Renting a Car in Cologne Germany: What You Need to Know

Updated on September 28, 2023  


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Welcome to your go-to resource for renting a car in Cologne, Germany. I call this region home, and I'm here to guide you through the ins and outs of the car rental process in this beautiful city.

Having rented cars in various German cities, including Cologne, I'm excited to share my knowledge and help you navigate the car rental experience.

By the end of this article, you'll have a firm grasp of how to rent a car in Cologne and some invaluable tips for driving in Germany that will make your journey smoother.

To begin, let's address the question most travelers have: Where's the best place to rent a car in Cologne?

Personally, I always use Discover Cars when renting a car in Germany, and I'll detail the reasons behind this choice in this very article.




When you're booking a car rental in Germany online, my top recommendation is Discover Cars. They search through both international corporations and local German rental companies, ensuring you get the best possible deal.

Renting A Car in Cologne With Discover Cars

When it comes to booking a car rental in Germany, my top recommendation is Discover Cars. I prefer using their services because every time I've searched, they have consistently offered the best deals. 


Additionally, they provide the convenience of FREE cancellations up to 48 hours before your reservation. Let me walk you through the step-by-step process I've always followed to secure my rental car:

1. Reserve Your Car Online with Discover Cars

Visit the Discover Cars website here and enter your travel dates along with your desired pick-up location. For most travelers, this would typically be the airport in the city you plan to visit, such as CGN Airport in Cologne.


I recommend using the ratings filter because, although everyone is eager to find great deals on car rentals in Germany, the cheapest option may not always be the best one.

In my experience, I avoid renting from companies that have a rating of less than 7 out of 10 stars. As the saying goes, "You get what you pay for," and for me, it's not worth saving a little money if it means sacrificing quality customer service during my vacation.

2. Opt for Full Coverage with Discover Cars

Whenever I rent a car from Discover Cars in Germany, I always go for their Full Coverage option, and it turns out most people do too!

According to Discover Cars' website, 85% of customers choose this option to make sure they don't have to worry about anything when renting a car in Germany.

For around $7-10 USD per day, Discover Cars' Full Coverage takes care of potential problems with the rental car (for up to €3000).


It includes fixing any dents or scratches on the car's body, replacing broken windows or glass, sorting out tire issues, towing the car if needed, getting a new key if you lose yours, and more. It's like an extra layer of protection for your rental car.

What’s Covered with Discover Cars? (And What’s Not Covered?)

Here's what's covered and what's not covered by Discover Cars' Full Coverage:


  • Refundable theft deductible
  • Bodywork and roof damage
  • Windshield and windows repair
  • Mirrors
  • Wheels and tires issues
  • Undercarriage problems
  • Lost keys or lockout fees
  • Taxi expenses
  • Towing expenses
  • Administrative charges
  • Fees for the supplier's loss of use during repairs

Not Covered:

  • Damages that occur when you don't follow your rental agreement terms
  • Damages from unexpected or uncontrollable events
  • Costs for cleaning or damage to the car's interior
  • Damages to third parties

Will car rental companies accept this policy?

Yes, they are legally required to accept it, and in my personal experience, every company I've used has honored this third-party policy from Discover Cars.

This is just one reason why I strongly recommend renting from a reputable company with a good track record of customer service.

Here's what typically happens when I rent a car: The rental company often tries to sell me their own insurance, which I usually decline. As I mentioned earlier, the Discover Cars policy fulfills all the necessary insurance requirements for renting a car in Germany.

When you say no to the rental company's insurance, you'll have to place a deposit. If you return the rental car without any damage, they will refund the full deposit.


However, if there is any damage to the car, they will deduct the repair costs from your deposit. In this case, you'll need to file a claim with Discover Cars, and they usually process it within 48 hours or less, as stated on their website.

As long as the damage is less than €3000 (which covers quite a bit), Discover Cars will reimburse you under their Full Coverage Policy.

How to Make a Claim with Discover Cars

If you ever need to make a claim with Discover Cars, don't worry, it's a straightforward process.

You'll find your login details in the confirmation email you received when you made your booking. You can use these credentials to log in either through your computer or the Discover Cars app.

