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If the thought doesn’t terrify you, getting around Cologne might be as simple as taking that rental car out for a spin. But for American drivers, this can be a scary thought, since the legacy of “the Autobahn” has permeated much of the American driving scene.
But if you’re willing to try, driving through Cologne and other parts of Germany in your own car can’t be beat. Cologne was the first city in Germany to be entirely encircled by a highway belt, so its highways and byways are well constructed and well traveled. But experts say it can be a nightmare, so if you take the challenge, consider it an opportunity to create a good travel story. In some areas of the city, labyrinths of one-way-streets deter anyone willing to retain their sanity from further venturing in.
Barring doing the actual driving yourself, there are other options. You can hire a car and driver for the ultimate in convenience, but this can get expensive. Of course, there are also taxis.
If you’re open to public transportation, consider taking the Deutsche Bahn service, Germany’s rail transportation system. You can get a day pass, or longer if needed. You can get anywhere in the city easily and safely with the under-/overground trains or by bus.
Finally, don’t forget about the power of walking. It’s a beautiful city with no elevations to speak of which is best seen from right on its sidewalks and most of the things of interest for tourists are within walking distances anyway. However, you should be careful to walk on the designated pedestrian part of the pavement only, since this is very often split into an area for walking and one for cycling. This will usually be paved or painted in red (if not, it's the part closer to the road), so if you hear the sound of a tiny bell approaching, you should take a look at the ground to make sure you're on the right track. The bicycle is a very popular means of transport with the inhabitants of Cologne. Bikes can be rented and simply left at bigger street intersections to be picked up, a service of the DB (Deutsche Bahn) - look for them in front of train stations.