As parents, we're always looking for things to do in Cologne with kids. Finding activities that can keep children entertained for hours can be daunting, but luckily, Cologne is an incredibly family-friendly city that keeps parents and children happy!
Here are the best things to do in Cologne with your family.
Family-Friendly Activities And Attractions In Cologne
Explore Cologne's Stories on a Kids' Guided Walking Tour
What makes this tour great is it's made just for kids. The guide explains things in a way that's easy for children 8-12 to understand, but also kept us adults interested.
It's different from the usual "grown-up" tours. As our little group explored the Old Town, we heard stories about elves in Cologne (from the German fairytale), and explored Roman ruins hidden underground.
The kids were thrilled! For the first time, they were fully engaged and understood every bit of the tour.
And don't worry! These are all conducted in English and German, so foreigners won't feel left out at all.
Spots Likely To Sell Out!
Explore The 700 Year-Old Cologne Cathedral
People often say the Cologne Cathedral is beautiful, but only when you see it in person can you truly grasp its magnificence. That's why we brought our boys here!
The stained glass windows are especially stunning, showing scenes from both the New and Old Testaments. It's fun to point these out to the children and help them make out the stories together.
We also had a lovely moment when we lit candles in memory of their late grandparents.
Lastly, we recommend visiting the rooftop of this towering UNESCO World Heritage site. The panoramic views from the top are absolutely worth it, and a great family photo opportunity.
(However, the stairs leading up are quite narrow and can be a challenging climb for children under the age of ten. So take note of that!)
A Sweet Day at The Chocolate Museum
One of the top family-friendly attractions in Cologne is the Chocolate Museum. It’s almost impossible not to enjoy a place devoted to chocolate!
First of all, you will get chocolate from start to end. There's a little treat at the entrance, another delicious wafer dipped in the chocolate fountain, and a freshly-made piece at the end. Our children were overjoyed!
One entire floor of the museum is like a scene straight out of Willy Wonka's factory too, where they can watch and learn about the fascinating chocolate-making process. I'll say us adults were fully intrigued too.
On the top floor, there's a games room for kids, and comfy seats for tired parents.
We ended the trip with a souvenir of our own, a personalized bar of chocolate from the "chocolate bar"!
Skip The Queue & Reserve Early!
Get Up Close With Animals At The Cologne Zoo
Cologne Zoo is one of the best in Europe, and is a chance to get up close and personal with over 10,000 animals. The ticket price even includes an aquarium, which is really value-for-money because many other zoos separate the prices.
The petting zoo has baby animals that the children can touch safely, and feed as well. It was really cute and a huge highlight for our kids!
Families can rent pull-carts for tired tots, allowing them to rest. Parents can also enjoy a break too, at the large (and creative!) playground near the elephant park where the kids can go wild.
Just be warned that lines to get in and buy tickets can be really long, so highly, high recommend that you reserve your tickets online if you can.
Free Cancellation Up To 24 Hours In Advance!
Interactive Adventures Await at The Odysseum
The Odysseum in Cologne is a science museum and adventure park for children all rolled into one.
I admit I had reservations at first, half-expecting it to be a small and costly outing. However, my boys loved it.
It had the perfect balance between learning, curiosity, and play. They had a blast with the flight simulator, the water play area, climbing ropes, and the dinosaur zone.
And don't worry, the Odysseum provides instructions in both English and German for most exhibits. The only exception is the stop-motion film making section.
Honestly? We ended up staying nearly three hours, and leaving was met with loud protests from my boys!
TIP: You can save 20% off your tickets if you have the KölnCard.
Take A Scenic Rhine Cruise
Going on a short cruise ride is thrilling for children and fun for adults too! Boarding the vessel, feeling the rumble of the engines beneath their feet, and setting sail is an exciting experience.
A cruise is also a great way to explore Cologne, thanks to the spectacular fairytale Rhine skyline.
My parents also enjoyed the ride. Instead of spending hours on foot exploring the city, they could relax and take in the sights from the comfort of their seats.
