It’s amazing how many attractions there are in Düsseldorf. However, it require some research and exploration, as the city is less obvious and touristy than it seems. Living here for about a year, I was able to explore some of the city’s secrets and can now give you guys a rundown for the tours that I think are a must in Düsseldorf for those who come to spend one, two, three or more days around here. Check it out!
1- Explore Altstadt (Old Town) and walk along the riverbank of the Rhine
This is one of the first tours I recommend taking as soon as you arrive to get a feel for the city. Go strolling along the old town center where the city began, and take the opportunity to see historic attractions such as the Rathaus (town hall) and Schlossturn (castle tower, the remnants of which are now a museum), and interesting squares such as Burgplatz and Carlsplatz.
Use this time to also take a look at the buildings that look old but were actually rebuilt after the destruction of World War II. Oh, and be sure to walk at night down the street of the bars, the Bolkestrasse, which was once considered the largest bar in the world because the bars had internal doors connecting different establishments, making it a huge unified bar; and also by Ratinger Strasse, which gets packed on Wednesdays (tip from our friends at Viagem 0800), and where the famous Brauerei im Fuchschen brewery is located.
The Rheinuferpromenade is nothing less than the pretty path on the bank of the Rhine. It begins near the Altstadt region and ends at the Media Haffen, on a path packed with attractions and restaurants, and full of trees and little stools. Be sure to stop by and see the different views along the Rhine.
2- See Frank Ghery’s architecture at MedienHafen
One of the symbols of Düsseldorf that appears frequently on its postcards are Frank Ghery’s famous “crazy” buildings in the MedienHafen, the modern side of the city. My suggestion is to take a walk around there; if you get hungry, grab something to eat somewhere in Hammerstrasse, and then go to check out items 5 and 7 on this list.
3- Taste the Altbier, Dusseldorf’s beer
A visit to Düsseldorf is not complete if you don’t taste Altbier, the local beer. Where to find it? Easy, at any bar and even restaurants in town, especially in Altstadt, where many locals brew this beer on the spot. Beer here is cheaper than water and absolutely delicious. There’s no excuse, even the supermarkets carry it.
PS- careful when comparing Düsseldorf’s beer with Cologne’s. Don’t even think about saying that Kölsch is better than Altbier if you’re in Düsseldorf, or that Altbier is better than Kölsch if you’re in Cologne. The rivalry is strong with these guys. I particularly prefer Altbier (obviously biased opinion). =P
4- Taking a stroll through Königsallee
One of the most beautiful avenues in Europe, in my opinion, is the Königsallee, Düsseldorf’s “king’s avenue” (König means king in German). In addition to having a river right amid its sumptuous trees, here are several famous and luxurious brands such as Chanel, Cartier, Dior, Prada or even the German Zwilling J.A. Henckels. Many Arab sheiks and very well-off people in this wide world prefer to shop here rather than in Paris, as the service is more personalized, the streets less crowded (but still full) and for having more privacy. Even non-sheiks will love to shop, or at least walk around here.
5- KIT Museum
When well explored, Düsseldorf is way cooler than it looks. An example of this is KIT, short for Kunst in Tunnel, which is an experimental art museum within a tunnel. Those walking the riverbank (at Rheinuferpromenade, remember?) may have overlooked what looks like a container with a coffee shop on the doorstep. But this is actually the location of this cool place hidden in the city.
6- Eat in a Japanese restaurant
“What? Japanese restaurant? Did I read that wrong?” Nope, you didn’t read it wrong. It’s just that Düsseldorf has one of the largest Japanese communities in Europe and, consequently, amazing restaurants! I didn’t know about this and was amazed when I arrived; I really love Japanese food and thought I’d miss it when I left Brazil. The result: today I return to Brazil and find the quality of the best restaurants in Sao Paulo very lacking when compared to those in Düsseldorf. The food is really way good. See our specific suggestions in the post below.
These are the tours that I consider must-do in the city, including a little bit of everything: museum, gastronomy, beer, shopping, architecture, and contemplation. If you have more days in Düsseldorf, don’t worry, because the city is full of attractions and we have many other tips for you. And remember, if you still want MORE, the comment box is always open; just ask away and we’ll always answer with more suggestions!
7- Climb the Rheinturm
How about seeing Düsseldorf from the top of the city’s tv tower? It’s a good option on cloudless days, as you can see other cities on the horizon, the cute low houses, the river, and the curious shapes of Düsseldorf’s buildings.
8- Visit Benrath Castle
At a 40-minute subway ride from central Düsseldorf is the beautiful Benrath Castle. The most enjoyable walk is through the castle gardens and the café located there, on a nice terrace near the stream. I myself have been there 4 times and never entered (cobbler’s children are always the worst-shod, right?), but I love to walk around and just contemplate the view of the pink castle built in the mid-1700s!
9- A spin around Kaiserswerth
In the north of Düsseldorf is a charming neighborhood on the banks of the Rhine. In addition to having a super cute and picturesque center, and several tasty Biergartens during the spring, it is in Kaiserswerth that the ruins of “Kaiserpfalz” are located. Originally from the tenth century, the building gained more notoriety and was expanded in the mid-1180s, when Emperor Barbarossa made the site a fortress to collect tolls and control the Rhine. From April to October, you can take a boat from the old center (Altstadt) to the region.
10 – Attend a concert at the Tonhalle
An ancient planetarium that became a concert hall, but retains its imposing architecture on the riverbank of the Rhine. Combine the impressive building with top-notch shows, and Tonhalle becomes a must-see attraction, but one that, unfortunately (or fortunately!), must be experienced in full. This is because there are no tours, guided or otherwise, of the concert hall, so to get inside you’ll need to buy a ticket and attend a concert. Check out the schedule on-site or in advance through their website. Usually, on Friday and Sunday nights and also on Sunday mornings, the performance is fixed and the Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra plays, as the Tonhalle is their official home. It’s worth a try, and it’s even more worth it if you can actually attend!