The Best Day Trips from Cologne

| © Didgeman/Pixabay
Marion Kutter

Cologne has plenty of sights to offer, but if you look beyond the city borders, you’ll find some excellent day trip destinations, including castles and palaces and historical excavation sites. Here are seven ideas on how to spend a spare day in the region.

Augustusburg and Falkenlust Palace

A mere 30 minutes from Cologne, Brühl attracts tourists with two Rococo masterpieces and UNESCO World Heritage sites. The 18th century Augustusburg and Falkenlust Palaces served as residence and hunting château respectively for the then prince-elector of Cologne. The palatial rooms wow with marble pillars, gold décor, and hand-painted murals and frescos, the parks and gardens with boxtree ornaments, fountains, and colourful flower beds.

Augustusburg and Falkenlust Palaces


On a sunny day, the quaint Eifel village at the German-Belgian border is a meeting point for hikers and bikers. They stop at the local brewery for a cold Zwickel beer, or rest on the historical market square surrounded by half-timbered houses and cobblestone alleys after a day of touring the mountains and serpentine roads of the Hohes Venn and Eifel national parks. In winter, the picturesque town is often snowed in and decorated with fairy lights. Whatever the season, though, Monschau is perfect for a day trip and to snap some shots of one of Germany’s cutest villages.

Monschau, Germany


Aachen is a quick and easy train ride from Cologne and an excellent choice if you want to combine sightseeing with spa and wellness. The city near the Belgian and Dutch border lures with an imposing cathedral, which was commissioned by Charlemagne more than 1,200 years ago. Even before that, the Romans utilised the area’s hot springs and thermal water in their baths, a tradition that hasn’t broken off since. Today you can unwind and relax in the pools and treatment rooms of the Carolus Thermen day spa. Before you leave, get your hands on some Aachener Printen, the famous gingerbread-like biscuits.

Inside the Aachen Dom church

Drachenburg Castle

The Drachenburg Castle in Königswinter was built as a private villa in the late 19th century, and is architecturally composed of early Gothic and Renaissance elements. Over the course of history, the castle was used first as a Catholic school, then as a Nazi elite school from 1942 forward and was heavily damaged during the bombardments of World War II. After initial repairs and repurposing, the building stood empty and started to decay. In the 1970s an investor saved the Drachenburg, which is now a landmarked building and one of the region’s major tourist attractions.

Drachenburg Castle

Ahr Valley

The Ahrtal is one of Germany’s leading wine regions and stretches from Cologne to Koblenz further south. Excellent red wines, hiking routes with panoramic views over the valley, and plenty of medieval castles, ruins, and monasteries wait to be explored. On a day trip, you can stroll around vineyards, learn about the area’s 2,000-year-long winemaking tradition dating back to the Roman Empire, and stop for wine tasting and tours of an estate and the wine cellar.

An Ahr Valley vineyard


Some 30 kilometres south of Cologne lies the often overlooked city of Bonn–but the charming city actually has quite a lot to offer. Built on the foundations of a Roman settlement, Bonn served as the interim capital of West Germany during the Cold War between 1949 and 1990. It’s the home of Beethoven and gummy bears, has one of the country’s most prestigious universities, a grand palace, entire boroughs lined with Gründerzeit villas, and in spring there’s a festival that celebrates the blossoming of the many cherry trees.

Cherry blossom in Bonn

Neander Valley

The Neander Valley near Düsseldorf is relatively unknown abroad and yet world-famous at the same time. The valley was first recognised internationally when, in 1856, the first ever skeleton of a Neanderthal man was unearthed in a cave here. The landscape around the discovery site has since been redeveloped and transformed into an archaeological garden. The nearby Neanderthal Museum sums up the history of humankind going back more than four million years.

Reconstruction at the Neander Valley Museum
culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.