Ahh beautiful, Cologne.

And no, I’m not talking about your boyfriend’s Cologne. But rather the city itself!

Perched on the banks of the Rhine, Cologne has progressively risen to be one of the best cities to visit in Germany. Boasting the tallest cathedral in Europe and an impossible-to-miss chocolate museum, Cologne has something to offer to all kinds of visitors.

This beer-loving city is often (and unfairly) overshadowed by the likes of Munich and Berlin. As one of Germany’s oldest cities is bloody BEAUTIFUL. There’s no shortage of fascinating museums, galleries and old buildings to discover.

While you may not struggle with your itinerary, figuring out exactly where to stay in Cologne can prove more difficult. There are several areas to choose from, each offering something unique to its visitors. You’ll want to figure out which is best for you and your travel desires.

Whether you’re backpacking through Europe, planning a family vacation, or anything in between, I’ve got you covered. I’ve compiled the top areas to stay in Cologne and categorised them by interest. I’ve even included the best places to stay and activities in each (you’re welcome, friend!)

So, without further ado. Let’s get down to business!

Where to Stay in Cologne

Cologne Germany

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Die Wohngemeinschaft | Best Hostel in Cologne

Die Wohngemeinschaft

Die Wohngemeinschaft is a trendy hostel located in the Belgian Quarter. It offers private rooms with a shared bathroom as well as single pod beds in dormitory rooms. The hostel also has an in-house café that turns into a bar at night, and a theatre with a program of plays, movies, and concerts.

Hotel Sandmanns am Dom | Best Budget Hotel in Cologne

Hotel Sandmanns am Dom

The Hotel Sandmanns am Dom is located in the heart of the city. Rooms are cozy and come with ensuite bathrooms, flat-screen TVs, and free wifi. With its unbeatable location and top amenities, this place is great value for money.

Hotel Casa Colonia | Best Mid-Range Hotel in Cologne

Hotel Casa Colonia

Hotel Casa Colonia offers accommodation in a quiet but central location. All rooms feature a private bathroom a flat-screen TV and a seating area. A delicious buffet breakfast is served each morning.

Bright and modern studio | Best Airbnb in Cologne

Bright and modern studio

This studio is ideal if you want to stay in the crazy nightlife area in Cologne. It’s very spacious and has everything you’ll need for a comfortable and convenient stay no matter how much time you spend in the city.

Cologne Neighborhood Guide – Places to Stay in Cologne

FIRST TIME IN COLOGNE
FIRST TIME IN COLOGNE

Old Town

The Cologne Old Town is the real heart of the city. Visitors will be delighted with cobbled streets, old houses dating back from the 13th and 14th century, and bars serving the local brew of Kölsch beer.

ON A BUDGET
ON A BUDGET

Altstadt Süd

The Altstadt Süd is located just south of the Cologne Old Town, on the western bank of the Rhine river. Together with the Altstadt Nord, where the Old Town is mostly located, it forms the Innerstadt, where most touristic sights are to be seen.

NIGHTLIFE
Belgisches Viertel, Cologne
NIGHTLIFE

Belgisches Viertel

The Belgisches Viertel owes its name to the streets within it, mostly named after cities from Belgium and the Netherlands. It is often referred to as one of the coolest neighbourhoods in Cologne.

COOLEST PLACE TO STAY
Ehrenfeld, Cologne
COOLEST PLACE TO STAY

Ehrenfeld

Tucked away from the city centre, Ehrenfeld has taken over the Belgian Quarter as the coolest neighbourhood in Cologne. People do not come here for cultural and historical sights but rather for a lifestyle and the trendy atmosphere that lingers in the streets.

FOR FAMILIES
Deutz, Cologne
FOR FAMILIES

Deutz

The Deutz neighbourhood is located just across the Rhine river from Cologne’s Old Town. Until 1888, it was an independent town but is now fully part of Cologne.

Over the years, Cologne has become a serious contender for the title of the coolest city in Germany. Located on the banks of the Rhine river, the city enjoys a prime position and should definitely be on your itinerary when visiting Germany. The Rhine cuts the city in half, with most of the tourist-worthy neighborhoods standing on the West Bank.

The Old Town concentrates most of the city’s top attractions and is perfect if it’s your first time in Cologne. Around these attractions, you’ll find cobblestone streets, top shopping, and an endless array of restaurants.

Altstadt Sud is south of the Old Town and is where you’ll find a high concentration of budget accommodation in Cologne. It’s also home to a number of museums, including Cologne’s mustard museum and the Chocolate museum.

