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<map lat='50.93982519613568' lng='6.961555480957031' zoom='12' view='3' height='500' width='350'/>
Flag of Germany
Coat of arms of North Rhine-Westphalia.png
North Rhine-Westphalia
Population: 1,024,346 (31 December 2008)
Licence plate: K
Major roads: A1, A3, A4, A57, A59
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Cologne, or Köln in German, is a big city in Nordrhein-Westfalen.

Cars number plates starting with the letter K are registered in this locality. While the following are localities in the neighbourhood of Cologne: (LEV - GL - SU - BM) clockwise from the North

The whole Ruhr Area is a well-known pain in the ass for anyone crossing that region. If you observe the highway system, you'll find out that they zig zag and cross each other in the Ruhr, specially right North of Cologne. There is no "belt" highway around the city, just those zig zags. The flow of cars is highly difficult to predict because cars go from one highway to another. There are generally 3-4 possible highways one can take to travel North/South or East/West. It's the most densely populated zone in Germany, so a lot of transport is local or regional, making it even more difficult. Think about it - if you're passing by, avoid getting dropped there!

Hitching Out

South towards Bonn, Koblenz, Frankfurt am Main

To get out of Cologne towards Bonn or Koblenz, the best possibility is to go to the Verteilerkreis Süd, a big roundabout where all vehicles that are heading for the motorway to the South or West are passing by. There is also a petrol station beside it and a traffic light where one can ask people for a lift.

If you're headed to Frankfurt am Main, take the train to the last stop Königsforst (tram U9), walk straight for about 15 min. Then after a right turn you are on a decent on ramp of the A3, most of the cars will go to Frankfurt am Main or can drop you at least on the Rasthof Siegburg (about 20 km South).

Another possibility for the A3 direction Frankfurt is to take the train “RB 25” from the main station in the direction “Marienheide” or “Overath” for 3,20 €. Leave at “Stümpen” and turn right and go up to the “Kiefernweg” and turn right. Follow the street that is later called “Dammelsfurther Weg” up to the “Pestalozziweg” for maybe 500 meters and turn right. Now you pass the Autobahn and turn right again in the “Plantage”. Follow this way a few hundred meters through the forest and you will see a service station on the right side. Maybe you have to climb a fence. Now you are on the a station without oil station but much traffic and it's easy to get a ride there. It takes approximately 40 minutes to reach it from Cologne Hbf (main train station).

North or East towards Berlin, Dortmund, Hannover and Münster

Hitching in that direction is legendarily difficult unless you take a regional train and walk a hour. Several experienced hitchhikers got trapped countless hours and decided to take a train instead. Really.

Close to the city, you may want to try one of the on ramps in the North East of Cologne, such as Köln Delbrück, exit 23 on the A3(take the U18 to "Holweide Vischeringstr") or Köln-Mülheim. And once you've tried, come back to update this page :).

It's also possible to hitch from the South East of the city because there is a petrol station on the A59. The closest bus stop is "Eil Heumarer", bus 152. You can take it from Steinstr. S-Bahn, which is relatively close from the main station.

In case you try to use a ramp from Cologne, a good take-off sign is "Remscheid", because the first service area on the A1 is "Rasthof Remscheid", just before the exit for Remscheid. There are lots of commuters. You can also get there by train from Cologne Dom/Hbf for 6,50 Euros via Remscheid Hbf and walk 5 km to the area (map here). If you're lucky, catch the bus 672 or 673 (valid with your zone 4 ticket) to Talsperre/Mebusmühle or Talsperre/Raststätte (closer but only 673) and avoid the walk. These buses do not pass very often, though.

North towards Düsseldorf or Nijmegen

Take the tram no. 5 or 13 to Nußbaumer Str.. There is an onramp. A lot of traffic goes in your direction, but it is very dangerous for drivers to stop there. [User:Perilisk] tried this spot in 2008 but was unsuccessful and uncomfortable stopping cars there.

West towards Aachen, Netherlands and Belgium

On the motorway ring around Cologne, to the west of the city, there's the motorway service area Köln-Frechen, Germany's busiest service station. You can reach it by catching a train to Königsdorf S-Bahn, walk down Augustinus Straße and turn right on Marienhöfer Weg which leads you directly to the service area. Alternatively, you can take Tram U1 to the terminus (Schulstraße) in Weiden and walk ~4 km along Aachener Straße until Augustinus Straße in Königsdorf.

There you can get lifts to the Netherlands, Belgium and Great Britain from one of around 200 Trucks that are there in average by going in direction of Aachen or Maastricht.

Another way to get out of Cologne in that direction is to go near the A4, Exit 11a Klettenberg and 11b Köln-Eifeltor. When at the latest, walking slightly North there is an extra lane that looks like an ideal place for people to stop, and slightly South of it is a big truck stop and petrol station where you can try and ask people. To reach these exits from the centre, take the tram U18 to "Efferen" (for 11a) or to "Eifelwall" and then bus 138 to "Güterverkehrszentrum". This option is especially interesting to know if you get trapped in Cologne while trying to cross the Ruhr area.

Hitching In

When you arrive Cologne via the A1, it's difficult to get into the town center, because the motorway is very far outside. One option is to get off at the exit Köln-Niehl. There is a tram station, close to the motorway, in east direction, 15 minutes walking. At daytime, you can get to the town center in like 15 minutes.

From the same motorway (A1), you may as well get out at Köln-Lövenich and catch Tram #1 on Aachener Straße direction downtown at either Bahnstraße or Mohnweg stops.

Coming from the South on the A555 or through the A4, you may as well as the driver to leave you at the Am Verteilerkreis roundabout situated just at the complete end of the A555, at the Kreuz Köln-Süd (Junction A555-A4). The driver can really leave you at a petrol station and gain the motorway back with complete ease. From there, you can walk along the Bonner Straße to catch a bus to the heart of Köln.

Useful Links

  • KVB, the local/regional public transportation network has a good route planner. Very useful!