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 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.
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
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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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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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.
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European Cheap Flights
During our stay in London we usually flought (?) to other European destinations with Ryanair and Easyjet. With the first one we got the best prices ever! To get to Aachen we departed from London Stansted at 7am (far from home, we had to spend the night before at the airport) and costed around 30€ (taxes included). We arrived at Dusseldorf Niederhien (something like that, not the main dusseldorf airport).
But we came back from Maastrich-Aachen airport for 10€ (everything included), the cheapest ticket ever!!!
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.
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Best entrance by train
As Aachen has a rather bad parking-policy (there are way to little parkingplaces, scathered throughout town (but definately low costs), one can best go to Aachen by train. It is connecting well to Bonn, Koln and other cities in it's German surroundings, as well as to Maastricht, Heerlen and Geleen (in The Netherlands) and Liege in Belgium.
Trains to Aachen
The main train station (Hauptbahnhof) is in the center of the city, however it does require a little bit of a walk to get to the main sites. It is possible to take the taxi, but we did fine with just walking through the interesting streets of Aachen. Train service is direct from Koln (Cologne), although we came from Welkenraedt in Belgium. Aachen is a border city, therefore it is easy to get to the Netherlands and Belgium from there.
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.
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