Japan on the Rhine
Although I have been so many times in this city, and also living for almost 9 months there, it’s time to finally create the well deserved guide for what is considered one of the most important cities in Germany. Surprisingly-wise talking, it is generally more important than Berlin in the sense of events, fairs, design, technology and entertainment. It is the city with the most Japanese population outside of Japan, hence its nickname Japan on the Rhine.
A weekend to enjoy the city is well enough, and even for the first time visitor, is perfect, not only you will see majority of the sights at a slow pace without any rush, in a day you will be done meaning the other half of your weekend trip can be spent at the “twin” city of Cologne. Yet it’s not only Cologne what’s really next to Dusseldorf, it is also a vast choice of places you can go within one/one and a half hour train or bus drive such as Wuppertal, Bonn, Dortmund, Essen, Oberhausen, the Ruhr Industrial Area… or into the Netherlands border at just 60km away to the west.
Discovering the city is quite straightforward and easy. Avenues follow a grid pattern even in the old town, so you can easily move up and down making zigzags, being able to see all the sights in the city centre without the need of any public transportation. Everything surrounding the old town core is the very elegant late 19th early 20th century extension with countless of beautiful grand buildings in all styles, among them a style ranks number one for the numerous amount and its importance, that’s the Jugendstil, or art-nouveau for German. The most notorious district to see the finest, and grandest, is the shopping area of Königsallee.
The old town, well, it’s not that old unfortunately. During the WWII it was heavily bombed and destroyed, hence most of it had to be reconstructed but not following the original of what once stood. That’s probably one of the reasons Dusseldorf does not really have a proper old town as other German cities do. In the other hand there is an entire new district worth to book a trip alone to this city! The Medienhafen, that’s the marina. This is for any architecture lover a must. It’s fascinating to see such a combination of very modern buildings, all in a different style and shape, designed by world renown architects, among them genius Frank O’Gehry. However, scattered at other parts of the city are other architectural landmarks, with many others newly opened and others rising.
Once in the old town, be sure to get to any traditional pub and ask for altbier (old beer), traditional from Dusseldorf. There are only few places left in Germany doing it. Also a currywurst should be one of your first choices for food. This is, a sausage, fries and curry ketchup sauce. But the choice for food in any case is very wide, great quality and competitive prices. You will not have any trouble in finding what you like or fancy.
For more information about the city check Wikipedia and Wikitravel sites. Germany’s currency is the Euro (EUR). Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.
What to see and do in Dusseldorf
- Pempelfort District The northernmost area worth from the tourist-side perspective due to the great and fine architecture of the residential blocks, elegant neo-classical palaces especially towards the riverside and the green areas such as the Hofgarten at the south.
-Higher Regional Court Dating from 1910, one of the finest neo-baroque style buildings in the entire city. It aligns with the riverside, at the northwest.
-District Government Just south from the Regional Court, it is even larger and more impressive than the former, also a neo-baroque construction from 1907.
-Ergo Zentrale Tower Continuing south after the Government building. one of the latest addition into the skyline, with its characteristic round shape.
-Rheinterrasse At the same location as the Ergo Tower, however right by the riverside. Built as the centrepiece of the Great Exhibition of Dusseldorf of 1926. Still one of the largest eclectic constructions to date in the city.
-Kunstpalast Museum Also built for the 1926 Exhibition in the same architectural style, next to the Rheinterrase. It is the principal art museum of Dusseldorf.
-NRW Forum More pavilions for the arts back in the 1926 Exhibition and in the current date.
-Dusseldorf Tonhalle The largest concert hall in the world at the time of construction for the Exhibition of 1926.
- Stadtmitte District Basically, the proper “New Town” all around beyond the old town follows the traditional 19th/20th century ideals of broad avenues in an orthogonal grid. It is in this area where you will find plenty of the Jugendstil (art-nouveau) buildings the city is famous for.
-Hofgarten The largest park within the city, it is surrounded by several important buildings and museums at all sides. At the northwestern-most point is the Tonhalle and Kunstpalast Museum. The Rattingen Gate is located at about the central half on the west, designed as small Greek temples.
-Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus Along the southern part of the Hofgarten, it is one of the finest auditoriums, and a fine piece of architecture not to be missed, designed by architect Bernhard Pfau and opened in 1970.
-Jan Wellem Platz Also by the southern side of the Hofgarten, right by the northern edge of the Königsallee. The latest addition by another world renown architect, in this case Daniel Libeskind.
-Saint John’s Church The largest protestant church in Dusseldorf, dating from 1875 in Romanesque revival style. It’s two blocks behind Jan Wellem Platz.
-Königsallee Translated as Kings Avenue and referred by the locals as simply Kö, is the main shopping avenue in the city, major thoroughfare in Stadtmitte. A tree lined boulevard with a canal running in the middle. Connecting both sides of the street are numerous and beautiful bridges, monuments and fountains. The parallel streets on each side of the street are also very important shopping areas.
-Kaufhof Galleria Once an incredible Art Nouveau building, nowadays only the exterior is still as impressive as when built.
-Breite Strasse Is one of the parallel streets to Kö and well worth it to walk all the way for the imposing buildings along it and on the side streets.
-Schauspielhaus Near the avenue is this theatre building, itself an unique piece of architecture designed by Bernhard Pfau.
-Kunstsammlung Nordrhein Westfalen Not far from the south end of Kö is the Art Museum. The main building is a beautiful palace overlooking the Shwanenspiegel Lake.
-Heinrich-Heine-Allee Parallel and west to Königsallee, is the second major thoroughfare with great buildings along, and the street that divides the new town with the old town itself.
-Ständehaus Park At the southern edge of the Stadtmitte, and southern terminus of the Königsallee. Another nice park, this time more wild and natural with a lake in between.
-Ständehaus From where the name of the park comes. It is the former State Parliament of North Rhine Westphalia. A beautiful neo-renaissance palace, nowadays a museum.
- Old town (Altstadt) Nicknamed as the longest bar in the world for having over 300 bars, pubs and discos in just one square kilometre. Its boundary at the westernmost side is the Rhine River where the promenade links north to south.
-Basilica of Saint Lambertus By the northwestern edge of the old town not far from the Tonhalle farther north. Said to be the oldest building still standing in Dusseldorf.
-Burgplatz The Castle Square. The main opening towards the Rhine River, its name does not make much reason today, since very few remains from the castle, other than the symbol of the city, the tower Schlossturm.
-Market Square South from the Burgplatz, is the heart of the old town.
-Town Hall And the statue of Jan Wellem in the centre. One of the most beautiful renaissance buildings in the city.
-Bolkerstraße and Flingerstraße Both parallel to each others, run perpendicular to the riverside crossing the old town towards the Heinrich-Heine-Allee and new town. These streets are completely packed with bars everywhere, and so any of the side streets.
-Heinrich-Heine-Platz Towards the southeastern edge of the old town, a beautiful square with some 1930’s eclectic architecture worth to mention.
-Wilhem Marx House Built in 1922, was the tallest building in Germany when built.
-Carsch-Haus Aligning the west side of the square.
-Music Pavilion in the centre of the square, right above the major transport hub that sits below ground.
- Medienhafen The marina, once a degraded industrial area turned into the 21st centruy with great architecture and well designed buildings, many of which by world class architects.
-Neuer Zollhof Without doubt, the jewel of the crown in the area. The creation of Frank O’Gehry, where he designed three buildings with a different cladding for each. Titanium, red brick and white cement.
-The Living Bridge Connecting both sides of the main former pier. Right in the middle you will enjoy the best views of the entire Marina and the architecture.
-Rheinturm One of the tallest TV towers in Germany, also located by the marina area. You can get to the top for the best views of whole city while Cologne and neighbouring cities can be seen in the distance too. In the night, pay attention at the lightening. It acts as a clock but someone will need to explain you or need to find over the internet how to read the time.
-State Parliament of North Rhine Westphalia Next to the Rheinturm, making a great combination with the architecture of concentrically circular buildings.
- Rhine River Promenade Linking both the marina then towards the entire eastern boundary of the old town and beyond. One of the nicest pedestrian walks without equal, perfect for the views you will get of the city and of course the river, plenty of cafes, restaurants and activities.
- Benrath Palace A beautiful baroque palace and huge landscaped gardens located in Benrath. Easy accessible by tram.
- Carnival Both cities of Dusseldorf and Cologne rival each others in the celebrations of Carnival. The largest celebrations in the country. If you happen to be in the city during this period you will certainly enjoy the many parades, decorations and party feeling everywhere.
- Christmas Market As for almost every city in Germany the market fills every square and street of the Old Town creating a great atmosphere which you will for sure enjoy. There is nothing as having a good German sausage and a cup of mulled wine or feuerzangenbowle (this last one is a rum soaked sugar-loaf set on fire dripping into mulled wine, you must try it!).
Dusseldorf international Airport is one of the largest and most important in Germany. The incredible large amount of routes is sometimes subject of wonder for a city of this size. From the airport you can take the frequent commuter trains to anywhere in the region and other cities of Germany. All you need to do is follow the signs once in the terminal and take the complimentary sky train to the train station. Once there get from the automatic machines the ticket you need. This is the quickest way to get to the centre of the city, with a very frequent timetable in coincidence with the opening hours of the airport.
Coming overland is fast and comfortable either via railway or buses. Name the city within Germany and the chances you have a direct train there are high. Consider taking the slower trains in order to offset the high cost of the fast trains.
Within the city there are plenty of trams, buses and a metro system. You can get the ticket either from the driver if riding a bus or from the machines at the tram stops. As for the metro, remember to get your ticket and stamp it at the gate, which is not really a gate like almost anywhere in the world. There are no turnstiles to enter. It works on the good faith of the people, or of course, risking getting a fine for travelling without ticket.
Being one of the most important cities in Germany, expect to have any hotel chain in the world. The choice is big so you should not have any problem in getting the deal you desire based on your budget, especially knowing there are many airb&b and apartments for rent should a hotel won’t work. Unfortunately I cannot recommend you any as I never needed to stay in one. A good and reasonable point to start your search is by checking some of our preferred affiliate hotel search engine such as Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, Otel.com, Agoda, Opodo or Ebookers.
Album of the city
Album during Christmas