Cologne (Köln) is a major city in Germany and is located in the North Rhine-Westphalia region. It is around 230km south-east in distance from Amsterdam and is known as Keulen in Dutch.
Are you looking to travel between Amsterdam and Cologne? Let’s consider the transport options between the 2 cities by train and bus.
1. Amsterdam-Cologne by Train (recommended)
The best way to travel between Amsterdam and Cologne is by rail. Travel by train gives you centre-to-centre convenience, no check-in or security lines and a regular direct train service. It can be easily booked using the NS International site with prices starting at just €19 one-way.
Modern ICE International trains (ICE3 variants) run up to 6x daily from Amsterdam Central Station to Cologne Hauptbahnhof (Hbf). The journey takes just 2 hours 38 minutes. The train is jointly operated by DB (German Railways) and NS (Dutch Railways).
Cologne Central Station (Köln Hauptbahnhof) is next to the imposing Cologne cathedral (Kölner Dom) and close to the banks of the river Rhine.
The ICE train makes stops in Utrecht and Arnhem in the Netherlands then crosses the Dutch-German border at Emmerich. On the German side it stops at Oberhausen, Duisburg and Dusseldorf before arriving in Cologne. It continues onward to Frankfurt.
The cheapest one-way ticket price for Amsterdam-Cologne in 2nd class is just €19. This is the Supersparpreis Europa fare which is only valid on the particular departure time selected and is non-changeable/non-refundable. It can be easily found if booking 2-6 months in advance.
There are more flexible fares available. The Sparpreis Europa fare from €23 one-way is changeable/refundable for a fee and includes a City ticket for Cologne public transport. The fully-flexible Flexpreis fare starts from €62 one-way and also includes the City ticket component.
Fares will be higher if you are booking at shorter notice.
1st class Amsterdam-Cologne one-way fares start from as low as €34 (non-changeable), €38 (changeable/refundable for a fee) and from €99 (full-flex), respectively.
2nd class fares do not include a reserved seat on the ICE. You can reserve a seat for €4 per person for each one-way trip. It is not obligatory to make a seat reservation, however it can be worthwhile if the train is busy. ICE seats are in a 2-2 configuration.
1st class fares include seat reservation as standard, with seating in a 1-2 configuration.
The ICE trains have a Bordbistro restaurant-bar carriage serving hot meals at extra charge. 1st class passengers can order and get served at their seats.
With reasonable prices, a quick journey time, comfort and convenience we highly recommend the ICE train for travel between Amsterdam and Cologne.
How to book online: Amsterdam-Cologne train tickets can be booked at the NS International site. By booking online you avoid any booking fees charged at the international service desks at stations.
When searching for trains try to stick with the direct ICE trains which require no changes. There are other longer options such as Amsterdam-Brussels-Cologne by Thalys/ICE trains or taking Intercity/regional trains with various changes.
2. Amsterdam-Cologne by Coach
German coach company Flixbus normally operates multiple direct coach services daily from Amsterdam Sloterdijk to the Cologne area. Flixbus serves Leverkusen, Bonn-Cologne airport and Refrath and journey times generally range from 3 to 5 hours.
Also note that Flixbus operates a FlixTrain rail service between Dusseldorf and Cologne. When searching for Amsterdam-Cologne fares this train component may be offered as a connection.
One way Flixbus fares for Amsterdam-Cologne start from around €13.
Czech bus operator RegioJet has a daily bus service between Amsterdam Sloterdijk and Prague which makes a stop at Cologne-Bonn airport. The journey time is around 5-6 hours and one-way fares start at €13.
3. Amsterdam-Cologne by Air
There are no direct flights between Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS) and Cologne-Bonn airport (CGN).
Looking for a convenient hotel near Amsterdam Central station? Check out the stylish Kimpton-De Witt which is a short walk from the station. For those on a budget the Ibis Amsterdam Centre is literally on top of the western edge of the station platforms.
The Iamsterdam City Card (1-5 days) offers free entry and discounts to numerous Amsterdam museums and attractions. It also includes a free public transport pass, a canal cruise and bike rental as well. You can order your Iamsterdam City Card online here
The KölnCard (24 or 48 hours) gives free public transport to a single traveller or a group of up to 5. It also includes some discounts to various attractions. You can book your KölnCard online here
This article was originally published in 2019, last update 30 May 2022.