18 Free Things to Do in Cologne, Germany

Updated on January 19, 2024  

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Cologne, a beautiful city in Germany known for its history and stunning buildings, has plenty of things to do that won't cost you a penny.

After visiting Cologne for years, especially with our kids, we've found lots of fun and free stuff to do – from cool historical spots to family-friendly adventures.

So we finally sat down and put together this guide of 17 awesome free activities to help you plan your time in Cologne!

Top Free Activities In Cologne

Explore The Old Town (Altstadt)

Cologne's historic district, the Old Town, is a treasure trove of free attractions.

You can explore its charming traditional buildings and stroll along cobblestone streets, as well as discover iconic landmarks that tell the story of the city's past – all for free!

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To truly appreciate this beautiful area without spending a penny, you can sign up for a free walking tour. These tours cover historical sites, cultural highlights, and interesting stories about the city.

You're encouraged to tip the guide based on how much you enjoyed the tour, as these tours often work on a tip-based system.

Visit Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom)

No trip to Cologne would be complete without paying the Cologne Cathedral a visit. Constructing this architectural marvel took over 600 years, and it's amazing how you can simply walk in without paying an entrance fee.

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That said, certain areas do require a fee, such as the treasury and climbing the bell tower, where you can take in breathtaking views of the city below.

However, exploring the main nave and taking in the impressive stained-glass windows are entirely free!

Stroll Through Stadtgarten Park

Cologne's oldest modern park is a lovely retreat in the city. Tucked near the fashionable Belgian Quarter, it's a peaceful spot with grassy areas, benches and picnic spots – attracting locals during the day and a young and lively crowd in the evenings.

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This beautiful public park is free to visit, and offers an escape from busy urban life. There's a popular beer garden, a quaint little "library" and a venue for concerts. Plus, there's a popular spot near Herkulesberg Bridge that's great for taking photos!

By the way, during the holidays, Stadtgarten turns into a Christmas market which attracts those who want a more local experience, and avoid the touristy markets.

You can easily get to this park using Stadtbahn lines 3, 4, or 5, and stop at Hans-Böckler-Platz or Friesenplatz.

Visit Fischmarkt (Fish Market)

This historic market is located in the heart of the city’s downtown area, and it's one of the few remaining parts that offer an authentic glimpse into Cologne's past.

While no longer a fish market, the square dates back to medieval times when fishmongers used to sell their wares from small boats on the river.

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