Our Cologne Travel Essentials lays out the essential information you need to help you plan 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 to Cologne.

  • When is the best time to travel to Cologne?

    When is the best time to travel to Cologne?

    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

    Cologne basics
    • Primary language: German
    • Plug types: C, E and F
    • Electricity: 230 V
    • Currency: Euro (€)
    • International dialing code: +49 221
    • Emergency telephone number: 112
  • How to get to my hotel in Cologne?

    How to get to my hotel in Cologne?

    Cologne Bonn Airport

    Cologne Bonn Airport lies 15 km southeast of Cologne city center. It also serves Bonn, the capital city of 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 center takes around 20 minutes. 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. 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 is right next to the Cologne Cathedral, 500 meters 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.

  • How to get around Cologne?

    Travel tips

    How to get around Cologne?

    The most pleasant way to explore Cologne city center 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 transportation 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 transportation in Cologne is divided in 7 zones. The 1b tickets cover the city limits. They are the most used by visitors.
    • A short ticket is up to 4 stops.
    • 1b single tickets, 1b 1-day tickets and 1b 1-week tickets are available.

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

    • 24-hour and 48-hour Cologne cards are available.
    • 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 in Cologne

    Taking a taxi in Cologne
    • Many taxi companies operate in Cologne. The beige/cream color and black-and-yellow rooftop sign of the official taxis make them easily recognizable.
    • 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.
    • 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

    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. You’ll find over 50 stations across the city.
    • Donkey Republic works with a downloadable application. Their bike racks can be found all around the city.
    • FordPass Bikesharing also works through an online registration and with a downloadable application. Around 220 stations can be found around the city and on the outskirts of Cologne.
  • What are the main landmarks in Cologne?

    What are the main landmarks 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 covers 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 colorful spectacle.
    • When: mid-July
    • Where: anywhere along the Rhine, between the Hohenzollern and Zoo bridges