Why You Should Visit Cologne In October
With cooler weather comes smaller crowds – October sees fewer tourists in Cologne than the busy summer months, which usually means lower air fares and hotel prices.
There's more good news for you! There's no longer a need to battle throngs of travelers as you stroll through Cologne's Old Town, Hohenzollern Bridge or the Cologne Cathedral.
Additionally, visiting in October means being part of events such as mini-Oktoberfest, the Cologne Marathon and amazing but under-the-radar street festivals for music and art.
Secretly, I also think of autumn in Cologne as a "second spring". It's when the leaves transform into a bright reddish-orange shade and the city comes alive with warm, golden hues. You can't help but fall in love with the city!
Weather In Cologne In October
Average Temperatures & Chance of Rain
October brings along cooler temperatures, and an uptick in rain.
Daytime temperatures drop to around 54 - 63°F (12 - 17°C), a reminder you that winter is on the horizon. Nights can be brisk, with temperatures dropping to around 43 - 50°F (6 - 10°C).
October often brings a higher chance of rain to Cologne. Expect about 10-15 rainy days, which adds up to 3 inches of rainfall.
The presence of rain is often joined by a canvas of gray skies that stretch above the city, which tends to lasts through winter.
Dressing For The Weather
If you'll be outside the whole day, or alternating between indoors and outdoors, try to layer your clothes.
I recommend starting with a long-sleeved shirt, and on top of that, add a cozy sweater or cardigan. This way, you can easily adjust your clothes to the changing temperatures throughout the day.
Most people will also sport a thick denim coat or a waterproof, windproof jacket. This keeps you dry and warm during rain showers (expected and unexpected). Having an umbrella wouldn't hurt!
For shoes, you'll probably get by with normal canvas shoes, but waterproof shoes or boots can serve as added protection from wet weather.
Cologne October Holidays And Festivals
While the original Oktoberfest is held in Munich, there are still celebrations held around Germany, including Cologne! 
Typically held from end September to early October, the city has seen over fifteen Oktoberfests to date, where attendees are encouraged to don dirndls and lederhosen to join in the fun.
For the price of €39.50 per ticket, this iconic festival unfolds within an enormous tent, where you can expect to munch on Weisswurst, roast beef with mashed potatoes, pretzels, and plenty of the local Kölsch beer (well, it is still Cologne after all).
NOTE: Unfortunately, the Cologne Oktoberfest has been canceled for 2023 and 2024, according to organizers.
Luckily, the Cologne Carnival (Kölner Karneval) in February is still on, and is arguably a much bigger festival in Cologne than any other beer celebration here.
In early October, Cologne holds an annual marathon for "elite and John Doe runners" that snakes through the city center. 
If your visit happens to coincide with this event, you'll have front-row seats to the electrifying atmosphere that envelops the entire city during this special day.
You'll see spectators line the paths offering high fives and cheers, all the way to the finish line, in front of the magnificent Cologne Cathedral.
For interested runners, taking part in the Cologne Marathon is an interesting way to see the city. Aside from the cathedral, you'll pass by some of Cologne's popular landmarks such as the Hohenzollern Bridge and the Rheinauhafen Harbor.
German Unity Day
One of the most important holidays in Germany is German Unity Day, celebrated every October 3rd to commemorate the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990.  For most Germans, this is a day of rest for them.
In Cologne, you can enjoy concerts for free on October 3rd, by the Cologne Philharmonic! From 10.30am to 8.00pm, Open Philharmonic Day allows visitors to attend performances in 6 different concert formats. 
On the eve of German Unity Day, the Cologne Theater Night also lifts its curtains. Across Cologne on October 2nd, theaters and performance venues open their doors to the public for a night of special performances - from classical theater to contemporary acts. Ticket prices are often reduced, so make sure you book early! 
Day Of Reformation
In Cologne, October 31st brings with it the celebration of the Day of Reformation (Reformationstag). This public holiday is celebrated in five states across Germany and commemorates the religious Reformation in Europe.
While Cologne's Lutheran population observes this day, it is also a time for all Christians to come together and reflect on their faith.
Lindenthal Street Gallery
The Lindenthal Street Gallery has been a tradition for 25 years and counting. From October 13th to 20th, over 50 shops on Dürener Straße become mini "art galleries" that people can visit for free!
Things kick off on October 13th and 14th, featuring wine, Kölsch, food, music and fun rides for children, including bouncing castles. And from October 13th to 21st, Lindenthal becomes an art hub, showcasing abstract art, paintings, sculptures, graphics, photographs and so on.
