Where to Stay in Aachen, Germany

SD › Best Places to Stay in Aachen
Updated: January 13, 2023

Our Favorite Aachen Hotels

• 5-Star Hotel: Parkhotel Quellenhof
• Boutique Hotel: INNSiDE
• Cheap Hotel: Minx – CityHotels
• Family Hotel: Novotel City
• Best Indoor Pool: Parkhotel Quellenhof
• Best Outdoor Pool: Mercure Europaplatz
• Near Train Station: bensons hotel

Old Town Aachen.

Old Town Aachen.

The Best Area to Stay in Aachen

The city of Aachen (“Oche” to the locals) would be a fairly average north German town if not for its remarkable history – this was Charlemagne’s capital in the 8th century, its cathedral the place where Holy Roman Emperors were crowned until 16th century. Though its compact Old Town was badly damaged (like most cities in Germany) in World War II, the most significant sights remain, enhanced by a collection of excellent museums worth at least a couple of days exploration. Thanks to the 60,000 students studying at the four higher education institutions here, the city can get fairly lively at night, and there are plenty of decent places to eat – including some especially good bakeries.

The city lies on the Wurm River in the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia, close to the bigger cities on the Rhine, but also to Belgium (where it’s called Aix-la-Chapelle) and the Netherlands (the Dutch say “Aken”); transport across the border is integrated and seamless (and there are no border controls, of course).

Most visitors will want to stay in the Old Town at the heart of the city – this is where almost everything you want to see is located, as well as most of the shops, restaurants, and bars, though it’s usually much cheaper to stay near the train station (a stiff but short walk from the center). The Pontviertel district to the northeast is a student neighborhood worth checking out for its bars and restaurants, while the Burtscheid and Frankenberger districts to the west are leafier suburbs with a smattering of attractions and a more alternative nightlife. Kurviertel is home to the Eurogress conference center, the main city park, and the Ludwig Forumart museum, as well as a modern spring baths complex – Aachen has been a spa town since Roman times. We’ve also covered the outer suburb of Kornelimünster, a pretty gateway to the Eifel Mountains, a region of hiking trails, lakes, and tranquil woodland.

Aachen Travel Tips

  • The nearest airports to Aachen are the major hubs of Cologne Bonn Airport (53 miles/85km) and Düsseldorf Airport (62 miles/99km); and the much smaller Maastricht Aachen Airport (17 miles/27 km) in the Netherlands. Most visitors to Aachen arrive by train or by car.
  • The city center of Aachen is relatively small and easy to explore on foot – there’s no need to rent a car (or use one if you drive here). To reach the outer districts, public transport is excellent: buses are operated by ASEAG. You can also rent bikes at Radstation at the train station (Bahnhofstraße 22).
  • Though some staff at hotels and local sights speak English (and most students seem to), most Aacheners do not (especially older folks working in shops and restaurants). Try to learn a few words and numbers in German before you go.
  • All the main city museums offer free entry to anyone up to the age of 22 (with ID). Otherwise, visitors that intend to visit all five municipal museums and the City Hall should invest in a “Six for Six” museum card, which costs just €14 (buy it at the first museum you visit).
  • Free wi-fi is available throughout much of the Old Town – look for “AACHEN WiFi”. You can surf for up to 24 hours free of charge.

We’ve covered our favorite neighborhoods to visit and stay in more detail below, but you could also consider staying in the Marschiertor district on the southern edge of the Old Town, which is close to the main train station (Aachen Hbf). This area lacks character, but it’s very convenient if you’re traveling by train, and hotel rates are cheap – the city center is also just arelatively short walk away. Our favorite hotels here are bensons, Klenkes am Bahnof, ibis Marschiertor, bestprice Hauptbahnhof, and a&o Hauptbahnhof hostel.

The Best Places to Stay in Aachen

Münsterplatz Square in Old Town Aachen.

Münsterplatz Square in the Old Town.

