Preparing highly charged ions (HCIs) in a cold and strongly localized state is of particular interest for frequency metrology and tests of possible spatial and temporal variations of the fine structure constant. Our versatile preparation technique is based on the generic modular combination of a pulsed ion source with a cryogenic linear Paul trap. Both instruments are connected by a compact beamline with deceleration and precooling properties. We present its design and commissioning experiments regarding these two functionalities. A pulsed buncher tube allows for the deceleration and longitudinal phase-space compression of the ion pulses. External injection of slow HCIs, specifically Ar13+, into the linear Paul trap and their subsequent retrapping in the absence of sympathetic cooling is demonstrated. The latter proved to be a necessary prerequisite for the multi-pass stopping of HCIs in continuously laser-cooled Be+ Coulomb crystals.