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Cologne Rec & Recs for DayTrips via Train

Wonder if any of the lovely travelers here would give recommendations on things to do by foot / train / boat for our Cologne visit in April 2023. Staying near city center. Not renting a car. (Should we?)
Hoping to see a castle (i know, very touristy, but...) via train from Cologne. Any suggestions for this, and towns easy access from the train in any direction, appreciated.

Also - Is a Rhine sightseeing tour in Cologne worth the time? Read mxed reviews ewlsewhere.
Thanks so much! (I apologize in advance for any misspelling of town names)

Posted by
9198 posts

Why are you going to visit Cologne? I ask as you don’t seem to know much about it.

Posted by
5794 posts

That part of the Rhine Valley between Koblenz and Bingen is where you want to be for castles and old-world atmosphere. There are around 40 castles packed into the cliffsides on this stretch.

Marksburg Castle in Braubach

Auf Schoenburg Castle/Hotel in Oberwesel

River cruises

Map with train routes, ferry crossings, cruise boat stops, other links


A day trip from Cologne to this area is possible but you might instead consider staying in one of the smaller Rhine towns and making a day-trip to big-city Cologne and the neighboring Rhine towns from there. Train service from/to either base is excellent. If you stay in BOPPARD, your train outings will be free of charge:

Posted by
6 posts

Well - Good Question. I have done research - read blogs and TripAdvisor, etc. But wanted to get the recommendations of others here without listing what is loosely on my list here.

The stop in Cologne is part of a larger trip - Amsterdam/Haarlem - Cologne - then on to Belguim. Cologne just seemed to fit logistically and within our time frame. My family is of German heritage, and I'd like to step foot in the country while traveling nearby.

I thank you for your time and stopping by to comment on my post! If you have anything you'd care to share as far a recommendation, I appreciate. If not, have a great rest of your day!

Posted by
6 posts

Russ - thank you very much! We have our homebase set in Cologne (I dred re-hashing the airbnb's at this point) I really appreciate your suggestions, and will work some in to our stay in Germany. This will be a first trip to Germany, a stop within a larger trip. And Cologne just made sense logistically. I can already see that we will want to arrange another trip in the future focusing strictly on Germany!
Thanks again for your suggestions. Cheers!

Posted by
3429 posts

Depending on your level of interest in WWII history, Remagen is the site of the bridge where the US crossed into Germany and is about a 45-minute train ride from Cologne. The towers of the bridges on either side of the river still exist (thought the rest of the bridge is gone). The towers on the Remagen side house a peace museum that explores the significance of the bridge and the significance of war. Linz am Rhein across the river is a nice little town with many old Fachwerkhäuser (half-timbered houses). A ferry crosses between the two rivers cities -- we walked to the ferry, but it was a long walk

Aachen would be awesome. I haven't been there but would love to go! So much history.

Posted by
266 posts

Another vote of Aachen. Truly amazing. If you can read up on the Age of Charlemagne a bit ahead of time it makes it all the more awe-inspiring.

Regular Forum contributors know I always say that Bonn, Germany is criminally overlooked. It is worth the trip solely for the Museum on the History of the Federal Republic of Germany. It is a world-class history museum (trust me, I've been to a lot!) documenting West Germany from WWII to Reunification. Outstanding at every turn. If you decide to include Bonn I can offer some other suggestions.

For something laid-back and picturesque consider Linz am Rhein. A classic "gingerbread" town square (the Buttermarkt!) and just a pleasant smaller town to walk around and enjoy (Cologne can be a bit overwhelming!) About an hour by train.

As for Cologne itself, I'm going to give you a bunch of church destinations. You may or may not want to do a bunch of church destinations, but each is outstanding in their own right:

  • Cathedral, esp. the Reliquary of the Three Magi. Astonishing when you consider it was crafted in the early 1200s
  • Kirche St. Ursula. Find the attendant in the side office, pay the 2 Euros each, and head into the reliquary decorated with thousands of bones. Mind-blowing!
  • St. Maria im Kapitol. Wooden doors from the 1000s, considered some of the earliest and best wooden reliefs of medieval Europe
  • Church of St. Maria in Lyskirchen. Another 1200s-era artifact, this time for the outstanding painted ceilings.
  • St. Gereon. Quite peaceful and beautiful, and pretty amazing when you realize the dome was the largest built in the world between its completion in 1227 and the 1400s when the Duomo in Florence was completed.

Okay, enough churches! Final recommendation: There are lots of traditional Kölsch halls, but my two favorites are:

  • Schreckenskammer (Ursulagartenstraße 11-15) and
  • FRÜH "Em Golde Kappes" (Neusser Str. 295) -- requires a trip up to one of the quieter neighborhoods
Posted by
29674 posts

I'm another in favour of Aachen. Even has an old but reasonably modern (blue water in the spa) Thermae.

Posted by
1519 posts

My only disappointment about Aachen was that there weren’t tourist trinkets—shirts, keychains, postcards—declaiming “CharleMania!”

Seemed like such a missed opportunity.

Posted by
78 posts

We only stayed one night and left early the next morning. There's an English tour you can take of the Koln Cathedral, if you're interested in a bit of history. I had the Cathedral on my list as a must-see, so since we arrived in time, we did the English tour (3 PM), and my husband enjoyed the information, as well. He LOVED the Brauhaus for kolsch, I think it was Fruh that we visited. We did go on a Friday and there was music by a local folk singer -- we learned that all the songs are about how special Cologne is. Later on the Rhine, we met an older couple whom the woman was from Cologne, and you could hear her love for her hometown.

A walk across the bridge to watch the sun set behind the Cathedral is an easy activity. Bars across the river for a beverage, or BYOB.

I would have loved to have had time to visit the churches aforementioned. We visited the cemetery instead (the only cemetery we saw in Europe).
My mother in law loved doing a bike tour of Cologne.

We rented a car and drive south on the Rhine, first driving to Burg Eltz castle. The small bit of the Moselle River area we saw was lovely -- next time we go, we will visit that area, though we loved the area we stayed on the Rhine, too. We never made it to Marksburg castle, but we did do the ruins one (Rheinfels?) in St Goar.