The polished and sleek Dusseldorf is known for its art and fashion scenes, rivalling those of bigger cities. Immersed in creativity and strikingly prosperous, Dusseldorf is a sophisticated, cosmopolitan city bursting with designer labels, contemporary art and avant-garde architecture.
The sleek western German city of Dusseldorf reclines gracefully along the banks of the Rhine River, its Altstadt (Old Town) on the east bank and the modern commercial hub on the west. Capital of the North Rhine-Westphalia region, Dusseldorf is recognized as an international business and financial center, its glittering surface underpinned by the sharp business acumen of its banks, corporate headquarters, fashion houses and advertising agencies. This often means price tags are noticeably higher than in other German cities, but nevertheless, Dusseldorf is an easy city to enjoy and has plenty to offer.
Despite its reputation for avant-garde architecture and its polished image, Dusseldorf has a long and rich heritage and punches far above its weight in terms of culture. Home to more than 22 higher education institutions including the Kunstakademie (Arts Academy of Dusseldorf), 100+ museums, theaters and art galleries, Dusseldorf has given the world romantic poet Henrich Heine, electronic music innovators and pioneers Kraftwerk and classical maestro Schumann. The city is also renowned for its unique folk festivals in spring, fall and winter, including the annual Christmas market held in the Altstadt.
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How do you get to Dusseldorf from the airport?
Dusseldorf Airport (DUS) is approximately 10 km (6.21 miles) from the city center and easily reachable via the S-Bahn urban railway. The train station is located beneath the airport terminal. The trip to the Hauptbahnhof (central station) takes 7 minutes. Official licensed taxis in Dusseldorf are ivory-colored and will have a black number on a yellow patch on the rear window. The journey to central Dusseldorf by taxi is approximately 20 minutes. The route to Hauptbahnhof is also well-serviced by buses, which leave from outside the arrivals terminal.
What about getting around the city?
The Dusseldorf Altstadt is relatively compact and easy to explore on foot. The rest of the city is well-serviced by an extra-efficient and extensive network of trams (Strassenbahn), buses, the U-Bahn (partially underground Metro trains) and the S-Bahn (regional rail network). Tickets must be validated before use. There are several bicycle hire schemes available – the official municipal service is available outside the central train station at the “RadStation”.
What else is good to know about Dusseldorf?
Rather confusingly, Dusseldorf Airport has two train stations – one directly underneath the terminal (Dusseldorf Airport Terminal train station) and a larger one a bit further away (Dusseldorf Airport train station). The SkyTrain monorail service connects Dusseldorf Airport train station to the terminal with a journey of approximately 7 minutes.
Dusseldorf: Refined German gem
Sleek, sophisticated and refined, with an underlying zest and charm that will not fail to draw you in, Dusseldorf is an attractive and multi-faceted cultural metropolis basking in the glow of its prosperity. The city has a long history in music and the arts with its sublime yet vibrant cultural atmosphere set amongst strikingly modern architecture, world-class art, nightlife and dining experiences that rival those of higher-profile cities.
- Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen
- Sightseeing cruis of the Rhine
- Philara Collection
- Street art
Contributing to Dusseldorf’s status as a cultural and artistic heavyweight is the internationally renowned Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen – the collection of 20th century art of the German Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia in Dusseldorf. Three exhibition venues are united by this institution – K20 am Grabbeplatz, K21 am Ständehus and Schmela Haus. The full collection across the three spaces includes major works by Picasso, Matisse and Mondrian, alongside a post-war collection by the likes of Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol and local hero Joseph Beuys.
Cruise of the Rhine
There’s no better way to see the city than from the water. Embark on a sightseeing cruise of the Rhine from the Burgplatz Pier on the Rhine Embankment for the best views of Dusseldorf. Admire the strikingly modern silhouettes that punctuate the MediaHafen cityscape while sipping on a chilled Altbier. Top tip: most cruise tickets include free drinks.
Check out the Philara Collection in the seriously cool exhibition space set in a glass factory in the hip neighborhood of Flingern. The space has a seasonal rooftop garden and the 1.58 m2 (20,000 ft2) gallery includes international artists and established and emerging Dusseldorf artists. On your way out, feed your Instagram with shots of the spectacular graffitied walls and building façades of Kiefernstrasse in Flingern-Süd, Dusseldorf’s center of street art. Gentrification has removed the less desirable elements from the area, but the radical streak still endures in the spray-painted murals running the length of the street.
Discover Dusseldorf’s architecture
Dusseldorf is an attractive blend of old and new. The St. Lambertus Basilica, administered by Dominican monks, and Schlossturm (Castle Tower) date back to the 13th century and contrast starkly against the prominent contemporary landmarks in the redeveloped MediaHafen (Media Harbor) area.
Der Neue Zollhof (The New Zollhof) triad of “leaning tower” buildings designed by famed architect Frank Gehry were completed in 1998. The tallest building stands 14 stories and is just under 50 meters (164 feet) tall. The stainless steel façade of the middle building reflects the respective white plaster and red brick façades of its two neighbors, thus creating a link between all three.
The Rhine Embankment promenade connects the avant-garde MediaHafen to the Altstadt, where barhopping is a popular pastime. The Altstadt claims fame as the “longest bar in the world” with 200+ bars lining its baroque alleyways and streets. Altstadt bars serve the local dark copper-colored Altbier, the name of which comes from the use of top fermentation as a brewing method rather than the newer bottom fermentation used for lager beers.
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Dining in Dusseldorf
The culinary scene in Dusseldorf is the product of its many influences. There is no shortage of high-class eating establishments decorated with Michelin stars as well as an extensive range of international cuisines and traditional German beer halls and breweries. The biggest Japanese community outside of Japan adds to the local flavour.
Mustard on everything
Get a taste of life in Dusseldorf and sample the huge variety of gourmet delights at the sprawling Carlsplatz Market, just south of the Altstadt. Vendors offer local produce, meats and cheeses, alongside more varieties of potato than you knew existed, under the market’s glass canopy. The best-known contribution of Düsseldorf to the culinary world is Mostert, a special version of mustard that is produced in Düsseldorf since the 18th century. The genuine article is sold in little blue ceramic pots.Enjoy a drink at great heights while gazing at panoramic views of the city beneath you at the restaurant in Dusseldorf’s iconic needle-shaped telecommunications tower extending 168 meters (550 feet) skyward.
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Nightlife in Dusseldorf
Along with art and fashion, Dusseldorf is known for its entertainment and nightlife. The Old Town is also known as the “Longest bar in the world”, where in more than 200 little or bigger pubs the local “Alt-Bier”, a dark and sweetish beer, is served. A dramatic transformation has taken place along the former Rhine harbor – where silos and warehouses once punctuated the Dusseldorf skyline, the 21st century cityscape is buzzing with new media companies and new media budgets, alongside fashion, architecture, art and culture. The area has its own unique character, having preserved and incorporated several historical monuments – the quay walls, steps and rail tracks of the old loading line. After dark, the competition heats up between the MediaHafen and Altstadt for pole position in the nightlife hot spot stakes.