As I live near Cologne, friends visiting here often ask me about the most efficient and cost-effective way to travel to neighboring cities. One common question is "What's the best way to get to Duisburg from Cologne?"
Fortunately, there are plenty of options available from Cologne, whether it is by train, bus, car rental and even flight! Each one has its pros and cons, which I'll outline below.
So keep reading to find out the best ways to get from Cologne to Duisburg!
Where is Duisburg?
Duisburg is located in the western part of Germany. It is situated in the North Rhine-Westphalia region, which is one of the 16 federal states of Germany.
It lies in the Ruhr area, which is a highly industrialized and densely populated region in western Germany.
As a modern city, Duisburg is supported by an extensive transportation network.
How far is Duisburg from Cologne?
The distance between Duisburg and Cologne is approximately 57 kilometers (35 miles). The driving distance between the two cities is around 70 kilometers (45 miles).
This makes Duisburg an attractive travel option from Cologne, as many affordable transportations take less than an hour.
Cologne to Duisburg by Train
If you ask people around here, they'll tell you that taking a train from Cologne to Duisburg is the easiest and best way to go between these two places.
I don't wish to sound biased, but Germany has one of the most developed and reliable train transportation systems in the world. It's fast, punctual, and affordable - often nearly as affordable as taking the bus.
1. Departure from Cologne: Your journey typically begins at Köln Hauptbahnhof or Cologne Central Station.
In the city center, this station is easily accessible from other parts of Cologne, wherever you're coming from. It has domestic, international, as well as regional train services.
2. Ticket Purchase: You'll need to buy tickets if you want to take the train.
Your options are purchasing a ticket through one of the authorized online platforms, or from the ticket machines at the station or the manual ticket counters.
I always advise booking your tickets in advance. Especially during peak travel times, you may waste time queueing up to buy tickets at the station!
Whenever I have purchase train tickets, I like to use Omio. It's my favorite platform to check for the best train tickets in Europe:
3. Train Options: Most will suggest taking a high-speed train like ICE (Inter-City Express), when traveling between Cologne and Duisburg.  This is the fastest train (around 35 min), and you can get a ticket for as low as €10 if you book early.
Thereafter, you can connect to a regional train within Duisburg to get to your final destination.
4. Scenic Ride: The journey between Cologne and Duisburg is unexpectedly beautiful, since you get treated to picturesque views of the Rhine River!
Once I took my family on a trip from Cologne to Duisburg and my kids were fascinated. They were thrilled at how fast we were moving on the ICE train and spent the ride with their foreheads pressed up against the window.
So no matter what, I highly recommend a grabbing a window seat if you can!
5. Arrival in Duisburg: Your train will arrive at Duisburg Hauptbahnhof, the central train station in Duisburg.
Clear signs will guide you to the tram station or taxi stand, so don't worry about losing your way. The station also has a convenience store, which comes in handy for grabbing a snack for the road.
Cologne to Duisburg by Bus
The bus is the cheapest option to travel from Cologne to Duisburg, with fares starting at just €7. The bus ride takes around 1 hour 45 min, depending on the departure time and bus route.
1. Depart from Cologne: The bus ride is not as convenient as the train because the departure point is usually at Cologne Bonn Airport or Leverkusen, a city at the borders of Cologne.
This means you'll have to first make your way out of the city centre before catching the bus.
2. Purchase Your Ticket: You can easily buy your bus tickets from Cologne to Duisburg online here. It's advisable to book your ticket in advance, especially during peak travel periods, to secure your seat and potentially snag lower fares.
3. Bus Options: Several bus companies operate the Cologne-Duisburg route, offering varying levels of comfort and amenities. Some buses may provide Wi-Fi, power outlets, and comfortable seating, so be sure to check the features of each bus service when making your reservation.
4. Urban Route: The bus ride from Cologne to Duisburg is not typically considered a scenic route. The journey primarily takes you through urban and industrial areas in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany, which are not known for their picturesque landscapes.
5. Arrive in Duisburg: Your bus will drop you off at one of the bus terminals or stops in Duisburg, depending on the bus company and route. Duisburg boasts a well-connected public transportation system, giving you various options to reach your final destination within the city.
Cologne to Duisburg by Private Transfer
Private transfers might be more expensive than other options, but I think they're worth it, especially when you want more comfort and flexibility.
When we traveled with my elderly in-laws, with a fair amount of luggage, we always opted for private transfer. Our driver not only picked us up from home but also helped with our bags. We didn't have to worry about navigating our group to or from a train station or airport!
You can also choose a smaller or bigger vehicle depending on how many seats and luggage you have. There's a variety of choices, from SUVs and sedans to bigger minibuses and vans.
However, take note that a private transfer won't be as fast as a high-speed train. Depending on traffic, it can take around 1 hour or more.
RECOMMENDED FOR PRIVATE TRANSFER
This private transfer platform has the best prices around. I've found deals that cost similar to a train ticket. Plus they price-match if you can find a lower price anywhere else!
Cologne to Duisburg by Taxi
The benefits of taking a taxi are similar to those of a private transfer. However, there are some potential downsides.
One major concern is price. Taxi meter fares can rack up depending on the route and traffic, and I don't like worrying about what I'll end up paying.
A couple of times, I've even found myself struggling to even get a cab, which is frustrating when we're traveling on a schedule.
So if I had to choose, I'd still choose private transfer. Every thing is pre-arranged. There's usually better rates, and you don't have to worry about flagging down a taxi or deal with climbing fares.
Rent A Car: Driving from Cologne to Duisburg
If your goal is simply to get from Cologne to Duisburg, you might want to skip the car rental. However, the most enjoyable part of renting a car is the freedom to make spontaneous stops!
