Cologne, Germany

Rail Guide to Cologne

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Local languageGerman
Country Germany


Cologne is the trendy, lively media city of Germany. With a population of over 1 million, the capital of the Rheinland lying on the banks of the Rhein river can trace its roots back to the Roman times. In the middle ages with a population of 40,000, it was the largest city in the country.

During the second world war, the city of Cologne was pounded by continual allied bombing raids which destroyed the vast majority of the old town and surrounding areas. Through careful re-planning Cologne’s center was carefully rebuilt and restored providing its visitors with a vast array of exciting sights and sounds today.

Things to do

The largest cathedral (Dom) in Germany took over 600 years to build and forms the focal point of the city just a stones thow from the main railway station. No self-respecting visitor can miss the splendour of this fantastic building. There are also a further 12 Romanesque Churches dotted around Cologne’s center which vary in their origins from the fifth to the thirteenth century.

The Rheingarten and Old Town provide a lively meeting place for locals and visitors alike as well as a quaint atmosphere in which to enjoy a ‘Koelsch’ beer (local brew) in one of the cafes. Note however that the whole city gets taken over by the various carnival celebrations which are at the end of February and beginning of March. Cologne is then the liveliest town on earth!

For all the chocolate lovers there is ample to tempt your taste buds in the Stollwerck Chocolate Museum. If you are feeling a hin tof guilt, move on to the German Sport’s and Olympic Museum located next door. Both are just a 10 minute walk from the cathedral. Also conveniently located nearby (by the main station) is the Museum für Angewandte Kunst or Museum of Applied Art which now has a reputation as one of the best in Germnay for its display of arts and crafts ranging from the middle ages to twentieth century.

Local transport

The principle operator of public transport in and around Cologne is the Koelner Verkehrsbetriebe (KVB). They have divided the city up into four different zones with different prices for each. Normal single tickets are reasonably prices and the service is comprehensive and reliable, however look out for group discounts, 24 hour tickets and 72 hour tickets too. These can provide better value for money. The Koeln Tourismus Card is valid for 72 hours on all Cologne public transport, gives a free coach tour of the city and free/discounted entry to many of the city’s museums.

Day Trips

The train route along the Rhein is one of the most beautiful around, so why not take the short trip on this route to the town of Koblenz? This is a charming small city just a 20 minute train ride from Cologne’s center and provides an ideal destination for those wanting a pleasant change of scene.

Zons lies 24 km north of Cologne and is a picturesque fortified village dating back nearly 1,000 years! A toll-house was added in the fourteenth century and survives virtually intact today. The walls and towers dotted around add to the village’s medieval charm.

Recommended places and events to visit in Cologne

Cologne Carnival (Karneval) Picture
Event (During February to March)
Cologne Carnival (Karneval) Central Cologne
Event (During June)
Cologne Peace Run Across Cologne