Not a destination that lands on many tourist’s German travel itineraries, Dusseldorf is somewhat of a hidden gem. The city only wiggled its way into our trip plans because of the much-touted Dusseldorf Christmas Market. We were elated to find, however, that there are a surprising number of things to do in Dusseldorf, Germany.
The city is packed with intriguing architecture and incredible landscapes. Altstadt, the quaint city center Old Town, features an astounding number of bars – collectively known as ‘The Longest Bar in the World” – all of which serve the local specialty beer. Drinking, however, is just one of the many top things to do in Dusseldorf.
Is Dusseldorf Worth Visiting?
Dusseldorf – the capital of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia – absolutely wooed us with its charm. Nestled along a curve of the Rhine River, the city is both traditional and modern. From fashion to culture to outdoor activities, Dusseldorf has something for everyone. Whether planning to see Dusseldorf in a day or over a long weekend, there is plenty to do! Fellow travelers can use our tips for what to do in Dusseldorf, Germany to plan the perfect trip!
16 Things To Do in Dusseldorf, Germany
Our list of Dusseldorf activities includes everything you need! In addition to our tips of things to see in Dusseldorf, we include essential information, links (where applicable) and a helpful Dusseldorf sightseeing map. Also, at the end of the post, we offer advice on where to stay in Dusseldorf and how to get there. Save, Pin or Bookmark this post so you can easily access it during your trip!
#1 Drink an Altbier (or Two!)
Dusseldorf nightlife is legendary; it is said that about 300 pubs line the streets of the historic Old Town Altstadt…and they all serve the local beer, Altbier. Top-fermented and brewed according to an old recipe that dates to the 1800s, Altbier is produced by five different local breweries. Aproned waiters, called Kobesse, serve the small glasses of beer with a surly attitude (which can come across as downright rude) – and they track how many you drink by keeping tally on a coaster. When you have had your fill, cover your glass with a coaster and – rather than slamming down another round of beers – they will add up your bill.
The Best Bars in Dusseldorf
We think the best pubs in Dusseldorf are the breweries where Alt Beer is brewed fresh – and we made a point of visiting all five local establishments.
Perhaps the city’s most popular Altbier bar, Uerige sits on a prominent Altstadt corner just south of Marktplatz. The lively brewpub is frequented by both locals and tourists with ample seating both inside and out.
The oldest Altbier brewer in the city, Schumacher Alt beer is still brewed according to an old family recipe from 1838. The brewery is located just east of the Altstadt, between the Old Town and the main train station.
Brewery Zum Schlussel
Housed in a classic German beer hall, the Schlussel Brewery is spacious with a jovial atmosphere. Fitted with indoor booths and an outdoor beer garden, they serve traditional German meals alongside their in-house brews.
Brewery im Fuchschen
Featuring dark wood and low lighting, the Fuchschen Brewery is housed in an authentic German beer tavern. Cozy and personal, Brewery im Fuchschen is located on Ratinger, the Dusseldorf Bar Street.
A contemporary brew house, Kuzer Brewery attracts a younger crowd with a more modern take on the local beer. With good tunes, friendly service and burgers on the menu, Kuzer is a refreshing spot for a beer in the city!
Pro Tip: One of the fun things to do in Dusseldorf is to bar-hop – and because Altbier glasses are only 200ml, visitors can easily visit multiple bars on a Dusseldorf night out!
#2 Go on a Walking Tour
Wondering what to see in Dusseldorf? Forget trying to plan where to go in Dusseldorf and let a guide lead the way on a Dusseldorf city tour! Loaded with historic facts and Dusseldorf must-see sights, city tours are an ideal way to get an introduction to the city.
We joined a Dusseldorf Free Walking Tour, which is only available on weekends, but there are several Dusseldorf tours to choose from! Visitors can embark on an inexpensive 1.5-hour Old Town Tour (get the details!), an evening tour with a Night Watchman (find out more!) – or combine two of the best things to do in Dusseldorf and take a walking tour that includes Altbier tastings (book it now!).
