Fastest journey4hr 11m
The train journey from London to Cologne is very easy. Eurostar trains from London connect very efficiently at Brussels Midi station with onward high-speed services to Cologne. These latter trains are either Thalys services or ICE trains operated by Deutsche Bahn. Both offer equally high levels of comfort and service. The cheaper fares sold by Loco2 tend to be for the Eurostar and ICE combination rather than for the Eurostar and Thalys option.
Rail tickets from London to Cologne via Brussels normally go on sale three months prior to travel. On your journey from London to Cologne by train, you’ll speed across the territory of four countries: England, France, Belgium and Germany. As the latter three countries are all members of Schengen, there is little by way of border formalities.
London to Brussels
Board a Eurostar service from London St Pancras to Brussels. Little more than an hour after leaving London you’ll already be in northern France, speeding through Flanders fields towards Lille Europe, where many all Brussels-bound Eurostar trains make an intermediate stop. Some trains make up to three additional stops – at Ebbsfleet, Ashford and Calais. From April 2018, Eurostar will introduce twice daily non-stop trains on the London to Brussels route, taking just 108 minutes for the 373km journey.
Eurostar trains from London terminate at Brussels Midi station. Trains run every five minutes from Brussels Midi to Brussels Central (for the city centre). Your Eurostar ticket is valid for this short onward hop within Brussels. At Brussels Midi, there are good onward connections with a choice of Thalys or German ICE trains for direct links to Germany, as well as Belgian (or sometimes Dutch) Intercity trains to cities across the wider BeNeLux region.
Remember to factor in at least half an hour for Eurostar’s airline-style baggage check prior to boarding your train. This is a light-touch security scan, and there are no restrictions on taking liquids on board Eurostar trains.
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.