There are many fun family photos to take too! Such as the beautiful city backdrop, standing with the cruise Captain, and posing with the steering wheel (the boys insisted on this one!).
#1 TOP PICK
Top Sights Rhine River Cruise
Things to Do In Cologne with Kids
Visit The Lindenthaler Petting Zoo
One of the most adorable spots in Cologne is Lindenthaler Tierpark, a free petting zoo with over 250 small animals including furry highland cows, fallow deer, pygmy goats, fuzzy Soay sheep, donkeys, squawking ducks and more!
Some of the larger animals are safely behind wooden fences, with spaces to feed them, but other children can get close and pet many other animals.
You can buy boxes of food for the animals at the feeding station, and it's really cute how the animals would follow you around for a snack.
You can easily access the Lindenthaler Petting Zoo via tram or even on foot which makes it convenient for families staying in the city center!
Enjoy Outdoor Activities At Rheinpark
Germany’s "Most Beautiful Park" sits right along the banks of the River Rhine, and offers lovely views of the water.
The rest of this massive park is equally beautiful, and is a favorite spot for local families in Cologne.
There are skate parks, play hills, adventure playgrounds, and even a 'Wild West' train that'll entertain families with young children for hours.
On sunny days, I've noticed many people enjoying a relaxing picnic lunch in the meadows. There's also a preserved 1950's style cafe, The Rheinpark Café, still functioning.
Then end the day with a lovely stroll through the pretty promenade!
See Panoramic Views At KölnTriangle
Children up to 12 years get FREE admission! Standing tall on the right bank of the River Rhine, this observation tower has a 360° view of Cologne, stretching out across the city, including the Cologne Cathedral, the Hohenzollern Bridge and other landmarks. 
The tower stands tall above other buildings, so you get an unobstructed view from its observation deck on the 26th floor (note: you must walk 2 flights of stairs to get to the top).
I definitely suggest going during sunset! The sky in hues of orange, pink, and purple, makes for a very gorgeous backdrop, and a lovely photo of Cologne. When the city lights up at night, it's stunning too!
If you haven't done a city tour of Cologne yet, then you're in luck! This amazing East to West Walking Tour includes entry to KölnTriangle, and includes an expert guide.
Ride The Cologne Cable Car
For a unique and thrilling family-friendly activity, take a ride on the Cologne Cable Car!
The 50-year-old Rhein Seilbahn was the first to cross a river in Europe, and is now a traditional way to enjoy views of the Rhine River and Cologne's skyline. 
The cable car connects Rheinpark with Cologne Zoo, so you can actually plan a day with all three attractions together! It's also a fun way to see the city with the family, and my kids couldn't contain their excitement when our cable car began floating across the river.
TIP: Do you have the KölnCard? Don't forget to use it for a discount on your Cologne Cable Car rides!
Encounter Nature At Flora And Botanical Garden Köln
Another amazing attraction that's completely free to visit is the Flora and Botanical Garden in Cologne! It's a literal wonderland filled with all sorts of flowers.
It's so beautiful that it's really popular for wedding photoshoots. So when you visit in the summer and spring, don't be surprised to spot brides in fluffy white gowns taking photos among the blooms!
For the kids, it's a visual way to learn about different plants and flowers in person, and you can make a game out of spotting the little wild rabbits and squirrels too. They'll also have a blast with the many play areas.
There are countless photo spots to take for your holiday as well; fountains, waterfalls, flowers in full bloom, garden beds in every color... Make sure not to miss the greenhouses! We particularly liked the cactus house.
Exciting Day Trips From Cologne With Kids
Enjoy Thrilling Rides At Phantasialand Theme Park
Forget Europa-Park or Disneyland, the Phantasialand Theme Park is where the fun is at. Located in Brühl, just a short trip from Cologne, I recommend getting there as soon as the park opens.
That's because it has SIX different themes - Berlin, Mexico, Fantasy, Deep in Africa, Mystery, and Wuze Town... and each zone has plenty to ride and explore.
Phantasialand has everything for all ages. If you love thrilling theme park rides, definitely check out Taron, Black Mamba, and Chiapas - the latter being one of the steepest and fastest water rides in the world. 
