In Düsseldorf’s old town alone are about 260 bars and restaurants. No wonder this makes the city the self-proclaimed “longest bar of the world”.
But this jovial city is far more than a bender- and stag party location. Therefore, I’ve asked five very special locals to guide you to the most interesting and beautiful places.
Welcome to Düsseldorf
General Tourist Information
Although being home to about 600,000 people and thusly much smaller than Cologne (which has over a million inhabitants), Düsseldorf* is the capital of Germany’s Federal Country North Rhine-Westphalia.
Located on the river Rhine, it is a central point between the mining towns of the Ruhr – such as Essen, Duisburg, and many more – and the cities in the Rhine land like Cologne and Germany’s former capital Bonn. You can reach an incredible number of smaller cities within up to an hour; also on the river Rhine, if you please.
But you’ll see there’s no reason for leaving so fast – Düsseldorf has a lot to offer even to its visitors who prefer to stay sober.
After Frankfurt and Munich, Düsseldorf’s airport is the third largest one in Germany.
It’s located only about 7 km from the city center so it can be easily reached by public transport. For the passengers’ convenience, there are two train station: Bahnhof Düsseldorf Flughafen and Bahnhof Düsseldorf Flughafen Terminal. Latter is right in the airport, the other one is connected by Sky Train.
Consequently, it’s a short ten minutes ride from the Airport to the city center.
Because of its location in the middle of Germany – and in all of Europe, for that matter, you can get to Düsseldorf quickly and easily by train, too. The central train station is a couple of minutes east of the city center. Due to Düsseldorf’s central location, every destination within the densely populated Rhine-Ruhr-area can be reached quickly.
Since taking long distance buses is becoming really popular in Germany and the central bus station is adjacent to the train station, this might be a good travel option, too.
Although the jolly Düsseldorfers love to maintain their traditions, it’s a very open and internationally oriented city, so credit cards are accepted and otherwise ATMs can be found everywhere.
Since 2001, 19 European countries paying with €uros, and Germany is one of them. The exchange rate is 1 US$ = 0,93 EUR (April 2020), but you can check the conversion on this page.
Like everywhere else in Germany, most people speak at least a little English, but it’s always nice to know some useful words and phrases. You might practice a little with the help from e. g. Babbel. While the first lesson is for free, it already supplies you with useful basic vocabulary.
Note In this article, I’m writing out some of the German names of brands and places and you will notice that there are letters that might not exist in other languages:
First of all there is the letter ß that exists only in the German alphabet and it’s by no means a B – it’s a ‘sharp’, double S as in kiss. When writing, you can actually replace it by a double S.
Then there are three more vowel, ä being the easiest one since it’s pronounced like an open e as in head.
Ö and ü are tougher, ö being pronounced more or less like the e in her and ü as the u in huge.
Tourist Information and Deals
While there are many foreign expats mainly for work in Düsseldorf, international tourism isn’t as big as for instance in Berlin. However, you can get all the tourist information and material such as brochures in English – also because Düsseldorf is one of Germany’s most important places for fairs and conventions.
They have a very elaborated and detailed website and two bureaus where a very knowledgable and friendly staff will assist you:
Tourist-Information am Hauptbahnhof (Main Station)
Immermannstraße 65 b
Phone: + 49 – 211 – 17 20 2-844
Open Monday to Friday 9 a. m. to 6 p. m., Saturday 9:30 a. m. to 5 p. m.
Open Monday to Sunday 10 a. m. to 6 p. m.
Depending on what your plans are, you might wanna get a DüsseldorfCard. With this card, you travel free of charge on buses and trains in the city area. Of course, you also get discounted or even free entrance to museums. Also, you get a great discount on guided tours like those mentioned below Even the hop on hop off bus and river cruises are included.
There are four options for solo travellers and for families respectively groups:
|24 hours||48 hours||72 hours||96 hours|
|Single||€ 10,00||€ 15,50||€ 21,00||€ 26,50|
|Family/Group||€ 19,00||€ 29,00||€ 39,00||€ 49,00|
* A family are two adults and two children under 15, a group are three adults.
Düsseldorf is probably the only German city where I do not recommend an alternative like a day pass for public transportation. Due to the connections to other towns around Düsseldorf, there is such a variety of prices and options, it jumst makes my head spin – and yours will spin, too. Therefore, the DüsseldorfCard should do: The 10 €uros you are paying are already almost the equivalent of three rides, so….
As in most other cities, there is a free walking tour also in Düsseldorf. However, it’s taking place only every second Sunday.
