9+ Unusual Things to Do in Aachen Today

Whispers of the past echo at Ponttor, but what medieval secrets linger behind Aachen's ancient gates? Unearth history's mysteries... Continue reading.
Date Published
March 8, 2024

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Ever wondered what it feels like to sip coffee where Charlemagne may have walked, or munch on Printen so scrumptious they're basically a historical artifact? Welcome to Aachen, Germany’s western gem that’s bubbling with historical grandeur, yet pulsing with a lively modern beat. This isn't just a city, my friends; it’s a treasure chest of adventures where medieval tales and contemporary arts dance together in the cobblestone streets. With its famed Ponttor, a medieval gate worthy of a storybook, and traditional Aachener Printen that’ll make your taste buds do the polka, Aachen's just showing off at this point.

From botanically blissful strolls in the city’s green lungs to the curious corners of the International Newspaper Museum, Aachen is anything but ordinary. Imagine hiking the legendary trails of the Eifel just to switch gears and indulge in a theater night that’ll have you applauding till your hands tingle. And let's not forget that Aachen sits coyly at Europe's crossroads, whispering secrets of the three-country border point that’s just a hop, skip, and a jump away.

For those with a penchant for the unique, a heart that thrums for culture, and a stomach always ready to explore, Aachen's eclectic mix of experiences serves up a cocktail of charm with a splash of wow. Buckle up, because you're about to dive into an adventure that encapsulates the very essence of this historic yet vibrant city.

Uncover Aachen's Medieval Past at Ponttor

Imagine yourself walking through a portal to the past—because that's exactly what you're doing when you visit Ponttor, one of Aachen's grand medieval city gates. This stone sentinel has been standing guard since the 14th century, and let me tell you, it's not just old, it's ancient vibes galore.

Don't just snap a quick pic and dash off; give Ponttor the time it deserves! Block off a solid 1 or 2 hours and really soak in that medieval aura. Walk under its arch and hear the clang of invisible armor – because once upon a time, knights actually trotted through here! Whether you're flying solo or with your little knights-in-training, Ponttor is prime territory for letting imaginations run wild.

Now, you're probably thinking, "What makes Ponttor stand out?" For one, unlike many historical sites that are roped off, here you can reach out and touch the very stones that have witnessed Aachen's history unfold. Ponttor isn't just for looking; it's for exploring. Climb the steps to the top for a view worthy of a king, or a selfie that screams "I'm the ruler of medieval coolness".

Found just a short stroll from the city center, it's a no-brainer on your Aachen adventure. It's perfect for history buffs, fantasy fans, and pretty much anyone who can appreciate a good, solid piece of history standing tall amidst the hustle and bustle of modern life.

Just imagine standing there, where countless stories have unfolded. It's like time travel minus the complicated science. Whether you're a lone wanderer or the leader of your own family flock, it's captivating for every soul. So go ahead, step into the world of knights and nobles and uncover a piece of Aachen's medieval past—it's waiting for you!

Indulge in Traditional Aachener Printen

You're walking down the charming streets of Aachen when an enticing aroma captures your senses. It's the sweet, spiced scent of traditional Aachener Printen, a kind of gingerbread unique to this historical German city.

Why is Aachener Printen so special? It's not just any gingerbread. We're talking about a centuries-old recipe that's strictly protected. These treats are made with a blend of cinnamon, aniseed, clove, cardamom, coriander, allspice, and ginger, which gives them an unmistakable flavor. They're sweetened with syrup and come in various textures from soft to hard, often coated with chocolate or nuts.

Now don't just stand there on the sidewalk, drooling! Pop into a traditional bakery and grab yourself a bag. Why? Because your tastebuds deserve a party, and Aachener Printen is like the DJ drop that gets the whole place hopping. Plus, you can snag a few extra bags as the most awesome souvenirs. Your friends will thank you. Or resent you for getting them hooked on another international delicacy they can't easily find at home.

