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Aachen [11] is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, at the point where Germany borders on Belgium and the Netherlands. Historically this spa-town was a prominent city, the place where the German Kings were crowned, and a famously favoured residence of Charlemagne who still lies buried in the impressive cathedral he himself had built. The city is packed with historic sights that remind of those days, including medieval buildings, city gates and beautiful fountains.

Today, Aachen has become a pleasant mix of historic (often Baroque) grandeur and modern innovation. It has a population of 246,000 and is home to a large and highly regarded university. All in all, a place well worth visiting.

In French (including crossborder train services from Brussels and Paris), the city is known as Aix-la-Chapelle, the city is called Aquisgrán in Spanish, whereas its Dutch name is Aken.


Aachener Dom and St. Foillan Church

Aachen was the winter capital of Charlemagne, Holy Roman Emperor from 800 to 814 AD.

The city lies at the borders of Germany with Belgium and the Netherlands, forming the economic region called the Euregio.

Get in[edit]

Aachen central station (Hauptbahnhof)

By train[edit]

From France and Belgium[edit]

Both Thalys [12] and ICE-Trains [13] connect Aachen with Liege and Brussels with Thalys trains continuing to Paris. There are also local trains from Liege every two hours.

From the Netherlands[edit]

An hourly service from Heerlen in the Netherlands to Aachen, and does the ride in half an hour.

From elsewhere in Germany[edit]

Trains from Cologne (to Cologne €16-19 per person) and Düsseldorf run every half hour; express trains (Regional Express) take about an hour and local trains (Regional Bahn) take 90 minutes. Four times per day, high speed train (Inter City Express) goes from Frankfurt through Cologne and Aachen to Brussels. German railway company Deutsche Bahn [14]

By plane[edit]

Aachen shares its own airport with Maastricht, but Maastricht-Aachen airport (located some 40 km outside the city centre, in the Netherlands) is connected to only a limited number of international destinations and served by budget carriers. There's an Airport Express shuttle which runs regularly to and from the main Aachen bus station. It's called Gilbacher AirportXpress and leaves from platform 4 [15]. Tickets can only be purchased from the driver and cost € 10,-. There are no trains between Aachen and the airport.

The nearest large airports are Düsseldorf [16] and Cologne-Bonn [17]. Both airports can be reached by train, via the Düsseldorf and Cologne central stations respectively. Other small airports withing reasonable distance are Weeze (NRN, trains) and Brussels South Charleroi Airport (CRL, trains). Also Liege (Lüttich) airport in Belgium is around 45 min car ride away. Antwerpen airport also in Belgium requires 90 minute car ride. At last, the Eindhoven airport in Netherlands is at 1 hour car ride distance. Probably Aachen is quite unique in terms of having a total of 8 airports in 3 countries within upto 140km reach.

From The Netherlands[edit]

  • Bus line 350 from Maastricht serves Aachen every 15 minutes and passes through Margraten and Vaals(around 1hour travel time, €5.50 per person after 9 am, €7 per person before 9 am as of January 2014). Bus line 44 runs between Heerlen and Aachen (45 min, €3.95) For €7 you can buy a ticket, which allows all-day travel on South Limburg bus routes, including those to local cities such as Heerlen, and selected train routes. It is 1 h 15 min from Maastricht. See Veolia Transport for timetables (Regio: Limburg). [18]

For those travelling the other direction to the Netherlands from Aachen the bus stop for the 50 can be found at this location ([Google Maps location][19])

  • From Heerlen there's also a direct train connection every hour, from 5:29 till 22:29. Single fare is 6.30 euros (2015).
  • By car, you can just drive in via Vaals or take the highway. The A76 connects to the German A4. Take exit 2 to Aachen/Laurensberg.

Get around[edit]

The old town is best explored on foot and orientation signs can be found all around. Aachen at a whole is a fairly large city. A car can come in handy but parking can get expensive, especially in the center of town. Fortunately, Aachen has an excellent city bus system, operated by ASEAG[20], including a few night bus lines. You can get tickets from the bus driver. You can rent a bike at the "fahrrad station", in the central train station. Although it is not the most biker-friendly town in Germany, there are a number of bike routes and getting around on bike is increasingly popular. Taxis are readily available on the train stations but also on streets.

See[edit][add listing]

Couven Pavilion in Aachen

Opening times of the Cathedral: Jan-Mar: Daily 7AM-6PM, Apr-Dec: Daily 7AM-7PM. Note that during Mass, access is restricted to those attending the services. Touristic visits are recommended for Mon-Fri after 11AM; Sat-Sun after 12:30 PM.

