Where to Stay in Cologne 🇩🇪: From City Centre to Charming Outskirts

Updated on June 6, 2024
by Alex Miller

Cologne is one of the oldest and most interesting cities in Germany, located on the banks of the majestic Rhine River. From the historic Altstadt near the iconic Cologne Cathedral to the trendy Deutz and up-and-coming Ehrenfeld, I’ve got you covered with the best places to stay here. Whether you want to be in the heart of the city, near top attractions and nightlife, or surrounded by local flavor, Cologne’s diverse districts offer perfect accommodation options for every type of traveler. Let’s explore the best places and hotels for a comfy and great time in this awesome charming city!

Our Pick of the Best Hotels in Cologne:

Quick Guide to 5 Best Places to Stay in Cologne

1. Altstadt (Old Town) – Best Place to Stay for First-Time Visitors

🏰 Medieval Charm: This medieval neighborhood surrounds the iconic Cologne Cathedral and is an absolute delight to explore on foot. Cobblestone alleys wind past colorful timber-framed houses, cozy brewhouses serving kölsch beer, and lively outdoor platzchen (small squares) buzzing with restaurants and cafes.

🌉 Centrally Located: The Old Town’s location couldn’t be more convenient – it’s just steps from the main train station and a short walk across the Hohenzollern Bridge to the hip Belgian Quarter. Many of Cologne’s top museums like the Romano-Germanic Museum are right in the neighborhood too.

✨ Festive Atmosphere: One of my favorite things about the Altstadt is its lively, festive atmosphere all year round:

  • Spring brings sunny days sipping kölsch on the platzchen
  • Summer has a laidback, convivial vibe as locals and tourists mingle
  • Fall is magical as the leaves change and the Christmas markets start setting up
  • Winter is pure enchantment with the Heinzels Wintermärchen Christmas market in December in full swing

🏙️ Easy to Navigate: The main drag of Hohe Strasse is closed to vehicles, making it pedestrian-friendly for shopping and dining. Insider Tip: Download a navigation app to help weave through the web of tiny alleys and find hidden gems like the Malzmühle brewery or Brauhaus Sion beer hall.

Altstadt, Cologne
Altstadt, Cologne
Altstadt, Cologne

🌃 Iconic Views: No visit to the Altstadt is complete without seeing the breathtaking Cologne Cathedral up close. This Gothic masterpiece took over 600 years to build and its intricate twin spires dominate the skyline. At night, the illuminated cathedral is an absolute showstopper. For the ultimate view, head to the Rheinauhafen riverfront area across the Rhine river.

Where to Stay in Altstadt?

⭐ Best hotels in Altstadt (Old Town)

  • Excelsior Hotel Ernst – This luxury hotel exudes elegance with its opulent decor and first-class amenities like a spa and gourmet restaurant. The rooms are spacious and beautifully appointed.
  • Sofitel Cologne Kurfürstendamm – A gorgeous upscale hotel set in a former church building. The unique design blends historic charm with modern luxury. Enjoy a drink at the atmospheric bar or dine at the acclaimed restaurant. Just a few minutes away from Cologne Cathedral and the train.
  • Hyatt Regency Cologne – Offering great panoramic city views and gourmet cuisine, this stylish business hotel is located in central Cologne directly beside the River Rhine. Free WiFi is featured throughout the property.

🏨 Best Cheap/Moderate Hotels

  • Stern am Rathaus – This highly-rated 3-star hotel offers incredible value for its stellar location right on a lively Old Town square, near the Cologne Cathedral. The modern rooms are comfortable and the staff is friendly and welcoming. A great option for those wanting an affordable yet stylish stay.
  • CityClass Hotel Am Dom – A no-frills but clean and comfortable boutique hotel just a 5-minute walk from the Cathedral. The rooms are basic but have everything you need for a good night’s sleep. An excellent budget choice in the heart of the Old Town.
  • eazires Hotel am Augustinerplatz – Stay in the middle of the action at this cozy hotel overlooking a lively Old Town square filled with beer halls and cafes. The rooms are no-frills but clean, and the staff is welcoming. A charming budget pick.

🛏️ Best Hostels

  • Hostel Die Wohngemeinschaft – Stay in a historic building with a sunny courtyard at this top-rated hostel. The dorms and privates are simple but comfortable. The friendly staff hosts fun events like movie nights. Centrally located near restaurants and nightlife.
  • Hostel Cologne – You can’t beat the location of this hostel – it’s just a stone’s throw from the Cathedral! The modern dorms have privacy curtains and the common areas are great for meeting fellow travelers. A lively yet affordable option.

