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by train to and from Cologne (Koln)/Germany

An Introduction

A unique in depth, independent guide to travelling to and from Cologne/Koln by train and using the primary stations in Cologne/Koln.

Why Go To Koln

Wikipedia guide to Cologne/Koln

Cologne/Koln is also one of the major transfer stations on the international European rail network.
It is where travellers can connect between the Thalys (THA) trains from/to Paris and other destinations in north and east Germany including Berlin, Hamburg and Hannover.
. Travellers from/to Brussels/Bruxelles using ICE or Thalys trains can also connect for destinations across Germany as well as overnight trains to Copenhagen, Prague, Warsaw and Vienna.

Location of the Hauptbahnhof (central station

Cologne/Koln hbf on Google Maps

Two Main Line Stations in Cologne/Koln

Long distance trains to/from Cologne call at one of two stations;
1. Cologne Hauptbahnhof (Koln hbf) - Cologne’s primary station in the heart of the city centre, the stunning gothic cathedral one of Europe’s must-see sights is just outside the main entrance.
It is also served by lines 5, 16 and 18 of the city’s metro system (U-bahn)

2. Cologne Messe/Deutz– This station is situated on the opposite to bank of the Rhine to Cologne hbf.
A walkway along the railway bridge links Cologne hbf to Messe-Deutz and the journey on foot takes approximately 10 minutes.
However, passengers (particularly those with luggage) may find it simpler to take one of the frequent commuter (S-Bahn) trains that operate between the two stations.
At Messe-Deutz the adjacent Metro station (named ‘Deutz-Messe’) is served by Metro (U-Bahn) lines 1 and 9.

Train Departure Time Info

All train departures from Cologne on the D-Bahn timetable.
This information includes departures from both Cologne hbf and Cologne Messe/Deutz

Click here for the therebytrain.com guide to using the D-Bahn timetable.

International Trains TO Cologne/Koln

Click the cities below for summaries of trains to Cologne/Koln from these popular destinations:

We'll be adding more cities to the above list when the new pan-European railway timetables change in mid-December

You can find details of connections to (and from) Cclogne/Koln by Eurostar trains on the 'Eurostar Connections' button to the left.

Using Cologne/Koln hbf

Info/Plans for Koln hbf:

Click here for D-Bahn's guide to Koln hbf including details of car parking and left luggage offices.
Click here for a plan of the station.

The platforms and entrance/booking hall at Cologne hbf are linked by a passage way that is usually very crowed and somewhat chaotic. The platforms are linked to the passage way by stairs, but platforms served by long distance trains have special escalators designed to transport heavy luggage.

Multiple departure boards and information indicators mean that it is comparatively easy to work out which train is leaving from what platform and when.
However, different services can follow each other into the platforms in quick succession, so use the indicator on the platforms to check that you have found the correct train before boarding.

There are also information boards on each platform that list all of the departures and these also show the formation of each train.
If you have reserved seats in a specific train you can use the information and the indicators on the platform to ensure that you will be waiting near to the carriage when the train arrives.

Regular uses of the station need only allow five minutes to make a connection, but first time users should allow 10 minutes in order to give themselves time to navigate through the station.

If you have more than 15 minutes to make a connection, step outside the main station for a glorious view of Cologne’s magnificent cathedral. The station is at the heart of the city centre.

International Trains To/From Cologne/Koln summary

All international day and overnight trains to and from Cologne call at Cologne hbf, these train services can be summarised as follows:

* = these trains take the Rhine Valley route via Koblenz and not the high speed line south of Cologne, therefore faster connections are available to Frankfurt Airport, Frankfurt, Wurzburg and Nuremburg, primarily from Messe/Deutz station and not Cologne hbf.

Trains from/to other German cities

The majority of long distance domestic trains to other cities in Germany also call at Cologne hbf, they include the following:

  • ICE: from/to Frankfurt Airport – Mannheim – Stuttgart – Ulm – Augsburg – Munich/Munchen(every two hours)
  • ICE: from/to Frankfurt Airport – Mannheim – Karlsruhe – Offenburg – Freiburg – Basel
  • ICE from/to Frankfurt (Main) (other trains depart from Messe/Deutz)
  • ICE from/to Bonn – Koblenz – Frankfurt – Wurzburg – Nuremburg – Regensburg - Passau
  • ICE: to Wuppertal – Hamm – Hannover – Berlin (hourly)
  • IC: from/to Dortmund – Osnabruck – Bremen – Hamburg (hourly)
  • IC: from/to Bonn – Koblenz – Mainz – Mannheim – Heidelberg – Stuttgart/Kalrsruhe
  • IC: from/to Bonn – Koblenz – Trier – Saarbrucken

The majority of the express trains to other cities in the Rhine-Ruhr area including Dortmund, Dusseldorf, Essen and Wuppertal also operate to/from Cologne hbf.

