All the reasons we think you should visit Düsseldorf Germany for your next European holiday! If Western Germany is on your travel wish list, we’ve pulled together 8 reasons to include Düsseldorf on your itinerary. With an amazing mix of architecture, a world class fashion and shopping scene, and vibe not found in other cities. So many places to visit in Dusseldorf, so little time…here’s a list to get you started.
This is a guest post by Roxanna Keyes from Gypsy With a Day Job
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Overall, Germany is a world class destination becoming much more popular with international tourists over the last few years. The welcoming locals, the diverse landscape, an extensive array of cultural attractions, and top notch cities. Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg, and even Cologne, come to mind when considering fascinating exploration in Germany. Düsseldorf on the other hand, often gets overlooked or bypassed. This really is a mistake. There are many reasons to visit, and places to visit in Düsseldorf. Below are 8 that should put the city on the must-see list!
The Shopping in Dusseldorf is an Attraction by Itself
Shopping is one of the most popular and best things to do in Dusseldorf. While it may be a relatively small city in terms of size, it is a huge player in the world of high fashion and trends. The Königsallee, or the King’s Alley, is the city’s premier street for shopping in Dusseldorf, and a place to see and be seen. The Königsallee, endearingly referred to by locals as The Kö, is known to be among the best shopping in all of Europe, surpassed only by some Paris shopping districts.
The Kö is known for luxury shopping, featuring more than 30 prestige labels in a boutique atmosphere for a sophisticated shopping experience. There are also a number of fashion shows and premier events held on The Kö each year. It is one of the main attractions in Dusseldorf in and of itself. Window shopping can be almost as enjoyable on The Kö, while the men may prefer to admire the expensive cars parked along the avenue, typically lined with Lamborghinis, Bugattis, and other sleek models. Even those who are not shoppers can enjoy The Kö, sitting along the center canal in the shade of the 120 chestnut trees which line the avenue, and people watch.
Düsseldorf has many other shopping options available for more reasonable budgets. For a more mainstream shopping mall in Dusseldorf, try the Schadow Arkaden, on Schadowstraße. The Carlstadt neighborhood, is known for charming Baroque architecture, and small antique and specialty shops. Or try Ackerstraße, in the Flingern-Nord neighborhood for boutiques with cutting edge trends and arts.
- Tip: If you head to Carlstadt, go hungry, and stop at the Carlsplatz Market. This is the oldest street markets in the city, loaded with fresh produce and baked goods right alongside gourmet delicacies.
The Art is Another Great Reason to Visit Dusseldorf
Düsseldorf is also known as a cultural city referred to as the cradle of art and culture in the city’s Culture Guide available at welcome centers. The brochure is quite handy as it highlights a number of cultural experiences available in the city from the works of Goethe to the opera, and every conceivable form of visual art in between.
The Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen houses a collection so extensive that the museum is spread over three separate venues known as the K20, the K21, and the Schmela Haus. It is said to be among the world’s best collections of modern art where you’ll find works by Picasso, Matisse, Kirchner, Warhol, Pollack and other greats.
Also of note, the Kunst Im Tunnel, referred to as KIT, is smaller and located in spaces between the tunnels under the Rhine embankment. Exhibits change four times a year, and it provides an avenue for art academy students to showcase their work.
Those who prefer more traditional art should try the Museum Kunstpalast. Some of the featured exhibits of the Kunstpalast include works of Old Masters and modern classics. The museum complex also has an internationally acclaimed graphic arts section, and the Hentrich Glass Museum.
- Tip: All German museums are closed on Mondays, so plan accordingly. Combine a love for art with adventure at K21, where you can be a part of the Tomas Saraceno “In Orbit” project!
The Old Town is One of the Main Places to Visit in Dusseldorf
Like many cities in Germany, Düsseldorf has a charming old town, or Altstadt, that was once the hub of the city. A couple of the more notable things to see in Dusseldorf can be found here, namely the Rathaus, or old city hall, and the Schlossturm. The Schlossturm is the remnant tower of what was once the city palace. Today it’s the Schiffert Museum, showcasing the maritime history and the ecology of the Rhine.
While old town Dusseldorf is not as visually stunning as those in some of Germany’s other notable cities, it retains its charm with picturesque cobbled lanes and cute street front cafes. Some guided tours are available for those who want to learn the history of the buildings and their role in the city’s past. Or, exploring on your own will afford you the time to stop at one of the numerous unique boutique shops and cafes.
At night, Dusseldorf old town takes on an entirely different persona. It is known for having the “longest bar in the world” due to the succession of almost 300 pubs, bars and clubs. After dinner this section is packed with students and tourists, so be warned. It is worth seeing though, so stop by in the late afternoon to avoid some of the crowd.
- Tip: Many German cities have their own unique brew of beer, served in a specific way. The Düsseldorf brew is called Altbier, so be sure to give it a try.
