If you want to do a lot of sightseeing in a city, a city card can often save you a fair amount of cash — especially if public transport and entrance to attractions are included. However, some city cards just aren’t value for money, and in my opinion, the Köln Welcome Card is one of these.
A single card for the central city zone costs €9, a family card is €19. Tickets for larger areas of the region are more expensive, and all are valid for 24 hours. You get unlimited public transport for the zone your ticket is valid for, but entrance to attractions is not included; instead you get discounts of up to 50% at selected museums and other sights.
If you’re travelling alone and planning to use public transport a lot, a Welcome Card is only €1.20 more than a public-transport day pass, and so is worth considering — you’ll make that back just by visiting one museum. However, if you’re with one or more others, a day pass for up to five people costs just €11.60 — it’s much cheaper to go with that. And that’s assuming you want to use public transport at all — Cologne is a wonderful city to walk around, with plenty of pedestrianised areas and shops and bars to stop in.
We didn’t visit very many museums while we were in the city; two or three caught our attention but we ended up just visiting Kolumba, where we paid €3 instead of €5, and the Chocolate Museum, where we got €1 off the €8.50 ticket price. If we’d visited more of the state museums we’d have saved more, but these also offer a museum card, which is better value than a welcome card: you get use of the public transport and access to the state museums for two days for €15.One benefit we didn’t use was to eat out — several restaurants offer two-for-one deals that could save you a fair bit if you were eating there. And while you could get a free beer at one of five or six different bars, I didn’t notice this until after the card had expired — a pity! We were also planning to use the two hours’ free bike hire that’s included, but the weather turned nasty on the afternoon we’d hoped to do it and it didn’t happen.
On the whole, I wouldn’t recommend a Köln Welcome Card; instead, contact the tourism office and do one of their walking tours.