If you're second-guessing whether or not to commit to a full bag, many bakeries offer tastings, so you can try before you buy. Spend some time basking in the cozy atmosphere of the shop and chat with the bakers. They love to share the rich history behind Aachener Printen and might just slip in some fun facts, like how these treats were originally sold as a digestive aid.

After you've had your fill (as if that's possible), take your Printen to go and bask in the vibes of the Aachen streets. Whether you sit in a quaint café, by the stunning Aachen Cathedral, or simply wander the cobbles, you'll feel like a true local.

This traditional treat is not just for the sweet-toothed—it's a cultural experience. And who knows, you might just find yourself becoming one of those Printen aficionados, ready to debate the merits of crunchy over soft, chocolate-coated versus plain. Either way, indulging in these traditional treats is the kind of activity that's perfect for anyone, be it singles, families, or the sweet grandma who lives down the street.

Stroll the Botanical Garden Aachen

Imagine yourself taking a leisurely stroll among vibrant flowers and lush greenery. That's what awaits at the Aachen Botanical Garden. It's the perfect spot to reconnect with nature and take a breather from the hustle and bustle. Whether you're a plant enthusiast or just looking for a peaceful escape, this is your oasis.

This isn't your run-of-the-mill garden; it's a slice of plant paradise that's been meticulously cultivated since the 19th century. The Aachen Botanical Garden is home to over 1,500 plant species. So, go ahead and breathe in that fresh, floral air – it's good for the soul and totally Instagram-worthy.

Here's the skinny:

  • The garden is renowned for its impressive collection of alpine plants and its succulent house.
  • It's a hit with folks of all stripes – whether you're solo, tagging along with your significant other, or herding a group of kiddos.
  • If you're all about capturing stunning headers for your social feed, this place is your jackpot.
  • Got an hour or two? That's just enough to embrace the tranquility and maybe even picnic under a shady tree.

Don't forget to click a picture by the Japanese Garden – a spot of zen that’ll have your friends turning a delightful shade of green with envy. Perfect for singles, couples, and families alike, it's a slice of tranquility with a dash of education tossed in. Kiddos will be wide-eyed and full of "oohs" and "ahs" at every turn.

So, lace-up those comfy shoes, grab your camera, and get ready to witness an encapsulating intertwining of nature and art. It’s not every day you find a spot that’s buzzing with bees and silence at the same time, but hey, Aachen Botanical Garden ain’t your everyday garden.

Visit the International Newspaper Museum

Imagine walking into a room where the air itself seems to crackle with stories from every corner of the globe. That's the vibe at the International Newspaper Museum in Aachen. You don't just visit here; you dive headfirst into the world's history as told through newspapers. It's a truly unusual spot that even many locals haven't fully explored. Trust me, this place is not just for history buffs or news junkies; it's for anyone who loves a good story.

As you roam through the exhibits, you're time traveling, flipping through pages that have echoed the voices of different eras. This museum is unique because it's not every day that you get to see, touch, and even smell newspapers from decades and centuries past. The collection spans over 200,000 documents from more than 170 countries, so prepare to be wowed by the sheer volume and diversity. Plus, they often have interactive displays that make the experience even more engaging.

If you're wondering, "Will I even understand anything if I don't speak German?" Don't stress! Many of the displays are multilingual, including English, so you'll get the full scoop no matter what.

Here's the lowdown on how you should plan your visit:

  • Allocate at least an hour or two for a leisurely stroll through the museum.
  • It's tucked away on the edge of the old city center, so after your visit, you can easily wander around Aachen's charming streets.
  • This place is perfect for the curious-minded, solo adventurers, and families alike. While kiddos might not grasp the historical significance, they'll sure love the interactive bits.
  • If you're a student or a teacher, this is pure gold for your projects or history lessons.

So, there you go! Step into the International Newspaper Museum and let each newspaper's crinkly page take you on an adventure through time. Make sure your smartphone's charged because you'll want to capture this visit!