- The city is also the home of a specialty herb liqueur, Killepitsch. Be sure to ask the server for the legend behind Killepitsch when trying it. Be prepared, as it has quite a kick going down!
The Rhine is Cherished by the Locals
The Rhine River once served as the main means of transport and trading. Locals love their river as it was the lifeblood of Düsseldorf, as well as countless other cities and towns that grew up along its banks. Although life in the city no longer depends on the river like it once did, the Rhine is still a centerpiece for the city, and one of the top things to see in Dusseldorf.
You can even take a ferry from Düsseldorf to other riverside cities, or to take a sightseeing cruise. In all honesty, the area is not the most exciting nor the most scenic. IF you’re short on time or only planning to visit Dusseldorf in one day, beyond the city skylines, there is not much to see. A Rhine cruise is best enjoyed further south in Germany.
In Düsseldorf, the Rhine is best enjoyed from the land. Walking the promenade is very popular, and there are always lots of people to see and things to do. The city also maintains two riverfront park areas, one on each side of the river, and there is even a sandy beach area across the pedestrian bridge from the Medienhafen, although swimming is not advised.
To get the best views of the Rhine take the elevator to the top of the Rheinturm. Going up the tower, a central feature of the skyline, has become one of the top things to do in Dusseldorf. It is also the best place to get a great view of the city, and the Rhine River.
- Tip: Visit the Rheinturm later in the day, when you are ready for a relaxing sip of wine while you enjoy the lovely views. There are tables and bar service in the public viewing area.
Admiring The Architecture is Inescapable When you Visit Dusseldorf
Düsseldorfers love architecture, and the city is a relative history book of building styles from gothic to ultra-modern. Locals are proud of this, and often make a point to ensure visitors get an opportunity to see some of the most outstanding areas. There are neighborhoods that have a postwar cookie cutter look, like almost every German city, but here, they are overshadowed by masterpieces.
The modern structures of the Medienhafen area have become renowned the word over and one of the more interesting things you’ll be made aware of visiting Dusseldorf Germany. Medienhafen was once a busy port area for the city that fell into near ruin, as river transport became less and less important. The city brought in architects from around the world to revive the area, which is now home to business offices, galleries and restaurants. Hanging out in Medienhafen is definitely one of the cool things to do in Dusseldorf. This is a place that is really worth seeing from a river tour as it is best admired from the water.
The Medienhafen is not the only place to see spectacular modern architecture, which has become almost an obsession for the city. The city gate, or Stadttor, which look like an arch from a distance. It has won acclaim, as has the KoBogen, and other buildings such as the Kunstsammlung K21, the Regional Government Office, and the Schauspielhaus are stunning and unique.
But modern is obviously not the only type of gorgeous architecture found in Dusseldorf. Baroque facades line the streets near Carlsplatz, while the Altstadt has several examples of gothic and neo classical buildings. The city even boasts a couple of stunning examples of Rococo palaces, Schloss Benrath and Schloss Jägerhof.
- Tip: The Düsseldorf Hop On Hop Off bus has one of the best prices we have found anywhere. The tour runs long enough that there is time to hop off and explore every stop for an hour. It is also a great way to get a glimpse of some of the incredible architecture.
- For true enthusiasts, the city offers specialized architecture tours, which can be scheduled at the welcome center near the central Bahnhof (train station).
Green Spaces are Aplenty
Germans love of the outdoors, and Düsseldorfers are no different. The city maintains an incredible number of parks and green spaces which are widely used by locals and make great places to see in Dusseldorf. Even in the densely packed urban areas, there are somehow shady trees lining the streets. In many sections of the city, this gives a feeling of calm, even when traffic and business is heavy.
Beyond the avenues, there are parks and gardens in every section of the city. The Hofgarten, which is considered Germany’s oldest park, forms a half circle around the city center. Locals refer to the park as the green lung of the city. Hofgarten fills over 27 hectares, with a mixture of meadows and gardens. There are walking trails throughout Hofgarten, with fountains, sculptures and historical monuments adding to the experience.
There are dozens of other parks and green areas throughout the city, many with their own unique features. Some are mainly free open areas like the parks lining both sides of the Rhine (the Rheinwiesen and the and the Rheinpark Golzheim). Others have formal garden areas, or have opportunities for ‘animal encounters’, such as Nordpark with the Aquazoo, and the Grafenberger Wald Wildlife Park.
Many of the government buildings and former palaces have formal garden areas. Schloss Benrath is known not only for the palace and museums, but also for its formal gardens. Heinrich Heine University houses a Botanical Garden and greenhouse. Community gardens are also quite popular, and there are several throughout the city.
If you’re visiting Dusseldorf in a day on a larger German holiday, it’s unlikely you’ll spend much time enjoying these spaces. However, if you have some extra time, or need to escape the hustle, you won’t be disappointed.
- Tip: Grilling is a popular weekend activity, so to feel like a local, head on out to one of the parks for a Sunday BBQ picnic.
