Week 1 of my Cologne Guide
…and I am starting with the most boring topic. But it is also the most important topic. Nothing is more annoying than arriving somewhere and having to figure out the public transport system first. I had trouble finding my way the first time I arrived in Cologne and I do speak German. I don’t want to imagine how confusing it can be if you don’t. So let me help you. Once you know how to get to places, you can start the fun part and go exploring 😉
Lucky you 😉 Cologne has a small airport, “Flughafen Köln-Bonn”. Many cheap airlines fly there, like Ryanair.
Getting into the city is quite easy. The S-Bahn ( a local train) is right under the airport. You will need to take S13 direction Cologne City. From the airport you should be able to buy a city ticket at one of the ticket machines.
There are several options. One, especially for tourist, is the CologneCard (more information at the end of this post, scroll down 😉 )
From Cologne Main Train station you will have connections to all the other parts of Cologne. Otherwise check the KVB-Website , to check how to get to places.
Which brings me to the next point.
You’re arriving by train?
If yes, you are basically right in the city. The dom will be just outside the station. If you want to get a Cologne Card, there is a Tourist Center right next to the dom and there you will get lot’s of useful information about discounts and tours they offer.
You are arriving by bus?
If you are lucky, the bus will stop right next to the train station. If you are not so lucky, the bus stop is in Köln Deutz, that’s the “wrong” river side.
Some buses just stop in Köln Deutz, Gummersbacher Straße. This means you have to walk a bit to the next underground/train station.
Even more annoying is that there are no signs showing you the way. When I first arrived there I had to ask about 5 people before I found the station.
It’s a 15 min walk to the Train Station “Köln Messe Deutz”.( Here is a Map on how to walk) Basically you have to walk around the Stadion and cross the huge street. Then you take the first small street that comes to your right and you are at the Underground. From there just follow the signs =)
You are arriving by car?
Really? Well then have fun. Cologne is really not the best city to drive in. Especially if you don’t know your way around. I hope you have a good navigation system. Every time my family visits me my dad fears the search for parking places. If you find one, you usually have to get a ticket, which is a about 4 Euro for 24h. Or, depending on where you find a place, up to 10 Euro a day.
Most of these places are free after 19 o’clock to 7 o’clock and on the weekends. But not all, so be carefull and check the traffic signs.
If you don’t find a parkin spot on the road, you have to go to one of the car parks. They are usually more expensive and on some days pretty full. There is a great website from the city Cologne, which shows how many parking places are free at each car parks. Again I searched, but everything just in German. The colour indicates how many places are still free, and if you click on one of the signs, you get information about their opening times (18 Uhr=6pm), the prices per hour and the daily max. price.
How to get from A to B in the Cologne
Now that you know how to get to Cologne, let me tell you the easiest way to get to places in Cologne.
There is the underground (18 different lines, some of them overground too xD ) and lot’s of buses. In this Cologne Guide I will skip the buses. Usually you get everywhere with the Underground and it is much easier and faster (there are expectations). This link shows you the map for Cologne Public transport (all of these stops are 1b)
In Cologne there are several ticket options:
– Short-Ticket (this one is not for trains, just underground and buses) = Not counting the stop you get in, it is valid for up to 4 more stops. = 1.90 Euro
– 1b (That’s the one way ticket within Cologne, – ignore 1a, that’s for smaller cities) = 2.80 Euro
These are probably the tickets you will need the most. The other tickets can be pretty confusing. Look out at the train station for a map. When you buy single tickets, the machines usually have a list with all the surrounding cities and a colour which tells you which ticket you will need to buy.
The red is 1b, the orange 2b, the yellow 3, green 4 and the blue 5.
Instead of buying a One-Way you can get a Day-Ticket (“Tagestickets”), which can be bought for different distances according to the colour code. If you stay in Cologne, 1b will do just fine.
-Day-Ticket (for one day, unlimited rides, up to closing hours, 3am following day) = 8.30 Euro for 1b
-Day-Ticket for a group up to 5 people = 12.50 Euro for 1b
Another option is getting the CologneCard, which is valid for 24hours. You have to sign your name and stamp it (there are a couple of orange boxes in the train and on the platforms, just put it in and it will stamp the date and time) before you use the CologneCard(for more information about the card, scroll down).
If you want to visit lots of museums and are staying overnight I would probably take the CologneCard (KölnCard). Otherwise if you are just staying for one day, the day ticket should do just fine.
Last option is for those staying for a longer time:
– 7-Days Ticket: 24Euro for 1b.
But the best way to get around Cologne is to walk. Most places are really close and when you are just in Cologne for sightseeing, most of the major tourist attractions are right next to each other, which means you maybe won’t need any tickets at all.
There are not many huge sights, it’s more the atmosphere, the little streets and old houses that make Cologne special. You’ll never know how many secret places you will be able to find by just strolling through the city 😉
My last important tips for you:
1. You need enough change for the ticket machines. They don’t take bills or cards. JUST COINS!!!!
2. There are several ticket offices, they mostly speak English, there you can pay with bills and they can help you if you have any troubles.Otherwise some kiosks sell tickets too.
3. Don’t go on trains without a valid ticket. Believe it or not they are checking frequently and if they catch you, you will have to pay 40 Euro. Trust me talking yourself out of the situation won’t work. They are really strict here =/
4.The prices might changed, I can’t guarantee that they are still the same.
5. Enjoy your trip, if you need help, you can contact me.
CologneCard (click to open the website for more information) (just for Cologne-a link to a map for the public transport, you can download it there, I know it's in German, but a map is a map ;) ) -you can choose between 24 hours or 48 hours tickets -single or group (up to 5 people) -you will get discounts for some sights (somewhere between 10-50% ) -If you want to go to Bonn or other smaller cities around Cologne you can extend the reach for the whole VRS-Region. For a 24h ticket for one person = 9 Euro " " " 48h ticket for one person = 18 Euro " " " 24h ticket for a group = 19 Euro " " " 48h ticket for a group = 38 Euro The ticket for the whole VRS-Region is more expensive. There is a second card, the KölnCard-Spezial...it offers some extra perks for people that like to go out. It is a great option if you are a student. You will get it discounted, instead of 12 Euro, for just 9 Euro. It's worth a try because it's the same price, you got nothing to lose ;)