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Getting from the airport to Cologne city centre
It is very easy to get from the airport to Cologne city centre using public transport, a cheaper alternative to taxis. The station is located on the lower floor when leaving the arrival hall (turn right). The easiest way is to take the S-Train (S-13) to the city centre. Before reaching central station it stops at the following stations:
Frankfurter Strasse (some hotels are located next to the station)
Trimborn Strasse - available connection to tram (1, 9) and bus lines (150, 159), shopping center Köln Arcaden in close proximityDeutz Bahnhof / Messe (fairground) - good connection to several tram lines (1, 3, 4 and 9) you can use to get to your final destination - most hotel provide the name of the nearest tram station on their website
Cologne Central Station / Cathedral – connection to trains and trams
The journey to central station takes between 20 and 30 minutes, and the S-train leaves every 20 minutes (every 30 minutes late evening)
Additionally, you can also take the S-Train line S-19 in the Düren direction. This line stops at all the above mentioned stations except from Trimborn Strasse.
It is important that you purchase a ticket before you enter the train. Several ticket machines are located at the station. The fare to the city centre is €2.80 now. This ticket can be used within Cologne for 90 minutes (not for a return trip though). This means you don't need to buy another ticket when using trams or buses to get to your hotel.
You can select English as language on the machine. To buy the ticket just enter the stations name. If your final destination is Cologne just type "Cologne Central Station" (or "Koeln Hauptbahnhof"), and you can select the correct ticket
Please note that machines at the station might not accept cards (ticket machines in the trams and trams station definitely don't accept card payment except for specific German pre-paid cards), and you cannot use notes.
However, there are two coin converters in the baggage reclaim hall (one is next to the gents toilet) - easy way to exchange a €10 note into coins for the train.
Be aware that when you descend from the airport Arrivals level to the underground train level there are four ticket machines that are (i) complicated to use, (ii) may not accept the coins/notes/cards you have, and (iii) may have big queues. You may be better to buy a ticket from the DB (Deutsche Bahn = German Railways) office on the Arrivals level. They can also give you a printed copy of the train timetable. If you do try to use the ticket machines, find the button with a flag on it: this will allow you to select a language other than German.
Be very aware that if you buy a normal ticket for 2.6€ and then get on one of the fast trains (IC or ICE) instead of the regular train service (the S13 service) you will have to pay a 7€ surcharge on board. It's not worth it, as the fast trains only save you a few minutes of a 15-minute journey!
By taxi, it costs about 30€.
An alternative to flying if you are coming from the UK is to take the train - you can travel on a combined ticket to Brussels by Eurostar (about 2 hours) and then change on to a high speed THALYS train that will take you directly to Cologne in just over two hours - if you time it right you can have less than 20 minutes wait at Brussels. Tickets are reasonable too - less than £90 return depending on times of travel and remember that you arrive right in the centre of the city and so don't have to catch a train to the airport at either end nor undergo the extensive security required at airports - more information at Eurostar or THALYS .
High speed trains also travel to Cologne from Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Hamburg and Paris.
Cologne's main train station is located in the heart of the city, right next to the famous cathedral, the Dom. Subway, bus, taxi and car rental connections can all be made upon arrival. In addition to all of the transportation options, shoppers will find a little shopping mall under the tracks. It is pleasant and convenient enough to appeal to shoppers who are NOT even traveling!
Lockers are available in the main train station if you need to store your belongings. They are located near the Breslauer Platz exit. They can be rented for €1 or €3 per 24 hours, however, you must retrieve your luggage in 72 hours. If not, the train authority opens the locker and empties it and an additional fee of €7,50is charged.