I remember my first few visits to this event, and each time I'll discover new artwork displayed in the shops. Whether it's a restaurant, clothing store, or hairdressing salon, no "gallery" is the same. If you like art, this unique street gallery in October in Cologne is a must-visit.
Top Things To Do In Cologne In October
Sail Down The Rhine River
Thanks to the beautiful autumn colors of October, Cologne takes on a new, intriguing look. Indeed, the city's landmarks, including the Cologne Cathedral, do stand out against the bright orange and red hues of the trees lining the riverbank.
And there's no better way to admire this beautiful city than from the Rhine River, in a relaxing boat ride.
There are many tour companies that offer Rhine River cruises. Choose one that has warm interiors, where you can enjoy the view from large windows - so you don't freeze your nose off on deck.
Even better if the cruise ship has an onboard bar, where you can order a cup of hot coffee to keep cozy!
BEST RHINE RIVER CRUISE IN COLOGNE: Kölntourist
I've written about the the Top Sights Rhine River Cruise before, and it's by far my favorite. Enjoy seeing Cologne's "greatest hits" like the famous Cologne Cathedral, Old Town, and Rheinauhafen's unique crane houses on this cruise!
When it's cold outside, sometimes you want to go indoors and have some hot chocolate... Well, Cologne's chocolate museum makes it fresh from a 3-meter-high chocolate fountain!
It's easy to see why the Schokoladenmuseum is one of Germany's top 10 museums, with over 600,000 visitors annually.
Inside are thousands of exhibits that cover the history of chocolate over 3,000 years.Plus, you can watch chocolate being made in real time, and design your own chocolate bar to bring home too, which is sure to excite children and the young-at-heart.
And that's not all, the museum even has a tropical greenhouse where you can see and learn about cocoa plants! So you know these people are really serious about chocolate.
During low season in October, the Cologne Zoo is a lot less crowded than it usually is. This makes it a GREAT time to observe the animals in a quieter environment (translation: fewer screaming kids and loud visitors).
You can take your time observing the animals in their habitats, their daily routines, and even catching those quick moments of playfulness.
One of the oldest and well-known zoos in Germany, the Cologne Zoo is home to over 4 thousand animals from more than 800 species.
In particular, the zoo's elephant park is a major attraction that opened in 2004, allowing people to see these majestic creatures up close. It also features petting zoos, aquariums, and nature reserves!
A Walk Through Cologne's “Green Belt”
If you're in time for autumn in Cologne, why not spend a day at the city's “green belt”? As October arrives, the leaves on the trees in Äußerer Grüngürtel transform into reds, yellows, and oranges... and the ground is scattered with them too.
The beautiful Grüngürtel encircles the city, including hills that were bombed to rubble during World War II. There's nearly 7,000 hectares of green space, set aside for walking, hiking, cycling, and even picnicking!
I have a soft spot for Decksteiner Weiher, a gorgeous lake located on the outer green belt. Here, you can warm up under the sun on a wooden dock, or rent a paddle boat to ride across the waters.
If you need shelter, there's Haus am See, a family restaurant by the lake offering homemade cake.
Explore Old Town
The Old Town of Cologne is a must-visit for anyone traveling to the city, but one issue is that its always crowded during peak season. October means fewer tourists, so you can explore the Old Town's cobblestone streets with a lot more space.
Steeped in history, the Old Town is home to many historical sites and landmarks, including the Cologne Cathedral and the Roman-Germanic Museum.
Several famous pubs and breweries like Peters Brauhaus and Brauhaus Sion are also situated here. They serve genuine Kölsch beer alongside hearty German dishes like roasted pork knuckle and Ähzezupp. Step into any of these venues, and I assure you, you're in for a good meal.
Indoor Activities On Rainy Days
Enjoy A Relaxing Spa Day At Claudius Therme
If you're looking for a way to warm up indoors in Cologne, Claudius Therme should be at the top of your list. Its main attraction are its thermal pools, filled with warm, mineral-rich water sourced from a natural thermal spring.
Nothing beats taking refuge from the cold by slipping into a warm pool of thermal spring water.
One highlight is the spa's free water gymnastics and underwater music sessions which are held in the evenings and on weekends. These classes are perfect for those who want to get some exercise while having fun at the same time.
FYI - Thermal baths are a big part of German spa culture, as these natural mineral springs are believed to have therapeutic properties.
Foreigners tend to be surprised that there's nudity in German spas, especially inside the saunas. Don't worry though - while it's customary to be nude in certain areas, you have the option to wear a towel or a swimsuit if you're uncomfortable!