To file a claim under the Full Coverage Policy, follow these steps within 28 days of returning the car:

1. Visit the "My Booking" page on the Discover Cars website.

2. Click on the button related to the Full Coverage Policy.

3. Upload the following documents:

  • The rental agreement you signed when you picked up the car (request a copy from the rental company if you don't have one).
  • The rental company's assessment of the car's condition both at pick-up and return.
  • The invoice from the rental company that lists charges for any damage or additional fees.
  • Receipts or statements proving payment for these charges.
  • Your bank account details, including the bank name and address, account number or IBAN, SWIFT code, and any other necessary information for international wire transfers, or your PayPal address.
  • A comprehensive description of the incident, including any photographic or video evidence you may have.
  • If applicable, include a written police report.

Please refer to the specific terms and conditions outlined by Discover Cars for more details on the claims process.

The best part is, Discover Cars' Full Coverage Policy is a lot more budget-friendly, costing only $7-10 USD per day, which is significantly cheaper compared to what car rental companies typically charge for their own insurance, often around $30 USD per day.

If you prefer to get full coverage insurance directly from the rental company, you can still rent through Discover Cars to benefit from their excellent rates and NO FEE cancellation policy. It's a win-win situation for your peace of mind and your wallet.

Renting A Car in Cologne: Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to rent a car in Cologne, Germany?

Yes, it is generally safe to rent a car in Cologne, Germany. Germany has a well-developed road infrastructure, and rental cars are typically well-maintained and safe to drive.

However, it is important to follow the rules of the road and be aware of any potential scams or fraudulent charges from rental car companies.


It is also recommended to thoroughly read the rental agreement and insurance policy, take photos of the rental car before and after use, and report any suspicious charges or claims to the rental company and relevant authorities.

How are the roads in Cologne, Germany?

Cologne, Germany, has a well-developed road network, but traffic congestion is common, especially during rush hours.

Various incidents like road closures, accidents, and weather can affect traffic flow. To stay informed, live traffic data and maps from sources like ViaMichelin, TomTom, Waze, and MapTrip are available.


The traffic situation varies with time of day and weather conditions. Overall, Cologne's roads are well-maintained, but it's advisable to check live traffic updates and plan routes to minimize delays and disruptions.

Should I rent a car in Cologne?

Renting a car in Cologne gives you the flexibility to explore the surrounding attractions, making it more economical than booking guided tours.

With your own car, you can venture off the typical tourist paths in Germany to discover lesser-known gems like picturesque towns such as Monschau and Aachen, explore the beautiful Eifel National Park, visit historic castles like Burg Eltz, and explore the charming villages along the Rhine River.


However, if your goal is simply to stay in the Old Town of Cologne, sipping on a drink while enjoying the sun, you might want to skip the car rental.

Instead, you can arrange a private transfer from Cologne Airport to your hotel and rely on taxis or public transportation for getting around the city. For sightseeing, you can consider booking tours in Cologne.

What’s the best place to rent a car in Cologne?

The best place to rent a car in Cologne is Cologne-Bonn Airport (code: CGN) because it has such a large selection.

Opting for a car rental at Cologne-Bonn Airport is undoubtedly the most convenient choice, especially since you're likely arriving there by flight. At the airport, you'll have access to a variety of rental car companies and a wide selection of vehicles to pick from.


While renting a car at Cologne-Bonn Airport might be slightly more expensive compared to off-site agencies, you'll end up spending more on taxi fares to reach off-site rental locations than you'd save on rental costs.

Furthermore, renting a car at the airport saves you valuable time, and when it comes to travel, time is one of the most precious commodities. If you're concerned about getting from the airport to the city center, having a rental car at the airport can make your journey more convenient.

Another option to get a car rental is at the Cologne Central Train Station.

What’s the best car rental in Cologne Airport?

When it comes to renting a car at Cologne-Bonn Airport, there's no one-size-fits-all choice. You'll find all the big car rental companies there, like Hertz, National, Sixt, and Alamo. But before you book, it's a good idea to check out what other customers have said in their reviews.

I really like using Discover Cars because I can read reviews from people who rented from them recently. Plus, their FREE cancellation policy makes me feel better in case I need to change my travel plans.




When you're booking a car rental in Germany online, my top recommendation is Discover Cars. They search through both international corporations and local German rental companies, ensuring you get the best possible deal.

What’s the best company for cheap car rentals in Cologne Germany?