Opening times of the treasure grove (Schatzkammer): Jan-Mar: M 10AM-1PM; Tu-Su 10AM-5PM. Apr-Dec: M 10AM-1PM; Tu-Su 10AM-6PM; closed on 24 and 25 Dec, 31 Dec, 01 Jan, and some days before carnival.

Aachen Cathedral is one of the most famous examples of occidental architecture. Around 800, the core building of the Palace Chapel was built. During the 14th and 15th centuries, the Gothic choir (the "Aachen glasshouse"), the north and south chapel were added. Through the centuries, many other constructions and decorations were completed. Today, it is a unique and beautiful two-story cathedral of classical pillars, bronze railings, golden masterpieces, glassworks, etc.

The cathedral is the memorial and funeral place of Charlemagne (+814). During 936-1531, 30 kings and 12 queens were anointed, crowned and enthroned here. During the Middle Ages, together with Jerusalem, Rome, and Santiago de Compostela, the Aachen Cathedral was one of Christendom's most important venues for pilgrimage. Heiligtumsfahrt (the Aachen pilgrimage) has taken place every seven years since 1349. (The next one will take place in June 2021). In 1978, the Aachen Cathedral became the first German building to be inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Town hall and cathedral in winter
  • Rathaus - The medieval town hall. The mayor of Aachen still has his office in there.
  • Vaals - The small dutch town directly next to Aachen. Just take bus number 33 or 25.
  • Dreiländereck - The Point where Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium meet. This is the highest Point of the Netherlands. There is a watchtower you can climb. You can get there best if you take the bus to Vaals and take Veolia Transport line 149 or walk.
  • Uniklinik The university's hospital. A striking example of post-modern architecture like the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
RWTH Main Building
  • RWTH Aachen University If you are interested in architecture, you can find building styles dating from 1900 till today concentrated at the city-campus around Templergraben.
    • Hauptgebäude - Main building of the university and seat of the headmaster
    • Kármán Auditorium
    • Audimax
    • Mogam
    • SuperC - The administration building of RWTH Aachen, built to resemble the letter C. Nicely illuminated at night.
    • Reiff Museum
    • Rogowski building
    • Department of Mining
    • Semi 90
    • Heizkraftwerk (former power plant, now lecture halls)

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Sit on the Market place (central city) on a summer evening, watch students strolling by, listen to guitar players and have a beer.
  • Carolus Thermen, Passstr. 79 (Take bus to Ungarnplatz, or to Blücherplatz and walk 10min), 0241/182740, [1]. 9:00-23:00. Large and very well known spa, sauna and wellness place. From 14€ per Person.  edit
  • Lousberg Hiking, (Take bus to Ehrenmal/Lousberg stop). The Lousberg is a hill (264m) right next to the historic city center. A paved road leads up the hill and in about 20 minutes one can reach the top with a watch tower and some binoculars. Expect great views of the city center, the Tivoli (football stadium) and the surrounding nature.  edit
Christmas Market
  • Hangeweiher (Public Swimming Pool), Am Hangeweiher 32 (Take a bus to Goethestr. (Hangeweiher) stop), 0241/72788. 7:00-20:00 in summer. Public swimming pool, popular with school and university students in summer. Facilities include a meadow for sunbathing, a diving platform, table tennis and beach volleyball, a 50m pool for swimming, a kids pool. 3-5 Euro.  edit
  • Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market), [2]. December. The Aachen Christmas Market is famous all over Europe for its nice setting between cathedral, town hall and other historic buildings. Enjoy the beautifully decorated shops, try Glühwein (hot spiced wine) or Met (honey wine, mead), Haxen and other food, buy Christmas accessories and gifts and listen to performances of choirs.  edit
  • Drink Emperor's Water at Elisenbrunnen. Aachen has been known as a spa town for centuries. Hot water with a high level of sulfur (Kaiserwasser/Emperors Water) rises up in the city center and is brought to Elisenbrunnen in underground pipes. Due to the sulfur, the area will usually smell like rotten eggs. Locals and visitors drank the water for its healing powers. Recently, the water has been classified as a medical product that might only be prescribed by doctors, and thus the city was forced to put "No Drinking Water" signs on the fountains at Elisenbrunnen, although the water can still be drunk.  edit
  • Elisabethhalle (Historic public bath), Elisabethstraße 10, [3]. Swim in a historic public bath that is more than 100 years old and lets you feel the vibe of 1920's Europe. Check [4] for current opening hours. 3.50€.  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

