using unconventional venues for the festival is just one aspect that sets the festival apart.
For those wanting to cruise – pun intended – into their Cologne trip try one of the many boat trips available.
These trips along the Rhine River make for beautiful views of the city’s old town. You get to experience and see the city from another perspective.
Things to do in Cologne in July
As the sun heats up in summer, so does Fühlinger Lake. Each year in July things are turned up a notch when the Summerjam Festival is held.
The site is flooded with Reggae and Dancehall fans (my type of people), all ready to have a great time.
Cologne prides itself on being one of Europe’s centres for gay and lesbian life. Christopher Street Day (CSD) is held each year during the first weekend of July.
Participants and visitors across the globe join in for this festival – with the highlight being the parade.
Kölner Lichter lights up the city’s sky each year in mid-July. This spectacular firework show is synchronised with music. Transforming the Rhine into a colourful sea of lights. It’s an event you don’t want to miss when you are in Cologne in July.
Things to do in Cologne in August
Cologne’s location next to the Rhine River is ideal during the summer months. The Rheinpark is situated along the banks of the river.
It is a beautiful spot to visit and enjoy the stunning surroundings. Have a picnic, read a book or visit the public baths.
Looking to do something a little less active? Spend the afternoon in one of Cologne’s numerous beer gardens. Cologne is known for its Kolsch Beer.
This type of beer is known for its straw-yellow hue, mild hoppiness, and mid-range alcohol content. If you are a beer lover, you cannot miss out on a beer tasting tour.
Autumn in Cologne – Weather & Temperature
Autumn has slightly cooler temperatures in Cologne with days averaging at 15°C. September starts out pleasant but gets colder the closer you get to November. Days become wet and windy and you can even expect the night frost in November.
Fall is a great time to visit Cologne if you are looking to be budget-friendly. Tourist traffic is low, resulting in great prices.
Don’t let this dampen your expectations, as there are abundant attractions and the city still has a vibrant atmosphere.
Things to do in Cologne in September
Enjoy the mild autumn weather with a day trip to the Cologne Zoo. Founded in 1860, it is one of Germany’s oldest zoological gardens. Visit Ape Island with its own mock rainforest or go see various animals at its well-stocked aquarium.
The zoo also has a great big cat enclosure and a biotope habitat where visitors can view animals through the glass.
Things to do in Cologne in October
The Köln Marathon is held each year in October. Even if you are not a runner, it is a great spectacle to witness.
The route goes along the Rhine banks, the Cathedral and other city sights. The city has an incredible buzz to it as there are events held leading up to the marathon.
There are also competitions for children at the Köln Marathon Expo. It offers various activities in the fields of running, inline skating, fitness, cycling, wellness, and health.
Join the thousands of observers and cheer on the brave runners during their journey.
Things to do in Cologne in November
Each year in autumn the city organises a museum night. Known as Lange Nacht der Kölner Museen. Between the hours of 19:00 and 05:00, for the night owl, the city’s museums open its doors to visitors.
Children up to the age of 15, go for free, while adults have to purchase a ticket. The night involves music, readings, films and tours.
It is a great way to experience the museums of the city and broaden your knowledge on various topics.
The city also hosts a unique music festival called Kunstsalon. Private hosts across Cologne provide platforms for young and emerging artists to express their artistic styles. It is a coordinated festival that also takes place in Hamburg and Bonn.
Winter in Cologne – Weather & Temperature
December to February make up the winter season. Days are cold and temperatures in Cologne average around 3°C during the day and around freezing point at night.
The wind plays a crucial role during this time – resulting in various weather situations.
If the wind is westerly, the temperatures can be mild and pleasant, with an average of 10-12 °C. However, when the wind is from the East, the temperature can drop below zero. It can feel extremely cold, especially once the sun has set.
Snowfall occurs frequently in Cologne. However, it is often in the form of light snow and rarely does snow accumulate on the ground. Combined with the festive atmosphere in the city – it makes for magical times.
Things to do in Cologne in December
One would think the gloomy skies and cold weather would keep people away, nestled in their warm homes. The opposite is true. Cologne experiences one of its busiest times during December.
People flock from all over the world to experience the Christmas market. The cold weather and potential snowfall add to the magical experience.
The market is filled with Christmas music, arts, crafts, toys, decorations and the scent of Christmas goodies. The city is brightened with twinkly lights, the aromas of mulled wine, hot chestnuts and gingerbread fill the air.
