When I announced online my open itinerary to explore Germany for a few days, my food blogger friend Eric Hoffman of suggested Düsseldorf. I wondered why.
Well, Eric mentioned that Düsseldorf has the third highest Asian population in Europe—after London and Paris. That certainly piqued my interest, so I went, and discovered many more cool things to do in Düsseldorf.
By the way, although Düsseldorf is the official German spelling, I will occasionally slip in other versions, including Dusseldorf and Duesseldorf, to keep things interesting. They are all the same place!
Thank you to Visit Düsseldorf for hosting McCool Travel.
Places to Stay in Düsseldorf
I stayed at Hotel Friends all four nights during my Düsseldorf visit.
Here are some cool, happy, and fun reasons to consider Hotel Friends for your next Duesseldorf hotel:
- Convenient location. Hotel Friends is near the Düsseldorf train station but not too near. About 1 kilometer, an easy walk. Tram and bus stops are across the street.
- Vibrant and ethnic neighborhood. There are several doner places and many African shops. Not just African but specific nationalities like Ghanan stores, etc.
- Coolness. The entire hotel incorporates a theme of an old school. My room was called #SchulDirektor. The fitness facility is classic gym equipment in lobby.
- Breakfast. The daily breakfast is incredible.
- 24×7 staff can offer useful suggestions for Dorf coolness. The Dorf magazine’s office is on the top floor of the hotel.
See also TripAdvisor reviews of places to stay in Düsseldorf.
Cool Things to Do in Düsseldorf
Art in Düsseldorf
Perhaps nothing surprised me more about Düsseldorf than its amazing art scene.
The K20 Grabbeplatz museum is the modern art arm of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen museum group in Düsseldorf. Visit the K20 museum website for hours, information, and a listing of current exhibits.
The fascinating and fun In Orbit exhibit is the current popular exhibit at K21 Ständehaus, the museum of contemporary art in Düsseldorf Germany. Artist Tomás Saraceno‘s installation allows visitors to float among the huge spheres, 5 stories above ground.
Visit the K21 museum website for hours, information, and a listing of current exhibits.
Free shuttles run between K20, K21, and Schmela Haus, the third Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen property.
Public Art in Dusseldorf
The Dusseldorf art scene is more than just museums. Visit the public parks to see classic and modern sculptures and art installations. There are a dozen lifelike statues scattered around Düsseldorf. Try to find all of the Pillar Saints!
Even the street covers are artistic in Düsseldorf, decorated with cartwheeling children. McCool Travel tip: Many Dusseldorf residents do not know that Düsseldorf is “cartwheel city.” In 1289, Cologne residents saw some children doing cartwheels and asked their fathers to help battle the Archbishop. There are now cartwheeling festivals by the river with special sections of the park dedicated to doing cartwheels. How fun!
After World War 2, Media Harbor (Medienhafen) intentionally attracted private tv and radio stations but the media companies have since moved away. During a Medienhafen walking tour, our tour guide said the area is now mostly lawyer and tax companies but they do not want to rename it for them. Ha, German humor is precious, am I right?
Rheinturm (Rhine Tower) stands 240 meters and was built for Deutsche Post as a communication tower. Post was privatized and Rheinturm was given to the city. Visit the observation level with sitting windows at 170 meters but leave your vertigo on the ground level.
The Dusseldorf Parliament building was completed in 1988, 700 years after Dusseldorf was established as the capital of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Next to the Parliament building, Rhein Knee bridge (Kniebrücke) is a driverless vehicle test location. Lights and signs on the bridge and along roads communicate with cars. The big bend here in the Rhine river is called knee.
Architect Frank Gehry won an international competition to design the Media Harbor residences. He used no straight walls in his Dancing Buildings because the buildings represent the computer age;. Computer age meaning no more files, thus straight walls are not necessary. The concave front of silver Zollhof 2 captures sun.
Stand in the circle and feel how hot that area is. McCool Travel fun fact: locals say that cell and internet service do not work inside the silver building because of the metal shell. Take that, computer age.
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Sun blasting on a silver metal building. The heat in front of it is intense. Too much on this hot day but welcome relief I bet in winter. . Building was designed by Frank Gehry and similar buildings sandwich it. One is brick and the other white. The buildings are designed for the computer age with no straight walls. . Oh, that silver building ironically does not have internet inside because of the metal.
Dusseldorf sports the world’s longest bar and more than 300 bars in the old town district tempt residents and visitors alike. Wow.
The Altbier Safari visits 5 microbreweries that utilize traditional German brewing practices. Some things I learned include
- Altbier is served in 0.25 liter glasses
- Bars have no addresses. In old times, places had symbols, like fox and mug above door. I did see bars called Mississippi and Louisiana and New Orleans (and Madrid, etc).
