The Chocolate Museum, Cologne

Cologne, or Köln in German, is famous for its cathedral, its beer, and its intense Karneval parties. High on our list for our visit also included the Chocolate Museum right on the river Rhine. I truly didn’t expect to enjoy this museum as much as I did – but it is well laid out, interesting, and fun for adults and kids.

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The Chocolate Museum is on its own little island in Cologne.
The Chocolate Museum is on its own little island in Cologne.

Chocolate Museum history

You can thank Dr Hans Imhoff for this monument to chocolate. Born in Cologne in the 1920s, Imhoff began his chocolate and sweets company after the Second World War, and bought larger and larger German chocolate companies including Stollwerck and Hildebrand. In 1993, he opened the Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum. Lindt has partnered with the museum since 2006. Imhoff’s daughter and her husband continue hold the reins of the museum today.

The museum is full of vintage chocolate tins, containers, labels and more.
The museum is full of vintage chocolate tins, containers, labels and more.

What to expect

There are a few sections to the museum: a look at the cocoa plant itself including a small greenhouse, overview of cocoa production and shipping, the process of making chocolate including a full assembly line, the Lindt Atelier where you can make your own chocolate bars, the history of chocolate consumption, and chocolate marketing through the ages. There’s also a nice restaurant on the ground floor where you can indulge in various chocolate desserts and drinks, and I think my favourite museum gift shop of all time.

The excellent snack and confectionery blogger Lindsay over at Eat, Explore, Etc suggested to head straight for the Lindt Atelier to make our special Lindt chocolate bars first, as they require 45 minutes to cure. This tip was bang on, as we then took in the rest of the museum, picking up our custom bars on the way out. It’s a little way past the initial part of the museum, but use the map they hand you on the way in to make your way straight there.

Entering the chocolatey world of Lindt
Entering the chocolatey world of Lindt
Making the hard decisions about what to put in his chocolate bar.
Making the hard decisions about what to put in his chocolate bar.
Watching his chocolate bar being made at the Chocolate Museum.
Watching his chocolate bar being made at the Chocolate Museum.

Making your own chocolate bar

I’m going to be honest, this is one of the best parts of the museum. In the Lindt Atelier, you can pick up a form and choose what chocolate you would like, and what else you’d like to add. You queue up to hand over your forms, and pay about 4€ for each custom bar. After, you can watch the chocolatiers make your bar behind glass. You have to wait 45 minutes to pick up your chocolate, so now is the time to see the rest of the museum.

Cocoa plant in the wild! Okay the greenhouse.
Cocoa plant in the wild! Okay the greenhouse.

Have you seen a cocoa plant before?

I certainly hadn’t, not in real life. There is a whole museum section dedicated to the growing of cocoa, the different types, and what it looks like, but the most interesting bit for me was the little greenhouse with live cocoa plants growing there. It’s worth noting that all the information texts are written in German and English, and there are plenty of kid-friendly touching and flap-opening options.

Full chocolate factory action!
Full chocolate factory action!

Factory behind glass

As you approach the Lindt Atelier, you will find a chocolate factory behind glass panels, allowing you to see every step of the process from processing the cocoa to tempering chocolate to pouring it into molds to packaging, all by machine. It’s mesmerizing. I have always loved those ‘How Things Are Made’ shows, so seeing it live was super cool. Kids of all ages love watching the machines too. It doesn’t hurt that there is a giant, and I mean giant, chocolate fountain right there, with a friendly staff member handing out wafers dipped in warm fresh chocolate.

Obviously chocolates are delivered by stork.
Obviously chocolates are delivered by stork.
The Chocolate Museum's vintage packaging section is a dream for typeface lovers.
The Chocolate Museum’s vintage packaging section is a dream for typeface lovers.
Love this chocolate delivery bike!
Love this chocolate delivery bike!
Elephants, windmills – literally anything you can think of has been made into a chocolate box or vending machine.
Elephants, windmills – anything you can think of has been made into a chocolate box or vending machine.
The biggest Lindt ball you've ever seen?
The biggest Lindt ball you’ve ever seen?

Labels, machines, Kinder Surprise!

Upstairs there are rooms upon rooms of old chocolate advertising posters, labels, and packaging, as well as full-size vending machines used to dispense chocolate from all over Europe. There was a great interactive game that my son played with some other random children we met for half an hour up there as well. The display of every Kinder Surprise toy in a big pile was impressive to say the least. I loved the displays of old candy shops with all their drawers and jars. Less interesting for us was the history of chocolate from Central America to the present day. There is a lot to read, and my son wasn’t up for that part.

A drinking chocolate set built specifically for traveling in one's coach. Or a picnic. As you do.
A drinking chocolate set built specifically for traveling in one’s coach. Or a picnic. As you do.
I so want one of these cabinets in my house.
I so want one of these cabinets in my house.

The gift shop, oh the gift shop!

I have never enjoyed a gift shop as much as I did at the Chocolate Museum. It wasn’t just kitchsy chocolates in the shape of Cologne Cathedral (though there were some of those too), but really imaginative bars by smaller chocolate manufacturers as well as chocolate liqueurs, hot chocolate mixes of many types, cocoa nibs, raw chocolate bars, and little tins of chocolate of every description. The prices are quite reasonable for the quality. For the kids there are loads of chocolate cars, castles, keys, soccer balls, people, emoji tins and more. We are still eating our way through our haul a month and a half later! *cough* We may have gone a little crazy in there.

Chocolat Grand Café

The cafe at the museum is of course, dedicated to chocolate. There are many options for hot chocolate, or what we call an Eisschokolade in Germany, which involves liquid chocolate poured over chocolate ice cream with some added cream for good measure. I ogled the glass case full of cake options, but I didn’t have time for a leisurely stop during either of my visits unfortunately. In the summer, the outdoor terrace is open too, though it seems to fill up quickly so make sure you try the cafe early in your visit if that’s something you’re looking forward to.

What to do after

After you are all sweet thinged out, a meal of savoury things is in order. There’s not much else down there, so the family-friendly Vapiano right there is your best bet. They have a kids menu which is very affordable but also quite small portions, so if you have a big eater, just get an adult portion. It’s one of these places where you order at the menu station along the wall, and then receive a buzzer that vibrates when your food is ready. It’s really best to get all children situated and then figure out the food.

The Sport and Olympic Museum in Cologne
The Sport and Olympic Museum in Cologne

The Sports and Olympics Museum is right there next to the Chocolate Museum. We didn’t visit as we were all a bit museumed out at that point, but it looks like it would be good fun with kids. You can borrow sport equipment and go play a game on the rooftop field, as well as check out sports memorabilia throughout the exhibitions. If I’m honest, we’re not really sports people, so it wasn’t our thing.

The cute Chocolate Express minitrain in Cologne that takes you from the Cologne Cathedral to the Chocolate Museum.
The cute Chocolate Express minitrain in Cologne that takes you from the Cologne Cathedral to the Chocolate Museum.

How to get to the Chocolate Museum

The easiest, and most entertaining, way to get down to the Chocolate Museum is to take the Chocolate Express mini train. It leaves from right outside the Cologne Cathedral, and you get a little tour of the city as you head down to the Museum. The tour voiceover is in English and German. You can buy a round-trip ticket, which takes you back up to the Cathedral after you’re finished down on the riverside, though check the last train times if you plan to be down there towards the end of the day. The return journey takes a different route, so it’s well worth it.

The Chocolate Museum is right on the riverside on its own little corner of the harbour, and the address is Am Schokoladenmuseum 1a, 50678 Köln. I’ve marked it on the map below so you can get a sense of where it is in the city.

Getting to Cologne

Cologne is a short trip from Frankfurt, about an hour and a half on the ICE (intercity express) train – I have a direct booking link for you here:

Looking for some other kid-friendly day trips from Frankfurt? I have you covered.

From Hamburg, Berlin and Munich, it’s a four-hour journey by train and you’d best spend a weekend exploring Cologne and Düsseldorf. You can book a train right here:

Fifi and Hop
Two Traveling Texans

34 thoughts on “The Chocolate Museum, Cologne”

  1. annette @afrenchcollection

    I love it when museums or workshops have glass fronts so you can see the process, it makes it so much more interesting. #FarawayFiles

  2. You had me with the title & then I read about the Lindt Atelier, making your own chocolate bar & watching the process too and it is now certainly on my list. A good excuse to head back to Cologne at some point as I havent visited for nearly 40 years! #FarawayFiles

  3. I loved the Cologne Chocolate museum. And I liked the fact it was a very interactive and all informative about Chocolate and cocoa. Beautiful post . #farawayfiles

  4. Clare Thomson

    My kids would go mad for this museum, Erin. For some reason they’re obsessed with Lindt chocolate so the idea of being able to create their own chocolate bar would send them to Chocolate Heaven. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

    1. Yes! My son is also pretty into Lindt (what have we done?!) and the chocolate bar creation was a huge hit. Getting to watch them make yours is really cool, I had no idea they were going to do it right away, but they turn the cards so you can see whose bar they are making at the moment.

  5. This museum sounds so fab. I have a huge sweet tooth and anyone who knows me knows that I love any kind of candy including chocolate! I love the idea of seeing memorabilia from old candy stores. A chocolate museum recently opened in NYC and I need to get on it! Thanks for linking up with #farawayfiles

  6. Lovely post! I live close to Cologne and haven´t been to the Chocolate Museum for so long. Thanks for reminding me how great it is and that I have to go again soon 🙂

  7. So wished I’d known about this sooner!! We visited Cologne for only 24 hours or so in October and it was such a miserable day that this would have been a perfect thing to to!

  8. this looks awesome!I Thought I went to a lindt thing in switzerland once, but maybe not. ive never been to cologne! I like that you can make your own chocolate – how fun! YUM!

  9. Girl I have such a sweet tooth so you can bet visiting a chocolate museum is right up my alley! I went to the Hershey Factory in Pennsylvania before and we got to make our own chocolate bars, too. Definitely fun for kids and adults. Oh, and my husband and I love Vapiano! Even though we try not to go to chain restaurants all the time, we make an exception for Vapiano 😉

  10. I’m a chocolate addict, so this museum is definitely right up my alley! I would probably be salivating for the entire visit though (lol!) #TheWeeklyPostcard

  11. I went to Cologne but didn’t know about the Chocolate Museum. It looks like a lot of fun for chocolate lovers of all ages. I think making my own chocolate bar would be my favorite part too. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

  12. Chocolate Museum?! I’n in! My kids would love this and so would I it looks a lot of fun and my daughters would love to make their own chocolate bar and see the world’s biggest lindor! #FarawayFiles

  13. I love all the old tins and containers, I have a few Danish ones, but not necessarily for chocolate! We need to get to Köln, my husband studied there in college (many moons ago!) but we’ve yet to make it back since living in Europe! Chocolate would be a perfect thing to put on the list when there! Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles.

    1. The cathedral is worth a visit, and Schloss Drachenburg just out of town is cool too. But of course…. the chocolate!

  14. We almost visited 🙁 It was one of the stops on the X-mas market train ride, but we were running out of time. I think we only did the shop. Chocolate was great.

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