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Trains to Cologne

With its main railway station (the Hauptbahnhof) nudging up against Cologne’s celebrated cathedral, this Rhineland city is a place that takes trains seriously. For visitors arriving from Britain (or for that matter, from nearby Belgium and the Netherlands), Cologne offers a wonderful first taste of Germany. The train from London to Cologne takes little more than four hours, thus making rail a great alternative to flying. You'll change along the way in Brussels.

Visitors will find a liberal, cosmopolitan city with a raft of world-class museums. Culture is not compulsory; after you’ve had your fill of Romanesque churches and Renaissance crucifixions, head down to the Altmarkt and chill over a beer or two.

Cologne is a major hub for international and domestic rail services. For travel within Germany, there are direct ICE trains to Hamburg, Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin, all taking five hours or less. There are direct Thalys services to Paris and Brussels. Deutsche Bahn runs its fast ICE trains from Cologne to Amsterdam and Brussels.

Direct daytime trains run from Cologne to Switzerland and Austria. These include very comfortable EuroCity services from Cologne to Berne, Interlaken and Zurich, which all follow the classic Rhine Valley route rather than modern high-speed lines. Cologne has overnight trains with comfortable sleepers to Innsbruck, Linz, Munich and Vienna. Hardy types who don't mind an overnight journey in a regular train seat will find additional overnight options with departures late each evening for Basel and Berlin.

For those not in a rush, Cologne is the departure point for Rhine Valley cruises, from April to October there a departures each morning for the four-hour cruise up the Rhine to Königswinter and beyond.

Country guide

Train tickets in Germany

Read our country guide

Child and youth passengers

The definition of "Child" and "Youth" varies by country and operator. This is why we ask for the age of young passengers.

Sometimes children below a certain age can travel without a seat for free. If you want to guarantee a seat for child passengers, enter '6' as the age of the child.

Read more about child and youth passenger ages. See also youth discounts and railcards.