Eurostar, Thalys TGV and ICE trains make rail travel from London in England to Cologne (Köln) and Aachen in Germany time competitive with flying.
High-speed trains make railways a good option when traveling between London in the UK and Cologne (Köln) and Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle) in the western parts of Germany. The basic routing is the Eurostar from London to Brussels (Bruxelles) in Belgium and then either the German Railways’ Inter-City-Express (ICE) or TGV Thalys trains to Aachen and Cologne (Köln). Total travel time (including check in time of Eurostar trains) is around 5 to 6 hours from London-St Pancras International to Köln Hauptbahnhof (half an hour less to Aachen). Fares range from around £160 (next day, one-way) to £120 return (booked a month in advance). Specials can drop return prices to below €100.
By Train from London to Cologne and Aachen
Fast trains connection London and Cologne (Köln) via Brussels mostly five times per day. The fastest train traveling time from London-St Pancras International to Köln Hauptbahnhof is 4h11 but does not include Eurostar check-in times. From Cologne to London, the total traveling time is 5h20 to 6h30 and include the check-in times required for the Eurostar trains in Brussels.
The earliest departures from London for Cologne is shortly before 7 am for arrival around noon with the last departure of the day leaving London around 3 pm to arrive in Köln at around 8 pm. From Köln, the earliest trains of the day depart just before 8 am to arrive in London at noon with the last train of the day leaving Cologne before 5 pm to arrive in London at 9 pm.
All trains between Brussels and Köln currently stops in Aachen about half an hour before arriving in Cologne.
Timetables often include further options at night but will leave passengers overnight in Brussels or on a crazy nighttime sightseeing tour of The Netherlands or on a night train via Paris, Stuttgart and Frankfurt. Sometimes, these overnight train connections are the cheapest options but a crazy way to save £10 pounds, or a great way to make a stopover in Brussels en route.
Tickets for Trains between London and Cologne
Ticket reservations and timetables for train travel between London and Cologne are available from various sources but the official service providers usually have the best special prices and most reasonably cancellation and change policies. Standard full-fares should be the same but special discounts are often available only on the specific railway company’s own website.
Deals on First Class travel over weekends and holiday periods are often only marginally more expensive than second-class tickets.
Reservations and timetables are possible at the English website of German Railways (Deutsche Bahn) or the official websites of French Railways – Voyages SNCF (UK) or RailEurope (US & Rest of the World).
Note special conditions when booking bargain fares – savings fares and discount offers usually come with inflexible change policies. Return fares are usually cheaper than buying two one-way tickets.
It is sometimes cheaper to buy the Eurostar train ticket and Brussels to Cologne tickets separately but when a train is delayed in such case, the second ticket will almost certainly be invalid and require a full-fare ticket to be bought to continue the journey.
The most obvious alternative to traveling from London to Cologne by train is flying. Cheap flights to Cologne-Bonn Airport depart from London-Heathrow (LHR) and London-Stansted (STN) on Germanwings or from London-Gatwick (LGW) on Easyjet. Germanwings also has flights to Cologne from Manchester and Edinburgh (frequency depending on the season).
Buses offer a further alternative. Although coaches are less comfortable and take longer, Flixbus often has very good deals available with full-fare tickets for immediate travel often far cheaper than trains of flights. However, traveling time by bus between London and Cologne is around 12 hours.
Treyn offers a wide range of package holidays from the UK to Germany for travelers preferring trains to planes and buses. The romantic Rhine Valley is a popular destination for sightseeing, riverboat cruising, and walking vacations.