After countless visits to Germany, I finally made it to Düsseldorf, a city whose name I was familiar with, yet a city that I had managed to avoid. For some reason I had gotten it into my head that I wouldn’t like Düsseldorf; my reasoning was that Germany has plenty of charming towns with castles and timbered-houses galore, so why would I want to visit what I imagined was a modern, nondescript city? Well, I sure swallowed my words, because it turns out everything I had envisioned about Düsseldorf was wrong! I ended up have the best time in the city and there were even a few moments over the course of my trip where I found myself looking around and thinking, “I could actually live here”. Düsseldorf was green and livable, it had super funky futuristic architecture but also historical pockets, cool street art and free outdoor concerts, oh, and enough restaurants to make any foodie drool. It was the perfect city break and today I’m going to share my 72-hour itinerary to some of the best things to do in Düsseldorf, so that hopefully you too can see what all the fuss is about!
Things to do in Düsseldorf
Check into the me and all hotel
Before we could begin our exploration of Düsseldorf, we needed to get rid of our bags, so we checked into the me and all hotel which is located in the Japanese Quarter just a short walk from the train station. This was a super fun hotel with a relaxed vibe and even free candy, but more on the that later.
Address: Immermannstraße 23
Have lunch at Hausmann’s
First up, we needed food so we made our way to Hausmann’s is a bistro and brasserie specializing in German dishes with a modern twist.
The restaurant was started by Chef Tim Mälzer, a television cooking show host in Germany, and the place had a relaxed yet artsy feel with cool murals, industrial lighting, and mismatched furniture. Since this was our first meal back in Germany, we went for a classic: Currywurst!
Address: Hafenstraße 9
Sample some mustard at Löwensenf
After lunch it was time to eat some…mustard?
Yes, I know visiting a mustard shop sounds a bit quirky, but this place is an institution in Düsseldorf. They have special flavours like honey, dill, chilli, cherry, onion and just about anything you could imagine.
If you’re a mustard enthusiast it’s a fun place to sample some new flavours and even pick up a souvenir or two to take back home.
Address: Berger Straße 29
Have a sip of Killepitsch
It may have been a bit early to start drinking, but our friend insisted we needed to try Killepitsch and it wasn’t long before we had little shot glasses in front of us!
Killepitsch is a herb liqueur from Düsseldorf that is flavoured with fruits, berries, herbs and spices. It also happens to have 42% alcohol content!
It’s a pretty polarizing drink; you either love it or hate it, and I was in the second group. To me, it tasted a bit like cough medicine with a strong burn on the way down, but to each their own.
Address: Flinger Straße 1
Wander around the Altstadt
Before visiting Düsseldorf, I had this image in my head of Düsseldorf being a very new, and while that’s in part accurate, Düsseldorf also has a charming Old Town, better known as Altstadt.
Some points of interest here include the Rathaus, the old city hall; Glockenhaus, with bells that ring on the hour; and Schlossturm, the last remaining part of the City Palace.
The Old Town is also home to ‘the longest bar in the world’ because it supposedly has over 300 continuous pubs, discos, and bars. I think that may be stretching the truth a bit since you’re not just looking at one single establishment, but it’s a hub for nightlife nevertheless.
Feast on poutine at Frittenwerk
Maybe it’s because I’m Canadian, but I was really excited to have dinner at Frittenwerk.
They specialize in poutine, which for the non-Canucks is a fast food dish that consists of French fries, beef gravy and cheese curds.
They had the classic poutine, but also a few fun creations including Chilli Cheese served with chilli con carne, Tijuana Street Fries served with guacamole, and BBQ Pulled Pork which was as delicious as it sounds.
Address: Friedrichstraße 145
Walk the canal along Königsallee
Technically, Königsallee is home to designer brands and high-end shopping – as a matter of fact, it’s been nicknamed Germany’s Champs-Élysées – but that’s not the only reason to visit.
Königsallee is about a kilometre in length and it has a beautiful tree-lined canal that runs right down the middle of it. It’s an urban escape right in the middle of the Stadtmitte district, and it’s just one of those beautiful spots you have to see for yourself.
Have a quick snack at Carlsplatz Markt
From there, it’s just a short walk over to Carlsplatz, and outdoor food market that sits just south of Altstadt. It’s open 6 days a week except for Sundays, and it’s the place to pick up fresh produce, baked goods, and deli meats, but you can also enjoy some ready made food and drinks in the patio area.
Grab lunch at Zum Ürige
Zum Ürige is a craft brewery and restaurant located in the heart of Düsseldorf’s Old Town and the beer is always flowing here. If your waiter sees an empty glass at the table, he’ll refill it before you’re able to raise any objections. The only way to stop the top ups is by placing your coaster on top of your glass – that means you’re done drinking. Also, because this is Düsseldorf, you’ll be drinking Altbier, so don’t you dare ask for anything else!
I also learned that the perfect accompaniment to Altbier is Soleier, which is a hard boiled pickled egg. Once the dish arrives at the table, you have to cut the boiled egg in half, scoop out the yolk, pour a little bit of vinegar and olive oil, add a generous dollop of mustard, and then mix it all together. You then stuff this paste back into the egg (it’s quite reminiscent of deviled eggs). It’s delicious!
