Zürich / Zurich to Köln / Cologne / Koeln by train

How to take the rail journey from Zurich to Cologne/Köln

When looking up a journey by train from Zurich to Cologne/Köln on the ticket booking websites most of the travel options will involve taking two ICE trains and making a connection at a German station, but there is a daily direct train available.
It also happens to take a much more scenic route!

There is also a recently introduced overnight direct train, but this Nightjet train is on route to Amsterdam so it calls in Cologne/Köln before 06:00.



From Zürich HB / Zurich main station to Köln/Cologne Hbf

Travel Information

Final Destination: Hamburg

This train also calls at: Mainz and Koblenz and Bonn

1 x direct train per day


Book early and save: Yes

Online bookings open: 6 months ahead of the travel date

When making an online booking, check that you’re looking at booking info for the direct EC train - if you want to (1) take a direct train and (2) take the more scenic route
So when booking tickets for this journey, look for the train that departs Zurich at around 11:00 am.

Reservations are recommended for this journey; book a 1st class ticket on DB Bahn and your seat will be assigned, but not in 2nd class
They can also be booked separately at a later date on the DB website.

If you will be travelling with a rail pass reservations are optional, but if you do choose to reserve (recommended) book the reservation online on DB Bahn and avoid the booking fees you would be charged at the station in Switzerland.

The alternative routings:

When you up this journey you will see a swathe of other journey options, most of which are faster than taking this direct train, because they involve either taking 2* x ICE trains OR connecting into an ICE train.
Unlike this direct train, the ICE train on to Koln will use Germany's fastest high speed line.

*There is no need to take more than 2 x trains IF the timings of this direct train don't suit - so avoid any options with more than 1 x change of train.

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
DB from €29.90

DB 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.

Two types of ticket have recently been made available;

  1. Cheaper 'Young' tickets which can only be booked by those aged 15-26 on the travel date.
  2. Flexi Plus tickets, which are now the most expensive type of ticket, but they're the only type of 2nd class tickets which DO include a seat reservation.
Trainline from €29.90

Trainline Guide

Happy rail from €29.90

Happy rail Guide

Happy Rail is a Netherlands rail ticket agency which sells tickets for both national and international journeys within a range of countries including Belgium France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland.

HappyRail doesn't charge booking fees in the conventional sense, but if you're not Dutch you can expect to pay additional transaction fees, which will be added to the total cost.
That's because the most common form of online payment used in The Netherlands is 'iDEAL' and HappyRail doesn't charge a transaction fee for 'iDEAL' payments, but only Dutch residents can sign up to 'iDEAL'.
Other forms of payment include Visa debit cards will incur a fee.

Save A Train from €29.90

Save A Train Guide

On this journey

Journey Features

Scenic - YesRiver views

Good to Know

The train will reverse direction on departure from Basel SBB station so sit on the left when boarding in Zurich if you want to experience the best of the scenery.

Journey description:

Despite being a journey that commences in Switzerland, the best views on this route comes towards journey's end; the video clips were filmed from trains travelling in the opposite direction

This is a fascinating journey of five distinct phases:

  1. The second half of the part of the journey from Zurich to Basel is one of the most scenic parts of the trip.
  2. After reversing direction at Basel the train will head to Offenburg, though south of Freiburg it travels through one of Germany's longest rail tunnels.
  3. The railway between Offenburg and Karlsruhe has been re-engineered so it is classified as a high speed line, the train will be travelling at more than 250 k/mh.
  4. From Karlsruhe until Mainz the train will pass through a series of towns.
  5. Then around 10 mins after departure from Mainz comes the stunning highlight of the journey, on the railway through the Rhine Valley.

Sit on the right of the train when facing the direction of travel because after Mainz comes the fabulous climax to the day's travels, the stunning views of The Rhine Gorge between Bingen and Koblenz.

(the videos were taken from a train travelling in the opposite direction).

After Bingen there are some fabulous views of The Rhine Gorge from the right of the train, when facing the direction of travel.

After Boppard the train will travel right by the river for the final part of the journey all the way to Koblenz; the views of the valley aren't quite as spectacular north of Boppard, but they're still fabulous!

This part of 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.

Then after Koblenz, north of Remagen there are yet more fine views of the Rhine Valley, even on a grey day!

(Though trains can be diverted to run along the east bank of the river north of Mainz, and if that does occur, the equally fabulous Rhine Valley views will be on the left).

The Swiss part of the journey has its glorious moments The Swiss part of the journey has its glorious moments
The train will travel along the banks of The River Rhine after Bingen The train will travel along the banks of The River Rhine after Bingen
The best of the views of the valley will be on the right The best of the views of the valley will be on the right
Follow the path taken by the river boat cruises Follow the path taken by the river boat cruises
Chase the cars and boats as they travel through the valley beside the train Chase the cars and boats as they travel through the valley beside the train
Take the stress out of your journey Everything planned to your specification, so sit back and relax… Try Concierge

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