When most people decide to travel to Germany, Berlin and Munich are often the destinations they choose to visit. I am not saying they shouldn’t, on the contrary I would advise to definitely visit those cities but I highly recommend you add to this list two German cities I am very fond of: Düsseldorf and Cologne (Köln), the two rival cities.
I have previously mentioned in my Paris is always a great idea article that our home in Nijmegen is close to a few of my favorites cities including Düsseldorf (an hour and 15 minutes drive away) and Cologne (two hours drive away) from home. Erwin and I have spent a lot of times in both cities: we have celebrated our first Valentine’s in Düsseldorf , my father in law’s and my birthday twice in Düsseldorf (as we share the same birthday) and Erwin’s birthday in Köln. We’ve had a lot of beautiful memories there and we are still building more. So as you can imagine both these cities score pretty high in my favorite cities list for a lot of reasons. This post however will be about why we keep going back to Dusseldorf?
1– It is a very lively city: It has a buzz like nothing else in Europe. The Dusseldorf residents are especially proud of their designation: the Longest Bar in the World. The 300 bars, pubs and breweries are squeezed into 1 sq km. Besides that, you get the feeling that a lot of the residents get out every night: most the restaurants are fully booked from Monday to Sunday, lunch and dinner, during all four seasons. I remember last year in October, Erwin and I went out for dinner two days in a row once, on a Sunday to a Korean restaurant Papa Yong which was fully booked: we had to share a table with other guests! On Monday, we got the last table at the Casita Mexicana. Both were not located in central areas and yet both restaurants were fully booked. I highly recommend them both if you happen to be in Dusseldorf and I advice you to book in advance before going there.
Beside that, there is always a celebration, festival, or special event for visitors: Vive La France around Bastille Day( 8th to 10th July), St. Apollinaris (15–24 July 2016) Chinafest (17th of September 2016), the Carnival (11 November 2016- 1st March 2017) the popular Christmas Market (17 November to 23 December 2016); Japan Day in honor of the large Japanese population that has settled in Düsseldorf (27th May 2017).
2-The old meets the modern: You can see the contrast between the historical Altstadt (Old Town) and the MediaHarbor with it’s unique sensational architecture on the other side of town.
3-The fascinating architecture of the Harbour (Düsseldorf-Hafen): One of the first new residents to the so-called Media Harbour was Westdeutscher Rundfunk with its current affairs TV and radio studios. There is also Düsseldorf’s local radio station, Antenne Düsseldorf, in the harbour. CNN used to have an office there. One of the largest cinemas of Düsseldorf is in the Hafen. The Landtag (State parliament) of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Rheinturm are situated right next to the harbour.The Hafen district itself contains some spectacular post-modern architecture most famously the three twisted constructions by renowned architect Frank Gehry, the Neuer Zollhof. There are also many restaurants, bars, clubs, and hotels which make the Hafen a leading lifestyle district.
Highly recommended Hotel in Hafen: For Valentine day last year we stayed at the INNSIDE by Melia in Hafen and we loved loved it. The hotel has a very modern design and rooms: 62 meters tall and 17 floors, which makes it one of the tallest and most distinguished buildings on the Düsseldorf skyline with unique façade composed of 2,000 glass panels attracting the attention of one and all. It is ranked 13 of the Dusseldorf hotels on tripadvisor
4-The Altstadt(Old Town) Almost completely destroyed during World War 2, it was rebuilt according to historic plans on its foundation walls, which makes it look like a real historic town.
Today the old town is a popular shopping mall and at night and weekends turns into the so-called “longest bar of the world”. The old town is the home of “Altbier”, a top-a top-fermented, dark beer. They say it tastes best at the historical brewing houses. If you like bar hopping then that is the place to be in.
5-The Rheinuferpromenade: It is one of the most beautiful riverfront cities on the Rhine in Germany. It was created by constructing a tunnel in 1993 and banning cars underground so that the riverside becomes a pedestrian area.
Many coffee shops offer seats outside where you can watch and be watched when the weather is fine. River Rhine is the center point to a lot of the night life in Dusseldorf. On sunny days, the promenade on the Rhine is filled with skaters, lovers picnicking, friends strolling, bars and cafes beautifully lit with mellow music.
Recommended Cafe on the Rhine: Ms Allegra is a dockside boat restaurant/pub with a great river view. You get the feeling you are floating on the Rhine river which means you can get a bit sea sick or at least I did: I had to change my seat further away from the side river to avoid being uncomfortable. I had a great Aperol spritz and I noticed a very good cheese platter being served to other clients. I know what I will order the next time I go there!
6- Cosmopolitan city and a less german influence except when it comes to beer, sausage and german restaurants. Most waiters, salespeople etc etc do speak English. Düsseldorf has a diverse population with newcomers from the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and more recently Asia. The EU have enriched the local community, bringing with them new cuisines and festivities. The city is home to the largest Japanese community in mainland Europe. Dutch, British, American, French, Turkish and Chinese citizens are also well represented. Dusseldorf has turned itself into one of the best places to live in Germany, as well as a key business location. Personally if I had to choose to live somewhere outside the Netherlands, I would definitely choose Dusseldorf: it is liveable and lovable!
