Dusseldorf Germany is an international city for shopping, dining, and art. Everyone wants to “see and be seen” on the chic shopping street Königsallee. In the restaurants of Dusseldorf, you will discover contemporary culinary trends and exquisite tastes both local and international. The art and museum scene rivals many higher-profile cities. Dusseldorf on the banks of the Rhine River in western Germany is a contemporary, lively, and often missed destination.
We had the pleasure of visiting Dusseldorf, Germany recently. We found Dusseldorf colorful, creative, casual yet elegant and above all friendly. With these many different faces, it is easy to understand why Dusseldorf is known as the Pearl of the Rhine. Here are seven things you should include on your list of things to do when you visit.
Do Window or Real Shopping on Konigsalle Boulevard
Along Königsallee or “Kö” as the locals call it, classy boutique and famous high-end brands line the street. Kö has a sophisticated feel and is the main reason Dusseldorf is considered an elegant city. Celebrities to the wealthiest people in the world come to Dusseldorf to shop so you never know who you may see while strolling along the Kö. With its chestnut tree border, it is one of the city’s prettiest streets. The Ko is a place where you still dress to shop. We recommend you dress the part if you plan on doing some shopping here.
Stroll the Ko-Bogen
In keeping with the shopping theme, we recommend a stroll through the Ko-Bogen. It’s a mall so to speak filled with premium, luxury, and lifestyle shopping and dining in lively quarters. After WWII, Dusseldorf had to do a lot of rebuilding. They decided they wanted to go modern. Designed by New York architects, the Ko-Bogen is an ultra-modern two-part building ensemble filled with premium flagship stores, international brands, unique boutiques as well as cafés and restaurants. While you are there, take a walk around the outside. If you are inspired by architectural beauty, you will love the Ko-Bogen.
Take a Guided Walking Tour of Old Town
Now that you have your shopping done, it is time to tour old town or Altstadt Dusseldorf. As you walk the historic city center, you will see beautiful churches, and in contrast the worlds longest bar. That is right, more than 260 pubs line up in what is known as the longest bar in the world. As you tour the old town, you will see many cartwheelers and hear the legend of why they are so famous in Dusseldorf. You will see them on manhole covers, in souvenir shops, and fountains.
If you like history, Dusseldorf’s old town has intact air raid shelters that you can visit. Our guide took us to one of these shelters. Going underground in one of these shelters is a fascinating yet uneasy experience. Heavily bombed during WWII, Dusseldorf shelters gave protection to some people. But, as you think about living in Dusseldorf during the war, it must have been very difficult times. The shelters could not house everyone, and even if the shelters could, not everyone could make it to a shelter before the air strikes started.
It was an eerie experience to see the shelter’s capacity written on the wall. For the safety of those inside more people could not be added. There was a hand crank ventilation system. A person would turn the crank, and the system would bring in, hopefully, fresh air. I am sure that was not always the case. Air strikes took place round-the-clock for seven weeks at a time. The air strikes created many fires. An estimated 540,000 Dusseldorfian’s lost their lives in WWII
Back in the day, the sculptor on the front of this building was down at street level. The man’s face, of this facade, made of an arrangement of nude women designed by an artist to be beautiful came under scrutiny. You will see if you look closely. The cities townspeople at the time thought the artist’s work was too risqué. So, the town moved the man’s face up higher on the building. Today it is just a conversation piece.
Another place that is a must when visiting Dusseldorf, especially if you are a foodie, is Carlsplatz. Carlsplatz used to be a farmers market, but as the city grew in culture and prestige, the farmers market became a foodie’s and gourmet’s paradise. Occupying an entire square in Düsseldorf’s old town, Carlsplatz is where you can buy fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses, pastries, breads and more. It also has an area that is similar to food trucks in the US with stalls or stands selling their unique dishes. One place will sell bratwursts, another crepes, and another soups. Like some food trucks, you take your food to a picnic table and dig in! Our guide told us she meets friends here often. One friend will have ravioli while another has a flatbread and still another has a salad.
