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.
As Germany and the Netherlands are members of the Schengen Zone agreement you do not normally need to go through a passport control check when travelling between Amsterdam and Cologne.
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 €20 one-way.
Modern ICE International trains (ICE3M BR 406 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 Central and Arnhem Central 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.
Amsterdam-Cologne train ticket fares
The cheapest one-way ticket price for Amsterdam-Cologne in 2nd class is just €20. 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 €25 one-way is changeable/refundable for a fee and includes a City ticket for Cologne public transport. The fully-flexible Flexpreis fare starts from €81 one-way and also includes the City ticket component.
1st class Amsterdam-Cologne one-way fares start from €32 (the non-changeable Supersparpreis Europa 1st class), from €39 (Sparpreis Europa 1st class, changeable/refundable for a fee) and from €139 (Flexpreis full-flex fare).
ICE International (Amsterdam-Cologne) train seats
2nd class on the ICE has a 2-2 seat configuration. There is a special 6 seat family compartment (2nd class) available in carriage 25/35 with adjacent baby changing facilities. A 2nd class seat reservation costs €4.90 extra and is recommended.
Luggage racks on the ICE trains can accommodate small and medium size bags. In the middle of standard 2nd class carriages you can also find a larger luggage rack.
1st class fares include seat reservation as standard, with seating in a 1-2 configuration. 1st class carriages can also have a smaller ‘quiet zone’ compartments.
There are also the ‘Panorama lounge’ cabins (1st and 2nd class) at the front and rear of the trains which can have brilliant views of the driver’s seat through a glass screen – though the driver can elect to frost the glass.
In our opinion, both the 1st and 2nd class seats on the ICE International are extremely comfortable.
Free WiFi is available to all passengers and there are power outlets accessible from each seat.
The ICE trains have a Bordbistro restaurant-bar carriage (number 26/36) 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. Also see Amsterdam-Dusseldorf travel options
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 €14.
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 €15.
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 I Amsterdam 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 I Amsterdam City Card online here
This article was originally published in 2019, last update 28 June 2023.
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