7- Little Tokyo: For Japanese, Düsseldorf is the number one city in Germany. Traders were the pioneers for the development of Düsseldorf which has taken place over the last six decades. The traders were followed by their families and gradually a typical community grew up: retail trade, banks, doctors, bookshops, Japanese travel agents, a Chamber of Commerce Industry, a Consulate-General, a Japanese school and Japanese kindergartens were established. Düsseldorf’s economy is flourishing — partly because of Düsseldorf’s involvements with its Japanese partners. Today, the economic collaboration is mainly in the car industry, engineering and chemical industry. Now all this ethic influence means on crucial thing important thing for me: the little Tokyo area with many of my favorite restaurants, shops and hotels.
- Recommended restaurants in the Japanese Quarter: 1- Yabase(ranked 31 out of 1381 restaurants on Tripadvisor):I recently tried it. The dishes on the menu are very basic but very Japanese authentic: I got to get have a taste of Japan for the first time for 25 euros. Talk about cheap travel!
2-Sila Thai (ranked 17 out of 1381 on tripadvisor) Little Tokyo is not only exclusive to Japanese restaurants, you can find as well Korean and Thai places. We’ve already been there twice; once for Valentine and another time for a joint birthday dinner for both my father in law and myself. It is still one of my favorites restaurants in Dusseldorf. It has a very nice interior with wood carving and thai decoration. The food is very authentic and delicious!
- Recommended Hotel in the Japanese Quarter : Motel One (12 out of 244 hotels in Dusseldorf) is a German 3 stars trendy hotel chain. In Dusseldorf it is located in the Japanese Quarter. The location is perfect: a 3 minutes walk to the Centraal Station, 10 minutes walk to the shopping district Ko and 15 minutes to the Old town. The rooms are basic in a stylish way and they have a great bar/reception. The room price is very affordable (69 euros per night). Personally I still don’t understand why it is considered a 3 stars only hotel. I highly recommend it if you are there for a short time, a business trip. It is not a “romantic” hotel but it works fine for Erwin and I!
8-Luxury life: Dusseldorf is a very upper class poshy city. You will notice immediately, while strolling down the streets, the fancy newest model cars, the Ferraris, the Porsches, the Maseratis, you name it and that for a European city is very unusual. Dusseldorf is a hub for fashion, finance, insurance, telecommunications and media, and it has several high-end activities to entertain the business elite when they venture out from their pretentious skyscrapers. With a deep appreciation for the arts (Kunstpalast, K20 K21), fine dining (plenty of Michelin star options to choose from), and upscale shopping (Konigsallee – Germany’s equivalent to the Champs-Élysées), the city is a buzz with cultural escapade, living up to the standards of its high life living citizens. Three five star hotels next door to each other on one street is something you will only see in Konigsallee. The Steigenberger Parkhotel (8 out of 244), Breidenbacher Hof (2 out of 244) and InterContinental Dusseldorf (5 out of 244) promise guests luxury surroundings, excellent service and wealth facilities. Now to be honest, when it comes to my personal taste I am more inclined to favor romantic boutiques and in Dusseldorf I have found a hidden gem: the Hotel Villa Achenbach (1 out of 244 hotels in Dusseldorf). It is without any tiny hesitations my favorite hotel in Dusseldorf.
9- Shopping at the Königsallee (Kö): Düsseldorf’s most elegant shopping street is Königsallee, affectionately known to locals as the “Kö”. Comparable to Avenue Montaigne in Paris, The Konigsallee is located in the center and is a hallmark of Dusseldorf, a nominal leader among the great boulevards of the world. It was originally conceived as a residential street;however due to the booms in both the economy and the construction industry, the Kö has developed into a undisputed “top-address” in Germany.
All major brands of the world awaits guests in elegant shops and exclusive shopping centers on and around Kö. Grand hotels, fine restaurants, clubs, wellness-health round it up making it the visit unforgettable.
10- Catwalk city:Düsseldorf lives and breathes fashion 365 days a year: trade fairs and business events take place in the city in every season. All year round, Düsseldorf’s showrooms present new and established labels from all over the world. A lot of designers are based in Düsseldorf like Armani, Gucci, Kenzo, Philipp Plein, Prada, Jil Sander, Chanel, Hermes, Burberry, Laurèl, MaxMara and many more besides. When the time comes to make orders, they all meet in exclusive showrooms with representatives from the fashion sector. It’s these decisions, made in Düsseldorf, that determine what people will be wearing in the future. Did you know that Claudia Schiffer was discovered in Düsseldorf when she was spotted in a nightclub by Michel Levaton, the boss of Metropolitan Model Agency who signed her up to become a supermodel?
What I love most about Düsseldorf is that it is not a city that thrives on tourism. Not a lot of people know where to go and what to in Düsseldorf and maybe I should have left it that way. But Düss is such a precious hidden gem with so much to offer, and I honestly believe it is a shame to keep it undiscovered. That is exactly why I wanted to share it with as many as I can, after all doesn’t sharing equals caring!