A top-tier old town and lashings of culture are the main headliners on city breaks to Dusseldorf.

Clear-cut character

If Dusseldorf were to win an Academy Award, it’d be the in Best Supporting Actor category. This city’s on the periphery of Germany’s big boys, but still has enough clout to turn a few heads. It’s parked on the banks of the Rhine River, in the west of the country, and has a curious identity that’s formed over the past century. Quirky, every-shape skyscrapers have popped up in the areas flattened by the Second World War. And beneath the flashy facade there’s an old town – the Altstadt – that keeps things classic, and has Baroque and medieval architecture coming out of its ears.

Big on buildings

Architecture is a seriously big deal in Dusseldorf – the city had a blank slate in the early 20th century, which has been filled with a real pick-and-mix of buildings. There are churches from the 1500s that survived the conflict, plus half-timbered buildings in the Altstadt – or old town – that lend a nod to the past. Elsewhere, the flashy Media Harbour has high-rises that seem to bend and twist into all sorts of shapes. Carlstadt plays to an arty crowd with its museums and galleries, and Nordpark’s attraction lies in its huge open green spaces.

Tipple town

One of the nicknames plonked on Dusseldorf’s old town is ‘The Longest Bar in the World’, due to the sheer number of watering holes clustered in such a small area. The vast majority, if not all, serve the city’s staple drink – altbier. This reddy, chocolatey coloured beer is brewed super slowly to create the best taste, which is where its name, ‘old beer’, comes from. And its not just bars and clubs that serve the trusty tipple – there are loads of breweries where you can see it being made while you knock back a glass or two.

Paintings and parks

Not everyone is savvy with Dusseldorf’s cultural history – it’s been a major player in Germany’s art and music scene for hundreds of years. The Kunstakademie, a famous art school, has produced some of the country’s most revered landscape painters. And that fascination with the arts continues today. The Tonhalle – a converted planetarium – now hosts orchestral performances, and there’s a modern art venue in a converted motorway tunnel, known as Kunst im Tunnel, or Art in the Tunnel. You can’t visit the academy itself, but the surrounding area has turned into a haven of galleries and museums, so it’s definitely worth heading to.

At a Glance

  • Grab drinks at ‘the longest bar in the world’
  • Get your luxury shopping fix on Konigsallee
  • Check out the views from the Rhine Tower