Enjoy Contemporary Art at the Ludwig Forum

Get ready to have your mind buzz with colors and your heart jam to the rhythms of creativity because the Ludwig Forum for International Art isn't just any old museum. It's a temple of contemporary art! As you breeze into this space, you're not just walking–you're prancing into a world where the now is celebrated, where boundaries are as passé as last season's shoes.

Bustling with artistic expression, the Ludwig Forum houses jaw-dropping pieces that'll have your eyes practically popping out of your skull. Think vibrant paintings that whisper secrets of innovation, sculptures that defy gravity, and installations that will make you question reality. Are you into challenging cultural conversations or simply adore a visually stunning Instagram backdrop? Either way, you'll find it here.

Forget about whispering in hushed tones, because this isn't some stuffy hall of antiquities. Here, art comes alive, practically dancing off the walls, begging you to engage, to snap a photo, to debate. It's the perfect spot for:

  • Art Enthusiasts: You'll be swooning over pioneering artworks before you can say 'avant-garde.'
  • Culturally Curious Families: Yep, even the kiddos will find something that'll make their imaginations do backflips.
  • Anyone Needing a Dose of Inspiration: If your creative juices need stirring, you're in the right place.

Spend a few hours, or a whole day — there's no rush. And with contemporary art, every glance is a fresh experience, every visit, new. Ideally nestled within Aachen, it’s surrounded by cozy cafés and quirky shops, perfect for a culture-rich day out. You’ll want to wrap up your visit with a piece of that creative magic, and guess what? The gift shop has just what you need.

Step into the Ludwig Forum and step out with a colorful slice of Aachen in your heart. Prepare to leave not just impressed but transformed. Ready to dive into this wondrous pool of modern expression? Check out their latest exhibitions and take the plunge!

Hike the Trails of Nearby Eifel

So, you've got a hankering for some fresh air and a good ol' fashioned hike? Well, Nearby Eifel is your ticket to that sweet, sweet Mother Nature experience—without wandering too far from Aachen. With trails that cater to the casual stroller and the serious trekker alike, you're in for a real treat.

Craving a challenge? The Eifelsteig trail is a star, with routes that range from easy-peasy to 'I'm gonna feel this tomorrow.' But hey, no pain, no glorious views, right? You'll traipse through verdant forests, wander besides babbling brooks, and let's not forget the occasional historic castle popping up to say 'hello' from a nearby hilltop.

And let's talk time—how long should you budget for this adventure? Well, that's the beauty of Eifel; whether you've got a couple of hours or a full day to kill, there's a path with your name on it. My advice? Take at least half a day, if you can squeeze it, to soak in those surroundings.

Here's the scoop: Eifel is perfect for whatever crowd you're rolling with. Going solo? Peaceful solitude is yours for the taking. Dragging the family along? The kids will be tuckered out in no time, dreaming of the forest fairies and knights they imagined along the way. And for you adrenaline junkies? There are enough inclines and rugged paths to get your heart racing.

So lace up those hiking boots, grab a water bottle, and get ready to step into a panorama that’ll slap a smile on your face and some awesome in your soul. With trails beckoning just a hop, skip, and a jump from the city life, Eifel's natural splendor is the unplugged anthem your Instagram feed didn't know it needed. And hey, why not turn that day hike into a weekend escapade? There's plenty of Eifel to go around!

Sample Aachen Local Cuisine

Picture this: You're wandering through charming streets, and suddenly, a waft of mouthwatering scents beckons your taste buds! Intriguing, isn't it? Well, Aachen's local cuisine offers a palatable adventure that could see you taste-testing from a smorgasbord of hearty German staples to sweet indulgences unique to the region.

Get ready to dive into the flavors of Aachen and I'm not just talking about a quick nibble. There's a range of tasting experiences that can last from a quick snack to a multi-course extravaganza. You'll want to pace yourself as these culinary delights are notoriously filling!

