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.
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.
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
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
By train to Aachen
I travelled to Aachen from London by train - first on the Eurostar to Brussels and changing there for a through train to Aachen. It was a very pleasant way to make the journey, and without the need for lengthy check-ins (just 30 minutes at St Pancras Station in London), nor to take a train from airport to city centre, it is not really any slower than flying - in fact, if anything it is faster. Boarding the train in London just before 11.00 AM saw me alighting in Aachen a little after 3.30 PM - about three and a half hours allowing for the time difference.
The train from Brussels Midi to Aachen was with Deutsche Bahn, the German rail operator. There had been train drivers’ strikes in Germany in the run up to my trip, and another strike scheduled for that week, although I had been assured that these particular trains were driven by Belgian drivers and would run on time. In any case, the strike was called off and there were no problems or delays. In fact, both legs of the journey were comfortable and uneventful, and although we were a little unsure about having only 15 minutes to change trains at Brussels Midi it proved to be ample time. I would definitely opt for train travel again on any future visit to Aachen.
You can book a through ticket from London to any destination in Europe on the Eurostar website (see below) although it’s worth also checking prices for separate bookings. I got a good deal booking right through on the outward leg of my journey but on the return (when I was travelling from Koblenz via Cologne) I found that booking separately for the Deutsche Bahn and Eurostar segments gave me a better price and allowed me to opt for a longer and more relaxed layover at Brussels Midi.
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 was a weather tower which was supposed to light up in different colors depending on the weather forecast.
Second photo: Walking their bikes in Aachen, 2015.
Biking to Aachen
Judging by the many cyclists who arrive in Aachen equipped for a long ride and stay in the countryside it seems that at the approach to the city there must be the whole network of cycle paths from different direction. Aachen is situated on the borders between Germany, Netherlands and Belgium, countries well known for a large number of amateurs who on weekends saddle up their bikes and enjoy in long rides. It must be a great pleasure, slow drive in the countryside, lunch on the grass and rest in the shade of dense tree foliage.
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.
I used a taxi at least twice a day, from the hotel to some location in the city and then, after finishing exploring, to return back in the hotel. Some taxis, on the body, have a large printed numbers to call, 22222 or 66666, but I did not call, it used to do kind receptionist from my hotel. I noticed several taxi stops in the city center, the biggest one opposite to the theater and the one from where I usually went back to the hotel which is at the Rathausplatz (Marktplatz or the City Hall square).At the Rathausplatz the traffic is not allowed, except for the taxi and there you will always find available vehicle.
The cab interior is very clean and tidy and the drivers are courteous and helpful. As soon as you sit in the vehicle the taxi driver will include taximeter and for ride will charge the amount indicated on the display. No need to say that you will get a receipt for the ride.
Tours that I've done with a taxi roughly correspond to 10-15 minutes walking, what is the time distance from the hotel Ibis to the city center and vice versa, and I paid such ride between 5 and 7 euros.
In between the sightseeing I was sitting on a bench in front of the theater and the next day in front of the railway station, because my sick spin no longer tolerate long walks so I must rest quite often. I wistfully recalled the times of just a few years ago when I could walk over 20 kilometers, in the same day, and never felt tired. Sitting so I curiously observed people and vehicles passing by. At one time I registered a high frequency of city buses that engendered from all directions and almost every twenty seconds.
I personally did not ride in the local bus but it is good to know, for the future visitors, that the city bus transportation in Aachen is very well organized and that passengers almost do not wait for arrival of the buses.
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.
To get around Aachen is easy by foot, but should you travel with your old parents (the station is uphill on returning) or want to venture further out, buses are frequent and even go as far as Eupen in Belgium and to several Dutch villages as the border is only kilometres away which you realise by looking at the bike path signs everywhere. If you're travelling on a Land ticket by train from Cologne you can go on the city buses for free.
- Family Travel
- Road Trip
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
The Local Bus System
Aachen has a pretty comprehensive local bus network run by the local company ASEAG. Buses are frequent, the system is easy to use and the stops are well-signed and indicated from within the bus as well. Within the city there are designated bus lanes to allow them to get about faster. At the time of writing (July 2015) a single fare is 2.65 Euros (which is good as far as Vaals over the Dutch border). There are also day tickets, 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. If only travelling within the city limits, including the HbF, you only need a "City-XL" ticket which cost 1.60 euros or if making multiple journeys the "4 Fahrten City-XL Ticket" is 6.00 euros.
Tickets can be bought from machines at the main stops or from the driver.
Note - Although the websiite is in German Google translates it pretty well.
- Budget Travel
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.
Additional photos: More people on bicycles in Aachen, 2015.