Explore Museum Ludwig's Impressive Art Collection
October's chilly weather is the perfect excuse to spend hours admiring art in an expansive museum like Museum Ludwig.
The museum has an impressive collection of modern art, including pop art, abstract and surrealism, with one of the largest Picasso collections in the world. My wife enjoys art, so she says she can spend three hours there very easily (a steal for just a €12 ticket).
It's conveniently located near the Cologne Cathedral, Hohenzollern Bridge and public transportation, so it's very easy to plan a strategic itinerary that hits all three attractions at once.
A short 6-min walk from Museum Ludwig is the the famed Wallraf-Richartz-Museum.
The museum is a fusion of two distinguished collectors, Ferdinand Franz Wallraf and Matthias Joseph de Noël, who bequeathed their impressive art collections to the city in the early 19th century.
The collection spans a vast range of art periods, from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, and includes works by famous artists like Rembrandt, Rubens, and Monet, as well as medieval art.
The museum also offers guided tours, making it a great place for art lovers and history buffs to spend a cold October afternoon! Tickets start from €8 and is free for children below 18 years-old!
P.S. You can get 20% off your tickets for the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum and Museum Ludwig if you have the KölnCard!
Practical Tips For Visiting Cologne In October
Saving Money With The KölnCard
The Cologne Card, also called KölnCard, is the official card for tourists. It helps you save money when you visit museums, attractions, take tours, go shopping, or eat at restaurants in the city.
For example, you can get substantial discounts when you dine at Brauhaus Sion or tour the famous museums covered in this article, including the Chocolate Museum.
But for me, the biggest savings come from riding on public buses and trams for FREE!
A 24-hour card only costs €9 and a 48-hour card costs €18. And trust me, what you save eventually covers the cost of the card, many times over.
Be Prepared For Sudden Rain
While Cologne is beautiful in autumn, the weather tends to have a mind of its own. One moment the sky seems clear, and in the next, you're looking up at dark, ominous clouds.
If you plan to spend most of your time outdoors during your trip, weatherproof clothing is wise. It may not be the most fashionable choice, but beats getting caught in the freezing rain!
Check Out The City's Public Transportation Options
Cologne has a well-developed network of buses and trams, but it does take some getting used to if you're not familiar with German public transport.
That's why it's best to check out the KVB transport authority's website, or download their app. They provide travelers with information about train, bus, and tram lines that run every 5-10 minutes. 
Simply enter your start and destination stops, and it'll calculate the best route for you, as well as how much it'll cost.
Weather In Cologne In October: FAQs
Does It Rain In Cologne In October?
Yes, it rains frequently in Cologne in October. There's roughly 10-15 rainy days throughout the month. However, this doesn't mean that you should avoid visiting this beautiful city during this time as there are still plenty of indoor activities to do when it's raining.
We highly recommend spending an afternoon soaking in the healing waters at Claudius Therme and Museum Ludwig is sure to absorb at least a few hours.
What’s The Best Time Of Year To Visit Cologne?
Fall, particularly September and October, is considered the best time to visit Cologne for lower hotel rates and airfares. If you hate squeezing through tourist areas, you'll enjoy reduced crowds during this time.
Late spring and early autumn, especially May, September, and early October are best for milder weather, with sunshine and comfortable temperatures. The city's parks and green spaces come to life with blossoming flowers in spring too.
June, July, and August are the warmer months in Cologne, and best for outdoor activities. The days are long, providing ample daylight for sightseeing and enjoying the city's outdoor cafes and beer gardens. But visitors should expect some rain during the summer months especially in June.
Cologne is known for having the most clear and sunny days in July with an average of 12.5 hours of daylight per day.
December to February is festive and magical. The city is adorned with Christmas markets, including the famous Cologne Christmas Market. The city's Gothic architecture looks even more enchanting with a dusting of snow. If you enjoy Christmas festivities, winter can be an ideal time to visit.
February is also when the whole city gets together for the widely-anticipated Carnival festival!
When Is The Shoulder Season In Cologne?
The shoulder season in Cologne falls during late spring (May - June) and early autumn (September - October).
These are considered to be the best times to visit if you want to enjoy pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and potentially lower prices.
Indeed, visiting in October does give you the advantage of fewer crowds, mildly cold temperatures (when compared to the harsher winter), and better cost-savings.
How Cold Is It In Cologne In October?
In October, Cologne experiences moderately chilly weather. While it may not be as cold as the winter months, travelers should still pack warm clothes such as coats, scarves, and gloves to stay comfortable during their visit.