- Swimming is also a favorite outdoor activity. For some fun things to do in Dusseldorf, get in the water or on the water at Unterbacher See. There are two beach areas and sailboat rentals, along with a number of other outdoor options.
- For the ultimate in outdoor relaxation, Wellneuss might be the right choice. There are natural bathing pools in relaxing, garden settings, as well as a number of different spa services.
Relish The Japanese Culture
While Asian culture is not high on the agenda for any European trip, in Düsseldorf, the Japanese culture is not to be missed. In fact, the city might just be the European of capital of Japanese culture. While both London and Paris have a larger Japanese community, they outsize Düsseldorf by millions. With only 600,000 residents, the city has the third largest Japanese community in Europe.
A number of Japanese businesses have their European headquarters in Düsseldorf, mostly concentrated in the areas near Immermannstraße. The area was built for business, so a stereotypical Asian community, or “Japantown” will not be found, but it is still interesting to explore. You’ll find some of the best sushi and noodle restaurants in Europe. Na Ni Wa comes highly recommended.
Further out in the city, there are two amazing Japanese gardens. The first is located in a back corner of the Nordpark, behind the Aquazoo. It was designed and built as a gift to the city by the Japanese community. Despite its location, the garden remains tranquil with a contemplative air. The second Japanese garden is located near the Eko-Haus Center for Japanese Culture.
The Eko-Haus Center warrants a visit from anyone interested in Japanese culture, or Shin-Buddhism, sometimes known as Pure Land Buddhism. Shin-Buddhism has some different principles than the more widely known Zen Buddhism, and it is a common form practiced in Japan. Eko-Haus includes a Shin-Buddhist temple, one of the few in Europe, as well as a teahouse and the gardens.
- Tip: For the best Japanese cultural experience in Düsseldorf, time your visit to coincide with Japan Day held annually in May. Live music, theater and combat skill performances are given throughout the day. There are also educational stands showcasing various Japanese art forms including origami, calligraphy, and anime. The day ends with a spectacular fireworks display.
The Street Art is Some of the Best
Although it may seem repetitive throughout cities in Germany, it is impossible to talk about Düsseldorf without mentioning the street art. For many residents and visitors, this is one of the most loved aspects of the city. Sadly, you won’t find any mention of the city’s reputation for street art in the Düsseldorf Culture Guide. You don’t always need to visit a museum in Düsseldorf to see great art.
Many people might not consider sculptures and fountains in public places to be street art, and perhaps they do not meet the specific definition. But how else should they be classified? In some cities sculptures seem out of place, but they feel right where they belong in Düsseldorf. Intricate sculptures and ornate fountains are found at every turn, from the old Rathaus, to the Neptune fountain at The Kö.
The city is also known around the world for what is more often considered street art. There are little bits and pieces throughout the city, but two neighborhoods stand out; Flingern-Nord, and Bilk. This is where the streets are filled with remarkable examples of street art. Some of the works found in these neighborhoods are so loved that they have their own websites and there are shops that sell reproductions.
If time is limited, the one street to put on the itinerary is Kieferstraße. The small section of Flingern-Nord has had a long and complicated history since it was originally built as industrial housing. All of that history led to it becoming what was called the world’s first graffiti neighborhood, and it was certainly the world’s largest for many years. It is one of the first places that many locals share with visitors, and one of the cool things to do in Dusseldorf.
Where to Stay in Dusseldorf
Top 3 star Hotels in Dusseldorf
- Hotel Sir & Lady Astor (rated 9.2 on Booking.com)
- Sleep Inn Dusseldorf (rated 8.9 on Booking.com)
- TIPTOP Hotel (rated 9.1 on Booking.com)
Top 4 star Hotels in Dusseldorf
- Hotel Favor (rated 9.0 on Booking.com)
- Stage 47 (rated 8.9 on Booking.com)
- Hotel Indigo Victoriaplatz (rated 9.1 on Booking.com)
Top 5 star Hotels in Dusseldorf
- Breidenbacher Hof (rated 9.5 on Booking.com)
- Living Hotel de Medici (rated 9.0 on Booking.com)
- Intercontinental Dusseldorf (rated 8.9 on Booking.com)
Düsseldorf is a welcoming city with a diverse population, and is known for having an array of festivals and celebrations throughout the year. It has an easy to use public transportation system and a compact city center, making it easy for visitors to get around.
The city is also a perfect base for day trips all around northwestern Germany, and even into the Netherlands. There are direct train lines and easy access to multiple highways of the autobahn, making getting to and from other locations easy and fast. Cologne and Bonn are obvious choices, but there are dozens of other possibilities for Düsseldorf day trips that make fabulous options.
Ready to visit Düsseldorf on your next trip to Germany?
Roxanna Keyes created Gypsy With a Day Job to help people with heavy work schedules still find ways to see and experience the world. She is a mom and grandma who averages 55 hour work weeks, but still makes ways to travel.