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Aachen is a little-known historic gem in the west of Germany, near the border with Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Aachen train station is situated a kilometre south of the medieval town centre. Though commissioned in 1841, clear efforts were made to ensure the brickwork and arched shape of the station’s exterior blended in with the more antique elements of the town. Not only does the station serve local and regional networks, but also high-speed ICE and Thalys routes that transport globetrotters here from further afield. A direct train from Paris takes 2h44mins, while journeys from Brussels take just 1h05mins. Travelling from Cologne takes a mere 35 minutes, and tourists can catch direct trains from Dusseldorf Airport that take only 1h18mins. A great local bus service will zip visitors into the city centre. There are also links to Aachen’s two other train stations, Aachen-Rothe Erde, and Aachen West, which serves the university.
Stepping onto the streets of Aachen feels a bit like walking straight into a toy town, not only due to the fairy-tale-like architecture, but also the intimate atmosphere of the town. Strolling for 20 minutes from Aachen train station and into the main town square, the Katschhof, visitors will be struck by the whimsical architecture of Aachener Rathaus. The impressive building looks as though it is straight out of a storybook. Built on the grounds of Charlemagne’s original 8th-century palace, the building was constructed in the 13th century, in typical Gothic style.
Every Tuesday and Thursday, a bustling market sets up in front of the Rathaus, bursting with cut flowers and local produce, making it the perfect place for a morning coffee break. Visitors might also like to catch the organic market on Saturdays, which takes place in front of the cathedral at the opposite side of the Katschhof. The cathedral itself is another breathtaking article, designed in an octagonal shape, in Byzantine style, with soaring stained-glass windows and a huge dome.
For some rest and relaxation, travellers might like to head eastwards towards the greenery and peaceful fountains of the Stadtgarten. The park can be reached within a 25-minute walk or 15-minute bus ride from the station. The Carolus Thermen is also located here. It’s a modern spa complex that harks back to the fame of Aachen’s hot springs and reputation as a spa town. Visitors should be warned though – there is a strict no-swimsuit policy!
|Aachen train station address|
|Ticket office hours|
|Monday to Friday: 06:00am - 09:00pm
Saturday and Sunday: 08:00am - 08:30pm