Our Cologne Travel Essentials lays out the essential information you need to help planning your trip to one of the most popular destinations in Germany. No matter how frequently you travel, some questions will always need answers: What’s the weather like? How can I get from the airport to my hotel? What currency and type of plug do I need? We have all these answers plus other basic info about the best time to go, getting there, getting around, and a few useful travel tips.

    It’s all compiled in this Cologne Travel Essentials. After reading this short and easy-to-read guide, you will be a little more prepared to start your trip in Cologne.


    Best time to travel to Cologne (weather-wise)

    Cologne has a temperate, oceanic climate, with nippy winters and warm and humid summers.

    • With average temperatures ranging from 0ºC in winter to 25ºC in summer, it’s one of the warmest cities in Germany.
    • Rainfall can occur evenly all-year-round, with a peak from May to September, which is also the warmest time of the year.
    • The best times to visit Cologne are in spring and autumn: the weather is pleasant – albeit cold in autumn – and hotel and flight prices are a bit more affordable than during the July and August peak summer season.

    Cologne basics

    • Primary language: German
    • Plug types: C, E and F
    • Electricity: 230 V
    • Currency: Euro (€)
    • International dialling code: +49 221
    • Emergency telephone number: 112

    Getting into the city

    Cologne Bonn Airport

    Cologne Bonn Airport sits 15 km southeast of Cologne city centre. It also serves Bonn, the capital city of the former West Germany, located 15 km southwest. It hosts 2 terminals that house shops, restaurants and other facilities. Cologne Bonn Airport has flights from/to over 115 destinations in 35 countries. There are several transfer options to reach central Cologne:

    • A taxi to the city centre takes around 20 minutes and costs roughly €30. Taxi ranks can be found outside the departing area of Terminal 1 and outside the arrival area of Terminal 2.
    • The S-Bahn (rapid transit railway) – Line S13 takes around 20 minutes and costs €3. The S-Bahn station is between the 2 terminals. Tickets can be purchased at vending machines and ticket desks inside the station.
    • Car rental agencies can be found between the 2 terminals.

    Cologne Central Railway Station

    Known as Köln Hauptbahnhof in German, Cologne Central Railway Station sits right next to the Cologne Cathedral, 500 metres north of the Historical City Hall. One of the busiest train stations in Germany, it’s an important regional, national and even international hub served by high-speed trains. It’s linked to the Köln Messe/Deutz railway station, the second main train station in Cologne. From here, the transfer options to your hotel include the Stadtbahn (light rail system including underground sections), public bus and taxi.


    Getting around Cologne

    Travel tips

    The most pleasant way to explore Cologne city centre is on foot. You’ll find many landmarks and attractions such as the cathedral, the Wallraf-Richartz Museum and the Rhine Garden, within 1 km of the City Hall. 

    For longer journeys, the public transport services are as efficient as they’re affordable. Run by the KVB (Kölner Verkehrs-Betriebe), the network of trams, subways and buses allow you to go anywhere in Cologne. They conveniently use the same ticketing system. 

    • Public transport in Cologne is divided in 7 zones. The 1b tickets cover the city limits. They are the most used by visitors.
    • A short ticket (up to 4 stops) costs €1.90
    • A 1b single ticket costs €2.80
    • A 1b 1-day ticket costs €8.50
    • A 1b 1-week ticket costs €24.70

    If you plan to visit many attractions in Cologne, you should purchase a Cologne Card (KölnCard). It includes limitless use of public transport and a discount of up to 50% on the museums, attractions, shops and restaurants listed in the booklet it’s delivered with.

    • A 24-hour Cologne Card costs €9
    • A 48-hour Cologne Card costs €18
    • It can be purchased at the Cologne Tourist Board Office right opposite the cathedral, at the KVB ticket vending machines and in many hotels and travel agencies.

    Taking a taxi

    • Many taxi companies operate in Cologne. The beige/cream colour and black-and-yellow rooftop sign of the official taxis make them easily recognisable. 
    • Official taxi ranks can be found near train stations, popular attractions and shopping areas.
    • Taxis can be hailed on the street. You can see that a taxi is free when its sign is lit up.
    • Cologne taxis have a start rate of €3.50, then the price per kilometre ranges from €1.90 to €1.70 the further you go. Prices are slightly higher at night and on weekends.
    • Most taxis in Cologne accept the payment of the fare by credit card.
    • MyTaxi and Taxi.eu are 2 apps you can use to hail a taxi in Cologne. 

    photo by Matti Blume (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Cycling around Cologne

    Bike-sharing schemes offer a pleasant way to explore Cologne on clear days. The city features a public scheme named KVB-rad. Private systems including Donkey Republic and FordPass Bikesharing are also at hand. 

    • KVB-rad is powered by Nextbike, a popular German bike-sharing company. You can register online and download the KVB or the Nextbike app. The registration is free, yet you have to make a €1 deposit which will be used as your first credit. The price is €1 per 30 minutes. A full-day use costs €9. You’ll find over 50 stations across the city.
    • Donkey Republic works with a downloadable application. Prices start from €1.50 for 30 minutes. Their bike racks can be found all around the city.
    • FordPass Bikesharing also works through an online registration and with a downloadable application. Prices start from €1 for 30 minutes. Around 220 stations can be found around the city and on the outskirts of Cologne.

    Annual events in Cologne

    Cologne Carnival (Kölner Karneval)

    • What: A 6-day street parade. Many locals dress in outlandish clothes and there’s a festive spirit throughout the city. 
    • When: February
    • Where: Neumarkt

    Cologne Gay Pride Festival

    • What: Germany's largest gay pride festival celebrates cultural diversity and tolerance. The range of events cover seminars, sporting events... and lots of parties.
    • When: 1st weekend of July 
    • Where: Rudolfplatz

    Cologne Lights (Kölner Lichter)

    • What: A huge fireworks event over the Rhine River. A musical score adds to the occasion, which brings thousands of people to the river banks. Hundreds of boats sail through the city and take great vantage points to watch the colourful spectacle. 
    • When: mid-July 
    • Where: Anywhere along the Rhine, between the Hohenzollern and Zoo bridges

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