The most populous state in Germany, North Rhine-Westphalia offers visitors natural beauty and bustling cities.
Luxuriating for a day at a thermal spa, discovering contemporary art, exploring the German landscape, we think it’s worth spending some time in this region to take it all in.
Christmas markets are an essential stop for winter travels to Germany and can be found in most cities and towns. While warm weather travels to the area must include a cruise along the Rhine.
Where is Aachen & North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany?
North Rhine-Westphalia (Nordrhein-Westfalen) is bordered by the Netherlands to the west, Belgium to the south-west, and by German states Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) to the north, Hesse (Hessen) to the south-east, and Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz) to the south.
North Rhine-Westphalia is landlocked with no coastline.
Aachen is situated in the south-west of the region.
Best things to do in Aachen & North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
UNESCO Sites in Aachen & North Rhine-Westphalia
Kölner Dom, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Roman Catholic church presents an artistic work of genius, with its detailed and revolutionary Gothic architecture. Visitors looking for a climb will relish in memorable views of the city. The Cologne Cathedral is often said to be the sightseeing highlight for many visitors to Cologne.
Awarded a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation in 2001, the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex was once a place of intense manual labour, now a popular site for art and music. Open all year round and host to both travellers and locals, visitors can enjoy the dynamic festivals and exhibitions; and enjoy activity at the rink or pool, also.
Top Attractions in Aachen & North Rhine-Westphalia
One of the best ways to take in the natural beauty and hospitality of the region’s small towns and villages is to cycle, for practical tips on where to stay and what to bring, check out Adrian’s advice on planning a tour through the Eifel region.
Reserve at least a whole day for Aachen, it has more to offer than it seems at first sight. The more interesting places are well hidden from the tourist path and only accessible to those of us who like to explore. All you need to do is get a free USE-IT map from the Tourist Office and follow their suggested routes. Discover the ornate facades of Bismarkstrasse, the Frankenberg Castle and its surrounding park, before you arrive at Burtscheider Markt, an unknown pedestrian square, with its mix of old and new architecture.
Düsseldorf Weihnachtsmarkt begins in late November and ends at the end of December and takes place in several places. Part of the Christmas Market in Düsseldorf’s Old Town is the Angel Market, on the Heinrich-Heine-Platz, in front of Carsch house. There are plenty of yummy options, like wild game stews, soups in bread bowls, and traditional German dishes and sweets. With many boutiques, shops, museums, and the Rhine promenade, the Old Town offers a colourful mix of options besides the Christmas festivities.
History and art buffs should devote lots of time to Cologne’s museums and galleries. First of all, there’s a chocolate museum, but let’s move on… The Wallraf-Richartz Museum boasts an expansive collection of fine art from a diversity of styles, across seven centuries, while the Kolumba offers a collection more specific to artistic representations of Christianity. For those looking to connect with Germany’s WWII experience, The Gestapo Prison is a stark and authentic reminder of the horrors of the Holocaust.
Indulge yourself at Aachen’s Carolus Thermen. The spa has organised each experience offered as ‘worlds’: Thermal World contains the majority of the spa’s pools, both indoor and outdoor; Sauna World offers a range in temperature and style, and our favourite part was the many sauna ‘rituals’ taking place; Indulgence World is where you can order additional spa services, from massages to facials and body treatments; and finally Gourmet World consists of three restaurant options.
Fun Facts about Aachen & North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
The state’s flag reflects the amalgamation of what were previously two regions: green and white of the Rhein province, red and white from Westfalen.
Dusseldorf is the state capital of North Rhine-Westphalia
Famous NRW’s include Beethoven, born in Bonn in the 18th century, and Claudia Schiffer, born in the region and discovered in Dusseldorf
NRW has Germany’s largest population in the country, nearly 18 million people!
Aachen is Germany’s westernmost city, and its name is derived from it’s famous thermal, mineral springs
Our thoughts about Aachen & North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Alison says: “Despite frequent trips to our favourite spa in Aachen and a few long weekends in Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia remains a region we have yet to discover. If the entire region is as picturesque as the village of Monschau, famous for its festive Christmas Market, there is still plenty for us to discover.”
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