Train Stations in Cologne, Germany (Köln Hauptbahnhof)

Updated on October 23, 2023  

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Stepping into the expansive network of train stations in Cologne, Germany can feel like stepping into a complex labyrinth. I know what it's like to try and decode intricate schedules and station layouts - been there, done that! But don't let that discourage you.

This article is your trusty guide designed to simplify every facet of your rail travel experience in this enchanting city. We're talking about insider tips on Cologne Central Station's hidden gems to decoding connectivity across various major cities.

Cologne Central Railway Station

Station layout & finding your train

As you enter the main station through the main entrance, you'll find yourself in the main hall on the ground floor. Right in front of you, there's a departures board displaying train information.

I remember the first time I arrived there, feeling a bit overwhelmed by the bustling atmosphere. But that departures board became my trusty guide, helping me navigate the station with ease. 

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To access the platforms, you'll walk through a wide passageway filled with shops, cafes, and kiosks under the tracks. You can reach the platforms using stairs, escalators, or lifts because they are located one level above the ground.

To determine which platform your train departs from, here's a quick guide:

  • Platforms are numbered from 1 to 11, with platform 1 on the main (cathedral) side of the station.
  • Despite its size, the station is relatively compact, and you can walk from platform 1 to platform 11 in just 2 or 3 minutes, even if you have luggage. This efficiency once saved me from missing a tight connection - a sprint from platform 1 to platform 8 in record time!
  • Information about platform assignments for your train is displayed on departure screens throughout the station.

You can also check platform information for your train by visiting www.bahnhof.de and searching for Cologne Hbf. [1] You can also find planned platform numbers by using the German Railways website at int.bahn.de when you run an inquiry. These online tools have been invaluable in making my travels smoother.

Here are some specific platform details:

  • High-speed and long-distance trains, such as IC, ICE, and EC, typically use platforms 1-9.
  • ICE trains to Brussels and Thalys trains to Brussels and Paris operate from platforms 5-9.
  • The Nightjet sleeper service to Munich, Innsbruck, and Vienna usually departs from platform 7, but always verify with the departure screens.
  • For local S-Bahn trains to Koln Messe/Deutz, head to platform 10, where they depart every few minutes.

A helpful tip: Sometimes two different trains share the same platform, with one at sectors A-C and the other at sectors D-G. To avoid confusion, check the departure boards and look at both ends of the platform. I've had a couple of close calls when I almost boarded the wrong train, so this tip is worth heeding.

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Another tip: Look for the train composition poster (Wagenstandsanzeiger) on each platform. It provides information on which sector to stand in on the platform so you'll be in the right spot when your train arrives. 

Sectors are labeled A to G, with sector A at the east (Rhine bridge) end of each platform and sector G at the west (Brussels) end.

Tickets & reservations in Cologne Central Railway Station

You'll find purchasing tickets and making reservations pretty straightforward. German Railways website is an easy platform to buy tickets from any station in Germany, including Cologne, all the way to Amsterdam or other Dutch stations.

You won't have a hard time if you're looking for ticket machines at the station either. Plenty of them are scattered throughout for easy accessibility! There's no need to worry about language issues: these machines offer instructions in numerous languages.

Certainly, understanding German can make things a bit smoother but it's not essential. In case assistance is needed, helpful staff members are usually closeby ready to ensure your travel plans go smooth sailing.

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Luggage lockers, ATMs, WiFi in Cologne Central Railway Station

Stashing my bags in the left luggage at Cologne Central Railway Station, I found it fantastic to roam freely.

Cologne Hbf offers a rather innovative solution for storing your luggage. You'll find these unique left luggage machines in the main corridor just outside the ticket office.

These machines are quite nifty – they securely take your bag down to an automated storage area and retrieve it for you when you return. It's like having your own personal storage assistant.

But that's not all this bustling hub offers - there is also wireless internet access.

The station provides WiFi which kept me connected and took care of my online needs during my visit.

There are also multiple ATMs around the station.

DB First Class Lounge in Cologne Central Railway Station

The DB First Class Lounge in Cologne Central Railway Station is a premium lounge exclusively for 1st class Flexpreis ticket passengers. As a guest, you can enjoy luxury amenities and comfortable seating in a relaxed atmosphere.

The lounge offers a refreshment area with complimentary soft drinks and beer, and some lounges even provide food options. Whether you need to catch up on work or simply unwind, the lounge provides modern spaces for both business and relaxation purposes.

Amenities such as TVs, WiFi, and phone chargers are also available for your convenience. So if you have a valid boarding pass for first class, don't miss the opportunity to experience this exclusive retreat within the bustling train station.

Supermarkets in Cologne Central Railway Station

You can find many shops & kiosks at Cologne Central Railway Station, making it convenient for travelers to pick up groceries and other essentials.

One notable option is the 'Rewe-to-go' supermarket underneath platforms 6 & 7, which was the first of its kind to open at a train station in Germany. [2]

These supermarkets offer a range of products including food, drinks, shoes, books, flowers, and even make-up.

Whether you're looking for something quick on-the-go or stocking up for your journey ahead, these supermarkets provide a convenient shopping experience right at the train station.

Food & drink, restaurants in Cologne Central Railway Station

Cologne Central Railway Station offers a wide variety of food and drink options for travelers.

On one of my trips through Cologne, I found myself with a bit of extra time before my train departure. I decided to treat myself to a sit-down meal, and Bistro Sion am Bahnhof was my go-to choice.

I can still remember savoring a delicious meal there while watching the bustling station around me. It's a fantastic option for those moments whe