It’s organized by the AEGEE (Association des États Généraux des Étudiants de l’Europe), one of Europe’s largest interdisciplinary student organizations. Since I want to support European students, I mention it in this post. However, it’s only on every second Sunday at 3 p.m. …..good luck adjusting your schedule.
Düsseldorf being an important convention and congress place, there are many medium priced accommodations, but, of course, also some luxury places.
After all, the Königsallee aka ‘Kö’, on of Düsseldorf’s landmarks, is one of the most prestigious and expensive shopping boulevards in the world.
A convenient option at an excellent price service ratio is the Mercure Hotel Düsseldorf City Center, located few steps from the central station and at the same time maybe ten minutes walking to the city center.
However, since you’ll probably will do some serious walking during your stay, you might want to take one of the many buses or trams taking you there and back.
Mercure Hotel Düsseldorf City Center
Am Stresemannplatz 1
Meet Your Guides
Introducing the ‘Stylites’ that will guide you around
As I said abov., Düsseldorf is by far not only a barter- and stag party location but has actually many facets. The traditional Rhenish cheerful nature, the snobbish pretentious glamour boulevards and malls, but also a very vivid art scene – whether in galleries or right on the street.
One lovely art projects are the Säulenheilige, which are Stylites in English, but in German it has a double meaning because Säule is a pillar and Heilige are Saints and in this case, they are actually standing on pillars. And yes, I’m well aware that a pun does not get any funnier if it has to be explained.
So while there are these sculptures standing on advertising columns at very different spots around town, most people spot them by pure incident and don’t even know what they are.
But since you are my readers and I’m a bit of a know it all, I let you know that these sculptures are by Christoph Pöggeler who was born in Münster / Westphalia in 1958 and is painting, sculpting, and teaching mainly around the North Rhine Westphalia area.
In Düsseldorf, his first art project Säulenheilige lasted from 2001 till 2007. The current Stylites project began in 2016.
Supposedly, there are ten sculptures around town, but I wasn’t able to find all of them, especially since some are really far from the city center.
But the following should happily guide you through Düsseldorf and show you how varied this city on the river Rhine can be.
From the Main Station to the Königsallee
“Welcome to Düsseldorf, please smile into the camera!” The Photographer stands right in front of Düsseldorf’s main station to greet the arriving passengers.
He reminds me of these photographers taking welcome pics at events or when you’re about to board a cruise liner.
However, he sort of guides the way in the right direction. Just pass him and walk down the Bismarckstraße all the way to the end. Turn left into the Steinstraße and you’ll arrive at the Königsalle, Düsseldorf’s most famous and notably most expensive shopping mile.
If you don’t want to walk, take one of the subways (U74, U75, U76, or U79) going from Hauptbahnhof to Steinstraße/Königsallee; it’s only two stops.
You can do some shopping – or just window shopping. Alternatively, hanging out at one of the many cafés and watch the rich and the wannabes passing by can be great fun, too.
But maybe it’s even nicer just strolling along the canal that divides this classicist esplanade and adds to its majestic appearance.
Since 2014, at the northern end of the Kö, as the Düsseldorfers call this prestigious mile, a huge office and retail complex was added: The Kö-Bogen, designed by star-architect Daniel Liebeskind who also constructed i. a. the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the Felix Nussbaum Museum in Osnabrück which I’ve introduced in a former post.
Frankly, I find the Kö-Bogen is not his most impressive work and you can mean a happy, fulfilled life if you haven’t seen it.
Fun fact: In the past, this pomp boulevard was called Kastanienallee, chestnut avenue, because it’s lined by…right: chestnut trees.
In 1848, King Friedrich Wilhelm IV. of Prussia visited his cousin Prince Friedrich of Prussia in Düsseldorf.
It was the year of the March Revolution, the people demanded unification of the various principalities based on a democratic constitution. When they spot the King passing by in his elegant chariot, the mob started flinging horse turds at his majesty. Oops.
To make up for this slightly unpleasant incident, eventually, the boulevard was renamed into Königsallee, King’s Boulevard.
And this is how an early terrorist attack created a name.
From the Königsallee to the Media Harbor
Marlis, one of the very first Stylites, is waiting for you at the relatively newly remodeled neighborhood Medienhafen, south of the city center. Standing on a pillar in front of the building that houses the Westdeutscher Rundfunk/WDR, the regional broadcasting station, she stretches her nose in the air and you cannot be sure if she’s enjoying the sun – or alternatively the refreshing rain – or if she’s just being difficult.
Although you could walk down here, I recommend to take tram 706 or 709 at Steinstraße/Königsallee. Get off at Stadttor and walk down Ernst-Gnoß-Straße to the MedienHafen.
