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What to Do in Aachen in One Day

what to do in Aachen in One day

We hovered in the same artist group, but I don’t really know this person. She posted some Aachen photos and gushed out how beautiful the city was. I so happened to be in Bielefeld for my work then, so I told my partner that instead of staying in Cologne, I would stay in Aachen—chen, like the soft che in checken. His forehead knotted and he culled his head if there is a city in his home country that he doesn’t know.  Its cathedral is a UNESCO, I said. And just one hour away from Cologne. “Aachen!” he blurted out. Like Aakhen with a very throaty kh. It has been our inside joke from thereon. German language is funny. Aachen indeed is a beautiful city; and it is a sort of foreshadowing that the headquarters of my current workplace is this city right by the border to Netherlands and Belgium. I technically stayed for three nights in Aachen, but I spent one day in Maastricht and another one day in Cologne as a sort of day trips. So for sightseeing, I only spent one day in Aachen.  So here are some suggestions on what to do in Aachen in one day.

In a nutshell, top places in or near Aachen to stay

The best luxury hotels: Parkhotel Quellenhof Aachen, Hotel 3 Könige
The best boutique hotels: INNSiDE by Meliá Aachen
, bensons hotel
The best budget hotels (under 120/night): Hotel Klenkes am Bahnhof
, ibis budget Aachen City
The best hostels:
Hostel Aachen, bestprice Hotel Aachen Hauptbahnhof

  1. Aachen City Center: Historic charm, close to landmarks like Aachen Cathedral and City Hall, with diverse dining and shopping options.
  2. Vaals, Netherlands: Tranquil outskirts offering serene landscapes, perfect for nature lovers, yet easily accessible to Aachen’s attractions, which are only 30 mins away.
  3. Aachen Cathedral Area: Iconic locale near Aachen Cathedral, blending historic ambiance with charming cafes, shops, and a vibrant cultural scene.
  4. Pontviertel: Vibrant neighborhood with lively bars, art galleries, and cultural events, ideal for experiencing Aachen’s modern and creative side.
what to do in aachen on one day

Is Aachen worth visiting?

Of course. I wouldn’t have visited if it wasn’t. Duh. It greatly depends on what you are into. I loved my visit because I could do some day trips from Aachen. As I said, a day trip to Maastricht and another day trip to Cologne. And since it is not as packed and popular as Cologne, the accommodation is a bit cheaper too, especially for a solo traveler like me.

Aachen Cathedral and the classic is Aachen worth visiting?

So yes, Aachen is worth visiting. This historic city in Germany has a lot to offer, including its stunning cathedral, the Aachen Cathedral, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Aachen also has a rich history dating back to Roman times, and you can explore its charming Old Town with picturesque architecture and lively markets. The city is known for its thermal springs and spa culture, offering relaxation and rejuvenation. Additionally, Aachen’s cultural scene, museums, and culinary delights make it a unique destination for travelers interested in history, culture, and cuisine.

Hotel Accommodation in Aachen

Famous Tours and Prebooked Tickets

Aachen: 24-Hour Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus Ticket
Aachen: First Discovery Walk and Reading Walking Tour
Aachen: Private Walking Tour With A Professional Guide
Cologne: Top Sights Rhine River Cruise

Quick Breakfast near the Cathedral 

When I’m in a new place, it is best to have breakfast somewhere near the center. Why? It is the best place to people-watch, which for me is one of the many pleasures of traveling. Here are five cafés near the Cathedral to choose from. 

1. Café Kittel

Located right across from Aachen Cathedral, Café Kittel is a charming cafe known for its traditional German coffee and cake. It’s a perfect spot to enjoy a slice of Aachener Printen, a local specialty, along with a cup of coffee while taking in views of the cathedral.

Photo from their IG

2. Café Hütte

Situated on Kapuzinergraben, just a short walk from the cathedral, Café Hütte offers a cozy atmosphere with a wide range of coffee options and delicious pastries. Their outdoor seating area is especially pleasant in good weather.

3. Café Extrablatt

Located on Markt Square, not far from Aachen Cathedral, Café Extrablatt is a bustling cafe with a varied menu, including coffee, pastries, and light meals. The outdoor seating allows you to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of the square.

4. Café Blau

This stylish cafe on Holzgraben, a stone’s throw from the cathedral, offers a range of coffee drinks and a selection of fresh, homemade cakes and pastries. The modern interior and friendly service make it a popular choice.

5. Café Zum Mohren

Nestled on Münsterplatz, Café Zum Mohren is a cozy cafe with a delightful selection of cakes and pastries. It’s a peaceful place to unwind after exploring the cathedral and the Old Town.

