Düsseldorf is a university city and a center of art and fashion. This ancient electoral capital is also a city of wide streets lined with elegant shops, with a ring of parks and gardens surrounding the vibrant centre. As a major cultural center, Düsseldorf has dozens of museums and more than 100 art galleries with everything from internationally renowned facilities, such as the impressive North Rhine-Westphalia Art Collection, to the smaller installations in the trendy Königsallee district. These tourist attractions, together with the city’s location on the Rhine and its many wide squares and beautiful riverside promenades, make it a particularly pleasant place to spend time.
In addition to all the other things to do in Düsseldorf, in July the city hosts the Biggest Fair on the Rhine , a huge week-long fair that attracts more than four million visitors. And in November it was popular Karneval brings parades and colorful costumes.
Read also: 15 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Germany
1 Königsallee: Germany’s most elegant avenue
Düsseldorf’s most elegant shopping street is the Königsallee, affectionately known to the locals as the “Kö”. Similar to Avenue Montaigne in Paris, this long stretch of high-end real estate was built in 1802 and continues to draw crowds with its eclectic mix of exclusive boutiques, luxury shopping arcades and art galleries, as well as numerous restaurants and cafes. Along both sides of the old town moat – a 31-metre-wide, tree-lined water feature that adds to the sense of space of the street – the Königsallee stretches all the way from Graf-Adolf-Platz in the south to the Hofgarten in the north, where it ends at the spectacular Triton Fountain.
Official site: www.koenigsallee-duesseldorf.de/en
2 Embankment Promenade
Düsseldorf’s Rhein Embankment Promenade offers one of the best ways to enjoy the city’s beautiful riverfront. Opened in 1997 as a means of concealing one of the city’s busiest roads (it’s buried under the promenade), this long pedestrian route gives the city a distinctly Mediterranean feel, lined with cafes, restaurants, galleries and shops on one side and the mighty Rhine on the other. Running all the way from Oberkassel Bridge and connecting Old Town to the state parliament buildings, the one-and-a-half-mile tree-lined promenade includes pedestrian and bike paths and offers countless opportunities for sightseeing and people-watching. You’ll find a genius mix of tourists and locals enjoying it all year round.
3 Schloss Benrath
An easy six-mile ride from the city center by public transport, Schloss Benrath is a beautiful Baroque palace built between 1756 and 1773. Highlights include the opulent interior of the palace and a stroll through the huge park and gardens. Originally built for Elector Carl Theodor, the palace is home to three excellent museums focusing on different aspects of life in the 18th century: in the main building of the palace is Museum Corps de Logis, showcasing the history of Benrath and its architecture, while the equally interesting Museum of Landscape Art and the Natural Science Museum are situated in other park buildings.
Address: Benrather Schloßallee 100-106, D-40597 Düsseldorf
Official site: www.schloss-benrath.de/welcome/?L=1
4 Old town Düsseldorf
Dusseldorf’s Old Town (Altstadt) remains remarkably well preserved and should be included in your list of must-see attractions. The focal point of the old town is the Marktplatz where you’ll find the imposing Town Hall (Rathaus) and a large equestrian statue of Elector John William II built in 1711. Another highlight is the Castle Tower (Schlossturm) in Burgplatz on the banks of the Rhine. The only remaining part of this ancient castle that once dominated the city is home to the Schiffahrtsmuseum , one of Germany’s best (and oldest) naval museums with fascinating exhibits on the history of shipbuilding and trade. Another attraction to visit is itHetjens Museum , dedicated to more than 800 years of ceramics, porcelain and earthenware. After exploring the old town, be sure to visit the neighboring Ehrenhof district, home to the dome Tonhalle , a concert hall built in 1926 as the base of the city’s orchestra, Düsseldorfer Symphoniker.
5 Neue Zollhof and the Gehry buildings
When Düsseldorf decided to reclaim the wasteland of the former river port area, rather than destroy the dilapidated warehouses and cargo yards, they rehabilitated the most historic of them and replaced others with some of Europe’s most daring modern architecture. The best is in Neue Zollhof , a stunningly redeveloped section highlighted by the Frank O. Gehry-designed Media Harbor office buildings, three quite different buildings completed in 1998 that seem to defy gravity as they lean and bend as if in deep freeze frozen jelly. Another landmark is the nearby Rheinturm tower, a 240-meter-tall telecommunications tower, built in 1981 with an observation deck that offers great views of the city (it also claims to be the world’s largest digital clock). Unlike these modern buildings, the former trading port with its walls, remains, iron bollards and railings, cranes and railway tracks as historical monuments.
6 North Rhine-Westphalia Art Collection
The North Rhine-Westphalia art collection (Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen) is divided over three locations in Düsseldorf. The largest collection, K20 , is housed in Grabbeplatz, an ultra-modern building with a facade of polished black granite, which is itself a work of art. This huge gallery is home to a large number of modern works of art, including a remarkable collection of paintings by Paul Klee. K21 , in the 19th-century Ständehaus building, includes a variety of installations focused on modern painting and drawing, as well as sculpture and film, featuring works by Thomas Schütte, Reinhard Mucha and Thomas Hirschhorn. The third location, Schmela Haus, hosts numerous temporary exhibitions. Other art-related museums of the show in Düsseldorf include the Julia Stoschek Collection , a private collection of contemporary art, and the Ernst Schneider Collection .
Address: Grabbeplatz 5, 40213 Düsseldorf
Official site: www.kunstsammlung.de/en/home.html
7 The Art Museum (Museum Kunstpalast)
The Art Museum (Museum Kunstpalast) displays works of art from the 3rd century BC to the present day. The works include fine art, sculptures and drawings, in addition to more than 70,000 items of graphic arts, photographs and applied arts. Highlights include a glass collection by Helmut Hentrich and rare Italian baroque works. The modern collection features Caravaggio, whose work laid the foundations for modern art, and works by Dali, Warhol, and members of the Düsseldorf School of Painting and Expressionism. The museum also offers theatrical performances and classical concerts, and guided tours are available. Also of interest to art lovers is Kunsthalle Düsseldorf , a collective of local artists who regularly organize showings of members’ work in a unique underground gallery calledArt in the tunnel (Art im Tunnel).
Adres: Ehrenhof 4-5, 40479 Düsseldorf
Official site: www.smkp.de/en/home.html
Incorporated into the city in 1929, Kaiserswerth is one of Düsseldorf’s oldest (and poshest) neighborhoods and is a wonderful place to explore baroque buildings and its perfect location on the Rhine. It has its origins in the 13th century Church of St. Suitbertus , known for its beautiful reliquary of the saint. Older still is the Kaiserpfalz , the imperial stronghold of Emperor Frederick I, also known as Barbarossa. Although mostly ruins, the scale of the site still impresses, with walls over four meters thick.
9 Japanese garden of Nordpark
One of the more unusual things to do in Dusseldorf is to stroll through a serene Japanese garden. One of Düsseldorf’s most popular parks – and at 90 hectares, one of the largest – Nordpark is criss-crossed by wide paths through its spacious lawns and themed gardens, including the lovely Lily Garden. Presented to the city by Düsseldorf’s Japanese community, the large Japanese garden has an astonishing variety of landscapes. Other Nordpark highlights include the Horse-Tamers statue and the Aquazoo Löbbecke Museum , a great place for kids of all ages thanks to its excellent natural history display, large aquarium and insectarium.
Green thumbs will also enjoy the University of Düsseldorf Botanical Garden , located south of the city center. Showcasing plants in temperate climate zones, the gardens also feature a warm house with a dome, a wildflower meadow, beehives, and a beautiful apothecary and alpine gardens.
