Does anyone know how far it is from the Cologne airport to the train station? How do we get there - by subway, or train? Rick Steves guidebook does not indicate in the "Upon Arrival" section of the guidebook?! I found a website for the airport but it seems unclear. I'm flying into Cologne and then taking a train to Berlin.
That's easy. Just go to www.bahn.de and type in your origin (cgn aiport) as well as destination (berlin hbf) plus whatever time on whatever day you wish to depart. You'll find there are hourly trains from Köln/Bonn airport DIRECTLY to Berlin.
If you're planning to spend time in Köln, then take the suburban train S-13 from the airport to Köln Hbf. They run about every 20 minutes. When you step out from the Hauptbahnhof (central station), the magnificent cathedral will be in your face. Hourly service direct to Berlin is also available from Köln Hauptbahnhof.
Train travel in Germany is fast, and to us Americans, incredibly comprehensive (didn't Burlington have commuter train service for all of two years?). But it ain't cheap. If you're doing any additional German train travel you need to look into buying German rail pass.
When are you traveling? Are you coming back to Köln?
Right now there is a special fare for spring, Frühling-Spezial. You can travel between any two stations in Germany for as little as €29. That fare is good for travel until May 15.
If you are traveling later, and are are traveling round trip, you can get a SparPreis fare. For a round trip with a Saturday night stay, it is 50% off for the first person. That is no savings if you are only going one way, but pretty good for round trip. Additionally, any "Mitfahrer" (co-traveler) gets 50% off of your fare. Round trip for two is only 50% more than one way for one.
Finally, there is a night train from Köln Hbf to Berlin Hbf. With an advance purchase you could travel in a four person couchette for €59 per person. A bed in a double compartment is €99 pP. That's about the same as a normal rail fare, but you save on the cost of a hotel room.