City Hopping in Germany: Dusseldorf, Cologne, Bonn Itinerary
Dusseldorf, Cologne, and Bonn are cities part of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan area in Germany. Located along the Rhine, these three cities make great travel destinations for travellers looking to visit more off-the-beaten-track destinations in Germany.
Last November, we flew into Dusseldorf from Singapore and decided to tour the region for the first part of our Europe trip. So here's our 5D4N itinerary!
How to get from city to city?
Train travel within the region is extremely convenient and efficient and you don't even need to get the German Rail Pass to travel from city to city. Alternatively, should you want to explore more of the sights outside of the cities, a rental car is definitely recommended as it grants you more freedom to roam around and even to stay in accommodation that are further away from the city centre, saving a few euros each night!
Day 1: Go slow and explore Dusseldorf
Dusseldorf is the state capital of the region and there's just so much to do. From shopping at the Königsallee to heading up the Rheinturm, there's definitely something for everyone. Art lovers can also visit the underground Kunst Im Tunnel and try a taste of the local brew, Altbier. At the end of the day, you should definitely go for an evening panorama cruise on the beautiful Rhine River.
Read more on what else there is to do in Dusseldorf.
At the end of your first day, unwind at the 25 hours Hotel Dusseldorf Das Tour. We really love the 25Hours Hotel Chain as it is fun and quirky plus it offers great service.
Day 2: Train to Cologne
Cologne is next up on the list. After a quick 35 minutes train ride (or drive), you'll be greeted with the Cologne Cathedral towering over all other buildings in the city. Head inside to marvel at the majestic interior and climb up the tower for an equally marvellous view of the city.
While it is still the quiet morning, head over to the Old Town and go fountain-spotting; be sure to catch the Heinzelmännchenbrunnen, a fountain with structures of gnomes. They were said to have done all the city's work in the depth of the night so that Cologne's citizens could relax and rest. According to some legends, the gnomes did everything, from carrying bricks to building houses all until they were insulted and left the town. In the old town, you'll find lots of cafes and eateries where you can get a quick lunch before touring the rest of the city.
After lunch, cross the Rhine River via the Hohenzollern Bridge. Perhaps grab a lock to "lock" your love or friendship with your travel partner before arriving at the Rheinboulevard where is a great location to snap photos of both the bridge and the cathedral.
Located close by, you'll find the Cologne Triangle. For just 3 euros, you'll get to have an aerial view of the cathedral, bridge, the Rhine river, and the rest of the city.
Head back onto the other side of the Rhine to this small little offshore island which is home to the Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum. Though entrance is rather steep, you’ll get to enjoy a 25% discount with the Cologne Card. While you are there and are aching for a cup of coffee and some tea-time chocolate-y treat, the museum's cafe serves a selection of cakes and desserts that will certainly make you salivate for more!
Before you head back, stop by the Rheinauhaufen right beside the Chocolate Museum. This area was previously a commercial port and has been revitalised to include interesting-looking modern architecture. One of which is the Kranhaus building. At 60 metres high, it resembles gigantic hoisting cranes as the upper floors are shaped 90 degrees over the water. Other historic buildings that were repurposed is the Siebengebirge granary.
Dinner has got to be in a brewhouse! The people in Cologne are extremely proud of their local brew, Kölsch. Grab a schnitzel or two, and wash the greasy food down with glasses after glasses of Kolsch beer.
End the day by retreating to the 25hours Hotel Koeln Das Circle in Cologne, Germany. The one in Cologne is situated within a spectacular rotunda in the heart of the city and would definitely be a great space to rest for the night.
Day 3: Explore the rest of cultural Cologne
Start the day by going museum-hopping! There are a plethora of museums in Cologne and definitely far too many to jot down all down. If you are an art enthusiast, head to the Ludwig Museum that stores several Picasso’s paintings in its extensive galleries. Those who are interested in history could go to the Romano-Germanic Museum or the Kolumba Museum.
In the afternoon, head to either 4711 or Farina (or both!) to grab your own cologne in Cologne! Farina also offers a perfume-making workshop where you can create your own scent to take them home!
Thereafter, explore the Belgian Quarters in Cologne. This part of the city has a unique blend of architectural styles and there are numerous quirky boutiques and stores to pop into. Many of the accessories and clothings found in these boutiques are one-of-a-kind. Especially those who enjoy vintage fashion, this is the area to be!
For those who are looking for a place to unwind can also consider heading just slightly out of Cologne to Aqualand where you can take a good soak to sooth your souls... If not, make your way to Hotel Matamba near Phantasialand, to enjoy the buffet dinner and get themed-ready for the next day of amusement park fun!
Read more about Cologne on 16 things to do in Cologne, Germany.
Day 4: Explore the underrated Phantasialand Theme Park in Germany
Wake up in Phantasialand and get ready for an amazing day of fun! Phantasialand is nestled right between Cologne and Bonn, in the little town of Bruhl. The theme park is a top pick among German locals yet it remains elusive to the rest of the world.
Especially in winter, when all other theme parks close for the season, Phantasialand is your go-to for thrillseekers. With several award-winning coasters, to themed worlds, and colourful performances, it is definitely worth a day trip when visiting this part of the world.
Read more about Phantasialand here.
After the entire day, you can either put up at the other Phantasialand hotel, Hotel Ling Bao, or make your way to Bonn!
Day 5: Bonn Bonn Bonn - The Land of Beethoven
Bonn's a little city that is also the birth place of renowned muscian and composer, Ludwig van Beethoven; the city even preserved his home and turned it into a museum, showcasing some parts of his life and his works.
Besides everything Beethoven, it is also the home of HARIBO, the colourful gummy bears. Did you know that the name was actually the first two letters of the founder's first and last name and his home city: (HA)ns (RI)egel (BO)nn?
Another place worthy to visit is the Museum Mile where you'll find a collection of museums lined up on a straight road. One worthy museum to see (which is also free) is the Federal Republic of Germany Museum. The museum showcases the life of Germans after the War that not many people would have read about.
Read more about Bonn in our blog post, 9 reasons to go on a day trip to Bonn, Germany.
Should you have a late flight to catch, you'll be glad to know that Bonn is just less than an hour train ride to the Cologne Bonn Airport where you'll find plenty of flights back home or to somewhere else in Europe. With that, we hope that this itinerary has helped you in planning for your trip to the three cities: Dusseldorf, Cologne, and Bonn!