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.
Cologne Bonn Airport
Cologne Bonn Airport "Konrad Adenauer" (CGN) was the main airport of Bonn at the times it was the capital of West Germany and Terminal 1 shows the joys of the cold war by its béton brut structure and prevailing grey colours.
Today CGN is Germanwings capital as well as hub for some other budget airlines that shows in new light and colorful Terminal 2 building.
This is also shown on their useful and colorful website that has the same pictograms you'll find all over the place - it's well organized, informative, colorful, well designed and definitely worth checking even if you have no intention to fly to CGN soon.
- Historical Travel
Trains to the city center
The airport has a brand new rail station (opened in June 2004) that is situated just below the Terminal 2. It is beautiful in its simple form of pure concrete and well lit through the glass roof.
The station is served by S13 S-bahn that will take you to the main train station in Cologne in just 16 minutes. If you manage to convince the DB ticket machines to sell you the ticket it will cost you 2 Eur, otherwise try riding for free as Sabsi did ;)
Some regional as well as IC and ICE trains also stop here.
The train system in Cologne is superb as in all Germany consisting of a vast network of all kinds of trains: S-bahns that connect the suburbs and other cities in the region, regional trains that basically do the same but somehow do it faster ending with futurist ICE trains that fly on tracks between larger cities in Germany and unlike planes will bring you not to the city outskirts but literally to the doorsteps of the cathedral in Cologne.
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!
Plane to Cologne
To be honest - the initial reason to visit Cologne wasn't the cathedral, nor the Kölsch beer nor the bridges over Rhine. The initial reason was Germanwings - the only company that offers international flights from Zagreb airport for less than 200 Eur. When I saw Germanwings started to fly to Zagreb I was intrigued.
They are a great company and only the thing that you pay for drinks and snacks makes you feel it's no-frills airline. (Food is not expensive btw - you can get a sandwich, drink and chocolate bar for 5 Eur only). The plane was rather new, some labels were still Lufthansa and they even had the screens that showed the position of the plane on route.
The flight from Zagreb to Cologne took 1,5 hours only and although getting an announced price of 19 Eur demands special skills getting a return ticket for as low as 30 Eur demands only early booking on the right date.
- Historical Travel
Lupi Turbo with a Flower Vase inside
Lupi is a small VW car that reminds to colorful Trabants, has no space for luggage but has a flower vase with plastic flowers on its windscreen. Lupi flies on autobahns without taking off and if the policeman is not around can even fit into the passenger elevator from an underground car park ;)
Oh, did I tell you that Lupi has the owner as well? Her name is Frau Sabsi and she took me anywhere I wanted in Cologne and around and even allowed me to scrape the ice off the Lupi windscreen that I enjoyed very much ;)
Thank you Lupi, thank you Frau Sabsi!
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.
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