Cologne is renowned as a city filled with gothic masterpieces. With it’s friendly populace and its mix of historic and trend-setting neighbourhoods, the city has become one of the best places to visit in Germany. It’s also a beer lover’s paradise in a country already known for its lagers and ales, with more pubs per person compared to any other city in the country.
The city of Cologne includes nine Stadtbezirke (city districts), divided into many individual quarters. With 86 official neighbourhoods and dozens of informal ones, you may find it hard to choose where to stay in Cologne.
How you plan to spend your time may help you decide which area to choose. Near the centre, you’ll find many Romanesque churches, small alleys, and street-side cafes.
Further away, the city has an eclectic assortment of neighbourhoods. You can spend your days touring museums, visiting theatres, or shopping at boutique stores.
Not sure where to look? Get your accommodations search started with this guide to the best places to stay in Cologne…
Where to stay in Cologne: The best areas & neighbourhoods
Built along the massive Rhine river, the city has a history going back over 2000 years. Many of the historic sites are found in the Old City, including Cologne’s most famous landmark – the Cologne Cathedral.
Over the years, the city spread out on both sides of the river. To the north, you’ll find the upscale neighbourhoods. Here you will enjoy high-end dining, shopping, and accommodations.
If you prefer quaint boutiques over high-priced luxury stores, travel west of the Old City to reach the Belgian Quarter. It’s one of the trendiest areas in the city, full of young artists and students.
Across the river, you can experience local residential life. This family-friendly area has many parks, a few malls, and several entertainment venues.
The best areas to stay in Cologne include:
- Old Town (Altstadt)
- Belgian Quarter (Belgisches Viertel)
Old Town (Altstadt)
✔ Best area to stay in Cologne for history and museums
Most travellers choose to explore the Old Town. It’s where you’ll find the top things to see & do in Cologne and a convenient place to find a hotel.
Also called Old City or Altstadt, this area covers the centre of Innenstadt, the main district of Cologne. Located on the eastern banks of the Rhine, the Old Gown offers block after block of centuries-old architecture.
Around every corner, you’ll come across a Romanesque church or fully restored 14th-century residential and commercial buildings. It gives you a taste of ancient Cologne, making it the top spot for historic sightseeing.
Culture is also big in this neighbourhood. It includes a handful of museums to keep you busy for days. Take a trip through Museum Ludwig to view modern art and one of the largest Picasso collections.
Of course, the biggest attraction in the Old Town is Cologne Cathedral, also known as the Kölner Dom. The detailed spires stand out across the skyline and let you know that you’ve arrived as you approach the city.
If you’re into historic sightseeing, this is the place to stay.
Recommended hotels in Old Town
As the most popular places to visit, the Old Town has some of the best hotels in Cologne. Many of these spots are just metres from historic attractions. You may even find a room with a balcony view of some of the ancient cathedrals and churches.
- Koncept Hotel zum kostbaren Blut: This hotel offers a great location just two hundred metres from Wallraf Richartz Museum in the heart of Cologne. For your convenience, the hotel also provides automated check-in and modern furnishings.
- Hotel un Restaurant Lowenbrau Koln: Located near the river, this hotel has sweeping views of the waterfront and the Old City. On the ground floor, you can enjoy drinks and food at the traditional Lowenbrau pub and restaurant.
- Hotel Sion: This is a newer three-star hotel near the historic centre of Cologne. It’s within walking distance of the Philharmonic Hall and the Rhine river. Guests also enjoy filling up on their breakfast buffet.
- CityClass Hotel Residence am Dom: Just a short walk from Cologne Cathedral, this popular hotel has one of the best locations. It also offers spacious rooms and a large dining area with a free buffet.
✔ Best neighbourhood to stay in Cologne for modern entertainment and public parks
With a typical Cologne itinerary, it’s easy to overlook Deutz. This neighbourhood sits on the opposite side of the Rhine, across from the Old Town.
Deutz has become the main business centre in the city and includes many administrative buildings. Luckily, it also offers entertainment.
Deutz is home to the city’s Trade Fair Center and Lanxess Arena, two of the biggest commercial areas in the city. The trade grounds host various fairs and festivals throughout the year. At the arena, you may get to take in a concert, or sporting event such as ice hockey.
This neighbourhood also provides some of the best views of Cologne’s skyline. Travel down to the Kennedy Embankment in the evening and look across the river to see the old buildings beautifully lit up.
The embankment is near the waterfront and the main pedestrian promenade on the east bank of the river. As you walk the promenade, you’ll pass many pubs, eateries, and public parks.
When you run out of things to do in Deutz, you can take a cable car across the Rhine to reach the Old Town.
Recommended hotels in Deutz
Deutz has several classy hotels with great views across the Rhine. A little further from the river, you’ll find reasonable rates for luxury four-star and five-star hotels. The area also has a few business hotels with simple décor and basic amenities.