The hyper-modern MedienHafen has been erected on the former docklands that consisted mainly of warehouses. As in many other cities all over the world, the area slowly deteriorated, something had to be done.
And Düsseldorf did the best they possibly could. They let the job to internationally famous architects such as Frank O. Gehry, David Chipperfield, Joe Coenen, Steven Holl and Claude Vasconi. As expected, the league of these fine gentlemen did an incredible job – the area is just fantastic.
These outstanding structures are housing media companies, advertising and PR agencies, first class restaurants and lounge bars and on the tip of a peninsula a very exclusive Hyatt Regency.
Tip 1: To give your feet and your eyes a break, cross the Stromstraße where Marlis is standing and you’ll get to the Bürgerpark, a pleasant green spot. Here you can sit on a bench or right on the grass and think about life – or maybe architecture.
Tip 2: If you cannot get enough of architecture and larger than life buildings, make sure to go up the Rheinturm, the Rhine Tower. Actually, I do not need to describe how to get there since you definitely cannot overlook it.
There is not only an observation deck. At the height of 172 m / 564 feet is a revolving restaurant.
Phone: +49 – 211 – 863 20 00
Open daily from 10 a. m. till midnight (Friday and Saturday till 1 a. m.)
If your bill at the restaurant is over 30 €uro, you get a 50% discount on the entrance ticket for the observation deck.
Tip 3: If just strolling around on your own is not good enough for your, I suggest you join a guided tour through the MedienHafen, offered by Düsseldorf Tourismus. They take place on Friday and Saturday at 2.30 p. m. and Sundays at 11 a. m.
From the Media Harbor to the Old Town
The bride is awaiting you in the Old Town.
Of course you can take the tram going back to the center. But taking the tram 706 or 709 will only take you to the Graf-Adolf-Platz. This is the closest you can get by public transportation to the old town since there are mainly pedestrian streets and small alleys. Walking – without any stops or detours, takes about ten to fifteen minutes and strolling along the river Rhine is very pleasant.
If you are an art lover just like me, you can combine this walk with the visit to the KIT – Kunst im Tunnel, an art gallery actually located in an empty space between two tunnel tubes. Opened in 2007, it is a spectacular venue for contemporary art. You can enter it through a glass cube which is the gallery’s café.
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 11 a. m. to 6 p. m.
My favorite art museum in Düsseldorf is the K21, one part of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, the Art Collection North Rhine-Westphalia.
You can walk there from the KIT in ten minutes. Walking away from the river Rhine, you’ll get to the Haroldstraße where you turn left. Keep walking till you get to a park with large lakes which are actually the Düssel, the water the city got its name from.
Anyway, on the south bank, you will see a majestic building – often decorated with some quirky piece of art. That’s the Ständehaus, the former parliament, that now houses the wonders of K21.
The K21 has a small, but exquisite permanent collection on display, but their changing temporary exhibitions of contemporary art are mind blowing!
The other part, the K20, is located at the Grabbeplatz – and these good people are generous enough to offer a free shuttle van that goes about every twenty minutes.
Although, in general, I like the K21 better for their exciting exhibitions of contemporary art, it’s totally worth it to buy a combi-ticket for both places since the K20 has a good permanent collection of classic modernism and modern art.
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m. (Saturday and Sunday from 11 a. m.)
The Old Town
To continue to the Old Town, you can either go back to the Rhine promenade or you walk up Poststraße that starts at the north west corner of the park.
If you like, you can turn left into the Orangeriestraße and pay the Stadtmuseum a visit. It’s a museum where Düsseldorf’s local history is presented through art, photographs, and displays in a very modern fashion.
Berger Allee 2
Phone: + 49 – 211 – 899 61 70
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 11 a. m. to 6 p. m.
To continue towards the historic city center where the bride is waiting, go back along the Orangeriestraße to the Maxplatz. Here you have the chance to take a good look at this glorious Catholic church, built in 1737 in Baroque style.
Hungry from walking? One bloc east of Maxplatz is the Carlsplatz which actually is a huge farmers market six days a week; Düsseldorf is pretty Catholic, so not much is shaking on Sundays.
Let me tell you that the quality of the produce sold here will just make you drooling. Albeit, the prices will make your head spin.
But a visit of this Cockaigne is a must for every foodie.
After you’ve stuffed face and emptied your wallet, walk back to the Maximilian’s church and keep on walking on Schulstraße and you practically bump into the bride, swirling on top of an advertising pillar. I love this sculpture since it has the air of a runaway bride: She seems so light and liberated, smiling and swirling all by herself.