For the faint-hearted and little ones, there are milder rides, like bumper cars, spinning tea cups, bouncy castles, a mini free-fall tower and live show performances.
The themes throughout the park are also superbly done. The streets are beautifully designed so you feel like you're part of another world, and there's plenty of chances for the children to interact with the costumed characters!
Explore The Historic City Of Aachen
The whole family can reach Aachen in under an hour by train, making it one of the top family day trip options from Cologne.
It's actually the beloved town of the Charlemagne, the Holy Roman Emperor, who ruled over much of Western Europe during the early Middle Ages. 
A must-see is the Palatine Chapel, now part of Aachen Cathedral, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was constructed in the 9th century and features a marble throne, where it's said that 31 German kings and 12 queens sat on.
Another worthy site is the Elisenbrunnen, a building that stands over a natural hot spring, heated by the Eifel volcanoes.
Visitors can sample the water from two taps, which is rich in minerals and is said to have therapeutic qualities!
Aachen: Scavenger Hunt & Sights Self-Guided Tour
This exhilarating scavenger hunt allows your family to explore Aachen at your own pace! Together, you solve puzzles and get to discover places like Aachen Cathedral, Elisenbrunnen & the stunning Aachen Town Hall. English/German available.
Discover The Cultural City Of Bonn
Bonn is a charming city located close to Cologne and is often overlooked by tourists. But it's an excellent day trip destination for families with kids who want to discover more of German culture and history.
Bonn is home to the famous Ludwig van Beethoven, a German composer and pianist. Classical music lovers will love touring his life in Bonn, such as the Beethoven House Museum and the Palace Church where he was taught piano.
If you have little ones, they will love visiting the Poppelsdorf Palace's gardens in the summer. We didn't get to enter the palace, but the garden was in full bloom, and there's even a playground for kids.
Educational Opportunities For Kids In Cologne
Visit The German Sports And Olympic Museum
If you have loved ones who are sports fans, the German Sports and Olympic Museum, or Deutsches Sport & Olympia Museum might knock their socks off!
The museum covers the history of sports, and features actual sports memorabilia from legendary boxers, basketball players, champion tennis players and other Olympic heroes.
For example, there are over 3,000 exhibits, such as Muhammad Ali's hand-signed boxing gloves, and Lukas Podolski's football boots. 
We spotted many kids having a great time trying their hand at football, table tennis, and the gymnastics section, and even having a go at racing bikes!
I recommend visiting it with the KölnCard, because you'll get half off the entire ticket price, which makes it so affordable!
Learn About History At The Romano-Germanic Museum
FREE for children up to 18 years-old, and just a few euros for adults!
Now, younger kids may not find this museum as interesting as the other activities on this page. But if you have older children, who are keen about Roman history, they'll absolutely enjoy the Römisch-Germanisches Museum.
The museum houses an impressive collection of Roman artifacts from pre-Cologne, including mosaics, sculptures, and everyday objects that clues you to how the Romans once lived.
In addition to its Roman exhibits, the museum also showcases prehistoric relics from the Stone Age to Iron Age found in Cologne and other European sites.
Educational programs for children are available at the museum, where they can learn about Rhineland history and archaeology through interactive workshops and tours.
Play At The AQUALAND Water Park
There are mixed reviews for AQUALAND, and the bad reviews seem to skew towards the peak seasons.
Nonetheless, we decided to visit one hot summer (and lots of pestering from the boys) and I remember our family having a blast!
The water park is quite large, with bigger pools for leisurely swimming and smaller pools fitted with slides, water cannons and fountains for the kids.
There are lifeguards on duty, but I suggest parents still keep an eye on their kids, because it can get boisterous in the play areas.
I, for one, enjoyed relaxing in the jacuzzi pool at the end of the day. There's a sauna (extra charge), but it's nude only, so be warned!
Family-Friendly Restaurants In Cologne
Die Fette Kuh
Burgers are delicious, fun and easy to eat, so Die Fette Kuh is one of our family's favorite eateries. Located in the Neustadt-Sud neighborhood of Cologne, it's made a name for itself as one of the best burger spots in the city. 
