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    Getting around in Cologne: info, costs and tips

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    Lluis Enric Mayans
    @lluisenricmayans
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    wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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    Cologne, the fourth largest city in Germany, is located on the banks of the River Rhine, in the Land of Nordrhein-Westfalen. It is a city rich in culture and history, with very ancient origins. There are so many things to do and see main attractions are all close together in the wonderful old town, mainly pedestrian. If, on the other hand, you have to reach more distant areas, you can still rely on avery efficient transport network which connects the whole city, even arriving in nearby Bonn, with which Cologne shares the airport.

    Here is some useful info on how to get around in Cologne: info, costs and advice.



    Index

    1. Useful Tips
    2. How to get from the airport to the center of Cologne
    3. How to get around on foot
    4. Con i mezzi pubblici
    5. By car
    6. User questions and comments

    Useful Tips

    The best way to visit Cologne is on foot, as the historic center is mainly pedestrianized and the attractions are all close together. The best way for a first approach to the city is through a city tour with a local guide who will make you discover the nerve centers of the city center and the landmarks for the following days.
    Another fascinating perspective on the city is offered by the Rhine cruise, which will allow you to discover the main attractions from a truly suggestive point of view.

    Cologne in recent years has become one bike friendly city, with cycle paths along the perimeter and along the riverside. A nice and original way to optimize time is to visit the center by bicycle.
    To reach more peripheral areas, the the best way is the metro: comfortable, fast, punctual and clean.
    The KölnCard offers discounts at various attractions and unlimited use of buses, trams and S-Bahns. The card does not include the U-Bahn, or the metro. You can choose the 24h (€ 9,00) or 48h (€ 18,00) card.

    Buses and taxis are not recommended, especially in the central and peak hours, as they can be delayed due to traffic. If you arrive by car, leave it in a guarded parking lot or in that of your hotel (if you have one), and visit the city on foot.



    • Recommended solutions and means: on foot, metro
    • Solutions and means not recommended: bus, taxi, car
    • City cards and season tickets recommended: KölnCard (from € 9,00 -), weekly transport booklet (from € 27,20)

    How to get from the airport to the center of Cologne

    The city shares the airport with another major German city, Bonn. The Köln Bonn Flughafen is located halfway between the two cities, about 15 km south of Cologne. To reach the center you can take the train at the stop which is right inside the airport, on the top floor. Tickets can be bought directly from the automatic machines at a cost of € 3,00.
    Trains run every 30/40 minutes and will take you to Köln Hauptbanhof, Cologne's central station, in just 15 minutes. Alternatively, you can book a private transfer or a taxi, with an average cost of € 30,00 and, depending on where your hotel is and traffic permitting, it will take you to the front door in about 15 min.

    If your departure city is not well connected to Cologne airport, you can consider other nearby airports such as Dusseldorf (59 km) or that of Dortmund (99 km).

    Köln Bonn Flughafen Airport

    • Distance from the center: 15 km / travel time: 16 min
    • By train: lines S13 towards Ehrenfeld or Horrem / ticket cost: € 3,00 / travel time: 15 min
    • By taxi: average cost € 30,00 / travel time: 15 min
    • By bus: average cost € 8,20 / Airport Express SB60 line
    • Private transfer: from € 54,00 up to groups of 3 people

    Dusseldorf Airport

    • Distance from the center: 59 km / travel time: 50 min
    • By train: regional train from Düsseldorf Hbf to Köln Hbf / ticket cost: from € 12,70 / travel time: 25 min
    • By taxi: average cost € 100,00 / travel time: 50 min
    • By bus: average cost € 30,00 / Eurolines DE line from Düsseldorf Hbf to Cologne

    Flughafen Dortmund

    • Distance from the center: 99 km / travel time: 1 h 25 min
    • By train: regional train from Holzwickede station to Köln Hbf / ticket cost: from € 23,50 / travel time: 1 h 20 min
    • By taxi: average cost € 140,00 / travel time: 1 h 25 min

    How to get around on foot

    Cologne is one perfect city to be explored on foot: the historic center is not very extensive and is almost entirely pedestrian, also the main attractions are all close to them.
    Cologne lends itself perfectly to a walking tour with a local guide: walking through the narrow and cobbled alleys is the best way to get to know the city, the iconic places, the history and the tales.

    In the Old Town there is a beautiful pedestrian path all along the river, which will allow you to easily get from the cathedral to Sudstadt, the southernmost part of the center, where the Imhoff Chocolate Museum is located.
    Many attractions such as the Alter Markt, the Frankenwerkft or the Römisch-Germanisches Museum are located less than a kilometer away from the cathedral, the perfect starting point for an itinerary to discover the city. To get to the other side of the Rhine, where the Köln Triangle is located, you just have to walk over the Hohenzollern bridge, which is about 600 m long.



    Con i mezzi pubblici

    In case you need to use a bus or a tram to move to a certain area, perhaps far away on foot, you can rest assured, the city really has a very efficient public transport system! All transports are managed by the same company, the KVB, so even the ticket will always be the same regardless of which vehicle you use. But be careful: as for the airport, the city shares the transport system with the city of Bonn. In fact, the metro and the tram (with line 18) divide the two cities, forming the so-called Rhein-Ruhr.

