16 Best Museums in Cologne, Germany

Updated on September 19, 2023  


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Cologne, a city rich in history and culture, boasts an impressive collection of museums that cater to art aficionados, history buffs, and curious travelers alike.

From archaeological artifacts to captivating masterpieces by renowned artists, these top museums in Cologne are sure to captivate your imagination as you journey through time.

In this blog post, we'll walk you through some of the best museums in Cologne with remarkable exhibits that should not be missed during your trip.

Top Museums In Cologne, Germany

Romano-Germanic Museum

Immerse yourself in ancient history at the Romano-Germanic Museum, a must-visit destination for travelers interested in archaeology and European culture.

This renowned archaeological museum, located in the heart of Cologne, boasts an extensive collection of Roman artifacts discovered in the Roman settlement of Colonia. [1]

Best Museums in Cologne Romano-germanic

Situated on the remains of a Roman town villa with stunning glass flooring showcasing its foundations below your feet; visitors can witness firsthand how much detail has remained intact even after centuries have passed by since their creation.

Wallraf-Richartz Museum

The Wallraf-Richartz Museum, located in the heart of Cologne is a must-visit destination for art enthusiasts and travelers alike.

As one of the three major museums in the city, it boasts an impressive collection of fine art from various periods such as medieval painting, impressionism, and neo-impressionism.

Housed in a modern building with thoughtfully designed exhibition spaces, the Wallraf-Richartz Museum offers visitors a unique cultural experience enriched by well-written informative plaques available in both German and English languages. [2]

Wander through rooms filled with intricate artwork ranging from Van Gogh's serene landscapes to Rembrandt's captivating portraits while exploring centuries-old artistic techniques.

NS Documentation Centre Of The City Of Cologne

As you explore the top museums in Cologne, be sure not to miss the NS Documentation Centre of the City of Cologne (EL-DE Haus).

This thought-provoking museum is dedicated to memorializing the victims of the Nazi regime while also providing research and teaching about Cologne's history during this dark period.

When planning your visit to this must-see attraction, prepare for an immersive experience as you walk through captivating exhibitions detailing life under Nazi rule and uncovering stories of Holocaust survivors.

As one of Cologne's leading museums, it offers a variety of exhibits designed to inform and educate visitors on all aspects related to national socialism – from propaganda materials and personal testimonies to ephemera highlighting resistance movements against tyranny. [3]

The NS Documentation Centre serves as both a somber reminder of our past and inspiration for continued vigilance against hate-promoting ideologies in today's world.

Farina Fragrance Museum

Located in the historic home of Farina, the Farina Fragrance Museum is a must-visit for those interested in perfume production and the history of fragrances.

Established as a registered office in 1723, visitors can discover three centuries of fragrance and cultural history at this top museum in Cologne, Germany.

The Rococo era serves as the starting point for exploring not only the fragrance industry but also the significant role it played in shaping German history. Johann Maria Farina founded this world-renowned perfume factory and established his brand's legacy as one that continues to thrive today.

A tour through this historical museum will leave you feeling inspired by stories of famous perfumers and their contribution to cultural heritage.

You'll learn about how fragrances evolved over time to become what they are today while immersing yourself into one of Germany's oldest factories dedicated to perfumes production.

Cologne Chocolate Museum

The Cologne Chocolate Museum is one of the most popular museums in Cologne, and for a good reason. This top museum showcases the natural history of cocoa and exhibits on pre-Columbian cultures of Central America.


The highlight attraction of this museum is undoubtedly the three-meter-high chocolate fountain that overflows with warm, melted chocolate.

Motorworld Cologne

If you're a car enthusiast, then Motorworld Cologne is not to be missed. Located in the southern part of Cologne, this popular attraction houses a collection of sports cars on the ground floor and the Michael Schumacher collection on the upper floor.

motorworld-cologne MUSEUMS

The museum also features interactive exhibits and memorabilia from various motorsports events. In addition to its impressive automobile collections, Motorworld Cologne has become a popular venue for corporate events and private celebrations due to its unique ambience.