First up on the menu is the famous 'Sauerbraten', tender marinated beef often paired with a rich sauce, red cabbage, and potato dumplings. It's a traditional dish that will leave you feeling like you've had a warm hug from a German grandma. And don't get me started on 'Aachener Printen', a type of gingerbread that's synonymous with Aachen. It's like Christmas came early and it's dancing on your taste buds.

But wait, there's more! If you're a cheese lover, the 'Puttes' or Aachen potato pie, often accompanied by a creamy cheese, is a must-try. And for those with a savory tooth, 'Himmel und Erde'—a mix of black pudding, mashed potatoes, and applesauce—blends sweet and savory in a way that can only be described as heavenly.

Expect to spend anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours indulging in these tastes, depending on whether you're grabbing a quıck bite or sitting down for a feast. It's perfect for anyone and everyone - families will love the variety, couples can savor the shared plates, and solo explorers will find more than enough to satisfy their culinary curiosity.

Here's a pro tip: pop into one (or several) of Aachen's quaint bistros or restaurants during your exploration of the city. Savoring these foodie gems is akin to taking a bite out of Aachen's rich history and culture. And remember, your taste buds will thank you after this tantalizing tour through Aachen's local cuisine heaven.

Escape to the Three-Country Border Point

Imagine you're standing at a spot where you can hop from one country to another with just a single step. Cool, right? At the Three-Country Border Point near Aachen, the thrill is real. You'll be swapping selfies across Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium!

It's not every day you find yourself at a tri-nation threshold, which is why this excursion is a must. Here’s how you can make the most of it:

  • Pack a picnic and bask in panoramic views.
  • Stand at the exact spot where the three nations meet — it’s a quirky checkpoint like no other.
  • Don't forget to grab a trinket from the souvenir shop; it's literally international shopping.

This spot is perfect for families, friends, and anyone looking for a unique twist to their travel tale. Kiddos will love the imaginary line games, and adults will appreciate the serene landscape. If you're the type who enjoys bragging rights, congratulations! How many people can say they’ve been in three countries at once?

Spend an hour or two immersed in this geographical novelty. There’s some lovely nearby café too, where you can sip on a hot brew with vistas spanning multiple countries — how’s that for a coffee view?

It’s not just about standing around either; pathways beckon you to explore the surrounding nature. Whether you’re strolling or posing, you’ll want to soak up every angle.

This three-country escapade is for those looking to spice up their travel album. So, lace-up your walking shoes, charge your phone for the GPS-tricking snaps, and set off on one of the most unusual excursions Aachen has in store for you. Who needs to fly when you can step into another country?

Delve into Aachen's University Atmosphere

Picture yourself strolling through the vibrant campus of RWTH Aachen University, surrounded by the hum of intellectual buzz and youthful energy. You're smack dab in the middle of a place brimming with smarts, where the next big innovation is just an 'Eureka!' away! It's not just any campus visit; it's a dive into the heart of where Germany's finest minds gather and grow.

As you wander, you'll feel the pulse of this intellectual hub. The campus is a hot spot for visitors looking to get a real taste of academic life, with a side of contemporary collegiate architecture. You're not going to find old, dusty halls here, no sir! Instead, expect the feel of a city within a city, where every corner turns to reveal a new space filled with students from around the globe bustling to their next breakthrough.

This isn't a quick, peek-around-the-corner kind of visit. Nah, you'll want to soak in this atmosphere, spend a couple of hours or even half a day. You'll catch sight of students debating over coffee, zipping by on bikes, or sprawling on the lawns, textbooks in hand.

And it's not just for the bookworms or aspiring scientists. Whether you're a solo explorer, a family looking to inspire the kiddos with college dreams, or a group of pals on the hunt for a dose of culture, there's something about that university atmosphere that sparks curiosity in us all.

But it's not all academic. Stick around, and you may just stumble onto an impromptu concert, art display, or some other event that's sure to make your visit memorable. Because around here, it's about mixing that book learning with some real-world fun.

