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. In this travel price guide, we’ll outline the estimated travel expenses for food, accommodation, attractions, alcohol, and other things that you’ll experience when you visit Cologne.
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: €56 ($58 USD)
- Attractions: €7 (one paid attraction + any free sights)
- Food: €22
- Breakfast: €3
- Lunch: €5
- Dinner: €12
- 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 €20+ (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 applesauce), 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.
A Few Budget-Friendly Breakfast Spots:
- THE COFFEE GANG: The place for coffee in Cologne.
- LizBAT Koln: A nice little spot for crepes.
- Zeit Fur Brot: Cakes, muffins, Apfelstrudel, coffee, and other baked goods.
- Cafe Orlando: A nice local spot serving omelets, fresh fruit, coffee, and other treats.
- Backerei & Cafe Merzenich: Sandwiches, cakes, donuts, waffles, pastries, & coffee.
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.
A Few Budget-Friendly Lunch and Dinner Spots:
- Lommerzheim: Popular authentic German restaurant popular with the locals for the quality good, great beer, and solid prices.
- Max Stark: Large portions of authentic German fare and plenty of Kolsch beer.
- Puszta Hutte: Bread, beef, and beer… what else could you want?
- Mad Dogs: Delicious hotdogs.
- Habibi: Super tasty hummus, falafel, shawarma, and other Turkish dishes.
- Kebapland: Amazing kebabs. Nuff said.
- Beef Brothers: Tasty burgers and beer.
- Bay Area Burrito Company: Basically the German version of Chipotle.
- 1980 Cafe & Banh Mi: Great Pho and Vietnamese sandwiches.
Drinks and Alcohol
- A pint of beer out will cost €3-€4.50.
- Beer from grocery runs around €1.10
- A bottle of (drinkable) wine is €5-€8.
Cologne is the birthplace of “Kölsch” beer and its served everywhere. Most bars serve it in small glasses — so your beer is always ice cold. Waiters will continue bringing you a new glass when you’re (almost) finished unless you tell them to stop.
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, Rental Apartment 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.
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 Hostelworld.
Budget Hotels: €62-€120/night
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.
We suggest checking out Booking.com to see hotel prices for your dates since they’re always changing.
Rental Apartment: €45-€70+/night
Rental apartments can be a good option for large groups or travelers who want a little more space (and a kitchen). On the other hand, you may also have to deal with inconvenient check-in processes. Additionally, many rental apartments charge a cleaning fee and service fees so it adds a bit extra to the cost — especially for short stays. That’s why we prefer hotels for shorter stays but longer stays are good for rental apartments.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE COST TO VISIT EUROPE
We’ve created a guide about the costs of traveling through Europe (including more city price guides) — Click here to read more about Europe Travel Costs.
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Thanks For Reading! — Susan and James