Explore Dusseldorf, Germany
Explore Dusseldorf, a city in western Germany and the capital city of the state North Rhine-Westphalia. Düsseldorf is one of the economic centers of Germany and is located along the River Rhine in the densely populated Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan area, with a population around 600.000.
The city is famous for its nightlife, carnival, events, shopping and for fashion and trade fairs like the Boot Messe (one of the world’s best trade fairs for boats and watersports) and Igedo (world leader in fashion). Every year, more than 4 million people visit the Kirmes fun fair which runs for 9 days in the summer.
Those who want to drive in the city center should be aware that it is an “environment zone” similar to that found in many other large German cities. Cars are required to have a sticker declaring the car’s pollution category.
The city centre is not that large and most attractions are a walk able distance from each other.
The main tourist information office is located in Immermann-Strasse 65b (opposite of the main station). A second office is located Marktstrasse/Rheinstrasse (inside the old town). They offer a lot of brochures: a monthly calendar of events, a city guide and free maps with walking routes designed around a specific theme (e.g., “Art Route”, “Düsseldorf in 1 Hour”) and, last but not least, a guide for gays. You can also book their guided tours, and note that there are also tours for disabled and deaf people.
The city was largely destroyed in World War 2, and there were very few old buildings left. People interested in modern architecture, however, will have much to see in Düsseldorf. Also, there are many pieces of modern art in the public, and on Stresemannplatz Square and the Rhine Bank, there are palms, not really the first thing you’d expect to see a cold day in October.
What to see. Best top attractions in Dusseldorf, Germany
The Old Town,
Old town (Altstadt). The Old Town of Düsseldorf is famous. Almost completely destroyed during World War 2, it was rebuilt according to historic plans on its foundation walls, which makes it look like a real historic town. Every house of the quarter, except one – see chapter “Neander Church”. Today the old town is a popular shopping mall, and at night and on weekends it turns into the so-called “longest bar of the world”. Within one square kilometer, you will find about 260 bars, coffee shops and snug brewing houses. The old town is the home of “Altbier”, a top-fermented, dark beer. They say it tastes best at the historical brewing houses. There, the “Köbesse” (local dialect: waiters) may be somewhat harsh but they are warm hearted. If your beer glass is empty the next “Alt” comes without you even having to order it. Many times the first “Alt” comes without even having to order it!
Foreign guests might not know that there is rivalry between the citizens of Düsseldorf and their neighbors in Cologne. So never ever order a “Kölsch” (a light beer brewed in Cologne) in Düsseldorf. If you do, some people might become very unfriendly. If they see you are a foreigner they will no doubt forgive you, but might be trouble.
Characteristic Rhenish dishes like Düsseldorfer Senfrostbraten (mustard roast pork), „Rheinischer Sauerbraten (marinated beef with raisins), Halve Hahn (rye slice, slice of cheese, mustard and gherkin) or Ähzezupp (pea soup) are offered everywhere within the old town. But besides bars and inns you will find some recommended sights inside the old town. Bolkerstrasse 56 is the birth place of Heinrich Heine 1797 – 1856), a poet and author and Düsseldorf’s most famous citizen. Next to the old town is the River Rhine with its nice promenade.
“Schneider-Wibbel-Gasse” (Tailor-Wibbel-Lane) is the name of a small lane inside the old town, connecting Bolkerstrasse and Flingerstrasse. It is packed with restaurants and bars, most of them offering Spanish-American and Latino-American food. The lane is named for Tailor Wibbel, the main character of a popular theatre play written by Hans-Müller Schlösser in 1913. Wibbel had opposed Napoleon and, therefore, was sent to prison. But, instead of himself, his assistant went to jail under the name of Wibbel. Unfortunately, the assistent died in prison as a result of a former disease. They drove down the assumed Wibbel, and so he was able to witness his own burial incognito. After the end of the French occupation, Wibbel could reveal his identity and became a local hero. Across Bolkerstrasse is the Wibble-Play-Watch. Daily, at 11, 13, 15, 18 and 21 o’clock, it tells the story of Tailor Wibbel. At the other end of the Lane, near Flingerstrasse, sits the Wibble sculpture. Walk nearby and examine the sculpture. Did you see the mouse?
Inside the old town, but everywhere in the city also, you will find lots of marvelous old gas lamps. Düsseldorf has more gas lamps than any other city in Germany outside Berlin.
