Cologne in Germany has one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country. With cities like Dusseldorf, Bonn or Leverkusen located just a few kilometers away, the public transportation system in the city has special importance. To ensure a functioning system, Cologne has a combination of suburban trains (S-Bahn) and trams (Stadtbahn). Moreover, there is a large bus system.
Cologne itself is one of the biggest cities in Germany. However, its importance as a traffic hub is even more important as it’s located in-between several other large cities like Bonn or Dusseldorf. Due to that, there are several regional trains departing from Cologne Central Station every hour.
Not only regional, but also dozens of long-distance trains are departing from Cologne. These are including international connections to cities like Paris, Brussels or Amsterdam and connections to all larger cities in Germany including Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and Frankfurt.
The Cologne S-Bahn (suburban trains) is part of the S-Bahn Rhein-Ruhr which also covers several other cities in the area. Due to that, the numbers of the S-Bahn lines that are having stops in Cologne may seem a little weird. There are five lines which are all taking the same route in the city center of Cologne with stops at Hansaring, Central Station and Messe/Deutz.
These stations may also be used for interchange between S-Bahn trains, regional trains, long-distance trains as well as trams and buses. Most S-Bahn trains in Cologne operate in 20 minute intervals.
Overview of S-Bahn lines in Cologne:
The Cologne Stadtbahn is the main mode of transport in the city center. The Stadtbahn is comparable to tram networks in other cities and operates mainly on street level. However, there are several underground routes, especially in the city center, too. With the commissioning of line 17 in December 2015, the Cologne Stadtbahn will consist of 12 lines.
Depending on the time of the day, the trams are operating in intervals of five to 30 minutes. In city center of Cologne, there are several exchange stations with Neumarkt and Friesenplatz being the most important ones. On dozens of interchange stations, connecting between the Cologne Stadtbahn and buses are possible.
Overview of the lines of Cologne Stadtbahn:
Even though transportation in Cologne is quite easy and convenient with S-Bahn and Stadtbahn trains, there is also a large and extensive bus network. This one especially covers all the routes that don’t have any rails. While most bus lines are operating in the suburbs or outside the city center, there are also some lines that operate right in the city center.
Something special about transportation in Cologne is the fact that there are only few bridges that are crossed by either trains or buses. Due to that, most bus lines are either operating left or right of the Rhine. The fare system is quite complicated as the city of Cologne is working with a zone system, making rides on shorter distances cheaper and rides on longer distances more expensive. There is also a wide range of special tickets for very short rides or day- or week-long use.
All taxis in Cologne are metered and mostly very modern. Due to that, taking a taxi in Cologne is very convenient and easy. The base fare is 3 Euro (~ 3.25 US-Dollar) and every further kilometer is charged 1.80 Euro (~ 1.95 US-Dollar).
Starting from the sixth kilometer, the fare drops to 1.60 Euro (~ 1.75 US-Dollar) per kilometer. At nighttime, taxis in Cologne are a little more expensive as you have to pay an extra fare. Other surcharges include waiting time as well as payment by credit card.
Overview of taxi fares in Cologne:
If you are looking for alternative means of transport in Cologne, you may either decide to explore the city with one of the city bikes provided at several points throughout the city.
Another interesting way to explore Cologne is taking a ride on one of the excursion boats. Yet, you should be aware that these excursion boats usually are quite expensive, especially compared to public transportation.