#3 Pig Out on Pork Knuckle
Eating classic German comfort food should be on every Dusseldorf to-do list! Savory, meat dishes reign king in the country – and one of the most delectable dishes is Schweinshaxe, better known to English speakers as Pork Knuckle. Numerous Dusseldorf restaurants (and breweries, too!) feature Pork Knuckle on their menus, but Schweine Janes is consistently rated as one of the best restaurants in Dusseldorf, Germany for local fare.
At Schweine Janes, Pork Knuckle is grilled rotisserie-style at the front of the small restaurant. Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, the succulent meat is fall-off-the-bone good. The heaping portion of meat is accompanied by potatoes and sauerkraut…all of which is utterly delicious (and surprisingly affordable!).
Pro Tip: Schweine Janes is known for serving enormous portions of Schweinshaxe. Rather than each of us ordering one, we opted to split the Pork Knuckle and got the flavorful Goulash Soup as an appetizer.
#4 Stroll along the Riverside
Taking a walk on the Rhine River promenade is one of the best things to do in Dusseldorf – especially after a big, meaty meal! The wide, pedestrian path that hugs the riverside extends the entire length of the Old Town, offering fine views of the river. Lined with trees and benches, the promenade can be enjoyed any time of day, but the sunset views are especially pretty.
Dusseldorf Sights on the Rheiunufer Promenade
At the north end of the promenade, beneath the Schlossturm, riverside steps make a great place to rest tired feet after a long day of Dusseldorf sightseeing. The Rheintreppe deck that overlooks the river is beautifully decorated in modern, colorful tiles (and is a great spot for fun Dusseldorf photos!).
Waterfront seafood restaurants and cafes line the path to the south. The historic tower – the Dusseldorfer Pegeluhr – appears to be a clock tower, but it is actually a Water Level Meter (which also displays past record-high water levels). On the south end of the walkway is the city’s famous Kunst im Tunnel Museum and the Apollo Variety Theater.
#5 Look Up at the Rheinturm
The Rhine Tower is a city landmark and one of the top places to see in Dusseldorf. Standing on the south edge of the Old Town along the riverside at a height of 240.5 meters (789 feet), the Rheinturm ranks as the tallest building in the city. It was built in the 1980s as a telecommunications tower, but also features a revolving restaurant and observation deck.
However, the most intriguing (or perplexing) component of the tower is the Lichtzeitpegel – a unique digital clock that displays the time on the shaft of the tower. Find out how to read the clock time here.
Pro Tip: For many, soaring to the top of the tower is a must-do in Dusseldorf. We had actually planned on going up – and taking advantage of the cheaper Early Bird ticket – but visiting the observation deck is best with clear skies…and the day we planned to go was rainy and dreary.
#6 Gawk at the Architecture on Meidenhafen
Incredibly modern and photogenic, the Media Harbor is a Dusseldorf must see! The district lies south of the Altstadt along the city’s historic docks and is mostly occupied by businesses – including media companies, fashion brands and designers.
When the docks ceased importance as a shipping port, the area was revitalized into a hub of stylish offices and swanky eateries. Contemporary architecture is featured throughout the district, but the most distinct are a trio of buildings called Neuer Zollhof. Built in 1998, the three twisted structures appear to lean into one another.
The best view of the district – and of Neuer Zollhof – is from the north side of the Dusseldorf Marina. The Brucke am Medienhafen pedestrian bridge also overs a nice vantage point.
Pro Tip: Visitors who want to learn more about the revitalization of the district and the unique architecture should join the guided Meidenhafen Tour – find out more and book it!
#7 Gaze at the Grazing Sheep
Although it seems unlikely, one of the top Dusseldorf things to see is…Sheep! A local sheepherder lets his flock graze on the left bank of the Rhine River – just opposite the historic Dusseldorf Old Town. In fact, the flock is clearly visible from the Rhine River promenade. The grassy meadow where the sheep graze is crisscrossed by walking paths – and visitors are welcome to walk right up to the fence for a closer look.
