Cologne is a great city! One million people from 180 countries live in our 86 districts – or as we call them: “Veedel”. Every Veedel is in another way special. So you should make sure that you see more than the main shopping street to experience the “Cologne feeling”. Luckily there are many options to go from A to B in Cologne.
Cologne is well connected and you can go everywhere by tram, subway, bus and the suburban railway. The funny thing is: tram and subway are the same in Cologne. Let me explain.
When you arrive by plane at the Cologne/Bonn airport you will take a “S-Bahn” (suburban railway) to go to the city centre. S-Bahn means Schnellbahn (“fast tram”) and according to its name it runs faster than a tram and stops at the main train stations, not at tram stops.
Once in Cologne you change to the city tram and subway lines. Here we do not distinguish between tram and subway. Our trains go up and down. So you can take the underground line 18 at the central station and get off at Barbarossaplatz which is at street level. On weekdays most of the lines run until 1 am, at weekends throughout the whole night. So you do not have to worry how to get home after enjoying Cologne’s nightlife.
We also have a lot of bus lines but you probably will not need them since it is mostly just a short walk to the next tram station.
You do not need different tickets for tram, bus or suburban railway. Look out for ticket machines with the letters “KVB”, this is the local mobility company. Some stations do not have ticket machines but you can purchase them also inside the tram. Every coach has one machine right in the middle. You can pay by coins, credit card (VISA and Mastercard), your normal bank card (Maestro) and another card (“Geldkarte”) which you have to charge with money first. Unfortunately, the ticket machines do NOT take bills.
Here you can find the Cologne network plan and details about tickets and fares.
The best way to go around in Cologne is definitely by bicycle. We have good bicycle lanes and you are often faster than the tram. Plus you can discover much more of the city or ride along the Rhein. There are several options to hire bicycles. If you plan to use it the whole day the “Radstation” is a good place to check out. Located right next to the central station, they offer city, trekking and even tandem bikes. Prices start from five Euros for three hours.
Bike sharing – Have a bike wherever you are
In case you just want to go from A to B, you can also use the KVB-bicycles. You will see the white and red coloured bicycles everywhere in the city. They are waiting for you to use them! The company Nextbike operates the bicycle sharing system in Cologne and in more than 100 other cities in the world. After the free online registration you will get a code with which you can open the bicycle lock. It is worth it because once registered, you can use all bicycle sharing systems from Nextbike worldwide! So if your next stop is Berlin, New York or Auckland you will already have a bicycle there.
The fee in Cologne is 1 Euro for thirty minutes and you can rent up to four bicycles with one account. Check the app to see where the nearest bike is or just take one that you see on the street. Best thing: Cologne is a “Flex zone”, that means you can return the bicycle at every random street corner within the zone.
There is actually only one reason to need a car in Cologne: You are planning to throw a party and need to get a lot of our local beer “Kölsch” for your guests. In that case, car sharing works great. Similar to the bike sharing system, you have to sign up and download the app to see the available cars nearby. Before you can start driving you need to validate your driving license and obviously check if you have the permission to drive in Germany.
It is free and a good way to explore the city: Walking. Cologne is great but not that big, so you can definitely walk it.
By the way, if you want to listen to good stories and fascinating facts while walking, join our free walking tour! Meeting point is every day at 12:11 and 4:11 pm underneath the Eigelsteintorburg. You can register on our website or just show up. Above the booking tool you will also find information about directions and what you will see on the tour. Enjoy!
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