- Many of the buildings in old town were destroyed during World War 2 and rebuilt to look older.
- Duesseldorf prides itself on friendly people. Our guide hails from Munster but prefers Düsseldorf. Why? He said in other German cities, there can be 8 people in a bar at 8 different tables. Here in Dusseldorf, millionaires sit with homeless and students.
- Bar waiters along Rhine river wear blue shirts, are called some version of Jacob, and act traditionally surly. Like London guards, try to make them smile.
Little Tokyo in Düsseldorf
After World War 2, a Japanese businessman came to Dusseldorf researching steel to rebuild Japan. Then in the 1970s more Japanese came. There are now 7,000 Japanese people in Dusseldorf. The biggest club in Dusseldorf is Japanese with 6,000 people. 300 Japanese companies employ 60,000 Germans so there is great cooperation. However, the Japanese people have their own parks, schools, golf courses, and do not necessarily integrate with the German culture.
There is Chinese prominence in Dusseldorf but not a huge presence. They have as many companies here, a sister city in China with 30 million residents, but no real Chinatown.
Soba-An is the only place in Europe with homemade soba noodles.
Rhine River Boat Tour
Since Dusseldorf sits on the large and mighty Rhine River, it is almost necessary to spend some time on the water. The KD Rhine tour in Dusseldorf leaves Altstadt (old city) and travels up river past Media Harbor and then down rover a few miles before returning. The tour is about an hour and provides a different look of Dusseldorf. The above picture of the dancing buildings was taken on this boat tour.
Places to Eat in Düsseldorf
Try Soba-An in Little Tokyo for house made Soba noodles.
Currywurst from Curry in Medienhafen.
Oh, and fries are everywhere. Gotta get them at least one time.
Meister Bock is located inside the Dusseldorf bahnhof (rail station) and this wurst was the best!
This pretzel outside the railroad station was less than 1 Euro. Yummy.
Gelato prices at Eiscafe Stefan are 30% lower than elsewhere in Dusseldorf. Plus it is next to Hotel Friends. So, I went here four times! Other popular Dusseldorf places for sweets include Cafe Heinemann and Yomaro Frozen Yogurt in Lorettostrasse. Oh, and I loved the Doner in a Box at Yede-Gör.
How to Get to Dusseldorf
This trip all started after I won a round trip flight between Baltimore and Frankfurt, Germany. This generous air travel prize was provided at a #DCTravelBlogger event by Condor Airlines, part of Thomas Cook Group Airline. I received Premium Food and Premium Entertainment in one direction and a sweet upgrade to Business Class on the return flight. The onboard experience was wonderful. Really good food and drink, and excellent entertainment systems. The Business Class seats fully recline and allow for multiple adjustments.
To get between Frankfurt Airport and Düsseldorf, ICE train. In advance versus walk up fare. Significantly less expensive in advance but be sure of your schedule. 30 Euros lost because of 2.5 hour flight delay and then I paid 80 Euros walk up. Advice is to spend first night in Frankfurt and then train next morning.
McCool Travel tip: business class ticket holders can request access to the Lufthansa lounges. The lounge visit was really convenient for my sanity when there was another 2.5 hour delay on the return trip.
Dusseldorf Facts and Funness
- The town of Düsseldorf officially exists from 1289. Nearby Cologne exists from before the Roman Empire.
- “Dorf” means village and Düssel is the name of the river running through downtown. Literally, Düsseldorf means village on the Düssel river. Rhein River however is the most important river in the area.
- The local cool newspaper is called The Dorf and their office is located on the top floor of the super cool Hotel Friends building.
- Dusseldorf is a fashion center and popular expo destination. It is a shopping mecca for people from the Emirates.
- 40% of Dusseldorf is green space.
- Düsseldorf has 50 districts. 46 on old side of river. 4 on other.
- Trivago headquarters is in Düsseldorf, in Medienhafen
- The airport in Düsseldorf is Germany’s third largest and largest charter airport.
- The German exchange student on The Simpsons is from Düsseldorf.
- In the 1830s, Henrich Heine literature was burned in protest. Now the Dusseldorf university is named for him. One local told me to look out for 2030s because history tells us the German regime also burned literature in 1930s. 1930s.
- Stage 1 of the 2017 Tour de France started in Dusseldorf.
- Old castle not destroyed in WW2 because Jewish boy grew up there, immigrated to Texas, become Army general, told pilots to bomb city bldgs but not castle tower. General Pfintzt.
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What are your favorite things to do in Dusseldorf?