There are several factories producing sweets in Aachen, each offering a factory outlet that sells products cheaper than usual, also including class-B-products (that have been damaged during production, but still taste the same) and products that might expire soon for really low prices:

  • Bahlsen Outlet, Süsterfeldstr. 27 (Take bus to Süsterfeld stop), 0241-89467791. Cookies and bakery products  edit
  • Lambertz, Ritterstr. 9 (Take bus to Süsterau stop or Jupp-Müller-Str. stop). Cookies, bakery, Aachener Printen, salty snacks  edit
  • Lindt Outlet, Süsterfeldstr. 130 (Take bus to Süsterfeld stop), [5]. All kinds of chocolate imaginable  edit

Shopping malls and areas:

  • AquisPlaza, Adalbertstraße 100 (short walk from Elisenbrunnen or take bus to Kaiserplatz stop), [6]. Mon-Sat 10am-8pm. Brand-new shopping mall opened in October 2015 in the city center. Includes shopping opportunities (clothes, shoes, accessories) as well as restaurants, services, and a food court.  edit
  • Adalbertstraße - multiple shops and cafes in one of Aachen's pedestrian zone shopping areas.
  • Krämerstraße and Market - small shops in a very touristic area.
  • Großkölnstraße - the second big pedestrian zone shopping area in Aachen, where you´ll find clothing and more.
  • Jakobstraße - Smaller shops and boutiques.
  • Aachen Arkaden, Trierer Straße 1 (Near Rothe Erde bus stop/train station), [7]. Shopping Mall  edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

Traditional Aachen food includes Aachener Printen, a type of gingerbread made exclusively in Aachen. Shops and bakeries selling Printen can be found throughout the city center.

Aachen offers many different cuisines, from traditional German food to exotic cuisines. The centre (near Markt and Elisenbrunnen) offers restaurants of all categories, prices being relatively cheap in comparison with other German cities.

  • Cafe Maredo [21] - Delicious Argentinian food chain based in Germany. Good food, not expensive. Located at Reihstraße 10. Open late and offer late-night specials as well as lunch specials.
  • Estado Steakhaus - Great steakhouse with a salad bar and wide variety of dishes. Estado Steakhaus, is on Seilgraben 39, 52062 Aachen.
  • Carlos I- This Spanish restaurant offers authentic Spanish cuisine like Tapas, the perfect food for sharing, Paella etc. at medium prices. Located in Rennbahn 1, next to the Cathedral. Changed in another restaurant (Nov 2013)
  • Polonia, (Marienbongard 24) Polish bistro. Has lunch offers. Four to six different polish beers.
  • Jakobsimbiss, (Jakobstraße 73) Chinese and Thai fast food.
  • Del Negro, (Jakobstraße 73) Best ice cream in town.
  • Karibik [22], (Sandkaulstr 5) Colombian restaurant.
  • Knossos, (Templergraben 28) Greek restaurant frequented mostly by students.
  • Sultans of Kebab, (Peterstraße 23) Döner Kebab, Turkish desserts.
  • Babylon, (Königstraße / Karlsgraben) "The Kebab Cube" if you have only €2,20 left.
  • Pfannenzauber Suermondtplatz 12, [8]. Vegetarian food.
  • Restaurant Bacchus [23], (Roermonder str. 28) Greek restaurant with delicious cuisine.
  • Homeburgers, Komphausbadstraße 25 (near Bushof), 0241 99775463, [9]. Great and affordable burger place, also offering beers, cocktails and a selection of vegetarian burgers. 6-12€.  edit

Students prefer the snack bars and light meals offered at Pontstraße near the university main building (prices around 3-7€):

  • Chicken Pont, Very cheap and good Chicken, Pizza and Turkish food, Pontstraße.
  • Kathy's Frietnesse, (Pontstraße) Fries with over 50 different sauces. Also hamburgers and dutch specialities.
  • San Sheng, (Pontdriesch 13) Authentic Chinese food. Open only during weekday lunch hours.
  • Saray, (Pontstr. 118) Turkish food besides döner kebab.
  • Oishii, (Pontstr. 85) Great japanese restaurant. Reserve your table in advance.
  • Maranello, (Pontstr. 23) Italian Pizza from a real stone oven.

