Beer Guides / Cologne

Local’s Guide to the Best Beer Gardens in Cologne

Cologne may not be famous for its sunny, warm weather; but when the sun does shine, locals make the most of it by heading outdoors. We flock outside with a nice cold Kölsch in hand! During the summertime, locals often trade their seats in cozy Kölsch brauhauses for a spot on a wooden bench in one of Cologne’s numerous beer gardens. 

Whether you’re looking for a patio along the Rhine or a hidden neighborhood gem, Cologne offers a variety of excellent beer garden options. And nearly all of them serve our archetypal beer — Kölsch. If you aren’t already familiar with Kölsch beer and all the traditions associated with drinking it, make sure to read my comprehensive Kölsch beer guide first.

Each beer garden has its own distinct atmosphere, providing a diverse experience for every beer enthusiast. In this blog post, I’ll guide you through all the best beer gardens in Cologne, highlighting the most popular spots as well as some lesser-known treasures.

Local’s Guide to the Best Beer Gardens in Cologne

Biergarten am Aachener Weiher

Located inside a massive park, Aachenerweiher is a favorite summer hangout for Cologne residents. On Google Maps, the park is listed as Hiroshima-Nagasaki Park, named after the nearby Japanese cultural center, but locals know it as Aachenerweiher, meaning “the little lake on Aachener street.” The lively atmosphere attracts students, locals, and tourists who come to relax, play frisbee, or grill sausages. Although you can just drink openly in the park, there is a nice beer garden just on the side of the lake. This beer garden is renowned for its beautiful view, numerous TVs for sports viewing, and friendly staff.

Rathenauplatz

Open from April to October, the Rathenauplatz beer garden can be found in a neighborhood park in the heart of the Latin Quarter. Thanks to the dedication of local residents, this self-managed beer garden stands out as one of Cologne’s finest. Situated just steps from the Zülpicherstrasse nightlife, you can enjoy watching bocce games or listening to live music while savoring your Kölsch. The community-run atmosphere makes it a popular spot on both weeknights and weekends. The food is provided by Wagenhalle from the Südstadt neighborhood, while the Kölsch comes from Hellers brewery.

Alteburg

Alteburg is a local secret! This is actually my neighborhood beer garden. Primarily an event space for weddings, corporate gatherings, and intimate concerts, it transforms into a public beer garden during the summer. The walled inner courtyard, which accommodates about 170 people, provides a cozy, intimate atmosphere where you can meet people of all ages. Serving Gaffel beer, Alteburg Beer Garden is nestled along the train tracks in the Bayenthal neighborhood. The relaxed ambiance makes time fly by as you drink, chat, and enjoy.

Biergarten am Rheinauhafen Johann Schäfer

For those who want to take a break from Kölsch beer but still enjoy a beer garden experience, the Johann Schäfer beer garden at the Agrippa shipyard along the Rhine river is a must-visit. This microbrewery, originating from the Südstadt neighborhood, offers a diverse selection of beers, including a house-brewed Pils and Hell, in addition to Kölsch. My husband and I have a tradition that each spring on the first nice day of the season, we come and have a beer here. This is probably my favorite beer garden on this list! The spacious patio, furnished with large picnic tables and massive umbrellas, is perfect for big groups.

Odonien

It is hard to describe the multifaceted space at Odonien on the outskirts of Cologne’s city center. Part artist’s workshop, nightclub, and concert venue, Odonien is an indorr-outdoor quasi “junkyard” full of striking, rusty metal sculptures of artist Odo Rumpf. There always seems to be something different going on here. Including a beer garden in the summer! My favorite time to go to Odonien is during pop-up events, such as a pop-up vintage clothing sale they host each summer. Beer and shopping?!? What’s not to like.

Haus Unkelbach

With a spacious patio in front of the brauhaus, Haus Unkelbach offers one of Cologne’s best outdoor drinking experiences. Located at the brewery itself, this beer garden stands out on our list. Set back from the street and adorned with bright red and white flowers, it creates a peaceful oasis away from the city’s hustle and bustle. Serving Reissdorf Kölsch, the atmosphere at Haus Unkelbach is always vibrant and lively, loved by neighborhood residents. It’s a common spot for friends to meet up and families to gather.

Bonus Beer Garden: Rhine Banks

Genuinely one of my favorite things to do in Cologne is walk along the Rhine River Promenade. In case you didn’t know, Germany has open container laws. So why not pack yourself a few beers, grab a few friends, and make your own DIY beer garden on the banks of the Rhine river? It certainly has the best views of the city! 

The densest stretch of the Rhine promenade runs from the Hohenzollernbrücke (aka the Lock Bridge) in front of the Dom south until the Chocolate Museum which lies just in front of the Severinsbrücke. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, rent one of the city’s bike share bicycles for the afternoon and take it for a spin along the river. The paved path is flat and easy for all skill levels, and you’ll get a real sense of how Kölners spend a sunny day in the city. 

Have thoughts or questions about Cologne’s best beer gardens? Tell me in the comments!

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