Admire the Aachen Cathedral 

Aachen Cathedral, also known as Aachener Dom, is an architectural masterpiece located in the heart of Aachen, Germany. This UNESCO World Heritage site holds a unique place in history, as it was the favored residence of Charlemagne (I would assume you know the name from your bygone history classes unless you were snoring the entire time), the great medieval ruler of the Carolingian Empire.

what to do in aachen on one day

The cathedral is a harmonious blend of Carolingian and Gothic architecture, featuring ornate mosaics, intricate stonework, and a stunning Palatine Chapel. Its historical significance, dating back over a thousand years, draws visitors from around the world. Aachen Cathedral stands as a testament to the artistic and cultural achievements of the Carolingian Renaissance and remains a must-visit for those exploring Germany’s rich heritage.

During my visit, a wing was under construction  and not open to the public. It should have been fully done by now.

Be Charmed by Charlemagne’s Palatine Chapel

Charlemagne’s Palatine Chapel, housed within the illustrious Aachen Cathedral in Aachen, Germany, is a jewel of early medieval architecture. Built by Charlemagne, the Holy Roman Emperor, in the 9th century, this chapel is a testament to his vision and influence. It’s characterized by its distinctive octagonal design, soaring dome, and intricate interior decoration, including awe-inspiring golden mosaics.

Charlemagne's Palatine Chapel is one of the many things to do in aachen in one day
The ornate ceilings of Charlemagne’s Palatine Chapel

Serving as Charlemagne’s private place of worship and a symbol of his imperial power, the chapel is a vital historical and architectural landmark. Visitors are captivated by its exquisite beauty and its pivotal role in the Charlemagne’s reign, making it an essential stop for history and art enthusiasts.

Trove through the Cathedral Treasury

Adjacent to Aachen Cathedral, the Cathedral Treasury (Domschatzkammer) beckons you to a remarkable journey through time. Here, amid an array of religious relics and artifacts, you’ll find the miniature marvel of Charlemagne’s Palatine Chapel’s model. As you wander this treasure trove of history, be charmed by the delicate craftsmanship and rich cultural significance that these items hold.

the facade of aachen's cathedral treasury
the facade of aachen’s cathedral treasury

Discover ornate chalices, illuminated manuscripts, and exquisite jewelry, each with its own story to tell. The Cathedral Treasury is a living testament to the spiritual and artistic heritage of Aachen, making it a must-visit destination for those who wish to be enchanted by the treasures of the past.

Lunch in the Old Town 

Aachen’s Old Town is brimming with cafes and restaurants. You can enjoy a traditional German meal or explore international cuisine. Try local specialties like Aachener Printen (a type of gingerbread) for dessert.

Ratskeller Aachen

Located beneath the Aachen City Hall, the Ratskeller offers a historic and elegant dining atmosphere. The menu features a mix of traditional German and international dishes, along with an extensive wine selection. It’s an excellent choice for a special dining experience in a unique setting.

Photo from Ratskeller Aachen’s IG

Zum Scheidtweiler

This family-run restaurant on Ritterstraße is known for its classic German cuisine. The menu includes hearty dishes like schnitzels and sausages, along with a variety of local beers. The cozy and rustic ambiance adds to the traditional dining experience.

La Becasse

For those who enjoy Belgian cuisine, La Becasse on Kleinmarschierstrasse is a fantastic option. This charming restaurant serves Belgian specialties like moules frites (mussels and fries) and a variety of Belgian beers. The intimate setting enhances the dining experience.

Marengel’s Gasthaus

Marengel’s, located on Münsterplatz, offers a mix of German and Mediterranean cuisine. With a relaxed atmosphere and outdoor seating, it’s a great place to enjoy pasta, pizza, or a hearty German dish in the heart of the Old Town.

Grano & Farina

If you’re craving Italian cuisine, Grano & Farina on Pontstraße is a popular choice. They serve delicious pizzas, pasta dishes, and antipasti in a modern and stylish setting. It’s an ideal spot for a taste of Italy in Aachen.

Relish a Reviving Respite at Elisenbrunnen

I did not do this. I traveled in the middle of summer, and a relaxing dip at Elisenbrunnen would make more sense in the colder months to source the warmth that can’t be found outside in a thermal bath.

Nestled within the heart of Aachen, Elisenbrunnen is a neoclassical gem, housing soothing thermal mineral springs. This tranquil haven invites you to rejuvenate and partake in the pleasant pastime of people-watching. Admire the elegant architecture while savoring a moment of reprieve by the water’s edge.

what to do in aachen in one day

The natural healing properties of the springs have beckoned visitors for centuries. So, immerse yourself in the historic ambiance, take in the vibrant energy of the surroundings, and indulge in a moment of wellness and leisure at Elisenbrunnen.

