A Day Trip To or From Maastricht
Worth doing if you are staying a few days in Maastricht is to have a day out to the former capital city of the Holy Roman Empire, Aachen, where Charlemagne reigned and for 500 years the German Kings were crowned.
The #50 bus runs between the two cities every 15 minutes during the day and half-hourly in the evening with the journey taking about an hour each way. Although the bus from Maastricht, which leaves from the bus station next to the railway station, is signed Aachen HbF (railway station) it in fact loops into the city centre before returning by the route it arrived.
A day ticket, which is valid for buses only, not only allows you to visit Aachen but can also be used to stop-off en route at Vaals (for the mountain!) or/and Gulpen if you fancy a beer at the Gulpener brewery pub. At the time of writing (Dec 2012) this cost seven Euros and can be bought from the bus driver
- Historical Travel
- Beer Tasting
- Budget Travel
Cycling in Aachen
Although Aachen is not one of Germany's outstanding bicycle cities, they do have 290 kilometers of signposted bicycle routes, and the city has started various projects to encourage people to cycle to work, school or university.
Aachen also has an active chapter of the General German Bicycle Club (ADFC) which lobbies for a better cycling infrastructure.
Since 1983 the ADFC Aachen has been publishing a magazine called Luftpumpe (Air pump), the first cycling publication for Aachen and vicinity. The second issue of 2012 is online here.
Here's an example of how the City of Aachen has made a tenfold improvement in the use of public space at very little cost.
They have taken what used to be a parking space for one car and made it into a parking facility for ten bicycles, by installing five frames that bikes can be locked to.
Signs for pedestrians
The city of Aachen has set up ample orientation signs not only for motorists and cyclists, but also for pedestrians, as in this photo which I took near the main railroad station.
The strange-looking metal structure on the right is a new weather tower which is supposed to light up in different colors depending on the weather forecast is.
GPS 50°46'7.29" North; 6° 5'26.04" East
Aachen Main Station (Hauptbahnhof)
In 2009 I arrived in Aachen on a Regional Express train from Mönchengladbach (north of Aachen) and left a couple days later on a Regional Express going east to Cologne. Both of these Regional Express lines run all day on an hourly schedule, with local trains running in between.
In 2012 I came to Aachen on a local bus from Maastricht and left on an ICE (InterCityExpress) train going to Frankfurt am Main.
I have also been through Aachen a few times on the high-speed Thalys trains which run six times a day between Cologne and Paris by way of Brussels, all stopping in Aachen. These Thalys trains are a joint service of the Belgian, French, Dutch and German railways. They look like French TGV trains, which essentially is what they are.
GPS 50°46'5.27" North; 6° 5'27.76" East
- Arts and Culture
DB Call-a-Bike in Aachen
The German Railway System DB has recently expanded its Call a Bike program to include a small number of bikes in Aachen.
The one unusual thing about this is that Aachen was the first city to have e-bikes (pedelecs) on offer. As of the summer of 2012, there are fifteen pedelecs available at three stations, one at the main railway station, one in the city center and one at the technical university.
At present only two German cities have e-bikes on offer through the DB Call-a-Bike program, namely Aachen and Stuttgart.
I have used the normal (non-electric) Call-a-Bikes in several Germany cities. See for example my tips on the Call-a-Bikes in Karlsruhe and in Dresden.
Aachen does not have any tram lines, but they do have an extensive system of local and regional bus lines with frequent service.
As in most parts of Germany, it is possible to use the same ticket on the bus and on local trains in the region.
For a typical single bus trip within the city of Aachen you could expect to pay EUR 2.50 (as of 2012), but your ticket would also be valid for the neighboring towns of Vaals (Netherlands) and Kelmis (Belgium).
You can buy your ticket from the bus driver or from ticket machines at some of the larger bus stops.
Bus 50 from Maastricht
There is no direct train service between Aachen and Maastricht (Netherlands), but these two cities are only thirty kilometers apart and are connected by the local Veolia bus line number 50, which runs four times an hour on weekdays, twice an hour on evenings and weekends.
The journey takes just about an hour, making all stops along the way. In 2012 I paid € 5.50 for the trip. As on any local bus, you just get on at a bus stop and pay the driver.
It is a pleasant journey through a region of gently rolling hills, not flat like the rest of the Netherlands. The route is a two lane highway with bicycle paths on both sides, separated from the highway by a wide strip of grass.