The Burgplatz (Castle-Square) is situated at the old town limits next to the Rhine. One upon a time here was the castle of the Earls of Berg, the later duke of Jülich-Kleve-Berg. Later the castle was reconstructed to a baroque palace, which burned down in 1872. In 1888 the ruins were removed completely, leaving only a single tower. Today the tower houses an inland navigation museum. The coffee-shop in the tower’s top offers a grand view onto the Rhine and the ships passing by. The square was named one of the nicest squares in Germany after WW2.
The promenade on the bank of Rhine is one of the most beautiful in Germany, and it is situated on the correct side, the right bank, because the sun shines onto this side all day long (the citizens of Cologne used to say the left bank of the Rhine is the correct one because the centre of Cologne is situated there), The promenade leads from Parliament via Mannesmannufer, Rathausufer, Burgplatz, and Tonhalle to Rhine-Park. It was created by constructing a tunnel in 1993 and routing cars underground, so that the riverside became a pedestrian area. Most gangways for boat trips on the Rhine are situated near Burgplatz. Many coffee shops offer seats outside where you can watch and be watched when the weather is nice. The pavement of the promenade is artwork too; its sinuous design reflects the waves on the river.
St. Lambertus Basilika, built with bricks in the Lower Rhine Gothic style, is a landscape of Düsseldorf. Particularly characteristic is the winding tower. Although there are legends saying they used wet arbors for reconstructing after a fire in 1815, people know better. About 100 years ago, a bride dressed in a snow-white wedding dress came to the altar pretending to be a virgin. Being ashamed the tower turned aside. They also say that it will straighten again if a real virgin appears at the altar. As you can clearly see, the tower is still twisted. But the fact is the citizens love their twisted tower. After the war, they reconstructed it as twisted as it was before. The church-hall was the last residence of St. Apollinaris, the city’s patron.
Follow the Lambertus-Street beside the church to Stiftsplatz. The square breathes a contemplative tranquility, only 100 Meters outside the loud old town. Continue on Lambertus-Street, and near the crossing with “Liefergasse” you’ll see on the left a marvelous house front. There are many fine fronts in Düsseldorf, but this one is among the prettiest.
The Neander-church has its own history too. The population of the Rhinelands is mainly Catholic, and Protestants and members of the Reformed Church had to suffer many restrictions. Finally, the contract of Rheinberg in 1682 granted everybody the free practice of religion. This led to the construction of the Reformed church-house at Bolkerstrasse in 1683 in the early baroque style with a simplified façade. Although the Protestants and members of the reformed church had the right to build their own churches, they were not liked. So the new church had to be built in the yard of already existing buildings, so it wouldn’t be visible from the street. But today you have an unlimited view of the church from Bolkerstrasse because the building that hid it was the only one within the old town not rebuild after the war. In 1916, the church got the name Neander-Church.
Neander – if this name reminds you of prehistoric men you are absolutely right. A man named Joachim Neander worked as an assistant priest for the reformed religious community of Düsseldorf between 1674 and 1679. He became known as a composer of many chants. For inspiration he often visited a wild and natural valley east of Düsseldorf. To honor him, this valley was named Neander-Valley in about 1800. It was in this Valley that in 1856 were found the bones of prehistoric men, the famous Neandertal-man.
The City Monument at Burgplatz is an artwork of Bert Gerresheim, donated by the society “Düsseldorfer Jongens” on occasion of the 700th anniversary of town foundation. It is a kaleidoscope of local history, starting on left side with the cruel battle of Worringen, the signing of foundation documents by the earl of Berg in the middle and several scenes on right side including 4 popes. Among them we see Nikolaus IV raising St. Lambertus Church to a canon monastery. A market scene is shown, but also trade goods of Düsseldorf. The Monument is full of symbols. You should go nearby and take account of details. You also should go some steps back. Mind the men following the apocalyptic horse riders on left side. Their arms form the number 1288, the year of the battle of Worringen. During the battle, the Earl of Berg, Adolf V, fought against the archbishop of Cologne, Sigfried of Westerburg. The citizens of Düsseldorf and, hard to understand if you know about the today’s difficult relationship between the cities, the citizens of Cologne backed Adolf V. The battle ended with the victory of the earl and the citizens.
On the right hand of the monument is a little river, named the northern Düssel. It gave the city its name (Düsseldorf means village at Düssel). The balustrade is an artwork of Bert Gerreshein too. It is also full of symbols.
City Hall and Jan Wellem in front
The historic city hall of Düsseldorf dates from the 16th century. Since then it houses the city parliament. The Building consists of three parts; there are guided tours for free every Wednesday at 15:00 o’clock. They will show you the council hall, the Jan-Wellem hall and the reception hall of the Lord Mayor where they present the city’s silver coins and roof-paintings of the artists Domenico Zanetti and Johannes Spilberg.
In front of the city hall is the monument of elector Johann Wilhelms II, (1658-1716) on horseback. The citizens call him affectionately Jan Wellem. His monument is among the most important baroque equestrian sculptures north the Alps. Because of his connections to European dynasties and by the powers invested in him he was a very important man. In co-operation with other electors he elected the German Emperor. He was a representative of a pompous baroque sovereign. In 1691 he married Anna Maria Luisa de‘ Medici (1667-1743). Jan Wellem died in 1716, his gravesite is in St. Andreas-Church. Jan Wellem boosted the development of Düsseldorf, therefore the citizens still love him. The monument was realized by Gabriel Grupello in 1711.
At the side of market square, in the shadow of Jan Wellem, stands the statue of the cast boy. They say that just before the cast of the Jan Wellem monument master Grupello realized that the amount of metal was not sufficient. This let the cast boy ask the citizens for a donation of noble metal like silver forks or coins. He got so much that the cast could be finished very well. Out of thankfulness he got a statue too. The one you see today was designed by Willi Hoselmann and realized in 1932.
Media Harbor. At the southern end of the Rhine promenade you will find the newest landmark of Düsseldorf, the so called Media Harbor. The former harbor was transformed in a quarter with restaurants, bars, coffee shops, discotheques and hotels. Its flair is based on the mixture of old and new. Protected buildings like depots, quay walls and industrial surroundings stand side by side with modern architecture. There are buildings constructed by Frank O. Gehry, Claude Vasconi or David Chipperfield. Mainly the Gehry buildings form the face of the quarter.
Probably you have already seen those guys standing on advertising columns, the so called pillar saints. There are nine of them, it is a project of artist Christoph Pöggeler (born in 1958 in Münster/Westphalia). Humans removed from their daily routine and putted on a pedestal, become noticeable as individuals again and also refer to groups of society like children, business men, vagabonds and strangers. The position of the sculptures is:
- Business Man: Joseph-Beuys-Ufer, Düsseldorf 2001
- Marlis: Stromstraße, WDR, Düsseldorf 2001
- Couple I: Burgplatz, Düsseldorf 2002
- Tourist: Kaiserswerther Straße, Düsseldorf 2003
- Father and Son: Oststraße, Düsseldorf 2003
- Photographer: Hauptbahnhof, Düsseldorf 2004
- Couple II: Berger Allee, Düsseldorf 2004
- Stranger: Schlossufer, Düsseldorf 2005
- Bride: Schulstraße/ Ecke Citadellstraße, Düsseldorf 2006
The 240m high Rhine Tower is right on the Rhine river, near the Media Harbor. It offers a 360-degree view from the restaurant, at 172 m. The restaurant is overpriced, but it is worth a trip for the amazing view.
Carlstadt is situated south the old town, it is the link between it and the styled Media Harbor. Many houses of Carlstadt have a baroque facade, what gives the quarter a special flair. A lot of artists have their atelier there. Also you find there trendy boutiques, antiquaries and art shops, many of them in Bilker-Strasse. Additional shops and coffee bars are in Hohe Strasse. I also recommend a walk along Citadellstrasse, Schulstrasse and across Anna-Maria-Luisa-de’ Medici-Square. This streets offer the most original flair of the days of foundation. Centre of Carltadt ist Carls-Square. Here is market on weekdays, citizens and tourists like it. They offer food, sweets, flowers and popular artworks.
By order of elector Carl Theodor the architect Nicolas de Pigage planned and implemented the first public park in Germany, named Hofgarten. It became the prototype of the English Garden of Munich. In the oldest part of Hofgarten you find the Jröne Jong (local dialect, meaning green boy). From there the “Riding Alley” leads strait forward to palace Jägerhof, which today houses the Goethe-Museum. People like the self-luminous park benches on Riding Alley. And last not least Hofgarten houses some sculptures of famous artist.
The North-Park, on the right bank of Rhine in the northern city, is one of the major Parks in Düsseldorf. It’s most interesting part is the Japanese garden inside, a gift of the Japanese community to the citizens. Within about 5000 square meters you will find an example of Japanese horticulture with traditional Elements like stones, trees, bushes, ponds and bridges. Entrance is for free.
In the quarter of Oberkassel is the EKO-House, the house of Japanese culture. It is Europe’s first and unique Buddhist temple, surrounded by several Buildings like Kindergarten and a library. The garden is styled like a Japanese garden. There are guided tours, but if you mind the dignity of the location they will not prevent you from stepping in during daytime. Address: Brüggener Weg 6, 40547 Düsseldorf.