Best Neighborhoods in Aachen for…

  • Best Neighborhood to Stay for First Timers/Sightseeing: Old Town
    Though there’s a not a huge amount of choice in terms of accommodation, staying in the Old Town makes the most sense when it comes to visiting Aachen. You’ll be within easy strolling distance of the main sights, shops, and the best restaurants and bars; the cathedral and Aachen Cathedral Treasury, Centre Charlemagne, Rathaus, Couven-Museum, and an atmospheric center of cobblestone lanes, old squares, historic bakeries and fountains that have retained their medieval character despite the heavy bombing in World War II. A budget alternative is the area around the train station, the Marschiertor district, which isn’t that far on foot from the historic center (15–20min). The city’s best hotel, Parkhotel Quellenhof in the Kurviertel district, is just outside the center, but is also not that far on foot (a 15–20min walk from the cathedral).
  • Best Neighborhood for Nightlife: Pontviertel district (Old Town) and Frankenburger
    Centered on the Ponttor gate and the narrow Pontstrasse, the tiny Pontviertel district (an extension of the Old Town) is best known for its bars, restaurants and cafés – it’s a popular student hangout and the best place to be at night. Heading north from Markt, we like laid back café/bar Egmont; the outdoor patio at Café Kittel, the cheap beer at Kaktus (Pontstrasse 121), and the live sports and live music at Ocean/Sowiso. Elsewhere in the Old Town is Club Nightlife Aachen, the historic Domkeller pub, Vertical wine bar and a couple of our favorites: the fabulously named Grotesque Absinthe Bar, and the stylish Dry Bar.

    For a more local scene check out the bars and clubs in Frankenburger, east of the city center, where Musikbunker is the city’s best live venue and Club Voltaire is one of the best clubs. We also like Dumont, Die Bar Cantona, and Hobo.

    • There are no hotels actually in Pontviertel – look for apartment rentals (like Relax Aachener Boardinghouse Phase 3), or just walk up Pontstrasse from The Old Town.

  • Best Neighborhood for the Great Outdoors: Kornelimünster and the Eifel
    Aachen municipality also includes the satellite town of Kornelimünster, a beautiful spot in the Inde valley. It lies on the edge of the Eifel region, a hilly, densely forested area of lakes and parks, perfect for exploration on foot or on bike. Highlights include the Vennbahn “rail-to-trail” cycle path, and the Eifelsteig long-distance hiking trail, as well as Eifel National Park, a bit further south. Hotels around here tend to be historical properties that often double as restaurants and pubs. You’ll need to rent a car to make the most of it. It’s a fairly straightforward drive into the center of Aachen if you still want to see the historical sights, but staying here you’ll be focused primarily on the Eifel.
  • Best Neighborhood for Food and Restaurants: Old Town
    Excellent (and often cheap) places to eat are scattered throughout Aachen’s historic center. There’s a cluster of traditional German restaurants and cafés in and around Markt, as well as more student-friendly and diverse places along Pontstrasse; Chinese, Italian, and especially Turkish and Lebanese cuisines are all well represented. Our favorites for German food include Restaurant am Knipp (which dates back to the 17th century), famous for its sauerbraten (marinated pot roast, Aachen-style); the touristy but good quality Rattskeller at City Hall/Rathaus, plus the cheaper Postwagen next door; and Zum goldenen Einhorn. For Polish food we like Polonia Aachen; for cheap Lebanese it’s hard to beat AKL; and for a splurge there’s always Estor and dario&.

    • One of the best restaurants in Aachen is actually just outside the center: the highly acclaimed Michelin-starred French restaurant La Becasse.

    • Don’t leave Aachen with stopping by its historic bakery, Nobis Printen, in business since 1858 (there’s a branch on Münsterplatz in the old town). This is the place to try the beloved Aachener Printen, a type of gingerbread biscuit; (there are also varieties covered with almonds, or with a chocolate or sugar glaze). Printenbäckerei Klein is another chain that knocks out the sweet treat.

    • Other local specialties include “Öcher Puttes”, a type of blood sausage usually fried and served with a traditional “Himmel und Erde” (“Heaven and Earth”) combo of mashed potatoes and apples. Reisfladen is a type of rice pancake, sold in most Aachen bakeries.