2. Belgian Quarter – Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Cologne for Nightlife and Trendsetters

🌇 Trendy Neighborhood: The Belgian Quarter (Belgisches Viertel) is one of the coolest neighborhoods to stay in when visiting Cologne. Located in the heart of Cologne, this vibrant area is known for its hip cafes, indie boutiques, art galleries and nightlife. It’s where the city’s young trendsetters and creatives hang out.

🍽️ Foodie Paradise: The Belgian Quarter is a food lover’s dream. You’ll find an eclectic mix of international restaurants, from Thai to Mexican to Italian. Some of our favorite spots include:

  • Fräulein Fiona: Cozy cafe with amazing breakfast/brunch
  • Ban Canteen: Authentic Thai street food
  • Freddy Schilling: Gourmet burgers and cocktails
  • Mashery: Innovative fine dining

🛍️ Shopping Haven: This is the place to shop for unique fashion, home decor, vinyl records, and more. Stroll along Brüsseler Platz and duck into the many independent shops. A few must-visits are Magasin 2 concept store, STUF vintage, and Boutique Belgique. On weekends, check out the artisan stalls at the Stadtgarten market.

🎨 Arts & Culture: The Belgian Quarter has a thriving art scene, with numerous galleries like Ruttkowski;68 contemporary and Galerie Biesenbach. Catch an indie film at Filmpalette cinema. In the evening, see live music at popular venues like YUCA and Tsunami Club.

🚶 Getting Around: The neighborhood is very walkable and easy to navigate. It’s about a 20-minute walk to the train station. You can also hop on the U-Bahn (subway) lines 3 or 4 at Friesenplatz to get around the city quickly.

Insider Tip: Visit during the summer and enjoy drinks on one of the many outdoor terraces along Aachener Strasse. It’s the perfect spot for people-watching on a sunny day.

Where to Stay in Belgian Quarter?

Best Hotels in Belgian Quarter

  • Courtyard by Marriott Cologne – This modern 4-star hotel offers contemporary rooms and suites in the heart of the Belgian Quarter. Enjoy the indoor pool, fitness center, and on-site restaurant and bar. Walking distance to top attractions like the Chocolate Museum.

🏨 Best Cheap/Moderate Hotels

  • Hotel Cologne Rudolfplatz – Offering spacious rooms with views, a restaurant with buffet breakfast, and free WiFi access. This great hotel stands on Rudolfplatz Square, just 200 meters from Hahnentorburg Castle.
  • Hotel Flandrischer Hof – This 3-star hotel offers modern rooms with free WiFi. It’s located near the city center, just a 15-minute walk from the Rhine promenade.
  • Limehome Köln Friesenplatz – This condo hotel features an elevator and free WiFi. Neumarkt Square is a 13-minute walk away, and Museum Ludwig is 1.1 miles from the condo hotel.

3. Deutz – Best Neighborhood for Families and Business Travelers

🏙️ Convenient Location: Located just across the Rhine River from the city center, Deutz offers a quieter atmosphere while still being within easy reach of Cologne’s top attractions.

🌉 Iconic Landmark: The most famous landmark in Deutz is the Hohenzollern Bridge, a beautiful steel arch bridge that connects the neighborhood to the Old Town. Take a stroll across the bridge and enjoy panoramic views of the river and cathedral. You’ll also see thousands of love locks attached to the railings, left by couples as a symbol of their commitment.

👪 Family-Friendly: The neighborhood has several parks and playgrounds, including the large Rheinpark with its sprawling lawns, walking paths, and river views. Kids will also love visiting the Cologne Zoo, one of the oldest and largest zoos in Germany, home to over 10,000 animals from around the world.

🏢 Business Hub: Business travelers will appreciate Deutz’s proximity to the KölnMesse exhibition center, which hosts major trade fairs and conferences throughout the year. The neighborhood also has modern hotels with amenities like meeting rooms and business centers.

🚊 Getting Around: Deutz is well-connected to the rest of Cologne by public transportation. The Deutz/Messe station is served by S-Bahn (suburban rail), U-Bahn (subway), and tram lines, making it easy to get to the city center, airport, or other neighborhoods. You can reach the Old Town and cathedral in just 5 minutes by train or 15-20 minutes on foot.

🍽️ Dining & Shopping: While Deutz is primarily a residential area, there are still plenty of dining and shopping options. Check out the Deutzer Freiheit pedestrian zone for a variety of shops, cafes, and restaurants. For a special meal, try the Glashaus restaurant, which offers upscale German cuisine and a beautiful terrace overlooking the Rhine.

Insider Tip: For a unique experience, visit the Odysseum science museum, where you can explore interactive exhibits on topics like space, the human body, and music. It’s a great activity for a rainy day or when you need a break from sightseeing.

Where to Stay in Deutz?