From and to Aachen/Maastricht airport
Aachen in Germany & Maastricht in The Netherlands share one airport.
As border cities the developed very good network connections within the EuroRegio ( Germany,Netherlands & Belgium)
That makes travelling from Aachen to the airport very easy as there is Airport Exress bus serving the city and the airport.
To accordate the passengers the timetables is made according the flights timetable. Frst bus is at 6:30am from the main Train station in Aachen.
More details can be found at:
On June 27, 2008, a small bicycle station was opened at the main railroad station in Aachen. It has safe, dry parking spaces for 158 bicycles -- not a lot compared to the 3300 spaces at the bicycle station in Münster or the 1001 spaces in Freiburg im Breisgau, but a step in the right direction.
Aside from parking, they also do small repairs and have bicycles for rent. I rented one here for a day for five Euros, and was very satisfied with it. All I had to do was show my passport and leave them a 50 Euro deposit, which I got back when I returned the bike.
Like most bicycle stations in Germany, this one provides employment opportunities for people who were previously unemployed.
Since Aachen is very close to the Netherlands and to the French-speaking part of Belgium, the word bike on the front of the station is written not only in German and English, but also in Dutch (fiets) and in French (vélo).
GPS 50°46'5.42" North; 6° 5'21.26" East
The Local Bus System
I didn't have cause to use this but Aachen seems to have a pretty comprehensive local bus network run by the local company ASEAG. Buses seem to be frequent, the stops are well signed and within the city there are designated bus lanes to allow them to get about faster. At the time of writing (Sept 2010) a single fare is 2.35 Euros (which is good as far as Vaals over the Dutch border) and a day-ticket is 6.35. There are also various group tickets and multi-trip options, details of which are on the website.
The main bus station is in the city centre, just outside the historic centre and several of the main lines pass the Hauptbahnhof.
Note - Although the websiite is in German Google translates it pretty well.
- Budget Travel
Aachen is easy to get to by train from pretty much anywhere in Europe. The city is on the main high speed line between Paris and Cologne and cross border connections take you to Liege in Belgium and Heerlen in the Netherlands.
As well as the high speed international services there's also regular regional trains to Dusseldorf and Cologne.
The main station (Hauptbanhof, Hbf for short) is located about 15 minutes walk from the historic centre or you can catch the local buses from the front of the station forecourt. The station itself has all the facilities you'd expect of a city terminus and especially useful in my case (literally) was the left luggage lockers where I left my bag for the afternoon.
- Budget Travel
By Rail to Koeln
From my recommended hotel it is a short walk to the station at Aachen.
There are ticket machines inside the hallway, but if you are a couple (or more) go to the ticket office and ask for the best deal. we qualified for a 'family return' which was considerably cheaper than two individual tickets. We could have also taken a couple of children too, but I was not quick enough to catch any on that day :-) Getting old :-(
The trains are swift and comfortable and travel this way means both can enjoy the excellent beverages served in Cologne with no need for anybody having to drive a car afterwards.
Check schedules online for seasonal variations in price and times.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Beer Tasting
ASEAG (Local Bus Network)
ASEAG is the designation of the local bus network in Aachen. Buses are the main means of public transportation within the city of Aachen.
I took the bus once -- to Carolus Thermen Bad Aachen. I purchased my ticket at the bushof (bus station) on Peterstrasse. There, I purchased a round trip ticket to Carolus Thermen Bad Aachen which has its own stop.
From what I could tell, the bus network was a good way to get around the city. For more information and routes, I would check out the website link included with this tip.
The Aachen Hauptbahnhof is the city's central train station that is integrated into the long-distance European train network. It is also abbreviated to Aachen Hbf.
From Maastricht (NL), I took a train to the Aachen Hbf. with one stop in Heerlen (NL). The trip lasts about an hour. After arriving at Aachen, I first attempted to walk to my hotel. Even with a map that I printed from the internet, it was a little confusing because some streets have different names in different places. After losing my way a couple of times, I decided to flag down a taxi which I took to my hotel for a small fee.
When I left Aachen, I walked from my hotel to the Aachen Hbf. Now that I was more familiar with the city, it was a simple and pleasant walk of about 15 minutes. There are sidewalks for the entire way - on which I wheeled my luggage. After arriving at the station, I purchased a ticket for a regional train that traveled directly to the Cologne Hbf. The duration of the trip was 36 minutes.
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