Portion sizes are generous, perfect for growing children, but they also have "child-size" versions. There's vegan burgers and salads too!
If you have time, I recommend ordering "to-go" and heading next to the Rhine or the Friedenspark for a chill lunch.
Located in the vibrant neighborhood of Neustadt-Nord, Cafe Schmitz is casual cafe offering an array of hearty German breakfast dishes. Lots of adult and kid-friendly options from ham & eggs, croissant, and fruit salad to honey yogurt and buttered toast.
Importantly, the people who work at Cafe Schmidt are really nice and this puts the children at ease. Plus they're very patient and helpful when ever you want to order something special for your kids.
Goldmund Literatur Café Restaurant
If you're in the Ehrenfeld area, Goldmund Cafe is another family-friendly restaurant to dine at. The whimsical cafe is lined with book shelves, with children's books, art books, non-fiction and so on in English, Spanish, French, Italian and German!
The restaurant serves delicious non-vegan and vegan homemade dishes. Their freshly baked cakes are particularly popular, as is their breakfast menu!
Goldmund Literatur Café Restaurant is just a two minutes' walk from the Cologne-Ehrenfeld train station.
Tips And Tricks For Traveling To Cologne With Kids
Plan Ahead And Book In Advance
To have a smooth and stress-free family vacation in Cologne, it's best to plan ahead and book in advance. This way, you can secure your preferred accommodations, tours, and activities at the best prices possible.
Keep in mind that peak travel seasons like summer or holidays often sell out quickly! Additionally, pre-booking allows you to better budget for your trip and avoid overspending on last-minute expenses.
For example, purchasing train tickets in advance can save money compared to buying them at the station.
Many train companies offer discounts and special fares for tickets purchased in advance through their official websites or apps.
To make sure everyone is included in planning processes, get input from every member of the family when creating an itinerary that suits all ages and interests.
Navigate The City With Public Transportation
Cologne is a city that is easy to navigate with its public transportation system, making it super convenient for families traveling with kids.
The trams and buses in Cologne are both efficient and affordable too.
If you already have the KölnCard, even better. Because you can ride on public buses and trams for FREE.
Pack For All Weather Conditions
Traveling with kids requires thoughtful planning, especially when it comes to packing.
Rainfall is expected throughout the year in Cologne, so you can expect some rain in every season. The wettest months are usually July and August, while the driest months tend to be February and March.
So consider packing waterproof jackets in case of rain, as well as hats and sunscreen for sunny days spent outdoors.
Keep in mind that most attractions are stroller-friendly but there may be some areas where you'll have to carry your child due to stairs or uneven surfaces.
Take Breaks And Rest Periods
It's important to remember that traveling with kids can be tiring, and it's good to plan for breaks and rest periods throughout your trip. Luckily, Cologne offers plenty of opportunities for downtime between activities.
Families can unwind by taking a stroll along the banks of the Rhine river or relaxing in one of the many parks scattered throughout the city. The stunning Botanical Garden Köln is a great place to wind down after a long day.
Bring Snacks And Drinks For The Kids
Traveling with kids can be a challenging experience, especially when it comes to food.
Pack some familiar foods from home, like fruit, nuts, and granola bars. Having these comfort foods on hand can be reassuring for children, especially in unfamiliar environments.
Whether you're on a walking tour or visiting one of the many museums, you never know when hunger will strike!
Check out the menus of the restaurants you plan to visit, to see if the food will be to your child's liking before you go.
Lastly, remember always to pack extra snacks since children tend to get hungry frequently!
Family-Friendly Accommodations In Cologne
Hyatt Regency Cologne
With stunning views of the city skyline and famous landmarks like Cologne Cathedral, this hotel provides a convenient base for families looking to explore all that Cologne has to offer.
The hotel has really spacious rooms and suites that are designed with families in mind, and you can always ask to add cots and extra beds.
They have a decent range of amenities; from a full-service spa for tired parents, to a fitness center and indoor swimming pool.
