Aachen has been around for millennia. The Romans nursed their war wounds and stiff joints in the steaming waters of its mineral springs, but it was Charlemagne who put the city firmly on the European map. The emperor, too, enjoyed a dip now and then, but it was more for strategic reasons that he made Aachen the geographical and political capital of his vast Frankish Empire in 974 – arguably the first empire with European dimensions.
Today, Aachen is still a quintessentially international city that gets unique appeal from its location in the border triangle with the Netherlands and Belgium. Charlemagne’s legacy lives on in the stunning Dom, which in 1978 became Germany’s first Unesco World Heritage Site, as well as in the new Centre Charlemagne and the Route Charlemagne walking trail.
Aachen has a lively vibe that's further enhanced by a large student population.