She’s smiling and swirling in front of the Hetjens Museum/Deutsches Keramikmuseum. Founded in 1909, this not so very known museum houses an exquisite collection of ceramics and pottery from around the world and organizes also special themed exhibitions.
If you don’t care for the exhibitions, at least take a look at the building: It’s the Palais Nesselrode, one of Düsseldorf’s most beautiful historic structures.
Hetjens Museum/Deutsches Keramikmuseum
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 11 a. m. to 5 p. m. (Wednesday to 9 p. m.)
The modern complex next to the Hetjens museum houses not only an art house cinema but also Düsseldorf’s film museum.
From the Old Town to the Castle Square
By now you might ask yourself where those 260 bars and restaurants are that make Düsseldorf supposedly the ‘longest bar of the world’?!
The City of Mustard
Well, if you walk back to the Maximilian church and continue east on Hafenstraße, you can turn left into Bergerstraße and there you are: Besides many local as well as international restaurants and eateries there are all these small shops selling delicacies that also make nice souvenirs like for instance the Düsseldorfer Senfladen, a mustard store.
Mustard? Well, before you turn up your nose at something as trivial as mustard… Düsseldorf’s mustard is famous, and here it comes in a large variety of different flavors – including orange, plum, cherry, coconut and curry, chili and many more. You can sample all of these right on the spot.
If you choose to take some mustard back home, they also have a range of old fashioned pottery jars and gift baskets; they even have mustard candy!
Berger Straße 29
Phone: + 49 – 211 – 836 80 49
Open Monday to Thursday from 10 a. m. to 2 p. m. and 3 p. m. to 7 p. m., on Friday and Saturday from 10 a. m. to 7 p. m.
Another popular tradition specialty is Killepitsch, a liquor made of herbs – of course following a secret recipe. But where the original Killepitsch store is located is not secret at all: Just walk down all the Bergerstraße – which, by the way, is a pedestrian street – to a big crossing.
To your right on Flinger Straße is Killepitsch Haus zum Helm. Even if you’re not a drunk, you should enter and take a look at the beautiful antique interior. Same applies for the quirky bar Et Kabüffke next door. Here, the Killepitsch is sold right through the colorful windows.
Killepitsch Haus zum Helm
Flinger Straße 1
Phone: +49 – 211 – 542 21 05
Open Monday to Saturday from 10 a. m. to 7 p. m.
Flinger Straße 1
Phone: +49 – 211 – 13 32 69
Open Monday to Saturday from 11 a. m. to 11 p. m., Sunday from 2 p. m. to 10 p. m.
The City of Beer
If you are thirsty but do not want to quench your thirst with schnapps, just cross the square to the Uerige. The Uerige is not just a huge, very rustic beer bar, it’s at the same time a private brewery, so what you get here is really excellent top-fermented dark beer, a Düsseldorf specialty.
There are more private micro-breweries like this around, but the Uerige is one of the most popular ones.
Open daily from 10 a. m. to midnight.
Oh, before I forget: You can order generous portions of local specialties with your beer.
With the DüsseldorfCard, these and many more themed tours are 10 to 20% cheaper.
On this tour, a local guide leads you to some breweries and special food stores and the farmers market on Carlsplatz and more. It’s highly recommendable since you get a good feel for the local culture, a couple of samples to take home…and at the end a full stomach.
The tour takes place every Saturday from 10 a. m. for approximately three hours. You can take it either in German or in English.
Around the Castle Square
Oops, with all that eating and sampling we almost lost our way to the Burgplatz, the Castle Square, where a young couple is waiting for us. So come on, let’s walk down the Marktstraße.
After one block, you’ll spot the old town hall with the equestrian statue of Jan Wellem in front of it. Jan Wellem (1658 – 1716) was the Duke of…like four different dynasties as well as the Elector of the Palatinate which I’m not a hundred per cent sure what that is….to cut a long story short: He was definitely no John Doe.
Behind the old town hall to your left, you’ll pass a small shop called Gut & Gerne Schokolade. Actually, if you have a sweet tooth, you should not just pass, but enter and try’n’buy some of their yummy products. Or you just take a coffee break on the spot.
Gut & Gerne Schokolade
Burgplatz 3 – 5
Phone: + 49 – 211 – 86 39 96 96
Open daily from 11 a. m. to 7 p. m., Saturday to 6 p. m. and Sunday from 1 p. m. to 6 p. m.
Getting to the Burgplatz, the Castle Square, you’ll spot a hesitant young couple standing on an advertising pillar on the opposite side of the river Rhine. They are overlooking this square where a huge castle complex used to stand. Today, there’s only one of the castle’s flanking towers standing tall since the castle burned down in 1872 and was completely demolished in 1888.