While in Carlsplatz Do Some Wine Tasting
After you have had a scrumptious lunch, what could be better than some wine? Keith and I have a second passion after travel, and it is wine. Concept Reisling is a great place in Carlsplatz to do a white wine tasting. We met with Bjorn, the sommelier. He enthusiastically shared his passion and dream of wine with us. Concept Reisling’s stand is a wine shop and a wine bar, which means you can shop for home or enjoy some great wine while you are there.
They do sell reds but they are known for their whites, so we tried whites. Each tasting was better than the last. Since this wine bar is outside, we asked Bjorn if they have much business in the winter and he said yes. He said that between the radiant heaters, the wine and the warmth of the crew at Concept Reisling anyone could overcome the cold. They focus on more mature vintages, rare rarities, and young talents. We were able to tour their wine cellar. We had no idea that some whites are actually better aged and that they could be so expensive!
Eat At Dusseldorf’s Oldest Restaurant
Located in the Old Town, the restaurant/brewery “Zum Schiffchen“ is the oldest restaurant in Düsseldorf. They serve local cuisine and traditional German comfort food. This restaurant has existed since before 1628. And, Napolean was a patron of Zum Schiffchen. Originally this restaurant was an inn and brewery outside the city walls. All of the food is reasonably priced and tasted fantastic.
Visit the Baroque Benrath Palace
Benrath Palace built as a summer residence and hunting lodge for the Elector Carl Theodor over 200 years ago. It is close to the Rhine in the south of Düsseldorf and today is slated for a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. The Elector envisioned this palace for his wife, Elizabeth Auguste, perhaps that is why it is pink. Every room inside the palace has a matching garden area on the grounds. Legend has it that Elizabeth may have only visited the palace once and never stayed the night. Karl Theodor, on the other hand, came to relax and use the palace as a hunting lodge a few times. The palace was left in the care of servants most of the time. The Palace has a 60-hectare, immaculately maintained formal garden.
Today, Benrath Palace is divided into two museums. The Museum of European Garden Art in the east wing and the Museum of Natural History in the west wing. In these museums, you will enjoy sculptures, artwork, paintings, and other artifacts from the 18th century. The inside décor of the palace with its furniture, porcelain, and paintings will provide an impression of court life in the second half of the 18th century.
Breidenbacher Hof, a Capella Hotel
For the best experience, while in Dusseldorf, we recommend staying at Breidenbacher Hof, a capella hotel. If you are not familiar with Capella hotels, let me explain. Capella Hotels are ultra-luxurious hotels, with a residential concept, designed for the most discerning travelers and offering personalized attention. Capella Hotels is not just a stay but an experience for curious travelers. Their hotels blend nature, history and the finest attention to detail to delight the senses.
At the Breidenbacher Hof every employee is there to provide each guest with the highest level of personalized service that is both unique and memorable. Located in the heart of Düsseldorf’s vibrant downtown, Breidenbacher Hof has the perfect location to enjoy the city’s cultural sights.
Our inviting, elegant, and exquisitely-finished room felt more like a chic urban flat than a hotel room. Breakfasts in Breidenbacher Hof’s renowned Brasserie “1806” had fantastic views over Düsseldorf’s Old Town. After a day of touring, we enjoyed having a drink and talking about our day in the Capella Bar. As our stay came to an end, we hated to leave.
Dusseldorf Germany Past and Present
Dusseldorf suffered greatly during WWII. However, Dusseldorf today is a forward-thinking modern city determined not to be defined by its past. Dusseldorf has a very clean, new and modern metro line. There is a flurry of cultural programs everywhere you look. Dusseldorf tries to make everyday life a richer experience. Take for instance the complementary museum display at the entrance of the new metro line. Dusseldorf will dazzle you with great architecture, international food, and exclusive shopping. It is a vibrant city and bustling with a culture that you don’t want to miss.
Check out our short video summary of Old Town Dusseldorf
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