Groups of huddled people enjoying local food and drinks make for a thrilling and vibrant buzz in the city. When in Cologne in December, it is impossible to not be touched by the Christmas joy and spirit.
Things to do in Cologne in January
Looking to stay warm and indoors? No problem. Cologne has an entire museum dedicated to chocolate.
Yes, you read that right. If you’re a lover of chocolate, you cannot skip a visit to the Cologne Chocolate Museum.
The museum details the history of chocolate. Starting with its beginnings with the Olmecs, Maya and Aztecs to the contemporary products we purchase today.
Best of all – there is a chocolate fountain in the museum. If you’re not convinced yet, the following will convince you.
Typically, there are employees around who will dip a wafer into the fountain and hand them out to visitors.
The museum hasn’t forgotten about those who actually want to learn about the chocolate-making process. There are miniature versions of machines displayed that are used in the production of chocolate – giving you an impression of how chocolate is created.
Things to do in Cologne in February
February in Cologne is all about Carnival. The entire city participates from schools to businesses. Creating a certain buzzing atmosphere in the city. Despite the coolish weather – everyone dresses up in colourful costumes.
Enjoying the parades that take place with beautifully made floats.
February is also known as the month of love, with Valentine’s Day taking place. What is more romantic than proclaiming your love for your partner by literally locking it in?
Visit the Hohenzollern Bridge. A tiered-arch bridge located between the cathedral and KölnTriangle.
The bridge has been overtaken by couples who have attached a padlock to the grating beside the footpath and thrown the key into the river. This gesture expressed their love and commitment to one another.
Spring in Cologne – Weather & Temperature
March to May make up the spring months in Cologne. It is a popular season as the sun begins to shine again and the beer gardens start opening up.
The season starts off cold, with possible snowfall still in March but gradually warms up in April and May. Though you can have chilly days, the weather is mild and pleasant with temperatures averaging 12°C.
Often, by the second half of May, the temperatures have increased and the days are lovely. You can expect your first warm days during this time, reaching highs of 25°C.
Prices on hotels, airfares and car rentals are typically lower during spring than compared to the summer months.
This is also because tourist traffic is still mild at this stage. It is a great season to visit Cologne if you are eager to save some money, yet still enjoy the pleasant weather.
Things to do in Cologne in March
Want to take advantage of the slightly warmer weather and enjoy the outdoors? Why not take on a slightly more physically active approach and go on a guided walking tour.
Embark on Cologne’s historic Old Town tour and explore most if not all Cologne’s biggest attractions. For example, think of the Kolner Dom and the Ludwig Museum.
Learn the ins and outs of each monument, its history, and cultural relevance from an experienced tour guide.
Things to do in Cologne in April
Cologne Cathedral is the most known and popular attraction in the city. And one can totally understand why as it is an extraordinarily impressive building. The cathedral towers above you as you walk towards it.
Construction of the cathedral began in 1248 but was not completed until 1880. The scale and intricacy of the building are impressive.
Take your time when visiting it and let the magnitude and beauty of it slowly overtake you. You cannot leave Cologne without having stopped at the cathedral.
Things to do in Cologne in May
Head over to the Botanical garden and immerse yourself in the beautiful colours and fragrant scents. It is the oldest public park in the city and is divided into different zones.
Footpaths are scattered throughout the gardens. Allowing you to get up close to roughly 10,000 different plant species.
Be sure to also visit the Palm House and the various tropical greenhouses. They house plants from all across the world.
The Botanical Gardens is a beautiful spot to sit, relax and soak up the crisp May sunshine.
Final Thoughts on When to Visit Cologne
The best time for visiting Cologne, Germany comes down to personal preferences.
If you enjoy warm and sunny weather while exploring the city, it’s best to visit during the summer months.
However, keep in mind that it is busy during this time and you will have more tourists to contend with.
Visiting Cologne outside of the summer months has both its advantages and disadvantages. Yes, there will be fewer tourists but the weather won’t be as pleasant either.
There can be a lot of rain and unforgiving wind. It is important to bear in mind the weather when planning your trip.
Cologne is one of the best places to go if you are looking to experience a German Christmas market.
The food, people and atmosphere absolutely make up for the cold weather you will have to brave.
This German metropolis has something unique to offer its visitors in every season. Plan your trip around the attractions and events that interest you. Cologne awaits you!
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