Pop by traditional German towns like Zons, or make a detour to visit Monschau, Aachen, the Eifel National Park, or visit the beautiful Burg Eltz... there are countless worthy spots to stop by before landing in Duisburg.
When choosing a car rental company, I suggest finding a trusted website that helps you compare rental options from various companies.
I remember a road trip that quickly turned into a nightmare due to a really bad car rental experience. Basically, the agent informed me that they had overbooked their cars and didn't have the one I had reserved. I was offered a much smaller car, which wasn't big enough for my luggage...
So these days, I only use Discover Cars. They source from highly-rated car rental companies (so you avoid those with a bad reputation) and give you a breakdown of their rental rates and vehicle types.
And applying for German car insurance through Discover Cars during your booking can save you half of what typical rental companies charge.
BEST GERMANY CAR RENTAL COMPANY: DISCOVER CARS
I never fail to recommend Discover Cars. After looking everywhere, I've found that they consistently offer the best deals around. To top it off, they also throw in free cancellation!
How much are Cologne car rentals?
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 around €28/day for an economy car with full coverage insurance.
If you've been searching for a rental car in Germany online, you might have seen prices as low as €4. However, these low prices are a bit misleading because they only cover the cost of the car itself.
They don't include things like insurance, taxes, and fees, which can add up. So, to be cautious, expect the total daily cost of the car to be at least €28 or more.
Do I need a Germany car insurance?
Yes, 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.
This is also why I always choose Discover Cars for my car rentals because they provide full coverage for around €6.50 per day. For me, it's an easy decision because it gives me peace of mind.
Is it safe to drive from Cologne to Duisburg?
Driving from Cologne to Duisburg is generally safe, as both cities are located in Germany, a country known for its well-maintained road infrastructure and strict adherence to traffic rules and safety standards.
There are a few local cafes and restaurants along the way where you can stop for lunch or enjoy a cup of coffee.
By the way, both cities have low emission zones, so it's important to have an environmental badge if you plan on driving in the inner parts of Duisburg or Cologne. 
Lastly, make sure to obey traffic rules and drive responsibly!
Cologne to Duisburg by Boat
There's no public boat transfer available between Cologne and Duisburg, even though both cities are located along the Rhine river.
The sole purpose of taking this route by ship would be to witness the (formerly) industrial core of Germany, which includes steel foundries, power plants, oil refineries, chemical factories, and freight harbors. It's not the kind of journey typically chosen for tourist sightseeing.
Therefore, if you are looking for a form of transport between the two cities, it is recommended to use other modes of transportation such as the train, bus, or driving.
Cologne to Duisburg by flight
The closest airport to Duisburg is Düsseldorf International Airport. While you can take a flight from Cologne to Düsseldorf, it's not a good choice. That's because many of them are flights that connect via other stops, like London or Zurich.
Anyway, the Düsseldorf and Cologne airports can be far from the cities, and the time you spend getting through the airport can be longer than the actual flight too. Short flights like this can also harm the environment.
To put it simply, you're better off taking the train or driving to Duisburg!
Tips for Traveling from Cologne to Duisburg
Plan ahead and book tickets in advance
Whether you're purchasing a trains ticket or booking a rental car in Germany, there are often "early bird" deals and discounts up for grabs. So if you want to save a bit of cash, don't procrastinate and book your trip in advance!
Pre-booking not only saves you money but also spares you from the hassle of dealing with crowded ticket vending machines at the station.
The thought of waiting behind other travelers, some struggling with the machines, makes me cringe.
Purchase a transportation pass for convenience
With a zone ticket or tourist pass, you can jump on and off trains whenever you want, no need to deal with separate tickets each time. The best part is it lets you be spontaneous and explore different places along the way.
If you're planning to travel from Cologne to Duisburg, as well as other countries in Europe, consider getting a transportation pass like the Eurail Pass. This can save you both time and money by providing unlimited access to trains rides.
Allow extra time for unexpected delays
While German punctuality is impressive... it's always a smart move to build some wiggle room into your schedule, just in case life decides to throw you a curveball.
I used to plan my trips down to the minute, but unexpected train track maintenance or flight delays still managed to throw a wrench into my plans.
As an "experienced" traveler, these days I've learned to allow for some extra time in my itinerary.
Conclusion: Cologne to Duisburg
In conclusion, getting from Cologne to Duisburg is quick and convenient with multiple ways to do it!
If you want the fastest route - book tickets to take an InterCity Express train.
For the cheapest option, take a bus. Book your tickets here.
If you want a more comfortable ride and are carrying lots of luggage - maybe a private transfer suits you more.
If you're planning to make a day trips or a few pitstops along the way - renting a car is your best bet.
No matter what you pick – train, taxi, or renting a car – the trip won't eat up more than an hour. So, there's really no excuse not to go for it. I'd say go ahead and start prepping now!
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1. What are the transportation options for getting from Cologne to Duisburg?
You can travel by train, plane or car to get from Cologne to Duisburg.
2. How long does it take to travel from Cologne to Duisburg by train?
The travel time from Cologne to Duisburg is approximately 30-50 minutes.
3. Are there direct trains available between Cologne and Duisburg?
Yes, there are direct trains available that connect Cologne and Duisburg.
4. How much does it cost to travel from Cologne to Duisburg by train?
The ticket prices for a one-way journey from Cologne to Duisburg vary depending on the type of train and class you choose. It typically ranges between $10-20.
5. Can I use public transportation like buses within Duisburg after arriving?
Yes, there is an extensive network of buses and trams in Duisburg that you can use for local transportation once you arrive in the city.
1: Germany's ICE Trains, retrieved from https://europeforvisitors.com/germany/trains/ice-trains.htm
2: Overview of low-emission zones, retrieved from https://www.germanemissionssticker.com/zones/