⭐ Best hotels in Deutz

  • Radisson Blu Hotel, Cologne – The Radisson BLU Hotel Köln features spacious and modern rooms with a flat-screen TV, tea/coffee facilities and chic design. All bathrooms include a shower, while some additionally come with a bathtub.
  • Günnewig Stadtpalais – This hotel opposite Cologne’s Lanxess Arena offers a unique mix of historic and modern architecture and good transport links. It provides spacious, elegantly furnished rooms. Free satellite sports channels are provided in the lounge area and all rooms.

🏨 Best Cheap/Moderate Hotels

  • Deutzer Traumappartment The spacious apartment has 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, bed linen, towels, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a dining area, a fully equipped kitchen, and a terrace with inner courtyard views.
  • Hotel Ilbertz Garni The 3-star Hotel Ilbertz in Cologne offers air-conditioned rooms. The Messe (trade fair) is a 5-minute walk away and Deutzer Freiheit underground station is right outside. A daily breakfast buffet is offered.
  • Kolpinghaus Messehotel Köln-Deutz Each room provides a desk, TV with satellite channels, and a private bathroom with shower. Guests can enjoy a breakfast buffet in the morning at this family-friendly hotel.

4. Altstadt-Süd – Best Area to Stay in Cologne on a Budget

💰 Budget-Friendly: One of the best neighborhoods for affordable accommodation options is Altstadt-Süd, located just south of the city center. This charming area is filled with budget hotels and hostels that won’t break the bank.

🚶 Walkable Location: You can easily walk to the bustling Old Town in about 10-15 minutes. Stroll along the picturesque banks of the Rhine River or explore the trendy Belgian Quarter, both within a 20-minute walk.

🚊 Well-Connected: The neighborhood is well-connected by trams and buses, with stops like Chlodwigplatz and Ubierring just a short walk from most hotels. From there, you can quickly reach other parts of the city, including the Cologne Central Station and the Cologne Bonn Airport.

🍽️ Cheap Eats: Altstadt-Süd has plenty of affordable dining options, from cozy cafes to ethnic eateries. Check out Metzgerei Schmitz for traditional German sausages or Falafel Habibi for tasty Middle Eastern fare. For a quick bite, grab a slice at Pizza Pazza or a burger at Die Fette Kuh.

🌿 Green Spaces: When you need a break from sightseeing, head to the lovely Volksgarten park, just a short walk from Altstadt-Süd. This expansive green space features walking paths, a beer garden, and a botanical garden with a tropical greenhouse. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic or a leisurely afternoon in nature.

Money-Saving Tip: Many hotels in Altstadt-Süd offer discounted rates for longer stays or during off-peak seasons. Consider visiting in the shoulder months of April, May, September, or October to save on accommodations while still enjoying mild weather and fewer crowds.

Where to Stay in Altstadt-Süd?

⭐ Best hotels in Altstadt-Süd

  • Hotel im Wasserturm This is a converted historic water tower in the center of Cologne’s Old Town. Completely renovated, the elegant rooms are decorated in a modern style and feature satellite TV, handheld room controls, and a private bathroom with free toiletries. The hotel interior offers a unique glass, wood and brick design.
  • Hotel Allegro Enjoy wonderful views of the Rhine and Deutzer Brücke bridge from this charming hotel, which offers cozy accommodation just steps from Heumarkt U-bahn station. The comfortable rooms are furnished in a modern style and come with free WiFi.
  • Excelsior Hotel Ernst This luxury hotel exudes elegance with its opulent decor and first-class amenities like a spa and gourmet restaurant. The rooms are spacious and beautifully appointed. Its prime location just steps from the Cologne Cathedral can’t be beat.

🏨 Best Cheap/Moderate Hotels

  • Odessa Apartment Providing private parking, the apartment is 1.4 km from the Cologne Chocolate Museum. It offers a restaurant serving Russian cuisine, as well as free WiFi throughout the property.
  • Hotel Marsil A design hotel situated in the heart of Cologne’s Old Town, just 1 km from the Rhine River and near art/shopping areas and the Belgian Quarter. It offers individually designed rooms and apartments with free Wi-Fi.
  • Hotel zur Malzmühle This family-friendly hotel is located at Heumarkt square in the Old Town district. It offers free WiFi, views of the Cathedral, and a restaurant with brewery. All rooms have a flat-screen TV, desk, and private bathroom.

5. Ehrenfeld – Ideal Spot to Stay in Cologne for a Local, Authentic Experience

🎨 Artsy Vibe: This trendy, multicultural area is known for its vibrant street art, indie boutiques, live music venues and creative spirit. It’s where the city’s artists, students, and hipsters hang out.

