Köln / Cologne / Koeln to Innsbruck by train

How to take a rail journey from Cologne/Köln to Innsbruck

There are three options for taking a train from Cologne/Köln to Innsbruck:

  1. The direct daytime option is the IC train which takes one of Europe's most epic rail journeys; it is the only train which travels through both the Upper Rhine Valley and the Arlberg Pass.
  2. A much faster daytime option is to take a different route via Munich/Munchen on a combination of two trains.
  3. The direct overnight train
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Routes

Option 1: the direct IC train

Travel Information

Final Destination: Innsbruck

This train also calls at: Lindau; Bregenz; St Anton and Landeck
it is the only direct train from Koln/Cologne to these stations.

The alternative to taking this direct train:

If you want to travel from Koln/Cologne to Innsbruck by train, as quickly as possible, you can save time by changing trains.
Those journeys via Munchen/Munich also become the most viable option for making this journey, on the dates when this direct train isn't operating.

The overnight train:

There is also a direct overnight train from Koln/Cologne to Innsbruck

1 x train per day

Tickets

If you want to take this direct train look for the journey with 0 changes which is usually scheduled to depart from Koln Hbf at 09:00, 09:02 or 09:17.

However, due to the length of the journey, this train departure is particularly susceptible to cancellation or alteration due to works on the line, hence the different departure times.

If you can't see a journey with 0 changes on your travel date it means that this direct train is not running that day, so you will need to choose from one of the alternative journey options.

Reservations

Reservations are highly recommended for this journey, particularly if you'll be travelling 2nd class* or with a rail pass - it's worth it to ensure that you have an assigned seat for the entire trip.

*Reservations are now automatically included when booking 1st class tickets.

But this is a journey when travelling 1st class can pay off, you'll have greater opportunities to switch sides across the coach on the train - to ensure that you're always seeing the best of the views!

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
DB Bahn from €35.90

DB Bahn Guide

DB is the national railway operator in Germany, so its website can be used for booking journeys by German express trains; the ICE and IC trains and it doesn't charge booking fees.
It also sells tickets for journeys by direct trains on all international routes from Germany regardless of whether DB is operating the train service.

It also sells an extensive range of end-to-end journeys which involve making connections both within Germany and in neighboring countries, but journeys between Germany and Britain cannot be booked on DB.

A key feature of DB website worth keeping mind is that it offers 1st class ticket purchasers complimentary seat reservations on journeys both within and to/from Germany.

Seat reservations for daytime in both 1st and 2nd class can also be booked separately from tickets.

OBB from €35.90

OBB Guide

OBB is the national rail operator and its booking service offers journeys by express trains within Austria, as well as international journeys which don't involve making a connection outside of Austria.

It pays off to book online, as the discounted 'Sparscheine' tickets are only ever made available on the website, and when making international journeys to and from Austria, these Sparscheine tickets tend to be cheaper.
OBB can offer particularly good value for money when travelling with children on international rail journeys, but something to watch out for when travelling between Austria and Germany on daytime trains, is that reservations are an optional extra; but if you book 1st class tickets with the Germany railways website DB, the reservations are complimentary.

OBB often takes a unique approach to its booking path, but a key thing to keep in mind is that the first price you will see for any journey is that of a Second Class seat.
The costs of upgrading to first class, a reservation, or a sleeping cabin etc, is then added to this price.

On this journey

Journey Features

Scenic - YesRiver viewsLandscape (Hills / Mountains)Lake viewsNot High Speed

Good to Know

The train will reverse direction on departure from Stuttgart and Lindau.

Journey description:

This is one of Europe's most epic train journeys!
Sit on the left on the train (when facing the direction of travel).

After Bonn there are some fabulous views of the Upper Rhine Valley from the LEFT of the train, when facing the direction of travel; if the train takes its usual route along the west bank, but if its switched to the east bank, the railway line is still right by the river.

The best of the views occur when the trains travel through The Rhine Gorge between Koblenz and Bingen.

The journey is a delight, you can't miss the endless parade of boats travelling up and down the river and look out for the multitude of castles perched on top of the hills.

As the video clips and images show, this is a journey which can be worth taking for the sake of making the trip, even if the weather isn't absolutely perfect.

Then after Mainz the train will cross the river; this video was taken from a train travelling in the opposite direction.