Tip: Since there are various river cruises to choose from, you can navigate on the Rhine, too. Even going all the way up to Cologne!
From the Castle Square to the Ehrenhof
As we are leaving the Castle Square and the insecure couple behind us, we are walking the Müller-Schlösser-Gasse towards the distinctive Basilica St. Lambertus.
Mentioned for the first time in 1159, the Basilica is probably the oldest building in the old city center of Düsseldorf and consequently an important landmark.
The church tower is crooked and there is a saying in Düsseldorf, that the tower will straighten up the moment a real virgin gets married at St. Lambertus; the Düsseldorfers are funny folks.
Between the Basilica and the Josephskapelle, St. Joseph’s chapel, glaring on the river Rhine, stands a single woman, holding her child tight to her chest. Christoph Pöggeler called her Die Fremde which is a bit ambiguous in the German language since it can translate to Stranger as well as to Foreigner. I assume that Pöggeler left it open on purpose.
The Kissing Couple
From the Ehrenhof to the Burggarten
After this single lady, there’s again a couple waiting for us at the corner between the Hofgarten, the court garden, and the Ehrenhof.
But since these two seem to be pretty occupied, let’s just take a look what the majestic Ehrenhof is all about.
The Ehrenhof, the court of honor, is an expressionist architectural and garden complex, built in 1925 to 1926. It starts on the southern end with a round building, the Tonhalle, initially designed to become a planetarium, but serving as a concert hall.
From the Tonhalle stretches a manicured garden, adorned also with some sculptures by expressionist artists such as Wilhelm Lehmbruck.
On the left side towards the river Rhine is a long, flat building housing the NRW-Forum, a modern gallery and cultural center where they present changing exhibitions of contemporary art – often film, photography and new media.
Phone: + 49 – 211 – 892 66 90
Open Tuesday to Thursday 11 to 6, Friday 11 to 9, Saturday 10 to 9, and Sunday 10 to 6.
The complex ends in a large square. The buildings around this court are housing on the right side the art museum Kunstpalast and in the opposite wing the Glas Museum Hentrich.
The Kunstpalast has a permanent collection of paintings, but also antiques, furniture, and decoration on display.
In addition, they curate themed temporary exhibition of very high quality.
The glass museum is actually part of the Kunstpalast and the visit is included in your ticket.
Open Tuesday to Sunday 11 a. m. to 6 p. m. (Thursday to 9 p. m.)
In 1926, the entire Ehrenhof complex was built on the occasion of the GeSoLei, an exhibition on healthcare, social security, and physical exercise. About 7,5 million visitors attended this convention spread over 400,000 m²/ over 478,000 yd². It was the biggest fair during the Weimar Republic.
If the weather is good, obviously, you can walk back towards the city center. On your way, you’ll cross the park adjacent to the Ehrenhof.
At the southern part of the garden issues the river Düssel, rather a creek that gave the city its name.
If you want to skip the next stop, you can take one of the subways (U74, U75, U76, or U77) at the stop Tonhalle/Ehrenhof back to the Hauptbahnhof.
If instead of walking you want to take one of the a. m. subways to the Grabbeplatz, you have to get off at the next stop, Heinrich-Heine-Allee. But as a matter of fact the walk from the subway station to the Grabbeplatz is not much shorter than the distance from the Tonhalle.
West of the park, crossing the Heinrich-Heine-Allee, a street named after one of Düsseldorf’s most famous sons, is the K20. This is the other part of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen that I’ve mentioned above.
This venue houses a remarkable collection of modern and contemporary art and organizes in addition special temporary exhibitions, often also of rather distinctive artists.
Like I said, there is a shuttle service between the two venues. In addition, buying a combined ticket saves you a little money.
Across the Grabbeplatz is another art museum, the Kunsthalle. This venue does not have a permanent collection, but serve as a gallery for changing exhibitions of contemporary art.
While the building is not exactly spectacular, the shows sometimes are.
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 11 to 6.
It’s getting late, hence, your guides, the Stylites, are getting tired. Let’s call it a day. A great day, I hope.
Thanks for your visit, looking forward to seeing you next time:
Here you can trace the tour on a responsive street map and a downloadable network plan
If you choose to pin this post for later, please use one of these pictures:
This article contains affiliate links.
By purchasing items or making a reservation through those links on my site, not only do you get the best rate. I will receive a small commission that helps to run this site.
I was very lucky that the Mercure Hotel Duesseldorf City Center* invited me to stay with them.
The Düsseldorf Tourismus GmbH supported my blogger trip by supplying me with information and some free tickets.
However, all opinions on these services are mine and weren’t by any means influenced by my cooperation partners.
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