  • Best Place for a Local Vibe: Frankenburger
    If you want to escape the Old Town tourism and get a glimpse of alternative, hip Aachen, head over to the small district of Frankenburger (often regarded as “Little Berlin”). One of the city’s prettiest neighborhoods, it’s a pleasant place to wander, with the remains of a medieval fortress in Frankenberger Park and the vast Herz-Jesu church so big its known as Frankenberger Cathedral. There’s a weekly market on Saturday on the Neumarkt, where you’ll also find an excellent bakery, Bäckerei Kickartz and several good restaurants. We also like the coffee at Fuchs and Café hase, the Korean food at kim&, and the ice cream at Oecher Eis-Treff. At night, Musikbunker is the best place for live bands in Aachen (it’s in an old air-raid shelter). There’s also the excellent LolaParolipub (Friedrichstrasse 117), new live venue Überhaupt, and Club Voltaire.
  • Best Neighborhood for Shopping: Old Town
    Shopping in the Old Town falls broadly into two categories; more traditional, artsy, and touristy shops in the historic heart of town, and the more modern shops and big box stores that tend to cluster on the eastern side of the city center. Around the Hof – Körbergasse, Krämerstrasse, and Büchel streets – you’ll find a good concentration, from tea specialist TeeGschwendner and coffee store Plum’s Kaffee, to the hand woven baskets at Korb Bayer and toys at Villa Kunterbunt. Comic fans should check out Manga Mafia at Grosskölnstrasse 62.

    More conventional experiences can be had around Adalberstrasse east of the city center, at the GALERIA Aachen, ElisenGalerie, and Aquis Plaza malls.

    • Visit aachen-shopping.de for more on shopping in Aachen.

  • Safety in Aachen
    Aachen, and especially the city center, is very safe, even by German standards – take the usual precautions at night and you should be fine. There is some homelessness and drug dealing, and you may see shady characters at night in spots like Elisengarten, and the train and bus stations, but visitors rarely experience any trouble.

The 4 Best Neighborhoods in Aachen for Tourists

1. The Old Town (Altstadt)

Aachen’s compact Old Town, with its narrow streets and plazas, retains its medieval flavor, though it was essentially flattened in World War II – the buildings you see today have been rebuilt or are rare survivors. (The cathedral, for instance, was miraculously unscathed.) It’s by far the most interesting part of the city for visitors and contains all the main sights, as well as a small but good quality selection of hotels. The Dom (Aachen Cathedral) is the obvious place to start a visit, though the central hub of the city is Markt (the main square), lined with cafés and home to the old Rathaus (City Hall), where newly crowned emperors held their coronation banquets (today it contains replicas of the Imperial crown jewels). The cathedral itself is quite small, with its heart the stunning octagonal palace chapel built for Charlemagne in the 8th century. The “Glass House of Aachen” was a later extension, a 13th-century shrine that contains Charlemagne’s remains. You’ll get a lot more out of a visit here by joining a guided tour (which is also the only way to see the marble Imperial Throne in the upper gallery).

Next door, the Domschatzkammer Aachen or Cathedral Treasury is loaded with important religious artifacts (such as the Lothar cross dating from around 1000), though much Imperial loot ended up in Vienna, the last capital of the Holy Roman Empire. The Katschhof, the wide empty plaza between the Dom and the Rathaus is home to the Centre Charlemagne, Aachen’s excellent museum of local history, while a short walk away the Couven Museum occupies a 17th-century townhouse with period interiors ranging from the Rococo to the 19th-century Biedermeier style. The museum lies on the Hof, a pretty square, where the Medieval-style Körbergasse runs north past the famous Plum’s Kaffee coffee roasting house and Korb Bayer, which has been selling woven baskets since 1865. At the end of the street stands the beloved Printenmädchen, or “little gingerbread girl” statue, opposite the venerable Van den Daele café, founded in 1890. A short walk away is another celebrated statue, the “Bahkauv,” a monster cat that is said to have once lurked around the mineral springs here.

Leading north from Markt, narrow Pontstrasse is one the neighborhood’s liveliest streets, lined with bars and cafes and the Internationales Zeitungsmuseum (International Newspaper Museum). This is where Paul Julius Reuter founded his famous news agency in 1850; the museum chronicles the history of journalism since then. Beyond the museum, Pontstrasse continues to the impressive Ponttor, the turreted gate that once formed part of the city wall. Attractions south of the cathedral include the Grashaus and the Elisenbrunnen, a 19th-century pump room that still offers the city’s spring water via two taps (for free). There’s a pleasant park behind it, Elisengarten, containing some archaeological ruins. A short walk away is Theater Aachen, the city’s premier performing arts venue.