To the north-west, the Belgian Quarter, or Belgisches Viertel, has become a prime spot for youngsters and nightlife. During the summer, beer gardens pop out and conquer the outdoor space. During the day, designer shops offer quality and unique shopping opportunities.

Despite its location a bit out of the city center, the Ehrenfeld neighborhood is now set to be the coolest area in Cologne. Designer shops, trendy coffee houses, and independent restaurants are what you will find here.

Finally, Deutz is our top pick for where to stay in Cologne with family. Located on the other side of the river, it’s a lot less touristy while still being close to top sights.

Cologne’s 5 Best Neighborhoods To Stay In

Now, let’s take a look at each of these areas in more detail. We’ve included our top accommodation and activity picks in each neighborhood, so you know exactly what to expect.

1. Old Town – Where to Stay in Cologne for your First Visit

Cologne’s Old Town is the real heart of the city. Visitors will be greeted by cobbled streets, old houses dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries, and bars serving the local brew of Kölsch beer. The quaint streets are home to hundreds of small restaurants and cafés, and beer gardens during the summer.

The highlight of the area is without a doubt the Cologne Cathedral, standing tall at 157 meters high. The cathedral was built in Gothic style from 1248 to 1880 (taking over 600 years to complete!).

While in the Old Town, you can also check out the fragrance museum, explaining how the world-famous Eau de Cologne came to life.

Station Hostel for Backpackers | Best Hostel in Old Town

Station Hostel for Backpackers

Set in the heart of Cologne right by the train station, Station Hostel provides comfortable accommodation for a budget-friendly price. This convenient location also puts you right next to the Cathedral, shops, bars, and restaurants. Rooms are simple but have everything you’ll need, and there’s an onsite cafe where you can enjoy coffee in the mornings.

Hotel Kunibert der Fiese | Best Budget Hotel in Cologne Old Town

Hotel Kunibert der Fiese

The Hotel Kunibert der Fiese is located in the heart of Cologne and is close to all the main historic attractions of the city. Set in a 13th-century tavern, the hotel offers comfortable rooms and free wifi.

Hotel Engelbertz | Best Mid-Range Hotel in Cologne Old Town

Hotel Engelbertz

Hotel Engelbertz is a family-run accommodation just a short walk away from the Cathedral. It offers comfortable rooms, each with an ensuite bathroom and a TV. A good breakfast is included daily, and free wifi is provided all around the property.

Quiet & Central Apartment | Best Airbnb in Altstadt

Quiet & Central Apartment

This central apartment is one of the best places to stay in Cologne if you want to be close to everything! The flat is spacious, and features a kitchenette and dining area. It’s perfect for couples or solo travellers, but can sleep a third person as well. The wifi and workspace also make it an ideal base for digital nomads.

Things to See and Do in the Old Town

  1. Walk around the small quaint streets.
  2. Sit down in a café and enjoy a local draft Kölsch beer.
  3. Admire and explore Cologne Cathedral, the tallest in Europe.
  4. Learn about the history of the city at the Old City Hall.
  5. Take a stroll along the river.
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2. Altstadt Süd – Where to Stay in Cologne on a Budget

The Altstadt Süd is located just south of the Cologne Old Town. There are several interesting museums here, most notably the Lindt-run chocolate museum.

Around the chocolate museum, the Rheinhaufen quarter, the old commercial port, is now a modern area focused on creatives and digital technologies. Take a look at the Kranhaus buildings, built in the shape of cranes over the river.

It’s also the place to be if you’re after cheaper accommodation or are watching your spending.

Hotel Heinzelmaennchen | Best Hostel in Altstadt-Sud

Hotel Heinzelmaennchen

This brightly coloured hostel in Cologne provides comfortable and traditional accommodation for a very reasonable price. Rooms are kitted out with wooden furnishings, while bathrooms are nice and modern. It’s surrounded by bars, restaurants, and cafes, with top attractions just a short tram ride away.

Motel One Koln-Waidmarkt | Best Budget Hotel in Altstadt-sud

Motel One Koln-Waidmarkt

It may call itself a motel, but this hotel provides some of the most stylish accommodation in Cologne. Guests rave about the comfortable beds, and the bar and breakfast spread provide additional perks. Staying here you’ll be ideally placed for discovering Cologne, with the Chocolate Museum, the river, and Neumarkt Square are a short walk away.

