Germany's weather has four distinct seasons, each with dazzling attributes from the leaves' glorious changing to sparkling snow-covered Christmas markets to the long park-filled days of summer. Cologne is a great place to experience all of this, on top of being a major destination in Germany throughout the year.
Cologne is one of Germany's warmest places with cold—but usually not freezing—winters and mild summers. Rain is plentiful any time with about 33 inches per year. The rainiest month is actually in summer, where moody thunderstorms can ruin a warm and sunny afternoon. The city's location high in the northern hemisphere means that daylight hours are quite long in summer, but winter sun can be hard to find. The shoulder seasons of spring and fall often have the best weather for visitors, but no matter the time of year, it is best to dress in layers as the weather can change quickly.
Here is an overview of Cologne's weather throughout the year with helpful info on what to pack and a seasonal breakdown. Find out how to prepare for the weather in Cologne.
Fast Climate Facts for Cologne
- Hottest Month: July (19 C / 66 F)
- Coldest Month: January (3.3 C / 38 F.)
- Wettest Month: June (3.5 inches)
- Windiest Month: January (8 mph avg)
- Best Month for Swimming: August (18.1 C / 64.6 F)
Flooding in Cologne
Located on the Rhine River, Cologne has experienced regular floods throughout its history. One of Germany's oldest cities, Cologne's planners have developed an extensive drainage system that monitors and usually controls floods. Despite the frequent rainy days, most visitors will never know about the city's troubles managing its proximity to the river.
Spring in Cologne
Spring, or Frühling, can be slow to arrive as temperatures slowly climb up from freezing. Snow can still arrive in March, although it doesn't take long for Germans to embrace the first signs of warmth and shiver outside of the biergarten as soon as they open. The good news is that this is the time of year with the least amount of rain. In May, it starts to really bring the warmth with highs around 77 F.
This change of the season also brings the eagerly awaited pink kirschbäume (cherry blossoms). There is also the Frühlingsfest (Spring Folk Festival) every April with over a million visitors, rain or shine.
What to pack: Be prepared in spring for warmer days, but still pack a scarf along with a warm jacket for those sudden downturns. And pack sunglasses for the bright sunshine that is starting to appear.
Summer in Cologne
Cologne is in bloom from June to August. Summer is rarely overly hot, though the lack of air conditioning can make it steamy on humid days. The highest temperature on record is 102 F, with daytime temperatures averaging between 68 F and 75 F. Rain is actually common in summer, coming in heavy bursts of thunderstorms.
What to pack: Pack your favorite shorts or skirt, light-weight shirt, and good walking shoes to explore the city in summer. Also, remember your swimsuit for the many lakes and swimming pools in Cologne. However, take note that the sun can disappear, so bring something waterproof or a regenschirm (umbrella).
Fall in Cologne
In a good year, the change to autumn is gradual, with the first half of September still offering daily highs of 68 F. By the end, it is Christmas market season, and freezing winds, sleet, and snow have already made an appearance. Cloud cover becomes more consistent, and daylight hours grow shorter.
What to pack: The coming cool means you should wear long pants and sleeves, and add a light, waterproof jacket. Shoes also need to be up to a full day of walking, with boots providing solid protection for the coming freezing temperatures.
Winter in Cologne
Winter in Germany can be a dark time. The weather hovers around freezing, and daylight hours are at a minimum—around eight hours per day with the sun setting as early as 3:30 p.m. At night, temperatures drop even further, and wind and humidity can make it feel even colder than it is.
Snowfall is frequent but rarely accumulates too much. Snow is most common in January, with more snow cover outside of the city. Though it is several hours to downhill skiing, there are some cross country skiing sites within a day trip of Cologne, and this is the time of year to take advantage.
Christmas is a highlight throughout Germany, and people will visit the many Christmas markets no matter the weather. February is a busy time for visitors for one main reason, Karneval! This is the event of the year in Cologne, and revelers celebrate on the streets no matter rain, sleet, or snow. Prepare a cozy costume that can fit over a jacket to wear out on the streets and drink plenty of Kölsch to stay warm inside and out.
What to pack: This time of year is often freezing, so pack all the layers. Top a warm, waterproof jacket with a hat, scarf, and gloves and put on slip-resistant footwear. This is as much for the wind chill as the freezing temperatures.
|Average Monthly Temperature, Rainfall, and Daylight Hours|
|Avg. Temp.||Rainfall||Daylight Hours|
|January||36°F||2.8 inches||8 hours|
|February||43°F||2 inches||9.5 hours|
|March||43°F||2.7 inches||11 hours|
|April||56°F||2.4 inches||13 hours|
|May||56°F||2.6 inches||15 hours|
|June||64°F||3.3 inches||16 hours|
|July||64°F||3 inches||16 hours|
|August||64°F||2.7 inches||15 hours|
|September||53°F||2.5 inches||13 hours|
|October||50°F||2.6 inches||11.5 hours|
|November||39°F||2.7 inches||9.5 hours|
|December||64°F||2.7 inches||8 hours|
Weather Atlas. "Cologne, Germany." November 2020.
Daily Herald. "Heavy rain, melting snow produce floods in Western Germany." November, 2020.