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Aachen

Travel Guide Europe Germany Nordrhein-Westfalen Aachen

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Introduction

The Money fountain, Aachen.

The Money fountain, Aachen.

© All Rights Reserved ian 800gs

Aachen is a historic German city in the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen. It is the westernmost city of the country, located 65 kilometres west of Cologne, close to the borders with the Netherlands and Belgium. It has well over 250,000 inhabitants.

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Sights and Activities

  • The Aachen Cathedral - a Unesco World Heritage Site
  • The Aachen City Hall - dating back to the 14th century
  • Markt and Katschhof, the two central places in Aachen
  • The Grashaus - late medieval house at the Markt and one of the oldest buildings, also the previous city hall
  • The Elisenbrunnen - eoclassical hall covering one of the cities famous fountains
  • The 19th century Theater
  • City gates: the Ponttor and the Kleinmarschiertor
  • Many churches and monasteries

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Weather

Aachen's climate is comprable to the average climate of Germany. Summers last from June to early September when it is mostly between 20 and 25 °C during the day and between 12 and 14 °C at night, though highs over 35 °C have been recorded as well. Winters are from December to February when it's mostly a little above zero during the day and slightly under zero at night. Most winters see some snow, but it is usually not that much.
Most of the precipitation falls during the months of October to March, though heavy showers in summer are possible, especially after hot weather.

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Getting There

By Plane

The Maastricht Aachen Airport (MST) is shared with the Dutch city of Maastricht. Ryanair flies to/from Alicante, Pisa and Girona, Sky Airlines flies to/from Antalya, Transavia to/from Dalaman (Turkey), Faro, Heraklion (Crete), Kos, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, Rhodos and Tenerife-South, and Amsterdam Airlines to/from Ankara and Kayseri.

The airport is about 40 kilometres away from the city. The airports near Düsseldorf (80km away) and Cologne/Bonn (90km away) are also decent options, with much more intercontinental flights as well.

By Train

Deutsche Bahn provides frequent services to Cologne, taking about 1 hour and also has other connections in the region, including cities in the Ruhr area, like Düsseldorf and Dortmund. ICE high speed trains from Brussels via Cologne to Frankfurt and Thalys trains from Paris to Cologne also stop at Aachen, and there are regional trains to Heerlen in the Netherlands and Liege in Belgium as well.

By Car

Aachen is easily reached by taking the A4 from Cologne or the A44 from Düsseldorf. The smaller A544 connects from the A4, almost reaching the city proper.

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Getting Around

By Public Transport

Bus tickets for travel within the city cost a flat €1.45. All of Aachen and the adjoining Dutch communities of Vaals and Kelmis can be covered with a Zone 1 ticket for €2 (day pass €5.50). Drivers sell tickets.===By Foot===

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Sleep

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Hotel BuschhausenAdenauerallee 215 52066Hotel90
Pension JarkasSchurzelter Str. 561 Promenadenstr. 3-5Apartment-

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafes (rates €1.50 to €5 per hour) are starting to become less common due to widespread offers of free wifi by shops, restaurants or cafes. Sometimes it requires minimum consumption but usually it's free within the premises. Phone shops will often offer internet access, too. In general hotels offer internet access. In several cities, projects exist to provide free "community" hotspots for wireless networking. Passenger lounges at some airports and central railway stations also provide internet access to their customers.

Several pre-paid SIMs allow Internet access for a monthly flat fee, for example those available at Tchibo coffee stores (o2 network, €10/month limited to 500 MB, €20/month for 5 GB) or Aldi (E-Plus network). A regular O2 sim card, which can be used for calls and text messages, is €15 and another €15 buys 1GB of data valid for 1 month. Vodafone offers a prepaid sim card for €25 which includes €22.5 of credit, out of which you can get 300 MB of data for 2 days for €15 and be left with €7.5 of credit.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The international call prefix in Germany is 00. To dial out of Germany, dial 00, followed by country code, area code, and the telephone number (for example 00 44 1234 567890). If you're using a mobile phone, simply add the plus sign "+" before the country code to call out of Germany (for example +44 1234 567890). The general emergency number is 112 and the additional number for less emergent issues for police is 110.

Mobile phone coverage on the four networks (T-Mobile, Vodafone, E-Plus and o2) is excellent across the whole country. UMTS (3G data and HSDPA) and EDGE is also available. UMTS is still somewhat limited to urban areas. All mobile providers use GSM technology on the 900 and 1800 MHz frequency ranges. If you stay for a longer period of time, consider buying a prepaid phone card from one of the mobile phone companies; you won't have trouble finding a T-Mobile (in a "T-Punkt"), Vodafone, E-Plus or O2 store in any major shopping area. In most supermarket chains (for example ALDI), there are prepaid SIM cards from their own virtual providers available. These are normally quite cheap to buy, but expensive for international calls (around €1–2/min), but incoming calls are always free and SMS cost around €0.09–0.19. They are available at: Aldi, Lidl, Penny, Netto, Tchibo, Rewe, toom. A registration via Internet or (expensive) phone call is necessary after buying to activate the SIM card.

The cheapest way to call abroad from Germany is to use the internet cafés run by immigrants. They sell special calling cards that give the best rate to certain countries as well as offer cheap international calls from phone booths. It is also the cheapest way to call landlines in Germany.

Post

Germany's postal system is very efficient, their logistics branch DHL is one of the best companies in this field world-wide, with domestic post or within a radius of 400 kilometres, send within a day. The website of Deutsche Post has an online calculator for postage fees as well as a post office finder. Stamps are available at post offices and sometimes at newsagents or shops selling postcards. Also stamp vending machines can be found at a lot of places around the cities. You can purchase every stamp you need from this machines. They are unique as they accept every coin from 1 cent to 2 euro but change is only given in stamps. It costs about €40 to send a small package to Australia and €1.70 to send an old-fashioned letter to any place in the world outside of Europe. Within Germany, sending postcards costs €0.45 and standard letters €0.55, within Europe it is €0.65 for a postcard, standard letters to places in Europe cost €0.75. Outside Europe, the prices for sending a postcard or standard letter are €1 and €1.70 respectively. Although you will find the old post offices (mainly in the city centre), most of the smaller neighbourhood post offices are part of a small tobacco shop or grocery store. For larger package, you might consider competitive private companies like UPS, DHL or TNT.

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This is version 4. Last edited at 10:17 on Jan 14, 14 by Utrecht. 10 articles link to this page.

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