Stall Some Time at Aachen’s City Hall (Rathaus)

This historic town hall, a true testament to the city’s rich heritage, boasts distinctive architectural features that will leave you awe-inspired. The highlight of my visit is undoubtedly the famous Granus Tower, a towering masterpiece that has graced Aachen’s skyline for centuries. Its imposing presence and intricate design tell stories of the city’s past, making it a must-see attraction.

things to do in aachen in one day
Aachen’s town hall looks like a castle in some sort of Disney movie

As you stroll through the courtyard, don’t forget to pause and admire the exquisite sculptures that adorn the space. Each sculpture, a work of art in itself, adds to the charm of this historical gem. Immerse yourself in Aachen’s history, and let Aachen City Hall transport you to a bygone era of grandeur and architectural marvels. A visit here promises to be a captivating experience that will linger in your memories.

Make a Mark at Aachen’s Market

One of the best places to really experience or observe the authenticity of a place. Visit the market.

Aachen’s Markt, the bustling heart of the city, welcomes you with open arms to soak in its vibrant atmosphere. This historic Market Square is a kaleidoscope of local culture, where centuries of traditions meld with modern life.

Aachen christmas market
Aachen christmas market in front of the rathaus

TIP: If you’re fortunate to visit on a Tuesday or Thursday, be sure to dive into the lively market scene. Stalls brimming with local delicacies and crafts beckon, offering an opportunity to savor the essence of Aachen. Taste regional specialties, and perhaps acquire a memento that encapsulates the city’s unique spirit. Markt is where the past meets the present, creating an unforgettable tapestry of Aachen’s diverse and dynamic character.

Pretend you care about and understand art at Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum

Fake it til you make it they say. I didn’t personally do this, but I would have if it was rainy during my visit and the outside world was mocking mud. So I could pretend to Immerse myself in the world of art at the Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum, a treasure trove of European masterpieces. This cultural gem beckons connoisseurs, art enthusiasts, and the pretentious alike.

Nestled in the heart of the city, the museum boasts an awe-inspiring collection of European paintings and sculptures, showcasing the artistic evolution of the continent. Wander through galleries that come alive with the works of renowned painters and sculptors, each brushstroke and chisel mark a testament to human creativity. Whether you’re a seasoned art aficionado or a casual appreciator, the Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum promises an enriching experience, where history, beauty, and creativity converge to captivate your senses.

Dine in Aachen’s Old Town

As the sun sets in Aachen’s Old Town, a world of culinary delights awaits. Indulge in the enchanting atmosphere of this historic quarter with a dinner experience that will leave your taste buds delighted. Stroll along cobblestone streets and return to the Old Town, where an array of dining options unfolds before you. Or you can choose from one of the restaurants I recommend above.

aachen old town

Whether you yearn for a cozy, traditional German restaurant, where the aroma of hearty dishes fills the air, or wish to embark on a global culinary adventure, Aachen’s Old Town caters to your desires. Whichever path you choose, your evening meal in this charming setting promises to be a memorable journey for your palate and senses.

Take in the Sight of Aachen at Night

As night falls, Aachen transforms into a mesmerizing realm of illuminated splendor. Stroll through the city center at your leisure, where the radiant glow of the buildings and streets cast a spell of enchantment. Aachen’s nocturnal charm is nothing short of magical, with the historic architecture and modern structures bathed in a soft, inviting light.

aachen's old town

The city’s heart pulses with life, as the vibrant atmosphere draws you into its embrace. Whether you’re exploring the charming alleyways or taking in the grandeur of the cathedral, Aachen at night is a sensory feast that paints a vivid, unforgettable picture of a city that comes alive when the sun sets.

Clinch the night at the Gin Library

It is a personal thing, but if you are a gin enthusiast like me, then the Gin Library is your place.

Indulge in Aachen’s burgeoning gin culture at The Gin Library, a haven of innovation and creativity where gin enthusiasts can embark on a spirited journey like no other. This unique establishment goes beyond serving classic cocktails; it’s a place where gin becomes an art form.

what to do in aachen in one day: ending the night with gin at the Gin Library
Before my pregnancy, of course, traveling often ends with checking out the gin scene in the city

The Gin Library offers an extensive selection of gins, from well-known brands to artisanal creations. Immerse yourself in the world of gin as you savor the distinctive flavors, aromas, and blends, carefully crafted by expert mixologists. Whether you prefer a classic G&T or crave an imaginative, bespoke concoction, The Gin Library caters to your desires.

Step into a world of gin-inspired creativity, where each sip is a testament to the passion and innovation behind this beloved spirit. Discover Aachen’s gin scene in all its splendor at The Gin Library, where tradition and innovation harmoniously blend in every glass.

Jona of Backpacking with a Book

Hi there, I’m Jona, originally from Cebu, Philippines, had live in Hanoi, Vietnam, and now currently based in Munich, Germany. This blog used to house thoughts on life and books, but eventually it morphed into a travel blog. For collaborations, projects, and other things, please email me at For essays, creative nonfiction, and others, find me elsewhere.

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  1. […] has and the festivals and the parties it is known for. Having spent a day in Maastricht, another day in Aachen, my last full day for the long weekend was a day in Cologne, and I squeezed all the touristy things […]

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