I'm fighting a constant struggle between wanting to look fit and wanting to eat all the things everywhere. Usually, my love for food wins and so when I headed to Cologne in Germany to explore the hip side of the city, I went with a list of cool restaurants in Cologne and other food hot spots to check out.
Some I checked off, others were replaced by places I came across while wandering from neighborhood to neighborhood.
I hadn't expected it to be so, but there were so many places that looked fun, interesting and delicious that I'll surely need to go back for round 2. Until then, here's where I stuffed my face and had some of the best food in Cologne, Germany.
- 15 tasty and trendy restaurants in Cologne, Germany
- Practical information on eating out in Cologne
- How to get to Cologne
- Where to stay in Cologne
- Don't forget travel insurance
15 tasty and trendy restaurants in Cologne, Germany
I discovered Spatz on my way to another coffee place and decided to stop here instead. It had a little terrace out in the sun and I spotted some big looking mugs from across the street. That looked like all I needed for a proper coffee break!
I enjoyed a latte with some banana bread on the side and was pleasantly surprised when the – American – girl behind the counter asked me whether I'd liked the bread and where I was from. Again, friendly service that went beyond what was expected.
Antwerpener Strasse 38
2. Salon Schmitz
I'd read about Salon Schmitz when researching cool food spots in Cologne and well, this place is hard to miss. It's on Aachener Strasse – filled with cool looking restaurants and bars, by the way – and consists out of three parts. Yup, three! It has its own ice bar, a food shop, and a cafe.
How it works is that you need to order food in the food place, then take a seat outside or at the cafe and order your drinks at the cafe. Then one of the food shop people brings your food and hands you the bill, while you pay your drinks at the cafe.
It was a bit weird and impractical (especially given that this is in Germany), but it worked.
Salon Schmitz must be one of the best Cologne restaurants – or at least one of the most popular ones, as it's not that fancy or high standard – as I passed their frequently the next days and its terrace was always full.
Oh, and what I had? A huge plate of homemade falafel with a big green salad. No complaints!
By the way, because I'm not used to having to pay cash everywhere (more on that later), I didn't have enough money to pay for my drink and my meal, but the waitress was super cool about it and immediately agreed when I told her I'd leave my ID with her while going to the bank.
Aachener Strasse 28
Obviously, Cologne's Schokoladenmuseum or Chocolate Museum isn't a cafe, but it does have its own cafe and while it's a tad expensive, it's worth a visit because of the wide range of chocolate desserts you can get there. I had a piece of chocolate mousse pie out on the terrace overlooking the Rhine and well, it didn't suck.
Am Schokoladenmuseum 1A
4. Pop-up Laden Ein
Laden Ein is a pop-up bar that hosts different “restaurants” every few weeks. When I was there, the place was ruled by a Strüdel cafe and I had some amazing salty strüdel there. Did you know there was such a thing as salty strüdel? There is! I had one with tomato, zucchini, eggplant, and red pepper and it was absolutely delicious.
I also loved how Laden Ein was located in a rather residential neighborhood and still, the place was packed. I got in just in time to grab a seat on one of the indoor picknick tables.
5. Jlöcklich Barista Café
When I'd finished my strüdel at Laden Ein, I was in the mood for a coffee. I didn't want to get it there, though. After all, I was in search of the coolest restaurants and best cafes in Cologne.
As Laden Ein was located a bit away from the other things on my “Cologne places to eat” list, I did a quick search for coffee bars on Google Maps (LOVE that function) and found out that there was one located just a tram stop away: Jlöcklich Barista Cafe.
When I got there, I was surprised to not only find the coffee bar, but also a medieval city gate and a whole bunch of other cafes. Clearly, this was a popular area that I hadn't read about yet.
I ordered a latte, which I enjoyed on the terrace while watching people walk by. Honestly, coffee in Cologne could be a part of my daily routine. That would mean I'd have to move there, but you have to be willing to put some effort into things, right?
Now, I do have to say I'd just started drinking coffee at that point and so I'll probably need to go back to try something other than lattes at various coffee bars around town.
Have you found the best coffee in Cologne yet? Let me know so I can test it next time I go!
While I was specifically looking for independent coffee bars and food hotspots, Woyton tricked me. I had no idea this was a chain when I stumbled upon its cozy terrace in a side street of the busy Schildergasse, one of the main shopping streets in Cologne.
I got myself some orange juice and a slice of banana bread and – again- took place on the terrace. Service was friendly, but I do have to say the banana bread I had at Spatz was way better. Much less dry. Ah well.