NH Köln Altstadt | Best Mid-Range Hotel in Altstadt Süd

NH Koln Altstadt

The NH Köln Altstadt is conveniently located just across the street from the Rhine river and the chocolate museum. The rooms are clean, spacious, and feature a private bathroom with a bathtub, air conditioning, heating, and a flat screen TV. A fitness centre and a restaurant are available in the hotel.

Cozy Apartment | Best Airbnb in Altstadt-Sud

Cozy Apartment

Cologne is not a cheap city. But don’t worry, we got your back! If you are travelling on a budget, you might want to have a look at this private room. Located in South Oldtown, the accommodation is in walking distance to a lot of attractions, as well as the main metro station. The apartment is shared with two other flatmates. Amenities like kitchen and bathroom are being shared too.

Things to See and Do in Altstadt Süd

  1. Satisfy your sweet tooth at the chocolate museum.
  2. Explore the religious heritage of the city through several churches.
  3. Learn about Cologne’s Roman history by looking at the remains of Roman walls and towers.
  4. Explore the modern quarter of Rheinhausen.
  5. Pick up some proper German mustard from the Senfmuseum.

3. Belgisches Viertel – Best Area to Stay in Cologne for Nightlife

Belgisches Viertel, Cologne

The Belgisches Viertel owes its name to the streets within it, mostly named after cities from Belgium and the Netherlands. It is often referred to as one of the coolest neighborhoods in Cologne.

Independent and small brands line the streets, broken up occasionally by a trendy bar or coffee shop.

During the summer, beer gardens pop out everywhere and stay open late. Concerts are often organized. Many clubs are also located here, some of which like the famous Six Pack stay open until 8 in the morning.

Die Wohngemeinschaft | Best Hostel in the Belgisches Viertel

Die Wohngemeinschaft

Die Wohngemeinschaft is one of the coolest hostels in Cologne. It offers private rooms with a shared bathroom as well as single pod beds in dormitory rooms. The hostel also has an in-house café that turns into a bar at night, and a theatre with a program of plays, movies and concerts.

Hostel Koln | Best Budget Hotel in Belgisches Viertel

Hostel Koln

Hostel Cologne offers family rooms, free wifi, a bar, and a vast range of room options to travelers. Start your day with a lavish buffet breakfast included in the room price as you plan your itinerary for the day. Rooms are modern and contain all the essentials, as well as views over the city. The hotel is a 20 minute walk away from Cologne Cathedral, and enjoys a top location from which to explore.

Steigenberger Hotel Köln | Best Mid-Range Hotel in the Belgisches Viertel

Steigenberger Hotel Köln

The Steigenberger Hotel is a great choice for where to stay in the Belgian Quarter of Cologne. The rooms are spacious and offer either a city or a garden view. In addition, they are all fitted with a private bathroom, air conditioning, a flat screen TV with satellite channels and air conditioning.

Bright and modern studio | Best Airbnb in the Belgisches Viertel

Bright and modern studio

This studio is one of our top choices if you want to stay in the crazy nightlife area in Cologne. Bright and spacious, with free coffee and a TV right in front of your bed, you can even enjoy a nice day inside if you’ve seen enough of the city. There’s also a washer and dryer in the basement – ideal for long term stays. You will love this place!

Things to See and Do in the Belgisches Viertel

  1. Shop til you drop in the independent stores of Hohe Strasse and Schildergasse.
  2. Try some hip food in one of the local restaurants.
  3. Dance the night away in one of the numerous trendy clubs of the area.
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4. Ehrenfeld – Coolest Place to Stay in Cologne

Ehrenfeld, Cologne
Photo: Bjarke Liboriussen (Flickr)

Tucked away from the city centre, Ehrenfeld has taken over the Belgian Quarter as the coolest neighborhood in Cologne. People don’t really come here for cultural and historical sights but rather for the lifestyle and trendy atmosphere that lingers in the streets.

The Ehrenfeld neighborhood is also a hotspot for street art and graffiti that even attracts international artists. Tours with local guides are organised to see all the artwork, or you can decide to explore the area on your own.

Finally, Ehrenfeld is a popular nightlife spot in the city. The clubs are eclectic and offer techno music as well as party classics from the 1980s. In the summer, enjoy a night out in one of the many beer gardens.

Weltempfänger Hostel | Best Hostel in Ehrenfeld

Weltempfanger Hostel

The Weltempfänger Hostel is a great option for where to stay in Cologne. The rooms offer single or dormitory accommodation. In-room lockers and a shared bathroom are available. A washing machine and a tumble dryer are available for use in the hostel, as well as a free Wifi connection.

Park Inn by Radisson Köln City West | Best Budget Hotel in Ehrenfeld

Park Inn by Radisson Koln City West

The Park Inn by Radisson provides stylish and modern rooms in Ehrenfeld. They are all fitted with a private bathroom with a bathtub, air conditioning, soundproofing and a flat screen TV with satellite channels. A state-of-the-art fitness centre can be used by guests at their convenience.

NH Collection Köln Mediapark | Best Mid-Range Hotel in Ehrenfeld

NH Collection Koln Mediapark

The NH Collection Köln Mediapark is located just outside of the Ehrenfeld neighborhood in Neustadt Nord. It offers modern and spacious rooms featuring an ensuite bathroom, air conditioning, a flat screen TV its satellite channels and a tea and coffee maker. A fitness centre, a sauna and a steam room are available for guests to use.

Room in industrial loft | Best Airbnb in Ehrenfeld

Room in industrial loft

This Airbnb is truly unique and located in the coolest areas in Cologne. The loft used to be an old factory until a couple of artists turned it into a fancy home. Your room will be in the loft, which is shared with 6 other international flatmates. But don’t worry, you will have enough private space since the apartment is massive. The kitchen and washing machine are free to use.

Things to See and Do in Ehrenfeld

  1. Walk along Cologne’s street art.
  2. Try some artisan brew in one of the independent coffee places.
  3. Dance the night away at techno parties.
  4. Visit Germany’s largest mosque.

5. Deutz – Best Neighborhood in Cologne for Families

Deutz, Cologne

The Deutz neighborhood is located just across the Rhine river from Cologne’s Old Town. Until 1888, it was an independent town but is now fully part of Cologne. Deutz is quieter than the bustling city centre, especially in the summer when the beer garden season is in full swing.

From Deutz, you will easily be able to reach Cologne’s Old Town by crossing the iconic Hohenzollern Bridge. Families will appreciate the laid-back and tranquil atmosphere after a long day out exploring the city.

Charming family home | Best Airbnb in Deutz

Charming family home

This fully furnished apartment is an ideal home-away-from-home for couples or solo travelers. The flat is bright and modern and comes with everything you’ll need for a comfortable stay. Shops, pubs, restaurants, and supermarkets are right outside.

The Penny Pincher Inn | Best Hostel in Deutz

The Penny Pincher Inn

The Penny Pincher Inn offers dormitory rooms that are a great option for where to stay in Cologne on a budget. Each bed is assigned to a private locker and has a reading light.

Hyatt Regency Köln | Best Mid-Range Hotel in Deutz

Hyatt Regency Koln

Located on the banks of the Rhine river in Deutz, the Hyatt Regency Köln provides luxury accommodation in Cologne. The comfortable and spacious rooms are fitted with a private bathroom and air conditioning, and some rooms have a stunning view over the cathedral on the other side of the river.

Hotel Alt Deutz City-Messe-Arena | Best Budget Hotel in Deutz

Hotel Alt Deutz City-Messe-Arena

This pet and family-friendly hotel is ideal if you’re traveling with the whole clan. Activities on offer here include cycling, hiking, bowling and horse-riding, so you’ll never run out of things to do. It’s easy to explore Cologne from here as well; the Lanxess Arena, Hohenzollern Bridge, and Chocolate Museum are all a short walk away.

Things to See and Do in Deutz

  • See your favourite artist at the Lanxess Arena.
  • Admire Cologne’s skyline from Kennedy Embankment.
  • Cross the iconic Hohenzollern Bridge to Cologne’s city centre.
  • Have a day out in the greenery of Rheinpark.
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FAQ about Finding a Place to Stay in Cologne

Here’s what people usually ask us about the areas of Cologne and where to stay.

What To Pack For Cologne

Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.

Product
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Keep your laundry organized and stink free
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Stay Dry With a Micro Towel
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Final Thoughts On Where To Stay in Cologne

Cologne is a bustling metropolis and is one of the most alluring cities in Germany. It is also full of history with a heritage that dates back to the Roman Empire. Visitors will enjoy the shopping, the cultural sights and the local food and beverages.

If you’re still undecided, we reckon the Old Town is the best place to stay as it’s closest to all the sights and action. There, the  Hotel Casa Colonia offers comfortable rooms for a great price, while in a tranquil street close to all the main action.

If you are traveling on a budget, Die Wohngemeinschaft is a trendy pod hostel that will set you up for a comfortable night in the cool area of the Belgian Quarter.

Looking for more info on travelling to Cologne and Germany?