I highly recommend using Discover Cars. Over the past decade, I've consistently chosen Discover Cars when renting vehicles in various cities across Germany, from major metropolises like Berlin to scenic destinations like the Bavarian Alps.

I've never encountered any problems with their services. What's great about Discover Cars is that they compare rates from local, national, and international rental companies, ensuring you always secure the best rates, even during the peak season from June to December when prices tend to be higher.


I've found some of the most budget-friendly car rental options in Cologne from Momondo, Auto Europe, and Sixt. These companies not only offer competitive rates but also receive positive reviews from customers. You can find all of them on Discover Cars.

How much does renting a car in Cologne cost?

The cost of renting a car in Cologne varies depending on the rental company, type of car, and time of year.

Plan to set aside USD $30/day for an economy car with full coverage insurance.

To rent a car in Germany, you need to meet certain requirements and have certain documents.

Can I rent a car in Cologne Germany (requirements)?

Here are the key things you need to rent a car in Cologne, Germany:

Age Requirement: You must be at least 18 years old to rent a car in Germany, although some rental agencies may require you to be at least 21 years old.

Driver's License: You need a valid driver's license from your home state or province to rent a car in Germany. Visitors may also consider obtaining an International Driving Permit, although it is not required.

Booking: It is recommended to book your car rental from home before you go to Germany to get a better deal. You can book through recommended services like Discover Cars here.

Insurance: A car rental contract in Germany generally requires fire insurance and third-party liability. These supplemental fees will automatically be added to your rental agreement.

Payment: It is recommended to pay for your rental in euros to avoid currency exchange fees. You can pay with a credit card or cash, depending on the rental agency's policies.

Driving Rules: Germany is a country where people drive on the right side of the road. It is important to follow the rules of the road and be aware of any potential scams or fraudulent charges from rental car companies.

What kind of cars are for rent in Cologne?

The rental car companies in Cologne offer a variety of popular rental car types from some of the best car manufacturers in the world, such as Audi, Opel, Toyota, and Volkswagen.

The types of cars that are available for rent in Cologne:

  • Economy cars
  • Compact cars
  • Intermediate cars
  • Full-size cars
  • Mini cars
  • Premium cars
  • Intermediate SUVs
  • Compact station wagons
  • Compact SUVs
  • Premium station wagons

Are most rental cars in Germany automatic or manual?

Most rental cars in Germany have manual transmission, also known as stick shift. However, some rental car companies in Germany offer automatic car rentals.

It is important to note that automatic cars may be more expensive to rent than manual cars.

When you rent a car with Discover Cars, they are labeled as automatic or manual (stick shift), so you know what you’re getting.

What side of the road do they drive on in Germany?

In Germany, people drive on the right-hand side of the road. This means that the driver's seat is on the left-hand side of the car, and the passenger's seat is on the right-hand side.

It is important to note that the rules of the road in Germany are similar to those in other countries, but there may be some differences in traffic signs and regulations that drivers should be aware of.

Is a German car insurance mandatory to rent a car?

While car rental insurance is not legally required in Germany, it is highly recommended, especially for foreign drivers, due to the complexities. [1]

However, third-party liability insurance is a legal requirement for car rentals. This insurance protects you from any liability resulting from property damage, death, or injury caused to anyone or anything outside your car rental in Germany.

Fire insurance is also included in the car rental rate when you book with some rental car companies.


It is important to note that some rental car companies may offer additional insurance options, such as Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)/Loss Damage Waiver (LDW), Super Collision Damage Waiver (SCDW), and Roadside Assistance Cover.

I rent cars in Germany a few times each year and have never had problems using the Full Coverage Policy I got from Discover Cars. Legally, this third-party insurance is perfectly fine.

However, rental agents might still try to convince you to get their insurance. Some companies even tell their employees to do that. That's why it's smart to read reviews before you book.

What if I have car insurance through my credit card?

Some U.S. credit cards offer Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) Insurance for their cardholders. However, it's essential to understand that this is not the same as the required third-party liability insurance.

CDW does not fulfill the minimum liability insurance requirements in Germany. It only covers damage to the rental car itself, not third-party liability.


