Where to stay in Cologne for first time: 5 Safe areas

Finding where to stay in Cologne as a first-timer can be overwhelming. That’s why, in today’s article, I will help you to find safe places to stay in Cologne for first-time visitors.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safe areas to stay in Cologne for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map and areas to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in Cologne and recommend some of the best hotels for various budgets.

Cologne is a popular tourist destination and the fourth-largest city in Germany, located in the western part of the country, along the Rhine River. The city is famous for its magnificent cathedral, Köln Dom, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the largest cathedrals in Europe.

With its rich history, Cologne also boasts numerous museums, such as the Museum Ludwig, which houses a significant collection of modern art, and the Roman-Germanic Museum, showcasing artifacts from the city’s Roman past.

Cologne is also known for hosting the Cologne Carnival, one of the largest street festivals in Europe, and the Cologne Christmas Market, which draws visitors from around the world.

The city has a vibrant nightlife, with a plethora of bars, clubs, and breweries offering locally brewed Kölsch beer. The riverside promenades and green spaces provide opportunities for leisurely walks and outdoor activities.

The is well-served by air and trains, both domestically and internationally. Cologne Central Station is centrally located and well-connected from major cities across Germany and Europe. Cologne Bonn Airport is only 20 km from the city center, and easily accessible by train, taxi, or rental car.

Is Cologne safe to visit?

Yes, Cologne is overall a safe place to visit. The city has a low violent crime rate, but pickpocketing is the main concern, especially in crowded areas, touristy spots like Schildergasse, the cathedral, and train stations. I advise you alway secure your belongings and be aware of your surroundings wherever you go.

While most of Cologne City center and popular tourist destinations are generally safe and well-controlled, it is best to avoid some areas that have bad reputation, especially at night. These include areas of Ebertplatz, Chorweiler, Kölner Ringe, Kalk, and Ossendorf.

Always trust your instincts, avoid poorly lit areas, especially at night, try to travel with a group, and use licensed taxis. By using common sense and following these normal safety precautions, you can help ensure a safer experience in Cologne.

Where to stay in Cologne for the first time?

The best and safe places to stay in Cologne for first-timers and tourists are Altstadt-Nord ( Old Town), Altstadt-Süd, Belgisches Viertel/Neustadt, Deutz, and Ehrenfeld. Regardless of which area you stay in, it’s always important to follow general travel safety tips for a pleasant and trouble-free experience.

In general, The Old Town is the overall best area for first-time visitors who want to be in the historic heart of the city. Staying here puts you within walking distance from the main train station, major shopping streets, and important sights like the Cathedral.

Deutz is a great base for tourists and business travelers who want to be close to the Lanxess Arena and Trade Fair. This area is on the east bank of the Rhine River, offering a quieter atmosphere, and stunning views of the cathedral and the city’s skyline. It’s well-connected to the city center by public transportation, including the Cologne Cable Car. 

The Belgian Quarter (Belgisches Viertel) is a popular choice for younger travelers and those interested in Cologne’s alternative scene. This area is known for its lively nightlife scene, trendy vibe, hip boutiques, cafes, stylish bars, and art galleries.

Ehrenfeld is located a little bit removed from the old town, but a great base for local vibe. This area is also well-connected to public transportation, so you can easily reach the major by metro and on foot.

During my trip to Cologne, I stayed at the 25hours Hotel The Circle. It was a nice hotel, located next to one of the best streets for food and bars. Also within walking distance from the train station and the cathedral. My room was comfortable, good size, and clean. The breakfast was great, with lots of choices. 

Below is a map of the popular areas in Cologne for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Cologne first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Cologne first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Cologne, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Cologne have been carefully selected by me from well-known and secure booking sites such as booking.com, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. 

If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

5 Best/Safe areas to stay in Cologne for first-timers and tourists:

1. Altstadt-Nord (Old Town)

Altstadt-Nord is a perfect base for first-timers and tourists who want to be in the heart of the historic center. You’ll be within walking distance of major landmarks like the Cologne Cathedral, Hohenzollern Bridge, and the Old Market Square. There are also plenty of restaurants, cafes, and shops in this area.

This area is also home to the Central Station/Köln Hauptbahnhof, making it easily accessible from the airport and major cities within Germany and beyond, including Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Paris.  

 The Old Town is brimming with historic charm, with its cobblestone streets, medieval architecture, and traditional breweries. You’ll feel immersed in Cologne’s rich history as you explore the area.

History buffs can explore various museums including the Museum Ludwig, the Museum of Applied Art Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Kolumba Art Museum, and Romano-Germanic Museum.

