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People traveling from Amsterdam to Cologne can take a bus, catch a Deutsche Bahn train or take a quick flight straight to Cologne. The fastest way to travel is probably flying, although taking a train can get you there in just 4 hours, and buses aren't that much slower, while car pooling services from Bla Bla Car can be quicker still.
Return trips from Cologne to Amsterdam are also available.
Eurolines, Megabus, Semitimes and Regiojet all provide daily direct buses from Amsterdam to Cologne. Every day, there are 4 direct buses, and all of them leave in early afternoon between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The fastest buses take 5 hours 15 minutes, while some services take 7 hours, so there is quite a lot of variation. There are also indirect Flixbus buses that take 4 hours to reach Cologne with a stop in Leverkusen.
Deutsche Bahn operates frequent trains from Amsterdam to Cologne. Trains start departing as early as 5:20 a.m. and continue to leave almost every hour until a final departure at 8:30 p.m. There are no direct services to Cologne from Amsterdam and a change in Arnhem is usually required. Even then, the journey time is only around 3 hours with the change included.
KLM operates direct flights from Amsterdam to Cologne. The earliest flight leaves Amsterdam at 6:50 a.m. and there are four other departures throughout the day, concluding with a 4:50 p.m. take off time. All flights take 50 minutes to reach their destination, but when transit times are factored in, this can rise to around 4 hours, door to door.