The journey also has other scenic highlights, particularly between:

  • Stuttgart and Ulm; from the left of the train.
  • And from the left and right of the train between Lindau and Innsbruck (from the right has the edge, as between Friedrichshafen and Bregenz, the Bodensee will be on that side of the train).

If you're making the journey between March and November, you'll be able to see the stunning passage through the Alberg Pass between Feldkirch and St Anton.
(The video was filmed from a Railjet train taking this route).

The train will reverse direction on departure from Stuttgart and Friedrichshafen.

The trains chase the river cruise boats through the Rhine Valley The trains chase the river cruise boats through the Rhine Valley
A highlight of a Rhine Valley train journey is the view of Lorely A highlight of a Rhine Valley train journey is the view of Lorely
The spectacular Rhine Valley views from the train continue to Bingen The spectacular Rhine Valley views from the train continue to Bingen
The view from the train of the Bodensee as it arrives in Lindau The view from the train of the Bodensee as it arrives in Lindau
In summer you can see The Arlberg Pass from the train In summer you can see The Arlberg Pass from the train
The spectacular scenery that can be glimpsed through the trees near St Anton The spectacular scenery that can be glimpsed through the trees near St Anton

Option 2: taking the direct overnight train

Travel Information

Final Destination: Innsbruck

The train also calls at: Kufstein, Worgl and Jenbach.
It takes a different route to the IC train.

This train is usually scheduled to depart from Köln Hbf at 22:16 and arrive in Innsbruck at 09:14.

1 x train per night

Tickets

Book early and save: Yes

Online bookings open:
6 months ahead of the travel date on OBB*
3 months ahead of the travel date on DB Bahn

This train is usually scheduled to depart from Köln Hbf at 22:16, so tatget that departure time when looking up this journey.

The choice of accommodation - summary:

- Compartment Seats (Sitzwagen)
- Couchettes (Liegewagen); 4 berths AND 6 berths
- Standard sleeping cars (Schlafwagen) with 3 bed, 2 bed and 1 cabins
- Deluxe sleeping cars with showers (Schlafwagen) with 3 bed, 2 bed and 1 cabins

Click the train details for more info including the rail pass reservation fees:

The first price you will see on the OBB ticketing site will be for the compartment seats.

Travelling with a rail pass:

Rail pass users must reserve before boarding these trains.

However, these rail pass reservations can NO longer be booked online the DB website, but you can now book rail pass reservations without paying booking fees on the OBB website (OBB operates these trains).
Though the process for doing so isn't particularly obvious, hence this step-by-step guide.

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
OBB *

OBB Guide

OBB is the national rail operator and its booking service offers journeys by express trains within Austria, as well as international journeys which don't involve making a connection outside of Austria.

It pays off to book online, as the discounted 'Sparscheine' tickets are only ever made available on the website, and when making international journeys to and from Austria, these Sparscheine tickets tend to be cheaper.
OBB can offer particularly good value for money when travelling with children on international rail journeys, but something to watch out for when travelling between Austria and Germany on daytime trains, is that reservations are an optional extra; but if you book 1st class tickets with the Germany railways website DB, the reservations are complimentary.

OBB often takes a unique approach to its booking path, but a key thing to keep in mind is that the first price you will see for any journey is that of a Second Class seat.
The costs of upgrading to first class, a reservation, or a sleeping cabin etc, is then added to this price.

DB Bahn *

DB Bahn Guide

DB is the national railway operator in Germany, so its website can be used for booking journeys by German express trains; the ICE and IC trains and it doesn't charge booking fees.
It also sells tickets for journeys by direct trains on all international routes from Germany regardless of whether DB is operating the train service.

It also sells an extensive range of end-to-end journeys which involve making connections both within Germany and in neighboring countries, but journeys between Germany and Britain cannot be booked on DB.

A key feature of DB website worth keeping mind is that it offers 1st class ticket purchasers complimentary seat reservations on journeys both within and to/from Germany.

Seat reservations for daytime in both 1st and 2nd class can also be booked separately from tickets.

On this journey

Good to Know

The coaches heading to Innsbruck will be joined to another part of the train, which will be heading to Wien.
If you see a train heading to Wien on the departure screens then the info will also apply if you are travelling to Innsbruck.

Don't be concerned about boarding the wrong part of the train, your reservations will be in coaches that will be heading to Innsbruck.
The train manager will also greet travellers who have booked to travel in the couchettes or sleeping cabins.