• There’s plenty of eating, shopping and drinking options in the Old Town, as well as the most convenient accommodation in the city. However, staying near the train station (Marschiertor district) is much cheaper, and more convenient if traveling by train – it’s only a short walk or bus/taxi ride to the Old Town from here.

2. Burtscheid and Frankenberger districts

Burtscheid lies southeast of the city center, an attractive suburb best known locally for being an historic spa district, with two major rehabilitation clinics that use hot mineral springs as part of their treatments. Visitors can check out the original spring, the “Rosenquelle”, in the local Kurpark-Terrassen (park). On the south side of the park stands handsome St. Michael Church and the grand remnants of Burtscheid Abbey (the domed St. JohannAbbey Church). The adjoining Frankenberger district is one of the most beautiful parts of the city, with rows of stately townhouses lining Bismarckstrasse and Oppenhoffallee. Leafy Frankenberger Park contains a medieval castle and Burg Frankenberg (now an event space and cultural center), while elegant Neumarkt features several places to eat and drink, notably Bäckerei Kickartz. The neighborhood is also noted for its ice cream shops – Oecher Eis-Treff is the best. Other sights include the massive Herz Jesu church, known as “Frankenberg Cathedral”, and the Aachener Tierpark, the local zoo which contains around 1,000 animals.

• There’s not much choice in hotels here, but these neighborhoods are still worth a visit if you’ve been to Aachen before or are staying a little longer. They are also popular with drivers who want easy access to the autobahn system, and/or are using the city to explore the surrounding areas by car.

3. Kurviertel (Eurogress Aachen)

Aachen’s other major spa district is Kurviertel, to the northeast of the city center around the Eurogress Aachen conference center. Today it’s the best place to experience the city’s famed mineral waters in a modern environment – Carolus Thermen offers a series of outdoor and indoor thermal pools, a spa with all the usual treatments, and a selection of Finnish and Turkish-style saunas. The district is anchored by the elegant Neoclassical Neues Kurhaus (once a spa but now connected to the conference center), completed in 1916, and the Parkhotel Quellenhof, Aachen’s top hotel. Behind here lies the attractive Stadtpark, the city’s best park, home to the city’s top contemporary art gallery, NAK Neuer Aachener Kunstverein. The area’s main cultural attraction is the Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, a fabulous modern and pop art museum housed in a former 1920s umbrella factory with a glass roof.

A bit further south, on the edge of the Old Town, art lovers should also check out the Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum. Set in a gorgeous 19th-century mansion, the collection here includes everything from medieval religious woodcarving and work by Lucas Cranach the Elder, to 20th-century German art from Max Beckmann and others.

• Sports fans might want to check out the Tivoli area north of Kurviertel, home to the New Tivoli Stadium and the local soccer team, 4th division Alemannia Aachen; the CHIO-Aachen complex (mainly used for equestrian events); a nice skating rink; and the Merkur Spielbank casino. The CHIO Aachen-Museum up here chronicles Germany’s illustrious equestrian history.

4. Kornelimünster and the Eifel

For a break from city life, consider a stay or visit to Kornelimünster, a picturesque satellite town of Aachen in the Inde valley. Unlike Aachen, the medieval heart of the town survived World War II unscathed, with its cobblestone streets and Grimm Brothers fairytale architecture. Highlights include historic St. Kornelius Church, and the local art museum, Kunsthaus NRW. Kornelimünster also makes a good base for trips into the surrounding woods and Eifel Mountains region. The heart of the Eifel lies further south, but Kornelimünster lies on the Vennbahn, one of the longest “rail-to-trail” cycle paths in Europe (78 miles/125km), cutting through various Eifel landscapes (but happily the trail stays fairly level throughout). The town also lies on the Eifelsteig long-distance hiking trail (194 miles/313km), a superbly maintained path through the Eifel in 15 stages. If you’d rather take the car, there are picturesque overlooks and scenic drives in Eifel National Park.

St. Benedikt in the heart of Kornelimünster is one of Aachen’s culinary institutions, an elegant French restaurant run by the Kreus family for generations (it’s another Michelin star holder).

  • The Best Hotels in Kornelimünster and the Eifel
    Im Krebsloch • Hotel phone: +49 240 82280
    Vichter Landhaus • Hotel phone: +49 240 298910
    Zur Abtei • Hotel phone: +49 240 8925500

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