Whether you're interested in German history or looking for family-friendly activities during your visit to Cologne, Motorworld Cologne should definitely make it onto your list of things to do.

It's a great place to spend an afternoon admiring iconic automobiles while learning about their historical significance in Germany's automotive industry.

Museum Ludwig

Museum Ludwig is a must-visit spot for any art lover traveling to Cologne, Germany. This contemporary art museum features an impressive collection of works from Pop Art, Abstract and Surrealism movements.

museum-ludwig cologne things to do

Established in 1976 as a private institution from the Wallraf-Richartz Museum, it has quickly become one of the top museums in Cologne, and is associated with other renowned cultural institutions in the city. [4]

Spread over three floors of exhibition space, Museum Ludwig houses a large collection of international modern and contemporary art that showcases some of the most innovative works by world-renowned artists.

Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum

The Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum is a must-visit for travelers looking to experience cultural diversity and exchange. As one of the top museums in Cologne, Germany, it offers an extensive collection of over 65,000 objects from around the world, including art and artifacts that showcase various cultures.

The museum aims to explore anthropology and multiculturalism through its exhibits and provides guided tours in multiple languages.

One interesting fact about the museum is its remaking process after reopening in 2010. It has undergone changes focused on exploring epistemological questions connected with ethnographic museums.

Museum Of The Cologne Carnival

One of the most unique and lively museums in Cologne is the Museum of the Cologne Carnival. This museum offers visitors a fascinating insight into the festive traditions and cultural significance of one of Germany's biggest celebrations.


The museum features exhibits showcasing carnival costumes, parade floats, masks, and memorabilia from throughout its history.

Visitors can learn about the different stages of costume production, view prize-winning designs from past years' parades or even try their hand at crafting some colorful headwear themselves.

As well as exploring the exhibits on display, you can also take part in guided tours throughout the year or attend workshops where local artists will teach you how to create your own costumes or masks inspired by carnival traditions.

German Sports And Olympic Museum

The German Sports and Olympic Museum is a must-visit for any sports enthusiast exploring Cologne. This museum is focused on the history of athletics and Olympic Games, covering a range of popular and trendy sports from ancient times to modern day.

Here, you will find amazing displays that showcase Germany's rich sporting heritage. You'll learn about Germany's participation in different editions of the Olympic games since its inception in ancient Greece up until present day.

Exhibits cover everything from renowned athletes to technology used during competitions throughout history.

Käthe Kollwitz Museum

The Käthe Kollwitz Museum should be at the top of any art lover's list of museums to visit in Cologne, Germany. This museum is dedicated to showcasing the works of one of Germany's most celebrated artists, Käthe Kollwitz.

Her powerful and emotive expressions on working-class life, social injustice, and war are displayed in various mediums like etchings, lithographs, sculptures, drawings and more.

While finding this museum may prove a bit tricky because it is located on top of a shopping mall entranceway which makes it easy to miss out if not thoroughly searched for; visitors who seek out this hidden gem are rewarded with an exceptional collection of work from one of Germany's greatest artists.

Museum Schnütgen

The Museum Schnütgen houses an impressive collection of Christian religious art from the medieval period to modern times.

The museum is situated inside a breathtaking Romanesque church built over 800 years ago - St Cäcilien Church. Visitors can admire beautiful works such as altarpieces, sculptures, and reliquaries that showcase intricate designs and detailed craftsmanship.

The museum's highlights include pieces by famous artists like Stefan Lochner and Tilman Riemenschneider.

Cologne Museum Of Applied Arts (MAKK)

The Museum of Applied Arts (MAKK) in Cologne is a must-visit destination for art and design enthusiasts. This decorative arts museum showcases an impressive collection of furniture, ceramics, glassware, jewelry, and textiles from the 10th century to the present day.