We embarked on a leisurely 1.5-hour walk to see the sheep. Beginning on the Promenade, we walked north and crossed the Oberkasselerbrucke Bridge – which offers stunning vistas of the river, Rhine Tower and Old Town. On the left bank, we followed the path through the meadow to see the sheep, then continued walking south to the Rheinkniebrucke Bridge. Once across, we completed the loop back to the Altstadt via the riverside walkway, but it would have been easy to detour to the Medienhafen district from Rheinkniebrucke.
Pro Tip: Use this link to Google Maps for our route.
#8 Taste-Test the Local Mustard
Mustard – or, rather Senf – is a national condiment in Germany (well, at least it should be!); the strong yellow sauce perfectly complements the country’s famous pork dishes. Germany’s most popular mustard is Lowensenf, which has been produced in Dusseldorf since the 1920s. The brand is well-known for their ‘Extra’ spicy mustard and the natural, quality ingredients they use.
In addition to the standard range of mustard products – Extra, Medium, Sweet and Honey – Lowensenf produces unusual mustard flavors, including locally inspired Altbier Mustard. At the Dusseldorfer Senfladens – a mustard museum and shop – visitors can sample the various products and stock up on favorites. We were fascinated by the array of products – and tasted nearly all of them!
#9 Sip a Shot of Killepitsch Liqueur
Yet another must-try local product, Killepitsch is a strong, herbal liqueur that has been produced in Dusseldorf according to a secret family recipe since 1858. The dark drink, which includes at least 90 herbs, spices and fruits, is available at most of the pubs in Dusseldorf.
However, one of the best bars in Dusseldorf selling Killepitsch is Et Kabuffke Killepitschstube. We took a seat inside the dimly lit, intimate interior for our shot of Killepitsch – but orders can also be placed from the street through the bar window. Just remember to sip it, not shoot it. It’s meant to be enjoyed!
Pro Tip: Visit the Killepitsch store next door for a small bottle of the liqueur to-go!
#10 Get a Caffeine Jolt
It’s a fact that Germans love coffee; in fact, they drink more coffee than beer! More importantly, they consume quality coffee drinks, which means many cities – like Dusseldorf – are flush with chic coffee shops.
Seeking a spectacular Dusseldorf coffee shop experience, we visited Roesterei Vier, where they focus on delivering fresh-roasted coffee. The small company is heavily involved in the process – from bean to cup – and they roast their coffee beans in-house daily. The 2-story coffee shop is centrally located, overlooking Marktplatz.
Pro Tip: Not a coffee drinker? Try the tea at Vier…and make sure to stick around the counter to watch the preparation.
#11 Partake in a Local Event
Dusseldorf boasts festivals, sporting events and concerts – year-round! The festive Dusseldorf Christmas Market was our initial reason for visiting the city. We recommend checking out the city’s event calendar for upcoming events that might coincide with your trip.
However, festivals and Dusseldorf concerts aren’t the only local happenings – the city is home to a few sports teams, too! Going to a game or match is a phenomenal way to experience the city and mingle with the locals.
The Fortuna Dusseldorf Football Club is the local soccer team, which is – by far – the most popular city team. However, there are other sports to watch, like hockey, table tennis, lawn tennis, basketball and even American football.
Pro Tip: No scheduled games when you are in town? Take a look at nearby clubs! During our trip, there were no teams playing in Dusseldorf, so we took the train south to Cologne where we caught an exciting hockey game that ended in a shootout.
#12 Eat Famous Fish Soup
While there are many restaurants in the city, one of the best places to eat in Dusseldorf is at the Carlplatz Market. At lunchtime, both tourists and visitors flood into the market for cheap kebabs, Italian fare, deli eats and German cuisine.
I, however, was intent on eating a bowl of spicy, famous fish soup from Fischhaus W Obst. Regarded as the top restaurant in Dusseldorf for fish stew, Fischhaus W Obst fish soup is homemade “with love” as they vendor described it to me. And, let me assure you: it was delicious! Note: Google Maps incorrectly tags the location of Fischhaus W Obst; use these coordinates instead.
Pro Tip: The market is closed on Sunday (which is very unfortunate for visitors spending a weekend in Dusseldorf!).
