Home to historic architecture, modern art, and endless altbier in ‘the longest bar in the world’, Dusseldorf packs a lot in.
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Food lovers will relish browsing the stalls of its street markets, while aesthetes will appreciate the Art Nouveau architecture of Oberkassel and the modern masterpieces of the Kunstsammlung gallery.
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Make for the Altstadt, Dusseldorf’s beautiful old town packed with historical architecture, cultural attractions, and lots and lots of pubs. Begin with a visit to St Lambertus Church, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture with an eye-catching twisted spire, which dates all the way back to 1206 and is one of Dusseldorf’s oldest buildings. Then, head next door to the Schlossturm, the only remaining section of the old city palace. Today, this striking circular tower houses a shipping museum, telling the colourful history of trade and cultural cross-pollination along the banks of the Rhine, one of Europe’s great rivers.
Having got your fill of the Altstadt’s historical attractions, it’s time to experience some of the city’s more contemporary culture. Stroll for a few minutes along the Rhine and you’ll reach the Filmmuseum, which tells the story of cinema from its origins to the modern day. Exhibits include vintage cameras and projectors, as well as a special effects exhibit detailing how modern movie magic is brought to the screen.
Next, make the short walk down Mühlenstrasse to the K20 building of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, a major centre for modern European art. Here, you’ll find masterpieces from the likes of Pablo Picasso and Piet Mondrian, and exhibitions focusing on Expressionism, Cubism and Surrealism.
After all that sightseeing, you’ll have earned a rest, and the pubs and breweries of the Altstadt offer endless opportunities to put your feet up and enjoy a glass of the local altbier.
Begin your weekend in Dusseldorf with a stroll around the picturesque old town, the Altstadt, which encapsulates the city’s blending of the old and the new. Amidst the pretty architecture you’ll find the 900-year-old Church of St Lambertus, among other historic buildings, but this is also a great place to experience Dusseldorf’s thriving modern art scene, at the K20 building of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen gallery.
When it comes to lunchtime, refuel with some traditional German soul food at the Markt am Carlsplatz, a bustling street market which sits just south of the Altstadt. You’ll find stalls here representing cuisines from all over the world, but it’s worth trying a regional favourite like blutwurst (blood sausage) or sauerbraten (roasted meat marinated in vinegar and wine).
In the afternoon, make the short walk across the Altstadt to Königsallee, Dusseldorf’s high-end shopping street, for a little retail therapy. Here, you’ll find outlets of international designer brands alongside smaller boutiques, and some great restaurants and cafés. If you feel like a big night out, this is also the place to be, with a choice of high-end bars and clubs to choose from.
The next morning, start the day off with a healthy walk or run in one of Dusseldorf’s beautiful green spaces. The biggest is the Hofgarten, a huge area of tree-lined pathways, lush meadows and serene canals. The park is also home to numerous sculptures, including some by the British artist Henry Moore.
In the afternoon, head to the Neanderthal Museum, to the east of the city, to learn about the history of humankind through a variety of fantastic exhibits. Near this site, more than 160 years ago, the first Neanderthal remains were discovered. Today, the museum is home to multimedia exhibits, life-size models and educational films which bring our ancient ancestors to life.
Returning to the city centre, round off your weekend with a boisterous evening in the famous pubs of the Altstadt. Be sure to try the famous altbier, Westphalia’s signature beverage, which is produced on-site at several of the Altstadt’s pubs.
Ease in to your week in Dusseldorf with a visit to the serene Nordpark, a large area of landscaped lawns, fountains, and a peaceful Japanese Garden. The park backs on to the eastern bank of the Rhine and makes a lovely setting for a stroll. In the afternoon, head south to the city centre and browse the designer boutiques and sophisticated bars of Königsallee.
The next day, head to the Altstadt, Dusseldorf’s old town, to get a feel for the city’s long and colourful history. Here you’ll find the Church of St Lambertus, which dates way back to 1206 and ranks among the oldest buildings in Dusseldorf. Visit the Schlossturm next door, the only remaining piece of the original city palace, to learn about the history of trade along the Rhine.
On your third day, venture to the eastern outskirts of the city to visit the Wildpark, set in the pristine Grafenberg Forest. The park is free to enter, and you can see wild boar, deer, mouflon sheep and other creatures. Further to the east is the Neanderthal Museum, a must-visit for anyone interested in the history of human evolution.
Art lovers will find much of interest in Dusseldorf, and a day should be set aside to explore the city’s acclaimed art galleries. The best place to begin is in the Altstadt, home to the main headquarters of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen modern art gallery. Known as K20, this distinctive black granite building houses artworks by masters including Mondrian, Picasso and Paul Klee. Next, head south to K21, where you’ll find artworks from the 1980s onwards.
No trip to Dusseldorf would be complete without a trip to one of its food markets, where you can enjoy some of the hearty cuisine of the Westphalia region. The Markt am Carlsplatz is a great place to try regional delicacies, including blutwurst (blood sausage), sauerbraten (meat marinated in wine and vinegar), and grünkohlessen (sausages, kale and baked sweet potatoes). Mussels from the Rhine Delta are another speciality, cooked in a white wine broth and served with rye bread and beer.
Be sure to make time to visit the Schloss Benrath, a pink-hued mansion built in the Baroque style in the mid-18th century. In addition to the main residential section, the palace’s auxiliary wings have been converted into museums: one on natural history and the other on the history of European garden art. Round off the day with an evening in the pubs and breweries of the Altstadt, known collectively as ‘the longest bar in the world’.
On your last day in Dusseldorf, be sure to visit the Rhine Tower, the city’s most recognisable landmark. The tower’s observation deck, at a lofty 230ft (170m), affords unbeatable views over the city. At the same height, though, there’s a revolving restaurant, where you can enjoy a lunch or dinner with a difference as you bid farewell to Dusseldorf.