7. Beef Brothers
Burgers! Now, I'm not a major burger fan, but I'd read that Beef Brothers has the best burgers in Cologne and so I was happy when Christina from the Cologne Tourism Office suggested we'd go there for my second dinner in Cologne.
I had this amazing burger with fresh pesto, rocket salad, tomatoes and more deliciousness. The fries weren't too shabby, but they were clearly freezer fries. Hey, I'm Belgian. I can't not pay attention to the fries.
Aachener Strasse 12
8. Bunte Burger
More burgers! On my last day in Cologne, I met up with the German Vera. Vera spent quite a bit of time in Cologne some years ago but felt she was a bit out of touch with the city and so we decided to go back to the neighborhoods she used to spend a lot of time at and check off some of the food spots I still had on my list.
Bunte Burger wasn't one of those, though. This veggie burger joint had been on Vera's radar for quite some time and yet she'd never made it there. You know what the really funny part is? Her sister lives across the street!
Anyway, the Tex-Mex burger I had there was probably the best burger I ever had. I'm not kidding. Just look at the size of that thing! It was probably also the only burger ever to look even better than on the menu picture.
The burgers at Bunte Burger aren't cheap, but if you go there for lunch you can get a “business menu” which comes down to getting a burger and fries for the price of just a burger and a few cents. They also have other money-saving lunch menus, making it a great lunch option in the trendy Cologne neighborhood of Ehrenfeld, away from the tourist center.
CafeCafe is a – indeed – coffee place on Venloer Strasse, the main street in the Ehrenfeld neighborhood with tons of cool cafes. I didn't go inside but I did have some fresh apple juice on the terrace. Vera had a frappe which woke her right up after we'd already been to several cool bars in Cologne by that time.
Venloer Strasse 206
10. Cafe Rotkehlchen
Cafe Rotkehlchen is another cool coffee bar on Venloer Strasse. The interior is very vintage and the handwritten menus with drawings just stole my heart. Cafe Rotkehlchen serves a great iced latte. I know because I enjoyed one sitting outside on the sidewalk.
Definitely go to the toilet if you stop by here: the wall's covered in funny photos of the girls who run the shop in which they've photoshopped all kinds of celebrities.
Venloer Strasse 400
11. Die Rösterei Moxxa
Die Rösterei Moxxa is another place located on foodie street Aachener Strasse. It's a coffee bar with a big ass coffee roaster in the middle of the room.
Need I say more?
The interior is cozy and the service friendly. Contrary to what might have been the normal thing to do, I did not order coffee here but my first ever maracuja nectar juice. Yes, I had trouble pronouncing that as well.
Aachener Strasse 22
12. Royal Cupcakes
Oh, cupcakes. I have a special relationship with cupcakes. Rarely can I say no when I see them as they're so darn cute, but also rarely do they deliver on their promise of deliciousness.
Not so at Royal Cupcakes, though. This store is it. Everything looks royal and purple and in theme here. They even have their own plates!
I had the cookie cupcake which served great as a second breakfast (yes, healthy and all) and the shopkeeper didn't even look weird when I spent the first five minutes I was there photographing my plate and the interior (I'd asked for permission, don't worry). I probably wasn't the first person doing that.
Alte Wallgasse 5
13. Trödelcafe und Antikes
This place might be the hidden gem of the bunch. While I spotted a bunch of other cafes in little streets that I couldn't go into due to fluids overload, I knew I had to try out this one.
Trödelcafe und Antikes is located across from a huge parking building and doesn't look like much from the outside. The thing that caught my attention was its sign saying “Chocolate Cafe”. In fact, Trödelcafe und Antikes is an antique shop where you can sit on antique chairs, at antique tables, to enjoy drinks, sweets, and snacks.
I had a pancake with banana and chocolate which was delicious, but I could easily go back there to try something else every day of the week and not be done with it after a month.
Thanks to the antiques and the soft music playing, this place is super cozy, and that while it's located in the side street of a busy traffic road and a large shopping street!
An Sankt Agatha 29
14. die Wohngemeinschaft
die Wohngemeinschaft is a hostel and cafe in one. While the hostel is located on the upper floors, the ground floor of the place is styled to resemble a sixties-seventies house. There's a corner with an actual old bed, there's a living room area, an area with a ping-pong table and then there are a bunch of other vintage tables, chairs, and couches.
You can just come here for drinks, but die Wohngemeinschaft also has its own small concert hall where they regularly organize parties or invite bands to come and play.