If you're looking for a child-friendly hotel near popular tourist spots and stunning river views, then Hyatt Regency Cologne is perfect for you.
Novotel Köln City
One of the best family-friendly accommodations in Cologne is Novotel Köln City.
Guests praise the hotel's amazing breakfast and helpful staff. The restaurant has a small child's play area for parents who are busy eating.
The Novotel Köln City hotel is conveniently situated in the Old Town with a supermarket, Chocolate Museum, Cathedral and dining options within walking distance.
Cologne Marriott Hotel
Located within a 10-minute walk of the iconic Cologne Cathedral, the Cologne Marriott Hotel is an excellent choice for families.
The hotel is centrally located, making it convenient for exploring the city's attractions.
This can be an advantage for families as you'll have easy access to sights, restaurants, and public transportation.
Additionally, the hotel's adjoining rooms offer plenty of space for larger families or groups traveling together.
Breakfast offerings at Cologne Marriott Hotel are diverse and include a section for children!
FREE PUBLIC TRANSPORT & TRAVEL DISCOUNTS
How does unlimited public transport rides, and up to 50% discount on Cologne's attractions, restaurants and tours sound? Getting the KölnCard is a must if you're traveling to Cologne with family, because the savings really add up!
Conclusion: Things to do in Cologne with Children
In conclusion, Cologne is a vibrant and family-friendly city that offers an array of attractions for day trips, weekend getaways, and even a short city break. Whether you're interested in exploring the city's rich history and architecture, spending time outdoors, or delving into the world of arts and culture, there's something for everyone to enjoy.
Cologne Cathedral is a must-visit for families seeking a glimpse into the city's historical charm. Meanwhile, the Lindenthaler Petting Zoo and Rheinpark provide excellent opportunities for outdoor activities, and the KölnTriangle offers panoramic city views that will leave you in awe.
Whether you're interested in scenic views, historical sites, or cultural experiences, Cologne's diverse offerings make it the perfect destination for families. From its iconic landmarks to the serene gardens and vibrant theaters, Cologne has something for every traveler's taste.
1. What are some family-friendly activities to do in Cologne?
There are many fun activities for families to enjoy in Cologne, such as visiting the Köln Zoo, exploring the city's museums and cultural landmarks, taking a boat tour along the Rhine River or spending time at amusement parks like Phantasialand.
2. Are there any free things to do with kids in Cologne?
Yes! There are many free activities that parents can enjoy with their kids in Cologne, including the Flora And Botanical Garden, Lindenthaler Petting Zoo, and walking around the historic Altstadt (Old Town) or admiring the street art in the Ehrenfeld district.
Many also offer free admission to children, like the KölnTriangle, and the Romano-Germanic Museum.
3. Is it safe for families to travel around Cologne on public transportation?
Yes, generally speaking public transportation is reliable and safe in Cologne for families traveling together. The U-Bahn and S-Bahn lines run frequently throughout the day and offer affordable fares for children accompanying adults.
Of course, if you have the KölnCard, buses and trams are free!
4. What types of food options are available for families dining out in Cologne?
Cologne has no shortage of family-friendly restaurants offering diverse menus from burgers to pastas.
Traditional German cuisine such as bratwurst sausages and pretzels can be found at popular eateries like Brauhaus Früh am Dom while international dishes ranging from Mexican tacos to Chinese noodles can also be found within short distances from popular attractions like the Cologne Cathedral.
1: KölnTriangle Official Website, retrieved from http://www.koelntrianglepanorama.de/en/
2: Cologne Cable Car, Kölner Seilbahn, retrieved from https://www.koelner-seilbahn.de/en/
3: Phantasialand Official Website, retrieved from https://www.phantasialand.de/en/
4: Carolingian Dynasty - World History Encyclopedia, retrieved from https://www.worldhistory.org/Carolingian_Dynasty/
5: museenkoeln.de | German Sports and Olympic Museum, retrieved from https://museenkoeln.de/portal/German-Sports-and-Olympic-Museum
6: Die Fette Kuh Burger Restaurant Köln Südstadt, retrieved from https://www.diefettekuh.de/