So, grab your backpack and slap on your best "thinking cap," because visiting the RWTH Aachen University campus is a must-do to get the full Aachen experience. Are you ready to feel inspired?

Explore the Couven Museum

Imagine stepping through a doorway that leads you back to 18th-century Aachen. The Couven Museum is that magical portal, and as soon as you cross its threshold, you're whisked away to a time where Rococo and Baroque design ruled. It's like a fancy party for your eyes, where every nook is filled with treasures, from intricate furniture to delicate ceramics.

This isn't your regular, run-of-the-mill museum. Oh, no. It's a houseparty hosted by history itself, set in wealthy merchant Johann Couven's pretty snazzy house. As you wander from room to room, you're rubbing elbows with the high-class style of the time. Each chamber unfolds a new chapter of domestic bliss—Aachen-style.

But, what makes the museum stand out isn't just the objects; it's the stories they tell. Like, did you know that some of the fashionable designs here could be the IKEA inspos from yesteryears? Plus, the place isn't just a hit with history buffs. It's perfect for romantics, design enthusiasts, or anyone who's up for exploring something a tad different.

And if you think you need to clear your schedule for a whole day to enjoy this place, think again. An hour or two will suffice to savor the essence of Aachen's baroque beauty. So whether you're flying solo, dragging your teenager away from their phone, or looking for a quiet escape with your partner, this charming museum is a perfect fit.

After soaking up all that history, don't forget to strut down the cobblestone streets nearby. Cafes, shops, and a vibe that's totally Instagram-worthy await! Plus, you're just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Aachen's other not-to-be-missed spots. Ready, set, explore! Grab your detective hat and discover all the fun facts hidden in the Couven Museum's corners!

Experience Aachen's Theatre and Opera

Ever fantasized about time-traveling back to the Baroque era? Stroll into Aachen's theatre and opera scene and _voilà_—it's almost like you're right there, powdered wigs and all! Imagine the swell music cradling the air as it dances from the stage right into your ears... yup, that's the decadent world of opera calling your name.

Now, let us fetch the binoculars and perch into those plush red seats. That's your throne for the evening. Better yet, remember the emotional rollercoasters you love so much from the movies? Opera's got all that drama and more! You see, in Aachen, when they say opera, they mean tear-jerkers and soul-stirrers, all rolled into one magnificent performance.

But hold your horses, it's not just about the shows. The theater itself is a masterpiece. It's where architecture and acoustics love to play a fancy game of who-can-impress-you-more. And honestly, they both win. It's all there: ornate detailing, whispering galleries, and – I bet – some secrets hidden up in the gilded folds of the ceiling.

Don’t worry about fitting in or dressing up—the crowd here is a tapestry of everyone who loves a good story. Singles, couples, families with curious teens; they all flock here. Whether first-timers or seasoned aficionados, no one walks out un-touched by the magic.

And, get this, opera in Aachen isn’t a marathon. Picking a weekend show would mean a perfect excuse to get dressed up before bedtime. So, you know, you don't have to clear your whole schedule. A couple of acts and you're good—enough time to grab a late dinner afterwards at one of the cozy spots nearby. Something that'll make you go "Mmm, encore".

So, what are you waiting for? Dive headfirst into Aachen’s most theatrical experience, and catch a show that'll make your heart sing. Check out the latest performances and make a night of it. Who knows, you might just fall head over heels for a tenor or be swept away by a soprano's high note. One thing’s for sure, it'll be a night to remember!

Discover Nature Parks around Aachen

Picture this: You're breathing in that fresh, crisp air, and every hassle from the real world just melts away. Yup, that's the magic of Aachen's nature parks. It's a little slice of paradise where you can get your adventure fix while taking in some seriously gorgeous scenery.

So, what makes Aachen's nature parks such a hit? Well, my friend, it's a cocktail of winding trails, lush greenery, and the kind of peace and quiet you just don't get in the hustle and bustle of the city. It's the perfect spot whether you're a lone wolf on a contemplative stroll or the ringleader of a family troupe hunting for the perfect picnic spot.

