The Best of Ancient Aachen, Germany

Advisor - Karyn Johnson
Curated By

Karyn Johnson

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  • International Travel

  • Germany

  • Arts & Culture

  • City Travel

  • Food & Wine

  • Wellness Travel

  • Sightseeing

  • Local Culture

  • Museums

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Curator’s statement

For more than a millennium, Aachen's thermal waters have attracted royalty, including Charlemagne, who made the city what it is today. His main legacy here is the cathedral, which holds some of the greatest treasures north of the Alps. Visitors can enjoy the ancient aspects of Aachen alongside the delights of a modern city, and its proximity to Cologne, and the Dutch and Belgian borders makes it a great base for exploring the broader area.

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Where to stay in Aachen, Germany

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Parkhotel Quellenhof Aachen

Just a short walk from Aachen Cathedral, this upscale hotel features a Colonial-style bar and sophisticated brasserie.

Leonardo Hotel Aachen

Comfortable rooms and a bright restaurant and bar set in the historic German town of Aachen.

INNSiDE Aachen

Laid-back hotel in Aachen with classic rooms and a lively rooftop restaurant.

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Things to do in Aachen, Germany

castle and buildings during daytime

Aachen Cathedral: Aachen's cathedral, with its octagonal-shaped dome, was built by Emperor Charlemagne in the ninth century. All the Holy Roman emperors were crowned here from 936-1531, making Aachen's Domschatzkammer is the most important cathedral treasury north of the Alps.

City Hall: The 14th century City Hall (Rathaus) stands on the site of Charlemagne's palace. Some visitors find the outside more remarkable than the inside, with the statues of 50 German rulers (31 of whom were crowned in the Dom) decorating the façade.

Elisenbrunnen: The neoclassical Elisenbrunnen, built in the early 19th century, now houses the tourist information office as well as two drinking fountains where thermal water bubbles up from below the ground. The sulfur-rich water is said to have healing properties.

Couven Museum: This villa, located among the shopping streets near the Dom, gives visitors a glimpse into domestic life in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Couven Museum contains one of the region's best collections of antique furniture, as well as Italian stucco work, Dutch ceramics, and chimney pieces.

Center Charlemagne: This museum houses permanent and temporary exhibits about Charlemagne and other aspects of Aachen history from pre-Christian through modern times.

Ponttor: This city gate, built in the Middle Ages, is at its best when illuminated at night, but it’s worth exploring any time of day.

Carolus Therman: No trip to Aachen would be complete with enjoying the thermal baths. Book some time for a relaxing soak as well as sauna and spa treatments.

Aachener Tierpark Euregiozoo: The zoo is home to approximately 1,000 animals representing 200 species. Kids (and kids at heart) can enjoy the children’s farm, pony rides, exotic birds and other attractions.

Day Trips from Aachen

The nearby town of Monschau sits in a valley in the Eifel, a low mountain region near the Belgian border. Monschau boasts half-timbered houses, small inns, restaurants, charming shops, local glassworks and a mustard mill. Sights include the 18th century Rotes Haus, Weiss Printing Museum, Photography & Film Museum and Monschau Castle.

Advisor - Karyn Johnson

A note from Karyn

If you arrive to Aachen by train, be aware that the main station is not close to the town center. You will have to walk several minutes to get to the main part of the city.

Places to eat & drink in Aachen, Germany

The Best of Ancient Aachen, Germany - Places to eat & drink

Van den Daele: The oldest café in Aachen is a great stop for coffee and a sweet treat. While they are known primarily for Printen (Aachen's specialty gingerbread) and cakes, they also sell breads and Belgian chocolates.

Café Juli: This charming spot serves healthy breakfast and brunch options, including vegan and vegetarian dishes, when you need more than just a pastry and coffee. There is a small lunch menu, too.

Aachener Café House: Conveniently situated in the town center, this café features multiple floors and a sizeable breakfast and lunch menu. Indulge in the traditional German “Kaffee und Kuchen” (coffee and cake) – this restaurant has some of the best cakes in town.

Aachener Brauhaus: This popular pub serves German standards like wurst, schnitzel, potatoes and sauerkraut, along with their exclusive Öcher Stadtbräu pilsner. Reservations recommended.

Polonia: Come here for pierogi and other Polish specialties, which you can wash down with Polish beer. The portion sizes are good, and the prices are very reasonable.

La Becasse: This fine dining spot is a bit off the beaten path, but it’s popular for its excellent French cuisine and wines and unpretentious atmosphere.

Vabene!: When a pizza craving hits, this Aachen restaurant hits the spot. They offer a large pizza menu, as well as pasta, salads, and meat and fish entrees.

Frittenwerk: French fries are a staple in Germany, and the house specialty here is poutine, which you can order several different ways. If you need something healthier but just as quick, order a salad bowl.

Advisor - Karyn Johnson

Travel Advisor

Karyn Johnson

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