Arriving as a tourist by coach or bus in Cologne
Cologne is a tourist magnet with several million visitors expected in 2020. This number brings with it many challenges. For example, the city has to deal with over 18,000 tourist buses per year arriving in the city centre. These buses come either directly from abroad or are acting as transfers for guests from cruise ships moored on the Rhine (with many of them joining a guided tour organized by Art of Touring). This means the tourist bus stop in Cologne is always very busy.
Confusingly, Flixbus services stop outside Cologne. See the bottom of this post.
Cologne’s new tourist bus stop is now on Gereonsstrasse
The city has taken two steps to tackle its tourist bus problem. Firstly: ban the buses from parking right next to Cologne Cathedral (on Komoedienstrasse). Secondly: move the tourist bus stop in Cologne further out to where there is more space.
The new stop, from January 2020, is on Gereonstraße (Gereon Street) near Boersenplatz. It lies between the IHK offices (Industrie- und Handelskammer zu Köln) and St Gereon Church.
Drivers and tour managers must be aware that buses can only wait at the stop for a maximum of 15 minutes.
If drivers want to wait somewhere for longer than 15 minutes, they have to go to the main “Buspark Köln”. This is located near the Mülheimer Bridge in a district to the north of the city centre known as Riehl, on a road called Kuhweg.
Drivers then need to time their arrival at the pick-up point on Gereonstrasse carefully, considering Cologne’s infamous traffic.
Walking between the Cathedral and the new tourist bus stop
The new bus stop for tourists is now a 10 to 15-minute walk (0.6km or 0.4 miles) from the cathedral.
The route isn’t an obvious one if you are a new visitor to the city. The city council has put signs up to mark the route between the Cathedral and the bus stop. However, they are not that obvious!
The quickest route goes:
- along Unter Sachsenhausen,
- turns right along Marzellenstrasse towards McDonalds,
- then crosses Komödienstraße to get to the cathedral.
What it means for Art of Touring as a guided tour operator
For groups arriving by bus, we will be starting our walking tours through the old town of Cologne and of Cologne Cathedral from the bus stop on Gereonstrasse.
This means we have prepared a new route for our walking tours, introducing our visitors to the city in a novel way. Cologne, with its rich history and culture, always has an interesting story at every corner, even those on the way to the bus!
For example, the new starting point opens up new sights at the beginning of our tour:
- St Gereon’s church – one of the most beautiful of Cologne’s 12 large romanesque churches dating from the 11th and 13th centuries. It is known for its unique decagonal dome, the largest in medieval Europe.
- Edith Stein Monument – dedicated to a German-Jewish nun who had converted to Catholicism, lived in Cologne, and was subsequently killed by the Nazis in Auschwitz. Interestingly the fact that the buses stop so close to this moment has led to senior members of the Catholic Church expressing their displeasure (in German)
- Original fragments of the Roman city wall viewed at street level along with statues and a fountain attesting to the city’s long Roman history featuring some of the former emperors.
- The roman theme continues with a statue of the mythical she-wolf from the story of Romulus and Remus, telling of how Rome was founded. Why is it here? Well, as Cologne is a Roman city, if Rome had not been founded, neither would have Cologne!
- Municipal Museum (Stadtmuseum) – housed in the old medieval weapon arsenal
- NS Documentation centre – the main museum in the city dedicated to the resistance movement during the Nazi period and the actions of the Gestapo (an important stop on Art of Touring’s Jewish History Tour
- The Monument to Deserters from the German army during the Second World War designed in 2009 by Ruedi Baur
An important note: Flixbus buses stop elsewhere, not in the city centre!
Confusingly, this stop is not where the Flixbus service leaves from or arrives to. Long-distance buses are, controversially, still completely banned from Cologne city centre.
Flixbus offers stops:
- in the neighbouring city of Leverkusen (“Köln-Nord”),
- in the eastern suburb of Refrath (“Köln-Ost”) or
- at the airport (“Köln-Sud”).
Travelers are then expected to make their own way into the city by taxi or public transportation.
This is the information Flixbus provides