Benrath Palace and Park. The Corps de Logis is the central building of the three-wing maison de plaisance, which was erected for the Palatine Elector Carl Theodor by his garden and building director Nicolas de Pigage. Construction was completed in 1770: it is a complete work of art that unites architecture and nature in one overlapping concept, and is rated as one of the most beautiful palaces of the rococo epoch. The park beside the Palace is enormous, nearly 62,000 square meters.
Königsallee. The main street of Düsseldorf is called “Kö” by the locals and consists of two streets divided by a canal.
Kaiserswerth. Kaiserswerth is one of the oldest parts of the city of Düsseldorf and is located in the north of the city and next to the river Rhine. (Ubahn stop: Klemensplatz) Kaiserswerth is home to the ruin the Kaiserpfalz, a thousand years old castle, and to many other historic Buildings like the Kaiserswerther Diakonie, which is the place where famous Florence Nightingale worked. Through its historic buildings, beautiful landscape, cafes and it’s near to the Rhine, Kaiserswerth is the perfect place to spend a Relaxing sunny day without the city centers masses of people.
Benrather Schlosspark, Benrather Schloss Allee. This is a big park with a beautiful palace, Museums, a Bibliothek, a cafe and beautiful sculptures and also a vegetable garden, where you can buy regional vegetables. The Benrather Schlosspark (Schloss means Palace) is located in the southern area of Düsseldorf, which is called Benrath. It’s home to the baroque pleasure palace of Elector Palatine Charles Theodore and his wife Countess Elizabeth Auguste of Sulzbach, build by Nicolas de Pigage from 1755 to 1770. The main building can be visited for guided tours. The two wings house two museums since 2002: the Museum for European Garden Art in the east wing and the Museum of Natural History in the west wing. The buildings are surrounded by beautiful gardens and lakes. The Rhine, with small beaches and beautiful surrounding area, also can be reached through the park.
What to do In Dusseldorf, Germany
Altstadt. meaning “old city,” of Düsseldorf is very beautiful. Here you can find the famous Alt beer, found in traditional breweries like the “Uerige”, “Füchschen”, “Zum Schlüssel ” or “Schumacher” (tourists and local citizens frequent the Old City pubs, creating an authentic and lively blend of personalities).
Königsallee, (U-Bahn stop: Steinstr./Kö). This shopping district, known as the “Kö”, is internationally recognized for its plethora high level fashion stores. It is sometimes referred to as the “Champs-Élysées of Germany”.
Film-Museum, Schulstraße 4. Tues-Sun 11-17, Wed 11-21.
Hetjens Museum/Deutsches Keramikmuseum, Schulstrasse 4. Tues-Sun 11-17, Wed 11-21.
Theatermuseum, Hofgärtnerhaus, Jägerhofstrasse 1. Tues-Sun 13-20:30.
Stadtmuseum, Berger Allee 2. Tues-Sun 11-18.
Schifffahrtmuseum Düsseldorf, Burgplatz 30. Tues-Sun 11-18. The shipping museum in the old castle tower. 3€.
Kunstsammlung NRW, Grabbeplatz 5. Tue-Fri 10:00-18:00, Sat-Sun and Holidays 11:00-18:00. Kunstsammlung NRW has two building, K20 at Altstadt and K21 in downtown Düsseldorf. K20 has a great collection of 20th century art, including Picasso, Klee, Richter, Kandinsky, and Warhol. K21 houses modern art collection after 1960s, mainly from local artists. Entry is free in the evening of the first Wednesday of the Month.
Düsseldorf is a stronghold of Carnivals. The 5th season starts on 11.11. at 11:11 o’clock with the handover of the keys of the city hall to the women. But the main carnival runs from Carnival Monday to Ash Wednesday. If you have the chance don’t miss the parade on Carnival Monday in February. Also note that even though Carnival Monday is not a public holiday, many stores and other places effectively treat it as such.
Nacht der Museen. Once a year, like in many other German cities, a Night of Museums is organized by the City of Düsseldorf and the consulting firm Ernst & Young.
Christmas market. The annual Christmas market, which centers around the Altstadt. Try a Gluehwein (mulled wine) and Bratwurst (grilled sausage in bread roll).
Kirmes. Between the 2nd and 3rd weekend of July there is fun fair on the banks of Rhine. You will find there roller coasters, a Ferris wheel, a flying jinni and at least a beer garden too. Also Watermelons are sold everywhere. It is the biggest fair at Rhine and very enjoyable. Monday, called pink Monday, is the day of lesbians and gays. On Friday is firework display.