15. Ludwig im Museum Restaurant & Café
On another trip with Boyfriend, we had lunch on the terrace Ludwig Museum restaurant in Cologne. A simple tomato and mozzarella sandwich with some greens, but sometimes that's all you need. Especially when you're sitting in the sun with a view of the Hohenzollernbrücke and the Rhine River.
Not to mention all the people watching we could do :-)
Like I said, I walked by so many other cool looking bars and places to eat in Cologne, Germany but even I can't have drinks and food more than eight times a day or so, and so I had to skip some.
If you do want to check them out, here are the ones I wrote down:
- Madame Tartine Köln, Venloer Strasse 432
- Heilandt Kaffeemanufaktur Köln, Bismarckstrasse 41
- Madam Miammiam Köln, Antwerpener Strasse 39
- Freddy Schilling – Die Hamburger Manufaktur Köln, Kyffhäuserstraße 34
- Kunstbruder Köln, Händelstrasse 51
- The Coffee Gang Köln, Hohenstaufenring 1
- Cafe Schwesterherz Köln, Venloer Strasse 239
- Jaely’s Coffee Köln, Venloer Strasse 252
And that's it! I hope this post gave you some inspiration on where to eat in Cologne, Germany. I don't know if I've found the best places to eat in Cologne as I obviously haven't tried all of them, but I do like to think I found some good ones :-) And when I go back, I'll make sure to add more to this list!
Practical information on eating out in Cologne
So, I already kind of brought this up, but it really surprised me how few food places in Cologne accepted cards and I don't even mean credit cards, but just maestro cards. Some places did accept them, but only if your bill was over a certain amount. So make sure you carry cash!
How to get to Cologne
I traveled to Cologne by train. First, I took an intercity train from Leuven to Liège-Guillemins and then I hopped on board a Thalys to Cologne Central Station. This journey took me less than two hours, the bus ride to the train station of Leuven not included.
If you're coming from further, you can fly into Cologne airport and make your way into the city center on the S-Bahn. If you rather don't bother with public transportation and would like to get a ride straight to your hotel, consider booking a taxi beforehand so that you don't have to wait when you arrive.
For airport transfers, Taxi2Airport is a safe choice. This platform offers 24/7 support in 10 languages and always finds you the cheapest transfers among their verified taxi partners. It also gets a rating of 9/10 on Trustpilot with more than 14,000 reviews.
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Where to stay in Cologne
Budget option: Hostel Köln
While I was in Cologne, I stayed at Hostel Köln in a private room. Hostel Köln offers free wifi and breakfast as well as computers to work on in the lobby.
My room was equipped with a television, a small desk, and free wifi. Towels and bed linen were provided, as was soap. I loved the hotel's central location, right between the lively Aachener Strasse, the Belgian Quarter and Neumarkt where several tram lines pass.
Boutique option: Hotel im Wasserturm
The name of this hotel already gives it away: it's located in a historic water tower in Cologne's Old Town. The rooms are modernly decorated and there's a private parking for those coming by car. WiFi and the amazing view are free. The delicious breakfast costs extra.
Luxury option: Excelsior Hotel Ernst am Dom
The 5-star Excelsior Hotel Ernst am Dom lies right across from the famous Cologne Dom and just a few minutes walking from Colognes's main train station. It's been run by the same family since 1863 and has two on-site restaurants of which one has a Michelin star. Guests can also enjoy tea and coffee specialties, homemade pastries, cocktails and live music at the Piano Bar. The hotel even has its own cigar lounge.
The spacious rooms are all equipped with air conditioning, satelite tv and marble bathrooms. WiFi is free while the breakfast costs extra.
If you'd rather stay at an apartment, check out Airbnb. While I use Booking for hotels, I always check Airbnb for apartments as they have such a large selection at usually good prices.
If you found this post helpful, please consider booking your next Airbnb through this link. I'll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Income like this helps me travel independently and create new content.
Don't forget travel insurance
No matter how well you plan your trip to Cologne, something unexpected can always happen. A reservation can get canceled, you can get sick or you can drop and break that new camera. In all of these cases, good travel insurance has you covered.
I've had ongoing travel insurance ever since I started traveling to make sure I'm covered for every trip I go on but if you travel just a few times a year, you can get insured for each trip separately too.
Don't have travel insurance yet? Check out SafetyWing. They offer super flexible plans that you can even sign up for while you're already on your trip. On top of that, they were the first travel insurance to cover COVID, and when I got COVID, they reimbursed all of my expenses without making a fuss. Their customer support team is great and I can personally recommend them.
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