Travel by Bus, Trains or Car from the UK to German Christmas Markets

The Christmas markets in Aachen and Cologne are very popular with British travelers as these are the closest German cities to Britain and easily reached by coach, car, or train.

Aachen Christmas Market in front of the Dom
© aachen tourist service e.v. / photo Andreas Herrmann

Aachen and Cologne (Köln) are the closest major German cities to United Kingdom. Both cities have great Christmas markets and are within easy reach of Britain for travelers by National Express Eurolines coaches, Eurostar trains, or by car using ferries. Trains are usually the easiest way to travel from London to Aachen and Cologne while cheap National Express coaches are available from all over the UK to London with easy connections to Eurolines buses. Most ferries cross the English Chanel near Dover and Calais but for travelers from further north in England and Scotland better options are available from Harwich, Hull, and Newcastle to Belgium and Holland.

Driving from the UK to Aachen and Cologne in Germany

The highest number of ferries goes from Dover to Calais and Dover to Dunkirk – both French cities are around three hours drive from Aachen and just less than four hours from Cologne. Dutch ferry ports including Hook of Holland, Rotterdam, and Amsterdam (Ijmuiden) and Belgian Zeebrugge are all closer and very convenient for travelers from northern England and Scotland.

Useful ferry routes for travel from the UK to Christmas markets in Germany include:

  • Calais to Dover – P&O
  • Dover to Dunkirk – DFDS (previously Norfolk)
  • Hull to Zeebrügge – P&O
  • Hull to Rotterdam – P&O
  • Harwich to Hook of Holland – Stena
  • Newcastle to Amsterdam (IJmuiden) – DFDS (previously Norfolk)

Driving times from major ferry port towns to Germany are around:

  • Calais – 350 km / 3h20 to Aachen and 410 km / 4h00 to Cologne (Köln)
  • Dunkirk – 320 km / 3h00 to Aachen and 380 km / 3h40 to Cologne (Köln)
  • Hook of Holland – 250 km / 2h30 to Aachen and 280 km / 3h00 to Cologne (Köln)
  • Rotterdam – 220 km / 2h20 to Aachen and 260 km / 2h45 to Cologne (Köln)
  • Ijmuiden (Amsterdam) – 250 km / 2h30 to Aachen and 300 km / 3h00 to Cologne (Köln)
  • Zeebrugge – 240 km / 2h30 to Aachen and 300 km / 3h00 to Cologne (Köln)

Most of the driving will be on dual carriage way highways, which present little difficulty for British right hand drive vehicles.

National Express Eurolines Coaches from the UK to Aachen and Cologne

National Express Eurolines buses are available daily from London to Frankfurt am Main via Aachen and Cologne (Köln). Buses travel overnight and usually use P&O ferries to cross the English Channel from Dover to Calais but sometimes further daytime coaches requiring a bus change in Brussels are also available.

Traveling times from London Victoria Coach station are around 11 hours to Aachen and an hour more to Cologne (Köln). The buses usually stop en route at Dover and Gillingham in England.

Buses may not be the fastest or most comfortable way to travel but it is low stress and an environmentally friendly way to travel. Special deals are often available with last-minute travel much cheaper than flying or trains. Currently, return National Express bus fares from anywhere in Britain to London can be as cheap as £15 return if combined with an onward Eurolines coach trip to any destination in Europe.
See Travel by Bus from London UK to Germany for more details on National Express Eurolines bus services between Britain and Germany.

By Eurostar and Thalys / ICE Trains from London to Aachen and Cologne

Aachen and Cologne are easy train rides from Brussels with excellent connecting services to Eurostar trains. From Brussels, TGV Thalys trains and German Railways Inter-City-Express (ICE) trains provide the fastest connections to Aachen and Cologne.

Traveling times from London can be as little as four hours to Aachen but more likely 4:30 to five hours. Traveling to Cologne is just over an hour longer. Deutsche Bahn (German Railways) has an excellent online timetable for all German public transportation and most railway and major bus services in Europe.

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About the author:

Henk Bekker

Henk Bekker is a freelance travel writer with over 20 years of experience writing online. He is particularly interested in history, art, and culture. He has lived most of his adult life in Germany, Switzerland, and Denmark. In addition to, he also owns a travel website on the Lake Geneva region of Switzerland and maintains statistical websites on car sales and classic car auction prices. Henk holds an MBA from Edinburgh Business School and an MSc in Development Finance from the University of London.

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