Do you want to know where you can find some gnarly trails to hike or bike? Aachen's nature parks have got you covered. And get this — they're oozing with routes that range from "piece-of-cake" walks to "I-feel-like-a-mountain-goat" climbs. So, no matter if you've got tiny tots in tow or you're out with your thrill-seeking pals, there's something for everyone.

Set aside a good chunk of your day if you want to really soak in all that nature's goodness. And oh, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for some local wildlife — you never know who might cross your path! Some say you haven't truly experienced Aachen until you've had an adventure in one of its legendary nature parks.

Remember, with great parks comes great responsibility. That means packing out what you pack in, and keeping the 'gram-worthy spots as pristine as you found them. Because hey, it's all about making sure the next batch of adventurers finds it just as stunning, right?

So, lace up those sneakers or strap on your hiking boots — whichever floats your boat — and get ready to discover the natural wonders just a hop, skip, and a jump from Aachen's doorstep. Trust me, your Instagram will thank you. 🌲🥾📸

FAQ

Q: What things are there to do in Aachen during winter?

A: You can explore Christmas markets, soak in hot springs, or visit historical sites like Aachen Cathedral bundled up in winter charm.

Q: What are some free activities to do in Aachen?

A: Stroll through the Old Town, see Aachen Cathedral, and enjoy the local parks, like Carolus Thermen, without spending a dime.

Q: Where can I find suggestions for things to do in Aachen on Reddit?

A: Just search "Things to do in Aachen" on Reddit to find personal recommendations and hidden gems from fellow travelers and locals.

Q: What can I do in Aachen if I only have one day?

A: Hit the highlights — see Aachen Cathedral, relax in Elisenbrunnen, and grab a meal at Markt Square, all doable in a single day.

Q: What's happening in Aachen this weekend?

A: Check out local event calendars online for festivals, concerts, and markets happening in Aachen over the weekend.

Q: What are some activities to do in Aachen at night?

A: Enjoy lively bars and clubs, night-time tours of the city, or a pleasant evening walk through the historied streets.

Q: Is Aachen worth visiting?

A: Totally! With its rich history, stunning architecture, and relaxing thermal baths, Aachen's definitely a hidden gem worth your time.

Q: What is special about Aachen?

A: Aachen's famous for Charlemagne's legacy, its gorgeous cathedral, and thermal springs — it's a city soaked in history and wellness.

Q: How many days do you need in Aachen?

A: You'd want at least two days to properly explore Aachen's sights without rushing. If you've got the time, stay a little longer to soak it all in!

Q: Is one day enough in Aachen?

A: Sure, one day's enough to see the main attractions, but if you're not in a hurry, take more time to enjoy what Aachen has to offer.

Final Words

Alright, you've just scratched the surface with these delightful slices of Aachen. From stepping through the medieval Ponttor to indulging in the city's sweet staple, the Aachener Printen, there's no shortage of ways to soak in the local culture. You've taken strolls and breaths of fragrant air in the stunning botanical gardens, flipped through history at the International Newspaper Museum, and got inspired by modern masterpieces at the Ludwig Forum.

And hey, for you adventurers out there, we've even covered hiking the lush Eifel trails and savoring every bite of Aachen's unique flavors. Don't forget that three-country border escapade or the chance to embrace the youthful buzz of the university scene.

So, whether you're here for nature, food, history, or art, rest assured that Aachen delivers. Go out there, grab those opportunities, and create memories. Remember, there's a whole world of things to do in Aachen waiting just for you.

Meet the Author
Isabella Kai
Isabella Kai, the Instagram wordsmith, crafts tales that captivate hearts worldwide. A dedicated foodie, she whips up culinary delights and pairs them with stories that make your taste buds dance. Beyond the screen, she's on a mission to visit every artisan bakery in town.
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