Cologne (Köln in German) is Germany’s fourth-largest city, and it’s located on the Rhine river. The impressive Cologne Cathedral towers above the city, and climbing its 500+ steps to the top offers amazing views of the city. Even though Cologne is located in Germany (i.e. one of Europe’s most expensive countries), the city is fairly affordable if you are careful about your budget.
This article is part of our City Price Guide Series — Click here to see all our city price guides.
Average Daily Cost for Visiting Cologne
These prices are based on what you’ll need to visit the city comfortably — they don’t include things like big nights out at the bar/pub, club entry fees, souvenir/clothing shopping, tours, random purchases, nicer food, etc. Don’t forget to budget extra for those “non-essentials.”
Daily Cost of Budget Travel in Cologne: €54 ($58 USD)
- Attractions: €7 (one paid attraction + any free sights)
- Food: €20
- Breakfast: €3
- Lunch: €5
- Dinner: €10
- Treat (dessert/beer/wine): €2
- Transportation: €3
- Accommodation (Hostel): €24
Daily Cost of Frugal Travel in Cologne: €36 ($40 USD)
- Attractions: €5 (free walking tour + visit one of the free sights)
- Food: €13
- Breakfast: $0 (free hostel breakfast)
- Lunch: €5 (ethnic street food, takeaway shop fare, or similar)
- Dinner: €7 (make your own meal in the hostel or grab something cheap)
- Beer: €1.1 (chill out at the park and have a cold one)
- Transportation: €0
- Accommodation (Hostel): €18 (cheap hostel bed)
Cologne Attraction and Museum Prices
For not being a major city, Cologne has a surprising number of world-class museums and galleries, and entry fees are about average. The city is home to many impressive cathedrals, churches, and architecture. Cologne also has multiple festivals throughout the year, so there is a good chance something will be going on while you’re visiting.
- National Socialism Documentation Center: €4.50
- Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum: €7
- Köln Triangle: €3
- Roman-German Museum: €9
- Chocolate Museum (Schokoladenmuseum): €9
- Cologne Cathedral: Free
- Cologne Botanical Gardens: Free
- Walking tour: Free (but you should tip the guides around €5) or €40+ (for paid tours)
- Bike tour: €35-€45
- River Cruise: €10
Cologne Food Prices
Cologne is known for its traditional Rhineland foods, including himmel und ad mit flonz (fried black pudding, mashed potatoes, and apple sauce), sauerbraten (meat marinated in vinegar, usually served with red cabbage), and halver hahn (gouda and a rye roll). Other German favorites show up, too: currywurst, bratwurst, and liverwurst are staples. These meals tend to be fairly affordable if you find restaurants catering to a local crowd.
Budget Breakfast: Free – €8
- Many hostels will offer a free simple breakfast that normally consists of cereal, bread/croissant, and maybe milk, coffee, tea, or juice (some hostels will offer more and some less).
- Look for cafés and bistros for small plates and coffee, which run around €2-€4.
- For a full sit-down breakfast, expect to spend €4-€10.
Budget Lunch: €3-€7
- Super budget travelers can make a super cheap lunch of bread, cheese, and fruit from any grocery store for a few dollars.
- Schnitzel from a cart: €3-€5
- Street vendors/falafel/kebab stands: €2-4
- Mettbrochten, a local brewhouse favorite, is about €2/serving.
Budget Dinner: €5-€18
- Check out any of the Cologne brewhouses for traditional food and beer. Especially recommended are the Hofbräu Früh (Fruh Brewhouse), Gaffel am Dom, or Sion brewhouses. A full meal with beer will cost between €15-€25.
- Indian food is another budget meal option for about €5-€8.
- Also look for Asian, Turkish, and Greek places for cheap meals running around €4-€8.
- Many of the options from the Budget Lunch section above also apply for dinner.
Drinks and Alcohol
- A beer out will cost €3-€3.50.
- Beer from grocery runs around €1.10; a bottle of (drinkable) wine is €5-€8.
Typical Cologne beer is called “Kölsch”. Many bars will serve them in small glasses — so your beer is always ice cold. Waiters will quickly bring you a new glass when you’re (almost) finished.
Cologne Transportation Prices
Cologne is a fairly walkable city, but it also has a good public transportation system that is comprised of buses and subway/trams.
Tickets are purchased by trip distance and by the number of trips taken. Zones K, 1a, and 1b are within Cologne; other zones extend outside Cologne to neighboring villages/towns.
K (short trip), single/4-trip/day/week: €1.90/€7.20/NA/NA
1a, single/4-trip/day/week: €2.40/€8.60/€6.80/€17.40
1b, single/4-trip/day/week: €2.80/€10.40/€8.30/€24
The KölnCard can be purchased for either 24- or 48-hour duration (€9/€18), and allows unlimited public transit use (and offers reduced admission fees for Cologne attractions and museums).
Bicycle rental: €9/€15/€19/€60 for 3h/12h/24h/7-day rentals
Taxi from airport to city: €25
Cologne Hostel/Hotel Accommodation Prices
Cologne’s hotels are usually fairly affordable. However, the city hosts a number of trade shows, so hotel rates can double or triple during those times.
Hostels: €17-€35 (bed in a shared dorm room)
You should budget about €22/night per person for a decent hostel, — although many hostels raise their prices on the weekend. Remember, these prices are for a bed in a shared dorm room. If you want a private room, expect to pay €60-€75.
We book our hostels through Hostel World.
Budget Hotels: €62-€120
At the low end, you shouldn’t expect much, but once you get around €80/night the hotels get a bit better. Hotels near the center of town cost the most, so if you’re on a budget, you can stay farther away — but the sacrifice might not be worth the savings if you end up too far away.
Rental Apartment: €45-€70+
From my experience, rental apartments (via Airbnb) tend to be much bigger and much nicer than similarly priced hotel rooms. Plus, you’ll get a kitchen so you can save more money by cooking your own meals — click here to get $30 off your first stay.
Furthermore, if you’re traveling in a group, it can often be cheaper to rent a single apartment. If you simply want to rent a room in someone’s apartment, except to pay around €27-€42/night.
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