Option 3: the faster daytime option:

Travel Information

The direct train from Koln/Cologne to Innsbruck takes a slower, but spectacular route, via western Austria.

However, if you're happy to make a straightforward connection between trains in Munchen Hbf station, you can travel to Innsbruck more than two hours faster.

Of the multiple journey options SMTJ has honed in on the routing with a journey time of 7hr 23min because if you take these trains; which usually depart from Koln/Cologne at 07:53; 09:55 and 11:55, the two advantages are:

  • You will depart from Koln Hauptbahnhof, the main station in the city centre
  • The time to change trains in Munchen will be more than hour, so making the connection on to Innsbruck, shouldn't ordinarily be a problem.

3 x optimum connections per day

Change trains in: Munchen/Munich

Tickets

Online bookings usually open: 6 months ahead of the travel date

If you want to travel as quickly as possible by train from Koln to Innsbruck, these indirect journeys are quicker than taking the direct train

On DB (German national railways website) look for the journeys which have '1' in the chg. column and 'ICE, EC' in the Products column.

Use the earlier/later buttons to look through the day's departures to find the cheapest ticket prices.

Though you will also see alternative connections, which can be cheaper; particularly those involving more than 1 x change of train

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
DB Bahn *

DB Bahn Guide

DB is the national railway operator in Germany, so its website can be used for booking journeys by German express trains; the ICE and IC trains and it doesn't charge booking fees.
It also sells tickets for journeys by direct trains on all international routes from Germany regardless of whether DB is operating the train service.

It also sells an extensive range of end-to-end journeys which involve making connections both within Germany and in neighboring countries, but journeys between Germany and Britain cannot be booked on DB.

A key feature of DB website worth keeping mind is that it offers 1st class ticket purchasers complimentary seat reservations on journeys both within and to/from Germany.

Seat reservations for daytime in both 1st and 2nd class can also be booked separately from tickets.

Journey Features

High Speed (partial journey)

Good to Know

Final Destination: Munchen Hbf

These trains travel at more than 280 km/h on Germany's fastest high speed line between Seigburg/Bonn and Frankfurt Flughafen.

Some of the departures on this route via Stuttgart are by the new ICE 4 traiins.

These trains reverse direction on departure from Stuttgart.

Journey description:

This is a journey of five distinct phases:

  1. Until Siegburg/Bonn the first part of the journey is on a conventional railway.
  2. On departure from Siegburg/Bonn comes the part of the journey with a wow factor, when the train spends around 40 minutes racing along the rollercoaster that is the high speed line to Frankfurt Flughafen, at more than 280 km/h.
3. Between Frankfurt Flughafen and Mannheim the train will pass through a series of towns. 4. Then between Manheim and the outskirts of Stuttgart the train will travel at up to 270 k/h for around 25 mins on another high speed line. 5. On departure from Stuttgart **where the train will reverse direction** it will use a conventional railway for the remainder of the journey; with the most scenic parts of the trip either side of Ulm.

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Journey Features

Scenic - YesRiver viewsNot High Speed

Good to Know

6 x EC trains and 1 x ICE train

During the day the EC trains depart from Munchen/Munich every other hour - in the odd hours

Final Destination:  Verona or Bologna or Venezia or Innsbruck

All trains also call at: Kufstein, Worgl and Jenbach.

Journey description:

This journey becomes more scenic once the trains depart from Kuftstein.
For much of the journey between there and the suburbs of Innsbruck, the railway is parallel to the River Inn, most of the views of the river can be seen from the right.
On the other side of the river at the foothills of the Central Austria Alps.

Between Kufstein and Innsbruck Between Kufstein and Innsbruck
Between Munich and Worgl Between Munich and Worgl
Between Rosenheim and Worgl Between Rosenheim and Worgl
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This second version of ShowMeTheJourney is exciting and new, so we are genuinely thrilled that you are here and reading this, but we also need your help.

We’re striving not to let anything get in the way of providing the most useful service possible, hence a facility has been set up with DonorBox which can be used to support the running costs and make improvements.

Instead of advertising or paywalls, your financial support will make a positive difference to delivering an enhanced service, as there’s a lot of ideas which we want to make happen.

So if you have found the info provided here to be useful, please consider saying thank you.

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