Every year at the end of April thousands of runners from Germany and from all over the world come to run the Düsseldorf Marathon which is open for everyone. For participants a registration is required. Viewers are welcome every time.
Free entrance to the K20 and K21 every first Wednesday in the Month.
Daily concerts. There are music concerts daily from smaller, indie bands playing at the most interesting venues and projects in the city.
What to buy
Along the main boulevard Königsallee there are many smaller boutiques. The most common German department store chains (Galeria, Karstadt, Saturn, C&A, Peek and Cloppenburg) are all situated on the crossing Liesegangstrasse / Schadowstrasse.
Those who like trendy fashion should visit the quarter of Flingern, especially Ackerstrasse. Recently the quarter has turned from a residential to a creative district, offering stores like the trendy ones you will find in Berlin. Also the district of Pempelfort (Tußmannstrasse) and Bilk (Lorettostrasse) demonstrate that there is a fashion scene beside international fashion houses.
Killepitsch is a local liquor flavored with herbs (so called “Kräuterlikör”). The liquor has a blood red color and is made from a combination of 90 fruits, berries, herbs, and spices.
“Löwensenf” (Mustard) – One of the most famous producers of German Mustard is situated in Düsseldorf. Moveover, a special mustard store, with a mustard tasting area, is based in the Düsseldorf-Altstadt (some fancy mustards are available at this place: for example “Altbier Mustard”, “Chilli Mustard”, “Strawberry Mustard”, etc.)
“Bottles of Altbier” – One nice souvenir or gift is a bottle of local Altbier. Breweries usually sell these bottles directly in their gastronomies.
Flea market at Aachener Platz, Ulenbergstraße 10, 40223 Düsseldorf-Bilk. Every Saturday from 6 o’clock in the morning there is a flea marktet at Aachener Platz in Düsseldorf-Bilk. Next to antique treasures and vintage Fashion, there also is a cute cafe with live Music from local and international musicians.
What to drink
Düsseldorf is known for its many bars in the downtown (Altstadt) area. In fact, many people refer to the Altstadt as the “longest bar in the world” (“Längste Theke der Welt”). The most common drink is “Altbier” or simply “Alt.” This dark beer, served in small glasses, is available at practically any restaurant in the city. Altbier is only brewed in breweries around Düsseldorf. In the Altstadt you can enjoy Schlüssel, Uerige, Schumacher, and Füchschen beers, at traditional brewery restaurants. The waiters at these traditional restaurants are called “Koebes.” BolkerStrasse, Flingerstrasse (Uerige), Ratingerstrasse and Kurzestrasse are the main places where you find all kinds of pubs and breweries. A variation of the Altbier is called Krefelder. It’s an Altbier with Coke.
During summer months the Altstadt will come alive after work. People standing outside the pubs and enjoying their beer and good company. This will be especially so on Wednesday evenings on Ratingerstrasse. The street will be packed full of people with a great chilled atmosphere. Be aware though of broken glass on the cobbled street. But if you have a chance to go, do not miss it.
Besides Altstadt, which some might consider to be slightly artificial, there are many others places around the city to enjoy beer or cocktails as well. During the last years, Medienhafen (Media Harbor) has become one of very popular quarters; especially during the summer. Other, rather non-touristic areas include Pempelfort (Nordstrasse), Unterbilk (Loretto Strasse, Düsselstrasse), Oberkassel (Luegallee), and Düsseltal (Retherstrasse).
Bonn — the former capital of (West) Germany is located due south and easy to reach by train or S-Bahn
Königswinter — small town reachable by train
Augustusburg Palace and Gardens
Brühl — almost a suburb of Cologne and contains the Augustusburg Palace which has been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The palace is one of the key works of Balthasar Neuman, and contains one of the finest Rococco interiors in the world, the highlight being the main staircase. Also in the grounds is the magnificent hunting Lodge of Falkenslust. Brühl can be easily reached by train. The theme park of Phantasialand is also in Brühl.
Ruhr (Ruhrgebiet) — If you are interested in heavy industry and/or industrial culture this might be a worthwhile trip. It is located about 50 km north of Düsseldorf. The region, which was the center of montan (coal and steel) industry in Germany is going through a structural transformation and presents their industrial heritage not without proud on the Industrial Heritage Trail.
Explore Dusseldorf, Germany and some international cities
Due to Düsseldorf’s proximity to the German/Belgian/Dutch border weekend trips to foreign destinations are easy to arrange.
Official tourism websites of Dusseldorf
For more information please visit the official government website: