Forget the gritty metropolis of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, Düsseldorf has medieval history, up-to-the-minute culture and an electrifying night-life. Come and explore the most exciting city on the Rhine with our guide on what to see and do in Dusseldorf.
1. See the city in 360° at the Rheinturm
At 218 metres, the Rheinturm (Rhine Tower) is clearly the city’s tallest building and perhaps less obviously, it’s also the world’s largest digital clock. Amongst the more sophisticated Düsseldorf attractions, by day you can revel in the full-circle views from the dizzyingly high observation deck and by night, dine on the likes of carpaccio fillet and Arctic char fish in the revolving Gunnewig restaurant at the top (starters from €9, mains from €26). The tower lights up to display the time down the side as dusk falls. For more incredible meals, read our tips on outstanding restaurants around the world.
2. Drink and be merry in Altstadt
Locally nicknamed as the ‘longest bar in the world’, Düsseldorf’s old town has crammed over 300 bars and clubs into the area of half a square kilometre. This is prime pub-crawl territory, with bars ranging from boisterous sambuca-swigging student haunts to traditional beer halls serving up the local speciality, Altbier, a traditional recipe, served in 200ml glasses to retain its flavour. Zum Uerige on Berger Street is a classic Dusseldorf bar and one of a few pubs which brew Altbier onsite. If you manage to make it before nightfall, you’ll catch sight of some gorgeous architecture as well.
3. Find modernity in Neue Zollhof
Over the past decade, more and more buildings have been popping up that push the boundaries of modern architecture. This is most clearly evidenced in the city’s revamped port, one of the most interesting things to see in Düsseldorf, where you’ll find three buildings by Canadian born architect Frank Gehry (the man behind the Guggenheim in Bilbao), their striking geometrical silhouettes reflected in the river below. Stay in the neighbourhood by getting a room at the design-led Innside By Meliá Düsseldorf Hafen with front-row views across the harbour.
4. (Window) shop on Königsallee
If you’re looking to splash your cash on a new Armani suit or Chanel handbag (or just indulge in some of the best window shopping in the world), this is the place to start. You’ll find every designer label under the sun along this street, also known as ‘the Kö’ and famed as the place where Claudia Schiffer was originally scouted as a model. On a budget? Turn away from all the beautiful couture and enjoy a stroll along the equally beautiful tree-lined canal instead.
5. Step back in time in Kaiserswerth
Being one of the oldest places to visit in Düsseldorf, there are plenty of interesting things to see in this northern district, framed by Baroque buildings and crumbling ruins. Key places to visit include the Deaconess’ Institute of Kaiserswerth where Florence Nightingale worked, along with the legendary Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa’s "Royal Palace", the remains of a tenth century castle that was once a stout fortress built to control the Rhine. It’s possible to get a city bus to Kaiserwerth, or you could opt for the more romantic journey by boat from central Düsseldorf (daily trips from April to October with refreshments included, €28 for adults).
6. Relax along the Rhine embankment
With a different vibe to the Neue Zollhof, this pretty promenade offers a slice of leisurely ‘Dusseldorfer’ life and can be in turn both tranquil and lively. In good weather this area is packed with people sunbathing beside the Rhine or cycling beside the water – check out local bike tours, or hire your own wheels with the nextbike local sharing system.
7. Unleash your inner hipster at Kunsthalle Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf has a massive bohemian scene and for a city of only 600,000 people, it has a plethora of galleries and museums – more than cities almost double its size. One of the best arty attractions has to be Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, where local artists hold regular exhibitions in a converted underground space known as Kunst im Tunnel (Art in the Tunnel). Open Tues to Sun, with free admission every second Sunday in the month. Find more arty destinations with our top pick of cultured city breaks.
8. Explore the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex
This unlikely UNESCO World Heritage Site is an immensely interesting look at Germany’s modern history. Situated just outside the nearby town of Essen, this maze of concrete and steel structures is oddly beautiful and stands as a monument to the country’s industrial heritage. The site has its own restaurants and coffee bars, and hosts regular historical and cultural exhibitions at 10 onsite museums such as the impressive Red Dot Design Museum.
![Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex, Essen](http://content.skyscnr.com/5a1ad4d1d5dd5d873dc005497f06b8d6/zollverein-coal-mine-museum.jpg "Things to do in Düsseldorf: Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex)
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*Published October 2016. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability.