Reaching the Centre
Ok from Cologne Bonn airport there are two main options of getting to the centre:
BUS: Take the number 170 from the bus station outside Terminal 2 to the central railway station (Hauptbahnhof). Buses run frequently (every 12 minutes during the day) from 5am to 11.30pm. The journey takes about 20 minutes. Tickets: €5,50.
TRAIN: Catch the S13 every 20 mins Mon-Fri from 5.23am-1.33am. Weekend services start at 5.33am then every 30 mins until 1.33am. Alternatively the R8 departs from 7.07am Mon-Fri and runs every hour until 21.07pm. The Saturday R8 departs from 7.08am every hour until 20.07pm and on Sundays from 10.07am-21.07pm.
Not sure what the cost is (much less than taxi anyway) as we had a pass for the day when we travelled back to the airport.
I'd opt for the S-bahn (the line to the airport was a new extension in summer 2004) it was really easy. and journey time was less than 15 minutes. The train station is right by the cathedral in Cologne and from the S-Bahn platform at the airport the escalator brings you right up into the departure lounge with just a very short walk to the check in desks. Simple and efficient - all airports should be like this.
S - Bahn
The S - Bahn offers fabulous transportation links into the city of Cologne, we used the service from the airport to the main train station.
If you will also be taking this journey, then this information is for you!
The S - Bahn leaves from the airport itself, there is a station on the ground level, the tickets are 2 euro one way per person and you have 90 minutes to use the ticket from purchase.
You must buy your ticket in a self service machine, that acceps notes, coins and credit cards.
There are language options on the machine and it is really easy to use.
The S-Bahn 13 travels the short 20 minute journey time into Cologne Hauptbahnhof - the main train station....also stopping at a few other small stations and the other main station - Deutz.
Maps are available from the Tourist Information.....
The trains run every 20 minutes or so, they are not 24 hour however, and I think that the service ran from 0430 - 0030...please correct me if I am wrong on this!
Cologne Bonn Airport
In May 2008, I flew in and out of the Cologne Bonn Airport (aka Köln/Bonn Flughafen). Starting in May 2006, Continental Airlines has been providing daily direct flights to Cologne Bonn from Newark, New Jersey.
This airport is the ultimate in convenience. After leaving the plane, it was only a few steps to the German Customs checkpoint. Then, after clearing customs, it was only a few steps to the baggage claim. Most importantly, there is a train station directly in the airport -- where the S-Bahn train S13 makes the approximately 15-minute journey between Köln/Bonn Flughafen (airport) and Köln Hauptbahnhof (central train station) up to three times per hour. On my visit, the fare was 2.30 Euro.
These cute little taxis were a popular choice for hiring to cross the bridge to the other side of the Rhine. They can be found by the museums at the start of the Hohezollernbrucke. No idea how much it was as we used our feet rather than the taxi driver use HIS feet!
The main train station in Cologne is on the Dom side of the Rhine, the german name for this station is "Hauptbahnhof", there is another station in Cologne which is called Cologne Deutz - but I only passed through there.
The station is very easy to use, but if you speak absolutley no German you may find it a bit difficult...buying tickets is relativley easy - use the automated ticket machines and they have various language options.
There are plenty of shopping facilities at the train station, and unusually for a major train station the area around it is still very clean and safe.
Barge traffic on the Rhine River
Just about any time you cross one of the bridges or walk along the riverbank, you can expect to see large barges carrying heavy cargoes like coal, coke, grain, timber and iron ore.
Lately there has also been an increase in the movement of containers by barges along the Rhine. This is encouraged by the German government in hopes of reducing the heavy truck traffic on German freeways.
River-borne transportation also has the advantage that it is free of the restrictions placed on truck traffic at night and on weekends. On the other hand, barge traffic occasionally has to be suspended at times when the water level is extremely low or extremely high.
Cologne Main Station (Köln Hauptbahnhof)
1. People and trains in the station
2. Waiting for their train
3. Taking bicycles on a regional train
4. Boarding the ICE International for Amsterdam
At Cologne Main Station there are 243 long distance trains per day, 521 regional trains and 466 S-trains (suburban lines), according to the official statistics.
From here you can take a Thalys train to Aachen, Brussels or Paris, or an ICE International train to Amsterdam.
From Cologne there are two train routes leading to Frankfurt am Main.
Trains on the new high-speed route by way of Montabaur and Limburg were originally supposed to take less than an hour to get to Frankfurt, but since the railway bosses insist on sending all these trains on a slow loop to Frankfurt Airport they take up to an hour and a half before finally reaching Frankfurt main station.
If I'm not in a hurry I prefer to take the old scenic route along the Rhine River by way of Bonn, Koblenz and Mainz. These trains take two hours and twenty minutes to reach Frankfurt, but the scenery is much nicer as long as you travel during daylight hours. At night you can't see anything unless you happen to have a compartment to yourself so you can turn off the lights inside.
GPS 50°56'34.12" North; 6°57'30.85" East
By train from the airport to the city center
The cheapest way to get to downtown Cologne is by S-Bahn (S 13) or regional train (RE 8) from the Koeln-Bonn airport railway station.
If you want to use an ICE train, then it costs more. A one way ticket for the S-Bahn costs 2.30 Euro (July 2007). Tickets can be bought from the ticket machines before you go down to the platform. There are up to four trains per hour and the journey only takes 14 minutes.
Located next to the Cathedral, the Cologne Hauptbahnhof (central train station) is an important local, national and international transportation hub. The Hauptbahnhof is an extremely busy place with trains and trams arriving and departing on many different platforms. The station's building also hosts a large shopping mall, the Colonaden.
The station broadcasts instructions and information in both German and English. Also, the personnel at the information desk in the station are fluent English speakers.
- Road Trip
Cologne has trams although you may not easily see them when you arrive at the train station. I encountered them at the Neumarkt station. Since I was only sightseeing/shopping in the very center, I didn't actually get to ride on them.
Public Trnsportation in Koln
As in many German cities public transportation in Koln is a delight and highly efficient.
Firstly a word about cost. If you expect to use public transport a fair bit I would suggest buying a welcome card. These are available for 24/48/72 hour durations. and give discounts on various tourist attractions and museums BUT also give you free travel on all forms of public transportation for the period paid for.
for more info see:
I used the 72 hour one which cost me € 19 an absoloute bargain I'm sure you will agree.
The underground/trams are easy to use and at the stations there are generally boards advising what the next dozen or so departures are , which line number and destination.
There are frequent services and it's a breeze to use the system.
Again as is the case in many German cities they use the honour system ie you are not required to show a ticket unless you get an inspector on the train/tram. However if caught the penalties are severe - I think they hang you, shoot you, cut your head off and then shoot you again, then they give you a hefty fine and tell you not to do it again. Come to think of it , it may just be the fine and lecture thing and the rest may just have been for comedic effect.
I would suggest picking up a city map at the tourist office, there is one at the airport too, which has the public transportation map on the back too.
The welcome card can also be bought at the aiport and will cover your journey from the airport to the city - this journey at time of writing costs € 2.00.
Cycling in Cologne
1. Cyclists waiting for a green light
2. Cycling on a bicycle lane (painted stripe)
3. Red bicycle stripe at an intersection
4. Bicycle lane on the sidewalk (poorly marked)
5. Riding on the street
Like most German cities, Cologne in the 21st century has made notable improvements in its cycling infrastructure. The city now claims to have a network of bicycle routes totaling 2000 kilometers, of which 800 were especially built for bicycles (the rest just painted on the streets or sidewalks).
At particularly dangerous intersections they have also started painting red bicycle stripes for increased safety (third photo). These red stripes, which can now be seen in many German and Swiss cities, are the equivalent of the blue stripes in Copenhagen and the white symbols and arrows in Paris.
The city of Cologne claims that cycling now accounts for 16 % of all traffic in the city -- better than Frankfurt's 14 % but less than half of the 37.6 % share registered in Münster (Westfalen).
Baggage checking machines
The Cologne Main Station now has several automatic baggage checking machines like the one in Freiburg im Breisgau.
Instead of finding an empty locker, if there is one, and hoping it is big enough for your luggage, you simply insert four Euros (double the old locker price!) into one of these machines, take out the card with the magnetic stripe and wait for the door to open. Then insert your luggage, and it disappears. To get it back, insert the card again and wait 30 to 40 seconds till the door opens, and there's your luggage.
I'm not sure how it works, but the actual storage takes place in the basement, because the machines take up hardly any space on the ground floor. In Cologne they have over a thousand baggage compartments downstairs.
They don't seem to have had any security issues with these machines. None that I know of, in any case.
GPS 50°56'34.12" North; 6°57'30.85" East
1. Bicycle station underneath the tracks
2. Bicycle parking on two levels
3. In the bicycle station
4. Repair shop
The bicycle station is located right underneath the tracks of the main railroad station, but unfortunately it is at the back of the station and somewhat hard to find.
When you leave the main station you have to turn left, then left again and walk through a tunnel underneath the tracks, then right to reach the bicycle station.
It's worth looking for, though, because they have bicycles for rent and also provide safe and dry bicycle parking for commuters and others who want to leave their bikes at the station while they go off on the train somewhere.
The Catholic charitable organization "In Via" (third photo) cooperates with the bicycle station to provide on-the-job training in bicycle repairs for school dropouts and unemployed young people.
Breslauer Platz, 50667 Köln
GPS 50°56'31.49" North; 6°57'38.60" East
A Train for Tired Tourists
If you are too exhausted to walk from one Christmas market to the next, you can take a little "train". It's running between the markets and takes people down to the chocolate museum as well. The drivers do a terrific job! They manage to drive their "train" through the crowds without actually running someone over. It's hard enough to walk in these crowds, let alone drive there.
Prices are 5 Euro for a round trip.
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