This is one of the reasons why I always choose Full Coverage when renting with Discover Cars. Their policy ensures I have comprehensive coverage in Germany, including coverage for damages to the car up to €3000, and I won't have to pay extra expenses out of my pocket.

During my last car rental in Germany, specifically in Berlin (known for higher rental costs), I paid just €6.50 per day for a Discover Cars Full Coverage Policy.

What are some common car rental scams in Germany?

When renting a car in Germany, you should be aware of some common rental scams to protect yourself:

  1. Forced Insurance Purchase: Rental companies may try to pressure you into purchasing additional insurance at the counter, even if you already have coverage from another source.
  2. False Damage Claims: Be cautious of rental companies falsely accusing you of damaging the vehicle and then charging you for repairs you didn't cause.
  3. Late Return Scam: Some companies might incorrectly claim that you returned the car late, leading to extra fees.
  4. Fraudulent Charges: There have been cases where rental companies added unauthorized charges to bills, such as billing for services you didn't request or receive.

To safeguard yourself:

  • Thoroughly review the rental agreement and insurance policy before signing.
  • Take pictures of the rental car's condition before and after your rental period.
  • Report any suspicious charges or damage claims to both the rental company and the relevant authorities.

By staying vigilant and informed, you can steer clear of these common rental scams and have a hassle-free experience renting a car in Germany.


10 Cologne Driving Tips for Germany

1. Autobahn Etiquette

While some sections of the Autobahn (highway) have no official speed limits, it's essential to drive at a safe and reasonable speed based on road conditions and traffic flow. Keep right except when overtaking, and use the left lane only for passing.

2. Speed Limit Signs

Pay close attention to speed limit signs. Germany has variable speed limits based on road conditions, construction zones, and environmental zones, so always adhere to posted limits.

3. Autobahn Exit Rules

Unlike some U.S. highways, Autobahn exits can be shorter and merge directly onto local roads. Be prepared to slow down and merge safely when exiting.

4. Roundabouts (Kreisverkehr)

Germany has many roundabouts. Vehicles inside the roundabout have the right of way, so yield to those already circulating. Use your turn signal when exiting. [2]

5. Traffic Light Countdowns

Some German traffic lights display countdown timers for when the light will change. This helps drivers anticipate when the light will turn green or red.

6. Winter Tires

If you're driving in Germany during the winter months, winter tires (with the M+S symbol) are mandatory in snowy or icy conditions. [3] Check your rental car to ensure it's equipped with appropriate tires.

7. Parking Zones (Parkzonen)

In many cities, there are designated parking zones indicated by colored lines on the curb. Make sure to understand the parking zone rules and pay parking fees when required.

8. Green Environmental Stickers

Certain cities have environmental zones (Umweltzone) where only vehicles with green environmental stickers are allowed. Check if your rental car has the necessary sticker if you plan to drive in these areas.

9. No Right Turn on Red

Remember that in Germany, it's generally illegal to make a right turn on a red traffic light unless there is a green right-turn arrow.

10. Emergency Lanes

On the Autobahn, there is often an emergency lane to the far right. Only use this lane in emergencies. It is not a passing lane.

Conclusion: Renting a Car in Cologne, Germany

Renting a car in Cologne is usually a simple and easy process. However, making the right choice when picking a rental company can greatly affect your trip, turning it into either an enjoyable experience or a stressful one.

When thinking about a car rental in Cologne, it's important to choose a trusted company like Discover Cars. I personally suggest their Full Coverage Policy, which I always find helpful.

For your convenience, I recommend getting your rental car at Cologne Bonn Airport when you arrive, as it has many international and local rental agencies right on-site.

While you can also rent a car in Cologne itself, you'll find a wider selection at Cologne Bonn Airport. Since you'll probably need to travel from the airport to Cologne anyway, having a rental car will make the journey much easier.




When you're booking a car rental in Germany online, my top recommendation is Discover Cars. They search through both international corporations and local German rental companies, ensuring you get the best possible deal.


1: Car Rental Insurance Germany: What is it? How does it work?, retrieved from
2: Yield or Give Way Sign in Germany: Meaning and Importance, retrieved from
3: Everything you need to know about winter tires in Germany | Article | The United States Army, retrieved from

About the Author

Stephan Drescher, founder of, is a German travel expert and insider, providing trusted tips and advice for a perfect trip to Germany. Born & bred German.