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • The Pontstraße begins at Markt facing the historic city hall and ends at the Ponttor, part of the medieval city walls. Pontstraße is the main student hangout and offers a large variety of restaurants and bars, from pizzerias to late night hangout spots and a cinema (Apollo [24]). A special treat are public fiestas happening at Karneval and important football matches. Don't miss it if you have the chance! Reached by a number of bus lines from Bushof; park near University.
    • Molkerei - Pub suitable for younger crowd, near Ponttor.
    • Cafe Madrid - Pub/Bar better for an older crowd, posher, near Ponttor.
    • Pontgarten - Cheap Cocktails and nice food.
    • Sowiso / Oceans - Typical student-inn.
  • Nice pubs elsewhere:
    • Guinness House - (Neupforte 6) Huge irish pub.
    • Zuhause - (Sandkaulstraße 109/111) Cozy and friendly bar near the Aachen Ring.
    • Kiste - (Büchel 36) Small pub with wooden interior, candles and rock/metal music. Has a discount on different drinks each day.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Hostel Aachen [25] - Close to the city centre; Mauerstraße 116, 52064 Aachen, phone: +49(0)241/4305288 fax: +49 (0)241 / 47588090
  • Youth hostel Aachen (Jugendherberge Aachen - Euregionales Jugendgästehaus). Maria Theresia Allee 260, 52074 Aachen; phone +49(0241)71101-0
  • Pullman Aachen Quellenhof, Monheimsallee 52, (+49)241/91320, [10]. This luxury hotel belongs to the best Aachen has to offer in terms of lodging. Spacious, comfortable rooms (although some could do with a little redecoration), a swimming pool, fitness area and excellent breakfast buffet. The location just outside the historic center is great too. from €130.  edit


Religious services

St. Michael, Aachen-Burtscheid

Overview of christian churches in downtown Aachen: [26]

Catholic churches:

  • Hohe Domkirche, Domhof (15 min from central station). [27], [28] Sun: 07:00, 08:00, 10:00, 11:30; Mon-Sat: 07:00, 10:00; Sat: 08:00
  • St. Foillan, Ursulinerstr. 1 (just behind Aachener Dom). [29] Sun: 10:00, 19:30; Mon-Fri: 08:30, 18:30; Sat: 18:30
  • St. Marien, Wallstraße 48 (3 min from central station). [30] Sat: 18:30; Sun: 09:45, 11:15 (pol.), 16:00 (pol.); Tue, Thu: 18:30; Fri: 18:15 (pol.)
  • St. Peter, Peterskirchhof 1 (20 min from HBf; near bus depot). [31] Sat: 15:00 (vietn.); Sun: 11:15; Mon-Fri: 12:15
  • St. Michael, Michaelsbergstr. 6 (Burtscheid). [32] Sat: 18:15; Sun: 19:00; Wed, Fri: 18:00

For protestant churches in Aachen see also: [33]

  • Annakirche, Annastraße 35 (15 min from central station). [34] Sun: 11 Uhr
  • Auferstehungskirche, Am Kupferofen 19-21 (south from station Aachen-Rothe Erde). [35] Sun: 9:30 Uhr
  • Greek-orthodox church St. Michael & St. Dimitrios, Jesuitenstr. 6 (close to the cathedral). [36] Sun: 9:00 Uhr, Tel. (0)241-28572
  • Jewish community Aachen, Synagogenplatz 23, 52062 Aachen; Tel. (0)241-47780-0.
  • Bilal Mosque, Prof.-Pirlet-Str. 20 (near railway station Aachen-West); Tel. (0)241-88906. [37] Friday prayer: 13:15

Get out[edit]

  • World War II Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial [38]: 16 kilometers (10 miles) from the city near Henri-Chapelle, Belgium. From Aachen, take N3 southwest toward Liege, Belgium. Turn right onto Rue du Mémorial Américain. Open daily except for December 25 and January 1; 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The cemetery is the final resting place for the 7,992 American military dead lost during the drive into Germany the Battle of the Bulge. A monument is inscribed with the names of 450 Americans whose remains were never found or identified. A museum and a chapel are located on the grounds. Free.
  • Dreiländereck- The three-country border of Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. Just a 10 min drive out of Aachen in the general direction of Vaals (Netherlands). Walk on the soil of three different European countries in just about under a second. Free.
  • Zülpich is a small town dating from Roman times on the road to Bonn. It has a newly opened museum focusing on Roman baths and bathing culture. It is also a gateway to the Eifel region.
  • Maastricht in the Netherlands with its beautiful city centre is where the Maastricht Treaty of the European Union was signed in 1992
  • Monschau Nicely preserved medieval town.
  • Ordensburg Vogelsang Huge Nazi-built training centre near Gemünd. Served as Belgian barracks after the war, so they're quite well preserved.
  • Stolberg A picturesque medieval town, featuring a beautiful 'Schloss' and a quiet setting. Perfect getaway if the city is getting too crowded.

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