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Getting to Cologne by train The most comfortable, easiest and environmentally safest way to get here is by train. Your destination is called "Köln Hauptbahnhof". (Sometimes you'll see that as an abbreviation like "Koeln Hbf.")
The cologne central station is a major interchange node for the east/west train connections throughout Europe. Besides hundreds of "usual" trains per day, Cologne also is served by the high-speed connections of ICE and Thalys.
Thalys will take you here directly from, e.g., Paris., Brussels, or Liège/Luik (and of course lots of more cities by one intermediate stop). The ICE takes you from any major city in Germany to Cologne on high-speed tracks that allow for up to 300 km/h. As an example, it takes you some ridiculous 50 minutes from Frankfurt airport to the Cologne Central Station. Try that with your car... especially on Fridays...
Arriving at the Cologne Central Station After exiting the train, leave the track by descending to the main level below (see picture). Regardless if you prefer to take a taxi to the youth hostel or public transport, please leave the station at its northern exit Breslauer Platz. This is in direction of the ascending track numbers within Central Station building.
There's taxis on both exits of the stations, but on the northern side, you'll save yourself 5 Euro and some minutes because from here, the taxis don't need to circumscribe the station and the cathedral to access the river bank driveway that leads to the youth hostel... The ride will take 5 minutes and cost you approx. 20 Euro or maybe less. If you share a ride among multiple persons, it's a comfortable yet affordable way of getting to the youth hostel.
Public transport to youth hostel Public transport usually is as fast as a taxi in the city centre but much cheaper. For the cost of another 10 minutes, you might save a lot of money that could be spend much better, e.g., for some glasses of the famous Cologne beer. Due to public transport constructions all over Cologne, there's only one line left (#19) that will take you from the Central Station to the Youth Hostel. This is a 4 stations ride of about 7 minutes with trams in an interleave of less than 10 minutes during regular daytime service.

To access the tram station now that we have the constructions, you will have to leave the Central Station on the Breslauer Platz side that is in direction of the ascending (larger) track numbers. If you access the trams via the main entry in the Central Station building, you will get different trams only and have to change lines with a detour of more than 15 minutes. So the important part is to find the right exit:

wrong exit
correct exit #1 correct exit #2

If you see the cathedral through a large glass front, you're on the wrong side!

No large panes? Usual doors? Pharmacy on your left and McDonalds on your right? Correct exit!

No large panes? Usual doors? Constructions and wooden walls with ads posters? Another correct exit!

But before leaving the station make sure you have Euro coins in order to be able to buy a ticket for the tram (2,20 €). The most easy way to buy a ticket is to enter the tram: There's ticket machines in the middle part of each wagon.

foto: U-signs Once you have left central station on either of the above correct exits, you should immediately notice large signs that tell you to turn left to access the subway station. Okay. Turn left and follow the U-signs.

foto: subway entrance This will lead you to the Breslauer Platz/Haupbahnhof station entry (approx. 300 to 400 meters). There's two entries on either side of the street but they lead to the same track. Also, each descending staircase will lead you to the same track - there's only one now. Get down into the subway.
foto: subway line 19 usually, there should already a tram be waiting as this is the terminus station of line 19. Enter here, get yourself a ticket (unless you already have one from the airport) and exit 4 stations later at Boltensternstrasse.
Be careful: In the late night hours and up to 4 am, there might be a different line starting here as well - the "E"-line - which takes a different route and can't be used to go to the Youth Hostel! Also during night time service, line 19 might only go to Reichenspergerplatz. In this case, change there onto line 18 (terminus Thielenbruch) for the remaining 2 stations until the Youth Hostel.
foto: walk from station to YH Station Boltensternstrasse:
Here, proceed to the traffic light at the front of the station and cross the street that is to the right of the station. After crossing the street, turn left and cross another street again with a traffic light. Now the the youth hostel is some 200 meters in front of you on the right side (also see indicated way on the foto). If all goes well, we will have attached lots of signs that lead you to the YH...

Tickets for public transport

You'll need Euro coins! As a workaround, you should at least bring some Euro bills with you and get yourself a coffee to have some change. Otherwise, it might turn out to be difficult to purchase a ticket. There is no way of getting a ticket with foreign currencies or credit cards. This said, you should also notice that ticket counters are very rare and hard to find. Also, stationery ticket machines are only available in large interchange subway stations.
Hint:The fast and convenient way - if you have 2,20 Euro or more in coins - is to purchase your ticket directly from a machine in the tram
The ticket machines
In all trains (in the middle part of each wagon) and at most of the major stations, you'll be able to purchase tickets from machines. Both types of ticket machines are operated via a touchscreen menu and support multiple languages. While that's very comfortable and you don't have to worry about your German language skills, the drawback of these machines is that they accept only coins ...or cards that comply with the German "EC" or "Geldkarte" standard.
Ticket types and prices The price for a single-ride ticket is 2,20 Euro. This is called "Einzelticket Preisstufe 1b" and can be selected from the touchscreen menu by using the button indicated with a blue rectangle in the picture on the right.

If you plan to use the tram more than just two times (for Warpstock Europe arrival and departure) then get yourself a 4-ride ticket. This will cost you 7,40 Euro. Compared to 4 single tickets, this will save you 1,40 Euro (equalling 1 beer...). The 4-rides ticket is called "4er Ticket Erwachsene, Preisstufe 1b" and can also be purchased from the ticket machine after using the more tickets option (red rectangle) to see the second page of tickets.
To stamp or not to stamp... Single-ride tickets purchased within the trams are already stamped when you buy them. All other tickets need to be stamped when entering the tram. ( This includes the tickets from the counter or the stationery machines, as well as one section per ride of the multi-ride tickets from the machines in the train ). The stamp machines are located in the front and rear part of each wagon.
Of course there's more types of tickets that might be suitable for your needs if you plan to do more trips or if you take the rides as a group of people. Check the public transport company's website for more information on these special tickets. They even provide an online shop with english information that provides credit card payment plus the abilty of printing out the purchased tickets on your home printer.
Note that the online shop can not be used to buy the standard tickets (2,20 Euro or 7,40 Euro) !