But perhaps what stands out most in October is the rain.
As someone who has visited Cologne year-round, I can attest to the sudden rain showers in autumn. A waterproof jacket or umbrella wouldn't be a bad idea.
Is It Sunny In Cologne In October?
While October in Cologne does see some sun, keep your expectations low.
Reports say Cologne gets about 3 hours of sunshine per day during October, with occasional rainy periods throughout the month.
What Is The Average Temperature In Cologne In October?
The average temperature in Cologne during October is around 54 and 63°F (12 to 17°C), decreasing from the once-warm days of September.
Evening temperatures can dip to around 43 to 50°F (6 to 10°C).
Should I Go To Cologne In October?
Absolutely! October is a good time to visit Cologne for many great reasons.
Temperatures are milder than the harsh winter, making it perfect for exploring the city, without worrying about extreme cold.
In October, you get to see a side to Cologne that not many travelers get to see.
During this time, the city also hosts their annual Oktoberfest and Cologne Marathon. Excitingly, free art and music events like Open Philharmonic Day and Cologne Theater Night pop up across town too.
With fewer tourists around, you can calmly explore the city and its fun spots. You can visit the Chocolate Museum, take a relaxing boat ride on the Rhine River, or enjoy a cold Kölsch beer at one of the cozy breweries in Old Town.
Can You Go To Cologne In October?
Yes, you can absolutely visit Cologne in October. In fact, October can be a wonderful time to explore the city.
The weather is generally pleasant, with mild temperatures and the changing colors of autumn foliage adding to the city's charm.
There are also various cultural events and festivals, making it an enjoyable time for tourists.
However, it's important to be prepared for occasional rain, so packing weather-appropriate clothing is advisable.
Are There Any Major Cologne Holidays In October?
While October is not known for major public holidays in Cologne like some other months, it does have its share of significant events and festivals
One of the most popular is Oktoberfest. While Oktoberfest is most famously associated with Munich, you can also find Oktoberfest celebrations in Cologne. These events typically feature traditional Bavarian music, food, and beer, creating a lively and festive atmosphere.
Typically held in early October, the Köln Marathon is a major sporting event that attracts participants and spectators from around the world.
In addition to these two main festivals, Cologne also celebrates German Unity Day on October 3rd and observe Reformationstag (Day of Reformation) on October 31st.
Are There Mosquitoes In Cologne In October?
No, you're unlikely to encounter mosquitoes in Cologne in October.
Like many parts of Europe, we experience a drop in mosquitoes as temperatures fall in October.
If you plan to spend lots of time outdoors, you can use some mosquito repellent or wear long sleeves in the evenings - which are when mosquito activity MIGHT be slightly higher.
However, overall, the mosquito presence in Cologne during October shouldn't bother you much!
Conclusion: Cologne in October
In conclusion, October is a fantastic time to visit Cologne, Germany.
You can take advantage of low season rates, and a quieter atmosphere with fewer tourists.
October is also when exciting events like Oktoberfest and the Cologne Marathon happens.
The colder weather makes a great excuse to relax in a popular thermal spring spa Claudius Therme, or take a cozy heated boat cruise down the Rhine River.
- In October, the average temperature in Cologne is around 50°F (10°C), with highs reaching up to 63°F (17°C) and lows dropping to around 43°F (6°C).
- Experience the vibrant cultural scene of Cologne in October with exciting events such as Oktoberfest, the Cologne Marathon, and many free art and music events across town.
- Explore the Rhine River via a cruise, indulge in chocolate at the Chocolate Museum, and sip on Kölsch beer at a local brewery - these are just some of the many things you can do in Cologne during the month of October.
- When the rain falls, don't let it dampen your spirits! There are plenty of indoor activities to explore in Cologne during October, such the thermal spa at Claudius Therme or one of Cologne's many art museums.
- Save money and make the most of your visit with practical tips like using the KölnCard, being prepared for sudden rain, and checking out the city's public transportation options.
1: Oktoberfest | Definition, History, Traditions, & Facts | Britannica, retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Oktoberfest
2: Generali Cologne Marathon, retrieved from https://koeln-marathon.de/en/
3: Day of German Unity, retrived from https://www.deutschland.de/en/day-of-german-unity
4: Tag der offenen Philharmonie, retrived from https://www.koelner-philharmonie.de/de/reihen/tag-der-offenen-philharmonie/418
5: Kölner TheaterNacht, retrived from https://theaternacht.de/
6: Kolnner Verkehrs-Betriebe AG, retrived from https://www.kvb.koeln/en