The MAKK is one of the top museums in Cologne, Germany when it comes to European applied arts. With over 100,000 objects on display, visitors are treated to a glimpse into Europe's cultural heritage through exquisite craftmanship and artistic expression.


Also known as Museum für Angewandte Kunst Köln, the MAKK is located near other top museums in Cologne such as Wallraf-Richartz Museum and Romano-Germanic Museum; designing your itinerary can make visiting all these museums much easier while enjoying discounted admission tickets.

The MAKK also offers guided tours and workshops where visitors can interact with experts while gaining new perspectives about decorative arts history/technology/designs.

To get the best experience out of your visit, consider going during less busy hours to avoid crowds or take advantage of the special free entry days throughout the year.

Museum Of East Asian Art

The Museum of East Asian Art is a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in the art and culture of China, Japan, and Korea. As the oldest museum devoted entirely to East Asian art in Germany, it showcases unique collections of historical artifacts and contemporary artworks from this fascinating region.

Visitors can explore traditional Chinese calligraphy, Japanese woodblock prints, Korean ceramics, and other masterpieces that provide insights into these cultures' artistic traditions.

If you're planning to visit Cologne soon or are already in town, be sure to add the Museum of East Asian Art to your itinerary. You can easily spend hours here learning about Asia's cultural heritage through its fantastic collection.


Kolumba is a must-visit museum in Cologne, Germany. Its location on the site of the former St. Kolumba church gives it a unique character and serene atmosphere that perfectly complements its stunning collection of artistic treasures.


What sets Kolumba apart from other museums is its focus on Christian art.

Founded by the Society for Christian Art in 1853, this establishment continues to maintain a remarkable collection that extends from a 1st-century portrait all the way to contemporary pieces created by living artists. [5]

Cologne Cathedral Treasury

The Cologne Cathedral Treasury is somewhat different from the others listed here, because it is located inside the iconic Cologne Cathedral. A visit to this museum is like taking a walk through history. The treasury contains some of the most important catholic relics and artifacts dating back to the 4th century.

These include precious ornaments, jewelry, and other items used by the church over time.

The Cathedral Treasury has an extensive collection that represents centuries of Christian heritage and Gothic architecture in Europe. Inside visitors will be amazed at how well-preserved these historic collections are!

In addition to its religious artifacts on display, you can also find medieval art pieces housed in this awe-inspiring exhibit such as sculptures and paintings which offer glimpses into German art history.

Insider Tips For Visiting Cologne's Museums

Best Times To Visit To Avoid Crowds

If you're looking to enjoy the museums in Cologne with fewer crowds, there are a few tips to keep in mind. Firstly, consider visiting during weekdays and outside peak tourist season, which is typically from May to September.

Another great option is attending the Museum Night event when all of the museums in the city stay open late into the night, serving drinks and snacks while playing music.

Additionally, some museums offer discounted admission tickets or free entry options on certain days or times of day.

For instance, The Roman-Germanic Museum offers free admission on every first Thursday of the month from 6 pm onwards while others like Kolumba have special reduced prices for students and seniors which might be something worth considering also if you fit these categories.

Discount Admission Tickets And Free Entry Options

There are various ways to save money while exploring top museums in Cologne, Germany. Visitors can take advantage of discount admission tickets and free entry options available for many museums in the city.

The Romano-Germanic Museum offers free entry during certain times, and other museums like the Farina Fragrance Museum offer discounted admission tickets for children and groups.

To make the most of their visit, travelers can also purchase a KölnCard which provides free entry to multiple museums and other attractions in Cologne.

Guided Tours And Workshops

For travelers looking to make the most of their time in Cologne's museums, booking a guided tour or workshop can be the perfect solution. Some museums, like the Museum de Cologne and Romano-Germanic Museum, require visitors to book a guided tour in advance.

These tours not only provide historical context but also give insights into the collections and art pieces found within each museum.

Interactive experiences are also available for smaller groups of 2-5 people at some museums, giving visitors a chance to learn about history in an entertaining way.