Train Journey Time Summary To/From Cologne/Koln

Train types in brackets
Less Than One Hour:

  • Bonn
  • Dussseldorf
  • Frankfurt Flughafen/Airport (ICE)
  • Koblenz (IC/ICE)

One – Two Hours:

  • Arnhem (ICE)
  • Brussels/Bruxelles (ICE/THA)
    Frankfurt (Main) (ICE)
  • Koblenz (local)
  • Liege (ICE/THA)
  • Mainz (IC/ICE)

Two – Three Hours:

  • Amsterdam (ICE)
  • Baden Baden (ICE)
  • Frankfurt Main (IC)
  • Frankfurt Flughafen/Airport (IC)
  • Hannover (ICE)
  • Heidelberg (IC/ICE)
  • Stuttgart (ICE)
  • Trier (IC)
  • Utrecht (ICE)
  • Wurzburg (ICE from Messe/Duetz)

Three - Four Hours

  • Baden Baden (IC)
  • Basel (ICE)
  • Bremen(IC)
  • Hannover(IC)
  • Hamburg (IC)
  • Luxembourg (IC)
  • Paris(Gare DU Nord)(THA)
  • Stuttgart (IC)
  • Ulm (ICE)
  • Wolfsburg (ICE)
  • Wurzburg (IC/ICE from hbf)

Four - Five Hours

  • Augsburg(ICE)
  • Basel(EC)
  • Berlin (ICE)
  • Munich/Munchen (ICE)
  • Nuremberg (ICE from Messe Deutz)
  • Ulm (IC)

Types of Train

These types of train operate long distance services to/from Cologne/Koln, click the type of train for more information:

  • ICE - ICE trains to Belgium and Netherlands
  • CNL - 'City Night Line trains
  • EC -international daytime trains
  • EN- 'Euronight' overnight trains
  • THA - Thalys trains to Belgium and Paris
  • IC trains
  • ICE trains

Cologne Public Transport

Click here for a rail connections map of Cologne.
The S-Bahn (local trains) lines are shaded in the white and orange stripes.
This also map shows the U-bahn (Metro) network in Cologne which is a tram and light rail system that runs underground in the city centre and has a station stop at the Hauptbahnhof.

Cologne (Messe-Deutz) station

The generally hourly ICE rains on the Essen – Dusseldorf – Cologne – Frankfurt Airport – Frankfurt – Wurzburg – Nuremberg – Munich route call at Messe-Deutz and not Cologne hbf. The quickest trains between Cologne and Wurzburg and Nuremberg therefore depart from Messe-Duetz and not Cologne hbf.
Passengers travelling from Cologne to Frankfurt, Frankfurt Airport and Munich by ICE train can use Cologne hbf or Messe-Deutz so we've listed these services separately on our 'trains from' and 'trains' to Cologne guides.

Travelling Through The Rhine Valley by train

Passengers travelling between Cologne and destinations south of Mainz have a choice between using ICE services on the high speed line or trains that run through the Rhine Valley gorge via Bonn and Koblenz. If time and connections allow the trip through the Rhine Valley is highly recommended.

Rail link between Cologne/Koln and Cologne/Bonn Airport

S -Bahn local train services link both Cologne hbf and Messe-Deutz stations with Cologne/Bonn airport, take line S13 trains which have Troisdorf as a destination.
During the day they depart from Cologne hbf station at 01/21/41 min past each hour.

Three S-Bahn trains depart per hour from the airport to Cologne and they call at the city centre stations of Messe-Deutz, Koln Hbf and Hansaring.

Rail link between Cologne/Koln and Dusseldorf Airport

The quickest route between Cologne/Koln hbf and Dusseldorf Flughafen is to take one of the local (RE) trains, either on route RE1 towards Hamn, or route RE5 to Emmerich.
These trains depart from Cologne/Koln hbf during the day at 31 and 49 minutes past each hour and take approximately 40 minutes to reach Dusseldorf Flughafen station.
At the station passengers can transfer to the 'Skyway' Monorial, that takes a further 5 mins to the main airport terminal.

Direct S-Bahn (commuter trains) on line S11 operate every 20 mins between Koln hbf and a station beneath the airport terminal, but as the journey time is approximately 1hr and 20mins it is usually quicker to take an RE train and make the connections at Dusseldorf Flughafen station.