Here are sights and attractions in Cologne that the whole family will enjoy, from a chocolate museum and boat cruise to one of the most fascinating buildings in Germany.
Kids can satisfy their sweet tooth in Cologne’s Chocolate Museum. It showcases the 3,000-year history of the cocoa bean around the world. From the Mayan’s chocolate “drink of the gods” to today's chocolate-themed commercials, the world's favorite treat is deliciously examined.
The museum is home to a small chocolate factory where you can see how the cocoa bean becomes the chocolate bar. The machines all have viewing windows, so you can get a detailed look at the individual production steps.
If all this talk about chocolate makes your mouth water, head to the 10-foot high chocolate fountain. The museum staff dips wafers into the oozing warm chocolate for adults and kids to try.
Every Cologne visitor, big or small, should see the signature landmark of the city: the Cathedral of Cologne (or Kölner Dom). It is one of Germany's most important architectural monuments. This Gothic masterpiece, situated in the heart of Cologne, is the fourth tallest cathedral in the world and once boasted the highest church spires ever built (now surpassed by Ulm's Minster).
Share these fascinating details about the cathedral to (hopefully) entertain the kids:
- It took over 600 years to build the cathedral
- The height of the northern tower of the Cologne Cathedral is 157,38 meters and it was the tallest building in the world for a hot minute between 1880 and 1884. (Preceded by the Rouen Cathedral and succeeded by the Washington Monument and the Eiffel Tower)
- It is home to a golden sarcophagus studded with jewels, which holds the crowned skulls and clothes of the Three Wise Men
- The modern stained glass window was created by German artist Gerhard Richter. It is composed of more than 11,000 identically sized glass pieces and offers the modern interpretation of a stained glass window
Visit the oldest city hall in Germany at the Alter Markt (Old Square) dating back to 1150. Adults are wowed by the building's history, but kids are usually fascinated by the 130 statues that adorn its elaborately decorated façade. Look for the wood-carved mask of the statue Platz-Jabbeck. When the clock strikes the hour, it opens its mouth and rudely sticks out its wooden tongue.
Follow your nose to the birthplace of the famous perfume Eau De Cologne 4711 on Glockengasse. When Cologne was occupied by the French, Napoleon ordered his soldiers to count all the houses. The Eau de Cologne building was number 4711 and the perfume got its name from this historic building.
Your kids will love the Glockenspiel, which plays the French anthem every hour. Inside the building, you will find a shop, a small historic exhibition, and a fountain where your kids can dip their hands in pure Eau de Cologne.
This traditional puppet theater has been entertaining children since 1802. A storybook Cologne is presented with original music. Puppet theaters are a beloved tradition in Germany, and this is the most successful theater in the country. Watch for the iconic hero in many pieces, Hänneschen, and the special shows delivered during Carnival.
Take the kids down to the Rhine river to walk along the water and relax in a park. Explore the vast greenness of massive Rhinepark. This is the perfect place to get an ice cream and stroll.
For a unique perspective and a fun adventure, take the kids on the Koelner Seilbahn (aerial tram) over the Rhine river – it’s Europe’s only cable car crossing a river.
You can also hop on a boat and continue your sightseeing tour on the water such as KD Rhine river cruises.
A trip to the zoo is always a fun outing for the whole family. Cologne’s zoo, opened in 1860, is home to over 10,000 animals of more than 700 species.
Highlights of the zoo are the rainforest hall with free-ranging birds and reptiles, a large elephant park, the monkey house, and the new Hippodrome. This feature is a replication of an African floodplain habitat that allows you fascinating insights into the world of African animals such as hippos, crocodiles, and antelopes.
If it rains, pay a visit to Cologne’s fascinating aquarium adjacent to the zoo.