The Old Town offers plenty of opportunities for shopping and dining. You’ll find a mix of traditional German restaurants serving local specialties like Kölsch beer and schnitzel, as well as international cuisine. The area is also dotted with shops selling everything from souvenirs to high-end fashion.

You can also find a variety of shops, restaurants, bars, and christmas markets around charming historic squares such as Alter Markt (Old Market), Heumarkt cobblestone plaza. 

Altstadt-Nord has a vibrant atmosphere, especially during the day when tourists explore its streets and attractions. In the evenings, the area comes alive with bustling beer halls, cozy pubs, and lively street performers.

Best places to stay in Cologne in Old Town for first-timers:

Luxury ($$$): Excelsior Hotel Ernst am Dom, 5-star  family-run historic hotel located in a prime location in Old Town Cologne, easy walk from Cologne Cathedral and Main Station. It has a Michelin star restaurant, a fitness center, and a wonderful breakfast. Many restaurants and shops nearby. Rooms are spacious and comfortable with amazing views.

Luxury ($$$): Cologne Marriott Hotel, 5-star stylish hotel in central Cologne close to the Main Train Station and the Cathedral. Easily accessible from the airport by train. It features air-conditioned rooms with soundproofed windows, 24-hour front desk, and 2 restaurants. Short S-Bahn train ride from Kölnmesse Exhibition Center and Lanxess Arena.

Mid-range ($$): CityClass Hotel Alter Markt, 4-star hotel centrally located on the Alter Markt marketplace, in the heart of the Altstadt-Nord, easy access to the Rhine River, train station, and Kölner Dom. It has excellent buffet breakfasts, good-size rooms. Great base for sightseeing and for christmas markets.

Budget ($): Motel One Köln-Neumarkt, popular 3-star hotel in the city center of Cologne, one of the best places to stay in Cologne. It is located close to everything, including major museums and sights such as the Neumarkt Square, the Cathedral, Museum Ludwig, and Wallraf-Richartz Museum.


2. Altstadt-Süd (Old Town South)

 Altstadt-Süd (Old Town South) is a great location if you are looking for more budget-friendly accommodation while still being in the heart of the city. This area is also home to the famous Lindt Chocolate Museum, where you can learn the history of chocolate, from the Aztecs to today.

 The district extends along the Rhine River, offering scenic promenades where you can enjoy leisurely walks or bike rides with views of the river and the city skyline.

Best places to stay in Cologne in Altstadt-Süd for first-timers:

Mid-range ($$): art’otel cologne, Powered by Radisson Hotels, popular 4-star situated on the River Rhine in Old Town South, near the Imhoff Chocolate Museum. It is only 15 mins walk from the Cathedral. It features a large rooftop terrace, a library, and  a free guided tour about the Korean artist SEO.

Mid-range ($$): Wasserturm Hotel Cologne, Curio Collection by Hilton, 4-star hotel centrally located only a 10-15 mins walk from the old town with its cathedral and banks of the River Rhine. It is tucked in a non-busy area but within walking distance to city attractions. It is an interesting place to stay, a converted water tower, beautifully designed inside. It has a nice rooftop bar with amazing views.

Budget ($): Motel One Köln-Waidmarkt, popular 3-star hotel located in Altstadt-Süd, 10-15 mins walk from the Old town and the River, easy access to U-bahn and S-bahn, a great base to explore the city on foot and by public transportation. It has good soundproof rooms, but you can request a room on the back side if you want to sleep with your window open.


3. Belgisches Viertel/ Neustadt

The Belgisches Viertel, or Belgian Quarter, is a popular destination among locals and visitors alike for shopping, dining, and nightlife. This area is known for its hip and trendy atmosphere, characterized by stylish boutiques, cafes, bars, and restaurants. 

Neustadt, as the name suggests, is one of Cologne’s newer districts, but it still retains much of its historic charm. This area has numerous accommodations, and offers easy access to the city center on foot and by public transportation. 

There are several big green spaces in the area including Volksgarten Köln, Hiroshima-Nagasaki-Park with a small beer garden, and Innerer Grüngürtel. The Cologne Zoological Garden is also nearby, which is a great place for families and children to spend a fun day out.

Best places to stay in Cologne in Belgisches Viertel/Neustadt:

Mid-range ($$): Ruby Ella Hotel Cologne, 4-star hotel located on Neustadt Nord, close to the Belgian Quarter and the old town. It is in a lively neighborhood, not in the central touristic area but within walking distance to Friesenstraße tube station, a supermarket, and many shops, bars, and restaurants.

