Fastest journey6hr 29m
Taking the train from Brussels to Berlin is easy. You only need to change trains once along the way. That change of train is at Cologne Hauptbahnhof where, if you’re quick, you’ll have a chance to peek inside the city’s famous cathedral before continuing your journey to Berlin.
The run from Brussels to Cologne is on either a Thalys train or a Deutsche Bahn ICE service. The most advantageous through fares from Brussels to Berlin require that you use the Deutsche Bahn train on the Brussels to Cologne leg. The second leg of the journey is normally on an ICE train.
The journey from Brussels to Berlin is a big leap across Europe on very comfortable trains. Thirty years ago it took 14 hours to travel from Brussels to Berlin on the Ost-West Express. Today the travel time is less than half what it was in the 1980s. That’s a mark of how far European rail travel has developed. Tickets for your journey from Brussels to Berlin go on sale three months prior to travel.
Brussels to Cologne
From Brussels-Midi there are up to nine high-speed trains to Cologne each day – a mix of Thalys and ICE services. The journey takes just under two hours and most trains make just a couple of stops along the way.
The first part of the journey from Brussels traverses the flat lands of Brabant to reach Liège-Guillemins station. East from Liège, the train joins a new high-speed line which cuts in tunnels through hilly country to reach the German border just before Aachen. Beyond Aachen, the train traverses flat terrain to reach the Rhineland city of Cologne, where you arrive at the city’s main station (the Hauptbahnhof), located on the west bank of the Rhine right by Cologne Cathedral.
Cologne to Berlin
ICE trains leave Cologne Hauptbahnhof once each hour for Berlin. Depending on the route and stopping pattern, the journey to Berlin Hauptbahnhof takes between 4 hrs 15 mins and 4 hrs 40 mins. In addition to these regular fast ICE services, there is also a slower overnight train from Cologne to Berlin.
Most of the ICE trains follow the Wupper Valley east, but occasional trains (including the overnight service) take a more northerly route through the Ruhr region to reach the North German Plain. The route then tracks east across generally flat terrain to reach the German capital. In Berlin the ICE trains usually serve three different stations: Spandau, Hauptbahnhof and Gesundbrunnen. Hauptbahnhof is the best place to alight for the city centre; it also offers the widest range of onward train connections.
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Image credits: Michal Bednarek