One day trips from Cologne, Germany – a full guide to the best Rhine River cruises, castles and many other places to visit near Cologne.
There are plenty of interesting places to visit near Cologne, Germany. You can easily reach them in less than an hour by train. Situated on Rhine River, the city is also a great starting point for cruises.
As I spent less than 2 days in the city, there was time only for one day trip. I prefer to visit castles, so first on my list were Drachenburg Castle and Augustusburg Palace. It was a tough choice because both seemed great options for a day trip. Finally, I chose the palace.
Stern am Rathaus – Best for families
The hotel is located right in the heart of the Old Town, 300m away from the cathedral.
9.6/10 Rating – See hotel images and 370+ guest reviews
Hotel Sandmanns am Dom – Best for couples
A charming hotel just steps away from the famous cathedral.
9.0/10 Rating – See hotel images and 840+ guest reviews
Haus am Dom – Apartments und Ferienwohnungen
Fantastic location, just a short walk to the cathedral.
9.3/10 Rating – See apartment images and 770+ guest reviews
If you’re wondering what location to choose, check out the best area to stay in Cologne.
Rhine River day trips from Cologne
Want to spend a day enjoying the marvellous views of the Rhine Valley? Check out these Rhine River day trips from Cologne.
If you don’t want to commit to a particular route in advance, get a KD Rhine Pass.
It’s a ticket that gives you access to any of the 40 cruise departure points on the Rhine and Moselle rivers.
4.0/5 Rating – See details and 30+ reviews
Explore the spectacular countryside as you travel on a boat to Königswinter through the beautiful Siebengebirge.
You’ll pass along Bonn and the legendary Drachenfels on this tour. Drachenfels is a famous hill in Siebengebirge. Its name means the Dragon’s Rock. There is a ruined castle on the top of the hill, bearing the same name. You can reach the castle by taking the Drachenfels Railway and enjoy breathtaking views over the Rhine Valley.
Another tour option is to combine the beauty of Siebengebirge with a visit to SEA LIFE Königswinter. Take a boat trip through the fascinating Siebengebirge and pass along the Drachenfels Castle. Then discover more than 2000 marine animals at the famous SEA LIFE Königswinter. You can even walk through 360° acryl glass tunnel through the Atlantic Basin!
Castles near Cologne
Augustusburg Palace (Schloss Augustusburg) is located in Brühl. It is about a dozen kilometres south-west of Cologne. The complex consists of a palace, huge gardens with a forest and a hunting lodge.
You can visit the palace only with a guide in certain hours, thus go early not to miss the tour before noon. No photos are allowed during the tour. The hunting lodge can be visited without a guide. There is an admission fee for visiting the palace and the hunting lodge, but the gardens are free.
During my visit, there weren’t many people around and the gardens were calm and peaceful. There were even swans in the lake!
The palace was built at the beginning of the 18th century over ruins of a medieval castle. The French destroyed that castle in the 17th century during the Nine Years’ War. The new palace was meant to be a summer and hunting residence of Clemens August, the Archbishop of Cologne.
A centuries-old forest surrounds the gardens. I crossed some parts of it while I was walking to the Falkenlust hunting lodge. The walk was so long that at one time I started to think that I got the wrong direction. So be prepared to walk a little more (about 2 km) if you want to see the hunting lodge.
François de Cuvilliés built the Falkenlust hunting lodge from 1729 to 1740. He was one of the architects of the main complex. Clemens August, Prince-Elector of Cologne used the lodge to practice his favourite sport, falconry.
How to get to Augustusburg Palace from Cologne
Take a train from the Central Railway Station to Brühl-Kierberg (20 min journey). The property is about 300m on foot from the train station in Brühl.
Drachenburg Castle (Schloss Drachenburg) is a splendid castle from the late 19th century. Stephan von Sarter, a financial expert, built it to live here with the love of his life. However, this never happened. His mistress passed away before the completion of the castle. Due to her unexpected death, Stephan Sarter decided not to move into the castle. He spent the following years in Paris where he died in 1902.
Please note that the castle is open only during the summer season (27 March – 05 November).
How to get to Drachenburg Castle from Cologne
Take a train from the Central Railway Station to Bonn Hbf. From there take a tram to Königswinter/Clemens-August-Straße or Königswinter/Fähre (total 1-hour journey). Check Deutsche Bahn for more details. The castle is an about 2km walk from the train station. You can walk or take the Drachenfelsbahn.
More places to visit near Cologne, Germany
Bonn is about 25 km south of the city. The history of the city dates back to the 1st century when a Roman settlement was founded on the place. Bonn is the birthplace of Ludwig van Beethoven. Some of the main attractions of the city are Beethoven’s house, Münster Basilica and Poppelsdorf Palace.
How to get to Bonn from Cologne
Take a train from the Central Railway Station to Bonn Hbf (20 min journey).
Aachen is about 60km southwest of Cologne. Due to its hot springs, the city was a favourite winter residence of Charlemagne. Don’t miss to visit Aachen Cathedral, built in 796 AD. The City Hall and Elisenbrunnen also deserve a visit.
How to get to Aachen from Cologne
Take a train from the Central Railway Station to Aachen Hbf (about 1-hour journey).
Koblenz is a charming city situated at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers. The most popular attraction is Deutsches Eck, the place where the Rhine meets the Moselle River. From there you can take the cable car to Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, a military fortress from the 11th century.
Also, the city is a great base to explore the romantic Rhine and Mosel River castles.
How to get to Koblenz from Cologne
Take a train from the Central Railway Station to Koblenz Hbf (about 1-hour journey).
Essen is about 60km north of the city. The history of the city started with the foundation of an abbey for women around the 9th century. Later, during the Renaissance, the city became an important coal mining centre. Some of the most interesting sites in Essen are Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex, Essen Minster, Villa Hügel and Old Synagogue.
How to get to Essen from Cologne
Take a train from the Central Railway Station to Essen Hbf (about 1-hour journey).
Remagen is about 45km southeast of the city. The city began as a Roman Fort. If you are interested in World War II don’t skip this place, it is the site of the Battle of Remagen. Some of the main attractions are Apollinariskirche, Arp museum and Peace museum “Remagen Bridge”.
How to get to Remagen from Cologne
Take a train from the Central Railway Station to Remagen (50 min journey).
Dusseldorf is about 40km north of Cologne. The city is mentioned for the first time in history in 1135. Nowadays Dusseldorf is a big business and financial centre. The city is known for its trade fairs, carnivals and its local beer, called Altbier. Don’t miss to visit the Old town, Rhine Tower and Benrath Palace.
How to get to Dusseldorf from Cologne
Take a train from the Central Railway Station to Dusseldorf Hbf (30 min journey).
Use KölnCard to save money. It includes free access to public transport and many discounts at museums and shops.
Take a panorama boat cruise.
Find out what to see in Cologne in DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Germany.
Flying to Dortmund Airport? Check out the best hotels near Dortmund Hbf.
If you’re planning to rent a car, compare the car rental prices in Europe.
|I'm a travel blogger based in Sofia, Bulgaria. Travelling has always been my passion and I love to discover new places and cultures. I want to show you how easy it is to organize your vacation all by yourself.|
Subscribe to my newsletter and get once a month detailed travel guides (including maps, what to see, where to stay and eat).