#13 Wander through the Hofgarten
The city center park, Dusseldorf Hofgarten, dates to the year 1769; it’s one of the oldest parks in Germany. The green space is one of the Dusseldorf main attractions and it provides an exceptional respite from the thriving city center. Featuring manicured lawns, duck-filled ponds, statues, monuments and sculptures, visiting the Hofgarten is one of the best free things to do in Dusseldorf!
#14 Take a Bite of Gingerbread
Operating since 1891, the Dusseldorf Hinkel Bakery was awarded the title of Baker of the Year in 2019 by newspaper ABZ. Even with two city locations, the shops are almost always packed with locals ordering pastries and loafs of bread.
While all of their breads and treats are tempting, the Hinkel gingerbread – which is made using the baker’s great-grandfather’s recipe – is amazing. The flat, chewy gingerbread is perfectly spiced. The best part is, they make it year-round…not just at Christmas.
#15 Search for the Dusseldorf Cartwheeler
Somewhat of an oddity, one of the Dusseldorf city symbols is the Cartwheeler (or Radschlager, in German). Although the reason why cartwheeling in Dusseldorf is so popular is unclear, it has long been a celebrated tradition. The city hosts a Cartwheeling competition every June and cartwheel art installations can be found around the city.
During our stay, we spotted cartwheel sculptures, fountains (the best one is on Burgplatz!) and even manhole covers featuring cartwheeling kids.
#16 Experience Day Trips from Dusseldorf
The Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region within the state of North Rhine-Westphalia is inclusive of eight large cities – and Dusseldorf is at the center of the region. With an excellent train system, it is easy to get to nearby cities on Dusseldorf day trips. Cologne is the most known city within easy reach, but other cities close to Dusseldorf are Duisburg, Essen and Dortmund.
Hop on a train to Cologne
Cologne (or Koln) is one of the best places to visit near Dusseldorf; the fastest trains whisk visitors south to the city in just 30 minutes. We took the train to Cologne for a late afternoon hockey game – then stuck around the city to partake in the festive Christmas Market.
Some of the other fun things to do in Cologne (which we have done on previous trips) are visiting the magnificent Cologne Cathedral, exploring the Old Town, going to museums and drinking the local Kolsch Beer. (Don’t tell anyone, but we like the Dusseldorf Altbier better!)
Pro Tip: Deutsche Bahn (or DB) offers inexpensive regional day tickets. Traveling in a group? The day ticket is even more useful for small groups (up to 5 people), who all ride on one ticket – saving visitors a bundle of money!
More Dusseldorf Things To Do
With so much Christmas merriment happening in the city, we didn’t get to all of Dusseldorf, Germany things to do that we initially put on our list. So, we’ll just have to save the following places to go in Dusseldorf for our next trip to the city!
Visit a Dusseldorf Museum
For many visitors, going to museums is a must-do in Dusseldorf. In fact, the city museums rank as top attractions in Dusseldorf, Germany. Some of the best museums in Dusseldorf are located within the heart of the city. Top Dusseldorf museums are the K20, K21, KIT, Kunstpalast and Kunsthalle. Visitors interested in learning about the history of Dusseldorf and influential people of the area might be more interested in the Maritime Museum, the Goethe Museum, the Mahn und Gedenkstatte Memorial Dusseldorf and the Heinrich Heine Institute.
Seek out Street Art
Art isn’t only for museums! In Dusseldorf there are numerous streets and buildings that feature Urban Art and street art murals. Kiefernstrasse – east of the train station – is said to have the most incredible street art in the city, as the entire street is covered in murals – both inside and out. Taking a walk down the street is one of the cool things to do in Dusseldorf. Visitors who are interested in learning more about the Urban Art scene in the city can pop into Pretty Portal, where they also offer tours.
Slurp Up a Bowl of Ramen Noodles
A little-known fact: Dusseldorf is home to one of the biggest Japanese communities in Europe. As such, the Dusseldorf neighborhood, “Little Tokyo on the Rhine,” is a haven of Japanese stores, shops and restaurants. The most popular ramen and sushi restaurants are located along Immermannstrasse between the Old Town and the train station. Two highly rated eateries we want to try are Takumi (for ramen) and Okinii (for sushi), which just happen to be right across the street from one another.