For example, at the Fagrance Museum visitors can take part in guided tours that explore over 300 years of fragrance history or sign up for an educational workshop on perfumery.  [6]

Museum Shop And Dining Options

After a long day of exploring the top museums in Cologne, Germany, visitors might want to stop by the museum shops or grab a bite at one of the dining options available. Most museums have gift shops that offer unique souvenirs and items related to their collections, such as books, posters, and postcards.

At Cologne Cathedral Treasury's shop, you can find religious articles like rosary beads and crosses.

In terms of dining options, some museums have cafés or restaurants within their premises for convenience. For instance, Chocolate Museum has its own café where visitors can indulge in delicious chocolate desserts while enjoying views of the Rhine River.

Conclusion: Museums in Cologne

Cologne, Germany is a city with rich cultural history and home to some of the best museums in Europe. From ancient Roman artifacts to modern art collections, there is something for every type of traveler.

No visit to Cologne would be complete without seeing its most famous landmark - the magnificent Cologne Cathedral Treasury.

So if you're planning a trip to Germany any time soon, don't miss out on these must-see museums in Cologne!

Click here for more things to do in Cologne.

Key Takeaways

  • Must-visit museums include the Romano-Germanic Museum, Wallraf-Richartz Museum, NS Documentation Centre (EL-DE Haus), Farina Fragrance Museum, and Cologne Chocolate Museum.
  • The Romano-Germanic Museum and Wallraf-Richartz Museum offer visitors a glimpse into Cologne's settlement history and impressive art collections. The NS Documentation Centre of the City of Cologne  provides an eye-opening look at National Socialism in Germany, while the Farina Fragrance Museum takes you on a journey through the history and production of perfume.
  • Other noteworthy museums include Motorworld Cologne, Museum Ludwig, Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum, German Sports and Olympic Museum, Käthe Kollwitz Museum, Schnütgen Museum of Christian religious art and the Cologne Museum of Applied Arts (MAKK).
  • Insider tips when visiting these top museums in Cologne include checking out discount admission tickets or free entry options ahead of time as well as taking advantage of guided tours or workshops offered by each museum.


1. What are the top museums to visit in Cologne, Germany?

Some of the top museums to visit in Cologne, Germany include the Museum Ludwig, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud, and the Cologne Chocolate Museum.

2. What kinds of exhibitions can I expect at these museums?

The Museum Ludwig is known for its contemporary art collection while the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum has an extensive collection of old master paintings. The Cologne Chocolate Museum offers interactive exhibits about chocolate making and history.

3. How much do tickets cost for these museums in Cologne?

Ticket prices vary depending on the museum you want to visit and whether or not there are any special exhibitions happening at that time. On average, adult tickets range from €10-€15 per person.

4. Can I purchase tickets online for these museums before my visit?

Yes! Most of the major museums in Cologne offer online ticket purchasing options which can save you time waiting in line upon arrival. Be sure to check each museum's website for specific information regarding ticket purchases and reservations.


1: Römisch-Germanisches Museum Köln | History, retrieved from https://roemisch-germanisches-museum.de/History
2: The Highlight: Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, retrieved from https://www.wallraf.museum/en/collections/middle-ages/masterpieces/stefan-lochner-madonna-of-the-rose-bower/the-highlight/
3: museenkoeln.de | NS-Documentation Centre, retrieved from https://museenkoeln.de/portal/NS-Documentation-Centre
5: History of the Museum Ludwig from 1976 to the Present, retrieved from https://www.museum-ludwig.de/en/museum/the-museum/history.html
6: Kolumba Museum Official Site, retrieved from https://www.kolumba.com/?language=eng
6: Guided tours in the Fragrance Museum, retrieved from https://farina.org/visit-the-fragrance-museum/

About the Author

Stephan Drescher, founder of germanytravel.blog, is a German travel expert and insider, providing trusted tips and advice for a perfect trip to Germany. Born & bred German.