    Transport yes divide by tariff zones: 1a / b, 2a / b, 3, 4 and 5. The one you will have to move to is there 1b, which corresponds to the tourist area of ​​Cologne and includes the entire historic center and some areas just outside it.

    The KölnCard offers discounts at various attractions and unlimited use of buses, trams and S-Bahns. The card does not include the U-Bahn, or the metro. You can choose the 24h (€ 9,00) or 48h (€ 18,00) card.

    Metro

    And the best means of transport to move around the city. Named U-Bahn, it is composed of 195 km of route, divided between 11 lines and 216 stations and carries more than 550.000 passengers a day. It is open 24 hours a day every day of the year, thus guaranteeing transport even at night.

    As for the ticket, approximately at zone 1b, the single ride costs € 3,00 and entitles you to a single ride, the booklet of 4 tickets € 12,00 and the daily one from € 8,00, valid for the whole day until 3:00 am following.



    • Downloadable map: official site
    • 24 hours on 24
    • Ticket / single ride cost: € 3,00 for zone 1b
    • Cost of ticket booklet / season ticket: booklet of 4 tickets € 12,00, daily € 8,80, weekly € 27,20

    Bus

    The city is equipped with a efficient city bus system, composed of many lines and modern means. However, sometimes the rides can suffer several delays, especially during rush hour, due to the heavy traffic. So, for your travels, we recommend the metro. The bus consists of 62 lines, 736 stops and a route of 578,7 km. As for timetables, each line respects its own, but generally buses are active from 5:00 am to midnight, in some specific lines even 24 hours a day or only at night.

    As for the ticket, approximately at zone 1b, the single ride costs € 3,00 and entitles you to a single ride, the booklet of 4 tickets € 12,00 and the daily one from € 8,00, valid for the whole day until 3:00 am following.
    An alternative way to discover the city could be a bus tour while comedians entertain you with a cabaret show!

    • Downloadable map: official site
    • from 5:00 to 24:00 or 24 hours a day
    • Ticket / single ride cost: € 3,00 for zone 1b
    • Cost of ticket booklet / season ticket: booklet of 4 tickets € 12,00, daily € 8,80, weekly € 27,20

    Tram

    The service consists of 13 lines that connect the center with the whole suburb: the shortest line is number 16, while the longest line 18, which starts from Cologne and reaches the city of Bonn. As for timetables, each line respects its own, but generally the tram is active from 5:00 to midnight, in some specific lines even 24 hours a day.

    As for the ticket, approximately at zone 1b, the single ride costs € 3,00 and entitles you to a single ride, the booklet of 4 tickets € 12,00 and the daily one from € 8,00, valid for the whole day until 3:00 am following.

    • Downloadable map: official site
    • mainly 5:00 to 24:00
    • Ticket / single ride cost: € 3,00 for zone 1b
    • Cost of ticket booklet / season ticket: booklet of 4 tickets € 12,00, daily € 8,80, weekly € 27,20

    By car

    Getting around Cologne by car it is really not recommended. This is because the historic center is almost entirely pedestrian, you would spend more time looking for a parking space than walking around. Also, Cologne is a big city, the fourth largest in Germany, so it is very busy, especially at peak times.

    Finally, in many cities in Germany there are Low Emission Areas, i.e. areas where the machine can only be accessed if in possession of the environmental badge. To move around Cologne the green bollino, to be requested for vehicles with a minimum level of atmospheric pollution, belonging to the Diesel Euro 4 and Petrol Euro 1 classes (penalty of € 80,00).

    Low Emission Zone

    Cologne is one Low Emission Zone (also indicated with the word LEZ, Low Emission Zone) or a city where you can access by car only if in possession of the environmental badge. It is therefore necessary to request the green bollino, granted to vehicles with a minimum level of atmospheric pollution, belonging to the Diesel Euro 4 and Petrol Euro 1 classes. If these rules are not respected, the fine is € 80,00. The area is valid 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, so the badge request is mandatory.

    To obtain this green badge you must apply at Cologne city authority, by submitting an application form, with a copy of the vehicle documentation, to the Stadt Köln office. Several hotels offer to place the order for the vignette for you, upon delivery of all documentation. However, it is always advisable to keep up to date on possible changes directly on the official website of the city of Cologne: the last one dates back to 1 October 2019, with the expansion of the low-emission zone.

    Stops and parking

    If your hotel has parking facilities, we recommend that you leave your car there and forget it for the duration of your stay in the city! Alternatively, be sure to buy the green badge, even just to enter the city and leave it in a parking lot all day.

    At the edge of the pedestrian area of ​​the historic center you will find plenty of parking lots, very comfortable but not very convenient: the minimum cost is in fact € 1,50 / hour. Underground parking is recommended, like the Parkhaus Am Dom or the Parkhaus philharmonie near the Cathedral, while the Tiefgarage Hauptbahnhof is near the Central Station. The costs are a bit lower in the Deutz district, on the opposite bank of the Rhine: here at the Parkhaus P4 of the Lanxess Arena the cost is € 1,30 / hour, from here you can reach the center (up to the cathedral 2,5 km , 30 min on foot, 20 min by Tram or S-Bahn).

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