Dusseldorf to Cologne: By Train, Boat or Bus?

Updated on December 29, 2023  

dusseldorf to cologne

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 of the most common questions is "What's the best way to get from Düsseldorf to Cologne?"

Fortunately, there are plenty of options available from Düsseldorf, 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 Düsseldorf to Cologne!

Where is Cologne?

Cologne is a large cosmopolitan city in the western part of Germany.

It's located in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (Nordrhein-Westfalen) and has easy access to many major cities in Germany like Dusseldorf and countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg.

As a modern city, Cologne is supported by an extensive transportation network. And I mean extensive. This includes highways, railways, and Cologne Bonn Airport is one of the largest and busiest airports in Germany too.

How far is Cologne from Düsseldorf?

The two cities are approximately 34.3 kilometers (21 miles) apart, and well-connected to each other (despite the so-called 'rivalry' between them).

This makes Cologne an attractive travel option from Düsseldorf, as many affordable transportations take less than an hour.

For example, hopping on a train will whisk you from Düsseldorf to Cologne in about 20 minutes flat! If you prefer the freedom of driving, expect around 50 minutes depending on traffic conditions.

Düsseldorf to Cologne by Train

🕒 Time: 5/5
💶 Price: 5/5
😊 Comfort: 4/5

🔀 Convenience: 3/5

Ask anyone from here and they'll say getting from Düsseldorf to Cologne by train is the most convenient and efficient way to travel between these two cities. 

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 Düsseldorf: Your journey typically begins at Düsseldorf Hauptbahnhof or Düsseldorf Central Station.

In the city center, this station is easily accessible from other parts of Düsseldorf, 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, when traveling between Düsseldorf and Cologne. [1] This is the fastest train, and you can get a ticket under a few euros if you book early. 

Thereafter, you can connect to a regional train within Cologne to get to your final destination.

4. Scenic Ride: The journey between Düsseldorf and Cologne is unexpectedly beautiful, since you get treated to picturesque views of the Rhine River!

Once I took my family on a trip from Düsseldorf to Cologne 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 Cologne: Your train will arrive at Cologne Hauptbahnhof, the central train station in Cologne.

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.

Düsseldorf to Cologne by Bus

There are no public bus services on this route.

Düsseldorf to Cologne by Private Transfer

🕒 Time: 3/5
💶 Price: 3/5
😊 Comfort: 5/5

🔀 Convenience: 5/5

While private transfers may cost a bit more than 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. Depending on traffic, it can take around 40 mins or more.



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!

Düsseldorf to Cologne by Taxi

🕒 Time: 3/5
💶 Price: 2/5
😊 Comfort: 5/5

🔀 Convenience: 3/5

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 Düsseldorf to Cologne

🕒 Time: 3/5
💶 Price: 3/5
😊 Comfort: 5/5

🔀 Convenience: 5/5

If your goal is simply to get from Düsseldorf to Cologne, 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 Cologne.


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.




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 Düsseldorf car rentals?

The cost of renting a car in Düsseldorf 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 Düsseldorf to Cologne?

Driving from Düsseldorf to Cologne is a safe and convenient option for travel. The route takes you along the Rhine River and German countryside with many scenic photo stops.

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 Düsseldorf or Cologne. [2]

Lastly, make sure to obey traffic rules and drive responsibly!

Düsseldorf to Cologne by Boat

There's no public boat transfer available between Düsseldorf and Cologne that is not a day trip or tour.

The Köln-Düsseldorfer (KD) is the largest operator of day cruises and pleasure boats on the Rhine River in Germany, and they offer many roundtrip panorama cruises in both Cologne and Düsseldorf. [3]

However, most Rhine River day-trip and excursion cruises on this section of the Rhine are from Bonn to Linz, and cruises between Düsseldorf and Cologne are fairly rare.


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, taxi, or driving.

Düsseldorf to Cologne by Flight

🕒 Time: 2/5
💶 Price: 2/5
😊 Comfort: 3/5

🔀 Convenience: 2/5

While you can take a flight from Düsseldorf to Cologne, 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 Cologne and Düsseldorf 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 Düsseldorf!

Tips for Traveling from Düsseldorf to Cologne

Plan ahead and book tickets in advance

Whether you're buying a train ticket or reserving a rental car in Germany, take advantage of the "early bird" deals and discounts that are frequently available. If you want to cut costs, don't delay; make your travel arrangements in advance!

Booking ahead not only puts money back in your pocket but also saves you from the frustration of navigating through busy ticket vending machines at the station.

The idea of standing in line behind fellow travelers, some struggling with the machines, sends shivers down my spine.

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 Düsseldorf to Cologne, 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: Düsseldorf to Cologne

In conclusion, getting from Düsseldorf to Cologne 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!



1. What are the transportation options for getting from Düsseldorf to Cologne?

You can travel by train, plane or car to get from Düsseldorf to Cologne.

2. How long does it take to travel from Düsseldorf to Cologne by train?

The travel time from Düsseldorf to Cologne is approximately 20-40 minutes.

3. Are there direct trains available between Düsseldorf and Cologne?

Yes, there are direct trains available that connect Düsseldorf and Cologne.

4. How much does it cost to travel from Düsseldorf to Cologne by train?

The ticket prices for a one-way journey from Düsseldorf to Cologne 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 Cologne after arriving?

Yes, there is an extensive network of buses and trams in Cologne 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/
3: Köln-Düsseldorfer Deutsche Rheinschiffahrt GmbH, retrieved from https://www.k-d.com/en/

About the Author

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