10 The courtyard garden
Düsseldorf’s city center is bounded to the north by the Hofgarten, a large park built in 1770 that stretches from the old town and Königsallee to the banks of the River Rhine. Designed in the English landscape style, this beautiful 68-acre campground includes extensive meadows and wooded areas, as well as numerous streams and ponds. Among many notable buildings is the Baroque Hofgärtnerhaus , or Court Gardener House, the former home of landscape gardener Maximilian Weyhe and now houses the town’s theater museum. Also worth a visit is Schloss Jägerhof , a former hunting lodge built in 1763 in the Rococo style and occupied, albeit briefly, by Napoleon. Today, the building is home to the city’s Goethe-Museumwith its rich collection of artifacts and exhibits dedicated to Germany’s greatest writer and poet. The park is also home to a number of interesting modern sculptures as well as historic monuments and memorials, including the Märchenbrunnen with its fairytale characters and a sculpture by Henry Moore.
Address: Jacobistrasse 2, 40211 Düsseldorf
11 Classic Remise Düsseldorf
A historic locomotive roundhouse finds a new calling as the home of Classic Remise Düsseldorf, a center for all things classic cars. It is a car lover’s paradise, combining a showroom, repair and restoration facility, parts store, car storage, and automotive-related clothing and gift shop. A particularly unusual feature is the number of “glass boxes”, where owners can safely store their cars while keeping them visible to enthusiasts.
Address: Harffstr.110 a, 40591 Düsseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia
Official site: https://remise.de/Classic-Remise-Duesseldorf-english-summary.php
Where to Stay in Dusseldorf for Sightseeing
If you’re visiting Düsseldorf for the first time and planning to see the city’s top tourist attractions, the best place to stay is along Königsallee (the Kö), the city’s exclusive shopping street, lined with designer shops, jewelers, and stylish restaurants and cafes. A stone’s throw from Königsallee, Düsseldorf’s Old Town (the Altstadt) is also a popular area to stay. Below are some highly-rated hotels in convenient locations for sightseeing:
- Luxury Hotels: In one of the best locations on Königsallee, the pet-friendly Breidenbacher Hof, a Capella Hotel is a great base for sightseeing, with a swimming pool and a cozy guest lounge, as does the InterContinental Dusseldorf, also on Königsallee. Both hotels are within walking distance of the Rhine promenade and the Old Town. The Hyatt Regency Düsseldorf is located a little bit from the city, but in a beautiful location on a peninsula on the Rhine. It is a 15-minute riverside walk from the Old Town, yet only a five-minute walk from the Media Harbor, with its trendy restaurants and nightlife.
- Mid-Range Hotels: The Max Hotel Garni is located near the main train station and a 12-minute walk from Königsallee. It is an intimate boutique hotel with clean, modern rooms. Also within walking distance of the city center, the Sir & Lady Astor Hotel is another boutique option, with elegantly appointed rooms and great-value rates. If you’re looking for larger, mid-range contemporary accommodations and appreciate a great breakfast buffet, the Hotel National is a 20-minute walk or one stop on the metro from the Old Town.
- Budget Hotels: The Hotel Barcelona, a friendly B&B-style hotel, and Abode-Hotel are two of the few budget options in the heart of the old city, but you can save money by staying a bit out of town and with the public transport to get to the main attractions. The affordable Ibis Duesseldorf City is a stone’s throw from the main train station with easy public transport access to other points of interest.
More Must-See Destinations near Dusseldorf
Düsseldorf’s location on the Rhine makes it a convenient starting point for exploring the Rhine Valley and the riverine cities of Cologne and Bonn and nearby areas of western Germany. Not far north of Düsseldorf are the attractive cities of Essen and Dortmund, and to the west is the Dutch city of Maastricht, in the Netherlands, while Liège, in Belgium, is just an hour and a half from Düsseldorf by train. The Belgian capital, Brussels, is only 45 minutes away.