- Hotel Stadtpalais: This hotel is in the eastern end of the neighbourhood and further away from the river. It’s on a quiet little street surrounded by historic and modern architecture. It’s also across the street from the Lanxess Arena.
- Hyatt Regency Koln: Located on the eastern bank of the Rhine, this hotel provides beautiful views and world-class amenities. Enjoy food at the on-site restaurant or work out at the gym while gazing across the skyline of Cologne.
- Hotel Merlin Garni: This is a three-star hotel located in the centre of Deutz. It’s in close proximity to many restaurants, cafes, and small shops, making it a great choice for travelling with the family. To reach the Old City, you can easily get on the bus or subway at the nearby stations.
- Insel Hotel: Located in a picturesque portion of Deutz, this three-star hotel offers quick access to the arena and the historic sites across the river. The hotel offers comfortable, spacious rooms and a wide selection of cafes and restaurants in the surrounding blocks.
✔ Best district to stay in Cologne for luxury dining and shopping
If you’re trying to get away from other travellers, you may prefer the streets of Agnesviertel.
Agnesviertel is a neighbourhood located in the northernmost section of Neustadt-Nord. It’s an upscale neighbourhood with a laid-back atmosphere.
Start your day with a pastry at one of the many cafes and bakeries. Spend your afternoon exploring the green spaces. The public parks include Sculpture Park. It’s the perfect spot to relax and enjoy the fresh air while viewing interesting sculptures and installations.
In the evening, you can walk the quiet streets and go window shopping past some of the high-end shops or stop inside one of the many luxury restaurants.
While this area may not offer a lot of historic attractions, you should have no problem getting around the city. As with some of the other top neighbourhoods for travellers, Agnesviertel is still near the Old City. You can hop on a bus or simply walk south to the older district to go on a sightseeing adventure.
Recommended hotels in Agnesviertel
As an upscale neighbourhood, Agnesviertel has a limited selection of hotels and the available options are all high-end locations. The hotels bordering the southern edge of the neighbourhood tend to provide the best value and easiest access to the Old City.
- Hotel Santo: An elegant hotel with classy furnishings, this location provides a stylish place to rest during your stay. It also offers a full buffet each morning. While the rooms are a little small, the hotel is fancy and located near other major landmarks.
- Mont Apartments: This location offers both apartments and hotel rooms. It’s just a 12-minute walk from the cathedral and near the southern edge of Agnesviertel, giving you the best of both areas.
- Mercure Hotel Koeln Belfortstrasse: Cool off in the hotel’s 17-metre indoor pool or take a short walk to reach the Old City. This four-star hotel is near both a subway and bus station, making it easier to get around the city.
- Hotel Viktoria: Located inside a historic building, this four-star hotel provides luxurious accommodations near the centre of the old district. While it doesn’t have an on-site restaurant, it’s on a street lined with cafes, pubs, and restaurants.
Belgian Quarter (Belgisches Viertel)
✔ Best area to stay in Cologne for shopping and nightlife
The Belgian Quarter, or Belgisches Viertel, is west of the Old Town and part of Neustadt-Nord. This hip neighbourhood tends to attract the younger crowd, so you’ll find plenty of cafes and pubs.
As you stroll the bohemian streets, check out the graffiti from local artists. If you’re visiting during the summer, you’re also likely to come across live concerts at the various kiosks spread throughout the neighbourhood.
This trendy neighbourhood also houses many galleries, theatres, and other entertainment venues. In the evening, it becomes one of the busiest areas.
In the centre of the neighbourhood, you’ll find Brusseler Platz (Brussels Square). The large public square is dominated by the towering neo-Romanesque St. Michael’s Church.
The popular public square fills up with hundreds of young locals in the evening. It’s typically where you’ll start your night when trying to get a taste of Cologne’s nightlife.
Besides a fun, lively atmosphere, this neighbourhood offers some of the best shopping in the city. Browse endless rows of clothes and knickknacks at the many boutique shops.
Recommended hotels in the Belgian Quarter
The Belgian Quarter borders the western edge of the Old City so the hotels are still near the city centre. You’ll find a mixture of accommodations including affordable little spots and four-star hotels.
- Steigenberger Hotel Koln: As one of the top-rated hotels in the city, this location continues to deliver exceptional customer service and luxury accommodations. It’s a four-star hotel with a free breakfast buffet and an on-site bar. You’re also just a 10-minute walk from the river.
- Hotel Esplanade: This three-star hotel is a little under two kilometres from the cathedral and the most popular pubs and clubs. It’s a top choice for those who want to experience the local nightlife. Some rooms even have balconies overlooking the boulevard.
- Hotel Weber: The classic styling of the rooms and lobby make this three-star hotel appear a little more luxurious. It’s a comfortable place to stay in the centre of the Belgian Quarter and within walking distance of the Old City.
- Lindner Hotel City Plaza: This next option is near the border of the Belgian Quarter and the Old City. You can easily walk across the street and start exploring the historic sites. The hotel itself is quiet and features thick windows to help keep the sound of traffic from reaching your room.