Shop ‘til You Drop
Shopping in Dusseldorf, Germany isn’t only for fashionistas! Although the city is well-known as a hub for luxury brands – like Prada, Gucci, Chanel and Dior – there are also boutique shops, vintage second-hand stores and malls.
Pro Tip: Konigsallee Street – or just Ko for short – is the city’s impressive, high-end shopping street. Even visitors who are not interested in shopping should take a stroll down the iconic street.
Dusseldorf Tourist Map
Our Map of Dusseldorf City Center includes all of the Dusseldorf Top Attractions we featured above. Use this link to our Dusseldorf Attractions Map online. Want a paper map, instead? Buy this one on Amazon in advance of your trip!
Dusseldorf Travel Trips
Now that you know what to do in Dusseldorf, Germany, we have a few more tips to help you plan your trip!
Where To Stay: Hotels in Dusseldorf City Center and Airbnb Apartments
We think the best area to stay in Dusseldorf is in the city center. However, because we planned our trip last-minute, the best hotels in Dusseldorf were already booked. Instead, we opted to stay in an Airbnb apartment on the south side of the city center, near the Rheinturm.
We have found that Airbnb apartments are often less expensive than hotels and offer amenities that most hotels don’t (like a kitchen and outdoor space). Visitors on a budget will likely find that Airbnb apartments are the best places to stay in Dusseldorf.
Not already a member of Airbnb? Create your account with this link and save money on your first stay!
That said, there are plenty of choices of hotels in Dusseldorf, Germany city center. Visitors looking for a luxury stay might want to book a room at the fabulous Capella Breidenbacher Hof or the highly rated Hotel Favor.
For something a little more affordable that is still near the center, Hotel Lindenhof offers rooms for less than 100 euros per night. Although, we recommend booking in advance!
Start your search for the best hotels at the best prices on Booking.com!
How To Get There: Dusseldorf, Germany Airport and Train Station
Dusseldorf is a well-connected city. The Dusseldorf Airport has direct flights from numerous European cities (Madrid, London, and Paris to name just a few), as well as other top German cities (Munich, Berlin, and Dresden) – and from a few in North America, too!
Traveling by train is another easy way to get to Dusseldorf. The rail network connects Dusseldorf to other German cities (like Frankfurt) and major European cities, too. Our departure from the city was via train – and it was just a 2-hour ride to Amsterdam!
Bus companies – like Flixbus – also transport passengers to and from the city.
The Dusseldorf climate is humid and experiences rainfall year-round. The city does have four seasons, with winter temperatures hovering just around freezing and warm summers. Late-spring and early-autumn offer the most pleasant weather. For your trip, check the current weather in Dusseldorf on Weather.com.
What You Will Need for Your Dusseldorf Trip
Don’t forget these items when you are packing for your trip! For more packing tips, check out my complete Packing List.
Dusseldorf is best explored on foot! While the city is not expansive or hilly, there is some ground to cover! We recommend packing a pair of comfortable walking shoes; I like wearing Columbia Shoes and Kris prefers his Merrell shoes.
A Real Camera
Dusseldorf is incredibly photogenic! Rather than relying on your phone camera to capture the sights of the city, we recommend upgrading to an actual camera to get the best shots. We use a Canon Rebel with an everyday 18-135mm lens – which is a great first DSLR for budding photographers.
Rainy Weather Gear
WiFi Hotspot and Power Bank
Sightseeing in Dusseldorf is much easier when connected to the internet. To stay connected while we travel, we use a GlocalMe hotspot, which doubles as a power bank. Having connectivity is crucial when we need directions to get around a new city…but it’s also nice to have when we want to post photos to social media in real time.
We think travel insurance is essential! Not only does it come in handy during flight delays or when luggage is lost, but it can really help when travelers experience illness or injury while traveling. Check rates and coverage for your trip at World Nomads!
We Want To Know: What would you add to our list of things to do in Dusseldorf, Germany? Give us your best tips and advice in the comments below!
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