Ehrenfeld, Cologne
Ehrenfeld, Cologne
Ehrenfeld, Cologne
Ehrenfeld, Cologne
Ehrenfeld, Cologne
Ehrenfeld, Cologne
Ehrenfeld, Cologne
Ehrenfeld, Cologne
Ehrenfeld, Cologne
Ehrenfeld, Cologne
Ehrenfeld, Cologne
Ehrenfeld, Cologne

🍽️ Foodie Haven: One of the best things about Ehrenfeld is its diverse food scene. You’ll find everything from traditional German pubs to international cuisine. Some of my favorite spots include:

  • Bunte Burger: Gourmet burgers with unique toppings
  • Haus Scholzen: Cozy tavern serving classic Kölsch beer and hearty meals
  • Rubinrot: Stylish cafe with great breakfast and vegetarian options
  • Kebapland: Authentic Turkish kebabs and mezze

🎭 Cultural Hotspot: Ehrenfeld is home to several cultural institutions that are worth checking out. The Ehrenfeld Train Station, a historic building covered in colorful murals, hosts regular art exhibitions and events. The Cologne Comedy Festival, one of the largest comedy festivals in Europe, takes place in Ehrenfeld every October.

🛍️ Indie Shopping: For unique fashion and design finds, head to Ehrenfeld’s many independent shops. Stroll along Venloer Strasse, the neighborhood’s main shopping street, and pop into stores like Utensil for stylish home goods or Makemake for sustainable clothing. On Saturdays, don’t miss the Ehrenfeld Market, where local vendors sell everything from fresh produce to handmade crafts.

🚶 Explore on Foot: Ehrenfeld is a very walkable neighborhood, with most attractions within a 10-15 minute walk of each other. If you’re coming from the city center, it’s about a 30-minute walk or a short ride on the S-Bahn (train) or tram. Once you’re in Ehrenfeld, I recommend exploring on foot to really soak up the neighborhood’s unique atmosphere.

🌿 Green Oasis: When you need a break from the urban hustle, head to the Ehrenfeld Railway Park, a former industrial site turned green oasis. This park features walking paths, playgrounds, and plenty of space to relax and picnic. It’s a great spot to people-watch and mingle with locals.

Insider Tip: For a truly local experience, visit Ehrenfeld during the annual Ehrenfeld Festival in June. This neighborhood-wide party features live music, street food, and art installations, giving you a taste of the area’s creative spirit.

Where to Stay in Ehrenfeld?

⭐ Best hotels in Ehrenfeld

  • Imperial Cologne This fine hotel enjoys a peaceful location in the Ehrenfeld district, near the Stadtgarten park, just west of Cologne city center. Guests enjoy free WiFi in all areas.
  • Ameron Hotel Regent Just a 7-minute tram ride from Cologne Cathedral, this hotel offers large rooms with free WiFi and hot drinks facilities. Guests enjoy free use of a fitness area with sauna. The air-conditioned rooms combine classic and contemporary design.
  • Park Inn by Radisson Cologne City West This hotel features a restaurant, 24-hour front desk, room service, and free WiFi throughout. Other amenities include an ATM, business center and currency exchange.

🏨 Best Cheap/Moderate Hotels

  • STAYERY Köln Ehrenfeld Featuring well-equipped kitchenettes with microwaves and toasters, each unit also has a safe, flat-screen TV, ironing facilities, desk and seating area with sofa.
  • Hotel Regina - Garni Köln This hotel offers individual rooms with free Wi-Fi, just 700 meters from Leyendeckerstrasse U-Bahn station with connections to the Old Town in 10 minutes. Rooms have wooden furniture, floors, satellite TV and renovated bathrooms.
  • 1 Zimmer App in Köln Ehrenfeld The spacious apartment has 1 bedroom, a flat-screen TV with streaming, a fully equipped kitchen with dishwasher/fridge, a washer, and 1 bathroom with a bathtub.

FAQs About Trip To Cologne

Which area of Cologne to stay in?

The best places to stay in Cologne are the Altstadt (Old Town) for first-time visitors, Belgisches Viertel (Belgian Quarter) for nightlife and shopping, Deutz for families, Ehrenfeld for culture, and Altstadt-Süd for budget travelers.

What is the best district in Cologne?

The Altstadt (Old Town) is considered the best district to stay in Cologne, especially for first-time visitors. It puts you within walking distance of top attractions like the Cologne Cathedral, museums, and the lively riverside promenade along the Rhine.

What is the central area of Cologne?

The Altstadt (Old Town) is the central, most convenient area of Cologne for tourists. It’s home to the iconic Cologne Cathedral, charming squares, and easy access to other neighborhoods via public transportation.

How many days in Cologne is enough?

3-4 days is generally enough to see the main highlights of Cologne at a leisurely pace. This allows time to visit the Cathedral, Old Town, museums, walk along the Rhine, and explore a couple of the city’s diverse neighborhoods.