Address: Berger Straße 1
Dangle like a spider at K21
For something completely out of my comfort zone, we went to K21, a modern art museum in Düsseldorf with a really popular art installation that has been luring people from far and wide; we’re talking about Tomás Saraceno’s In Orbit.
This installation is suspended 25 meters over the museum’s courtyard and it looks like a giant spider web. To participate, you’re given painter suits to wear, and then you climb up the net where you can walk (or in my case, crawl!) along the different levels and around strange spheres.
It’s kind of terrifying if you don’t like heights!
Address: Ständehausstraße 1
See what’s playing in the Hofgarten
Hofgarten is quite the lively spot during the summer months and you can always count on there being an event. I happened to be there while the Jazz and World Music Festival was on, so I spent the afternoon lounging on the grass and enjoying some live music. It was cool to see people of all ages in attendance and there were even a few pups!
Sample some international cuisine
I’ve been talking a lot about German food and German beer so far, but Düsseldorf also has an international food scene, so for dinner that night, we opted for Indian. We went to Tandoori, where we ordered a nice mix of vegetarian and meat curries to share with friends. Again, super tasty!
Go up to me and all lounge for drinks and city views
The hotel where we were staying is well known for putting on cool events that are not just open to guests but also locals, and on this particular night, they had Sons of Time, a cool hip hop band from Berlin, playing. It was a really fun night with friends where we tried some new German drinks, enjoyed some really cool music, and then were also treated to fantastic views of Düsseldorf at night.
Address: Immermannstraße 23
Check out the street art on Kiefernstrasse
If you’re looking for things to do in Düsseldorf that are a bit more off the beaten path, I would suggest checking out Kiefernstrasse, a street known for squatting, street art and alternative lifestyle.
The apartment blocks along Kiefernstrasse were first occupied in 1905 to house the workers from the local steelwork. However, when these jobs shut down in the 70s, owners began to terminate their existing tenancy agreements and the buildings became municipal property. This marked the beginning of squatting, as people looking for somewhere to live began moving into these empty apartments, and over time this became a hub for alternative culture in Düsseldorf.
Take a cruise down the Rhine River
From there we hopped in a taxi and made our way to the banks of the Rhine River for a boat cruise with KD Rhine. This is the longest river in Germany, and you can even travel down to some of the neighbouring cities by boat, but this visit was all about Düsseldorf, so we opted for the 1-hour cruise which took us as far as the Media Harbour.
Stroll along the Kasematten
If you’re feeling peckish after your river cruise, look no further than the Kasematten. This section of the Rhine Promenade is lined with different bars and restaurants, and it’s a nice spot for some al fresco dining and drinks during the warmer months of the year.
Go up the Rhine Tower for city views
For a bird’s eye view of Düsseldorf, we then made our way to the Rhine Tower which stands 240.5 metres above the city. This gave us a better idea of just how massive the Rhine River really is, plus because it was a clear day, we were able to spot the neighbouring city of Cologne off in the distance.
Address: Stromstraße 20
Check out the architecture in MedienHafen
Also known as the Media Harbour, this part of Düsseldorf made me feel like I had been transported to the future. The buildings in this area were very modern and outside of the box.
This is another fun place to wander around with a camera in hand (and you’ll likely spot many a fashion shoot taking place!), plus they also have a lot of bars and riverside restaurants where you can enjoy a relaxed sunset drink.
Go out for Japanese food
Seeing as Düsseldorf is home to one of the largest Japanese communities in the world (and since we were also staying right in the heart of the Japanese Quarter!), we just had to go out for some Japanese food. We went to Wakaiido for a sushi buffet, but there is no shortage of Japanese restaurants in the city – in fact here’s a list of some of the best Japanese restaurants in Düsseldorf.
Tour Düsseldorf in a VW Beetle
And to finish off our amazing weekend in Düsseldorf, we joined Düsseldorf Safaris for a tour of the city and a little taste of the countryside. They have a fleet of VW Beetles from the 1970s and even a VW Bus, so we went cruising in style! If you feel comfortable driving standard, you can drive the vehicle yourself or you can ask to have a driver too.
Where we stayed in Düsseldorf
And now going back to our accommodations, while in Düsseldorf we stayed at the me and all hotel, which is one of the coolest properties I’ve stayed at in a long time.
The hotel is set in the heart of the Japanese Quarter so they really played that up in terms of the design; they shelves full of manga in the lobby, bright lanterns in their lounge, and the rooms felt like a little oasis with a bamboo forest-themed shower and sliding partitions to make the bedroom dark and cozy. Their lobby also had a cool wall where you could write an item on your bucket list, play on the ice hockey table, and grab free candy on the go!
And that was my introduction to Düsseldorf! I had a great time on my first visit to the city and it’s definitely a place I would visit again, next time, hopefully with a few more days to spare!
Have you been to the city?
What are some of your favourite things to do in Düsseldorf?