Budget ($): Hostel die Wohngemeinschaft, great value for money accommodation, featuring both private and dorm rooms. It is located in the center of the trendy Belgian Quarter, within walking distance to the cathedral and the Rhine Embankment. There are numerous Underground Stations nearby if you want to explore the city on public transportation. They have a nice cafe and bar on the ground floor.

Mid-range ($$): NH Collection Köln Mediapark, 4-star hotel located in a quiet part of the city, easily accessible from the motorway and is a short stroll from underground and S-Bahn trains. KölnTurm tower is only a few train stops away. It is located next to a large Cinema complex with many restaurants.


4. Deutz

Deutz is a great choice for travelers who want to experience a quieter side of the city while still being close to the main attractions. It is also a great base for business travelers who want to stay close to Koelnmesse, one of the largest trade fair venues in the world.

Deutz is located on the east bank of the Rhine River, providing stunning views of the Cologne skyline, including the iconic Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) and the Old Town. The riverside promenade offers a picturesque setting for a leisurely stroll or a bike ride.

Deutz is well-connected to the city center and other parts of Cologne via public transportation, including buses, trams, and the Cologne Cable Car (Kölner Seilbahn). The Deutz train station provides easy access to regional and long-distance trains, making it convenient for exploring other areas in the region.

Deutz  is home to some notable attractions. The Lanxess Arena hosts concerts, sporting events, and other entertainment, making it a popular destination for visitors. The Cologne Trade Fair (Koelnmesse) hosts numerous trade shows and exhibitions throughout the year.

Hohenzollern Bridge and Deutz Bridge connect Deutz with the city center of Cologne and are one of the major transportation links across the Rhine River. It offers panoramic views of the river and the city skyline and is often frequented by pedestrians and cyclists.

Best places to stay in Cologne in Deutz for tourists:

Luxury ($$$): Hyatt Regency Köln, 5-star riverfront hotel, conveniently located close to Hohenzollern Bridge, Lanxess Arena, and Cologne Triangle Observation deck. It has  great views of the Cathedral and the bridge. You can try delicious food at the associated restaurants Sticky Fingers, and Grissini on the river promenade. Close to Cologne Messe/Deutz Train station with multiple trains from/to the airport.

Mid-range ($$): Adina Apartment Hotel Cologne, popular 4-star hotel located in Deutz, 5 mins walk from  Messe/Deutz Station. It has an indoor swimming pool, a fitness center, a 24-hour front desk, and luggage storage space. Convenient base for KölnTriangle, LANXESS Arena and Cologne Fairgrounds. Good choice for a business traveler going to Messe Cologne.

Mid-range ($$): Radisson Blu Hotel Köln, 4-star hotel situated in Deutz district, 5 mins walk from the Lanxess Arena and KölnMesse Exhibition Center. Easy access to trams for services to the old town. Location is a bit off the center and a bit industrial, a great base for the Messe. The rooms are spacious, comfortable and clean.


5. Ehrenfeld

Ehrenfeld is a great location for a more local vibe and easy access to the city center by public transportation. This area is known for its eclectic and alternative vibe, filled with street art, independent shops, and unique boutique.

Ehrenfeld is one of Cologne’s most multicultural neighborhoods, reflecting its rich diversity in its food, music, and cultural offerings. You’ll find a wide range of cuisines to explore, from traditional German fare to international delights, along with cozy cafes and trendy bars.

Best places to stay in Cologne in Ehrenfeld for tourists:

Mid-range ($$): AMERON Köln Hotel Regent, 4-star hotel located in Ehrenfeld, a few mins tram rides from Cologne Cathedral and the Neumarkt pedestrian area. Easy access to  Aachener Straße/Gürtel Underground Station. Within walking distance from many restaurants and cafes. They have good breakfasts with lots of variety. 

Mid-range ($$): Best Western Plus Hotel Koeln City, 4-star hotel located close to public transportation, slightly far from the Cathedral but easily accessible to the old town by trams. You can find the parks, a supermarket and a gas station nearby.

Budget ($): STAYERY Köln Ehrenfeld, 3-star condo hotel in Ehrenfeld, featuring accommodations with a well-equipped kitchenette and a private bathroom. Great base to explore Ehrenfeld but also to take the U-Bahn to the city center.


In conclusion, Altstadt-Nord (Old Town), Altstadt-Süd, Belgisches Viertel/ Neustadt, Deutz, and Ehrenfeld are the best areas to stay in Cologne for first-timers and tourists. These areas are generally safe, but it is always essential to use common sense for a worry-free stay in Cologne.

You can continue reading about Cologne and other destinations in Germany in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Cologne. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

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