I live near Cologne, and my friends often ask me about the most efficient and cost-effective way to travel to nearby cities. One question is "What's the best way to get from Cologne to Gelsenkirchen?"
The good news is, there are many ways to go from Cologne to Gelsenkirchen. You can take a train, bus, rent a car, or even fly! Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, which I'll explain below.
So, keep reading to learn the best ways to go from Cologne to Gelsenkirchen!
Where is Gelsenkirchen?
Gelsenkirchen is a city located in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany. It is situated in the western part of the country, in the Ruhr area, which is known for its industrial heritage and is part of the larger Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region.
Cologne to Gelsenkirchen Distance
The distance between Cologne and Gelsenkirchen can vary depending on the specific route you take, but it's approximately 80 to 90 kilometers (about 50 to 56 miles) by road.
Cologne to Gelsenkirchen by Train
Getting from Cologne to Gelsenkirchen by train is the most convenient and efficient way to travel between these two cities.
If you're lucky, you might get a direct train on your preferred day and time of departure.
1. Departure from Cologne: Your journey typically begins at Köln Hauptbahnhof or Cologne Central Station.
You can easily reach this train station in the middle of the city using public transportation, no matter where you're coming from in Cologne. The station offers trains that go to nearby areas, to other places in Germany, and to other countries.
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.
You get to see the number of transfers required before selecting a train:
3. Train Options: Most will suggest taking a high-speed train like ICE (Inter-City Express), when traveling between Cologne and Gelsenkirchen.  This is the fastest train (around 1 hour), and you can get a ticket for around €18 if you book early.
Thereafter, you can connect to a regional train within Gelsenkirchen to get to your final destination.
4. Urban Journey: The journey between Cologne and Gelsenkirchen is not the most scenic. You'll see a mix of urban areas, suburban developments, and industrial zones.
There are portions of the journey where you'll pass through agricultural areas, so you may see farmland, fields, and countryside scenery.
I remember a weekend getaway I planned from Cologne to Gelsenkirchen with my friends, and we were all surprised.
We couldn't believe how the train journey offered unexpected charm, and we spent the whole trip chatting and sharing stories, even though we had initially thought there wouldn't be much to see or do in the industrial setting of Gelsenkirchen.
5. Arrival in Gelsenkirchen: When your train reaches Gelsenkirchen Hauptbahnhof, which is the main train station in Gelsenkirchen, you'll see signs that show you where to go to catch a tram or a taxi, so you won't get lost.
There's also a store there where you can buy snacks if you're hungry for a quick bite before continuing your journey.
Cologne to Gelsenkirchen by Bus
There are no public buses from Cologne to Gelsenkirchen.
Cologne to Gelsenkirchen by Private Transfer
While private transfers may cost more than the other options, I find them well worth it, especially when more flexibility and comfort is needed.
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 (but faster than a bus). Depending on traffic, it can take from 1 to 2 hours.
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 Gelsenkirchen 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 Gelsenkirchen
If your goal is simply to get from Cologne to Gelsenkirchen, 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 Schwelm and Ennepetal, or make a detour to visit Monschau, Aachen, or visit the beautiful Burg Eltz.... there are countless worthy spots to stop by before landing in Gelsenkirchen.
When choosing a car rental company, I suggest finding a trusted website that helps you compare rental options from various companies.
While on a road trip, I once rented a car from another platform that looked great in the pictures but turned out to be a real lemon. Within an hour of hitting the highway, the engine sputtered, and we had to call for a tow truck, turning our adventure into an unexpected detour.
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?
Renting a car in Cologne can cost different amounts. It depends on the company you rent from, the type of car you choose, and the time of year.
If you want a small car with good insurance, plan to spend about €28 each day.
Sometimes, you might find rental car prices as low as €4 online. But don't be fooled by these super low prices. They only cover the basic cost of the car itself.
You'll still need to pay for things like insurance, taxes, and fees. These extra costs can add up quickly. So, to be safe, expect the total daily cost of the car to be at least €28 or even 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 Gelsenkirchen?
Driving from Cologne to Gelsenkirchen is generally safe, as the roads are well-maintained and there are no major safety concerns reported. However, as with any road trip, it's important to take necessary precautions to ensure a safe journey.
- Check the weather forecast before you leave and adjust your driving accordingly.
- Make sure your vehicle is in good condition before you leave.
- Wear your seatbelt and make sure all passengers do the same.
- Follow traffic rules and regulations, including speed limits and traffic signals.
Avoid distractions while driving.
- Take regular breaks to rest and stretch your legs, especially if you are driving for a long time.
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 Gelsenkirchen or Cologne. 
Lastly, make sure to obey traffic rules and drive responsibly!
Tips for Traveling from Cologne to Gelsenkirchen
Plan ahead and book tickets in advance
When you're getting a train ticket or reserving a rental car in Germany, try to book them early to get good deals and save money. Don't wait; plan your travel ahead of time!
Booking in advance not only saves you money but also spares you from the stress of dealing with crowded ticket machines at the station.
I really don't like the thought of waiting in line behind other travelers, especially when some of them are having trouble with the machines.
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 Gelsenkirchen, 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.
In the past, I used to plan my trips very carefully and didn't account for unexpected things like train track repairs or flight delays. These surprises messed up my plans.
Now that I have more experience traveling, I make sure to have extra time in my schedule to deal with unexpected situations.
Conclusion: Cologne to Gelsenkirchen
In conclusion, getting from Cologne to Gelsenkirchen is quick and convenient with multiple ways to do it!
If you want the fastest route - book tickets to take an InterCity Express train.
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 Gelsenkirchen?
You can travel by train, private transfer or car to get from Cologne to Gelsenkirchen.
2. How long does it take to travel from Cologne to Gelsenkirchen by train?
The travel time from Cologne to Gelsenkirchen is approximately 1-2 hours.
3. Are there direct trains available between Cologne and Gelsenkirchen?
Yes, there are direct trains available that connect Cologne and Gelsenkirchen.
4. How much does it cost to travel from Cologne to Gelsenkirchen by train?
The ticket prices for a one-way journey from Cologne to Gelsenkirchen vary depending on the type of train and class you choose. It typically ranges between $10-30.
5. Can I use public transportation like buses within Gelsenkirchen after arriving?
Yes, there is an extensive network of buses and trams in Gelsenkirchen 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/