On to the WEST!
A couple weeks ago you took a tour into Leipzig in East Germany, if you missed that, you can read it here.
My German tour took me to Dusseldorf next.
Mini Break: The German train system is intense and complicated, don’t hold it against yourself if you get confused, annoyed, or miss a train. Or maybe I’m just special. I got to the train station in Leipzig over 30 minutes before my train which is a record for me. My ticket had a gate on it, but I also found the updated board and the gate was the same. Went to that gate and my train was on the display. My train’s departure time came and went and no train. Went to the desk and after some botched explanation they didn’t seem surprised that my train never arrived, seemed like just another day in the neighborhood. They were able to rebook me on the next one no problem, hardly a question asked. So there’s hope I guess?
Anyways, on to Dusseldorf!
The differences between Dusseldorf and Leipzig were immediately apparent.
Dusseldorf is significantly larger and significantly more diverse.
My home for the days I was in Dusseldorf was the Hotel Friends located in the Turkish quarter. This is like a hostel for adults who want their own room. Set a little outside the city center, it’s a great place to explore Dusseldorf from and an even better to wake up in! Each room has a theme and they take those themes to the extreme!
The public spaces on the first floor reminded me of a hostel atmosphere. There were games, foosball, plenty of space for hanging and making friends and a really eclectic funky atmosphere. The morning breakfast buffet left me full until midday each day!
Dusseldorf, save a small area that’s still intact, was mostly rebuilt after the war. Most of the buildings have that not-so-charming 70s feel but as you get closer to the old city center, the charm near hits you in the face. The Stadtgraben river or pond or however you interpret it is flanked by shopping strips and beautiful old trees. The whole scene seems as it is out of a movie!
Passing over the Stadtgarden you can make your way into the old city and the boardwalk the runs along the Rhine River.
The old town or Alstadt is best explored by foot, and man did I have the best tour guide in town! Anne had a passion for Dusseldorf and a great sense of humor that made my 4-hour walking tour fly by! If you find yourself in Dusseldorf, don’t miss an opportunity to hang out with her for a few hours and discover all the things to do in Dusseldorf!
A Walking Tour of Things to do in Dusseldorf
Although my tour of Dusseldorf only lasted for 4ish hours, I feel strongly that you should interpret this walking tour into a full day experience! With many longer stops spread throughout the day 😉 Suggestions for those to come!
Start your tour in the Japanese quarter. Dusseldorf has the third largest Japanese community in Europe and you won’t be surprised with that fact as you walk around the area to the East of the Stadtgarden. With some world class sushi, plenty of bubble tea shops, Japanese international schools, this area has become a little Tokyo due to all the Japanese industry involvement in the city.
You are probably ready for a light mid-morning snack or a coffee, yeah? Well, when in Dusseldorf, as a gluten-free human, I couldn’t pass up any opportunity to enjoy a gf pastry at Isabella’s Gluten Free Patisserie. Their main location is across the Rhine in a gorgeous little cafe spot, but we will talk about that later! For this walking tour, bop into their little location in a plaza on the Königsallee.
The Königsallee is a long shopping street filled to the brim with high-end shops, beautiful stone walkways, and a picturesque canal in the backdrop. Go ahead and shop or window shop til you drop.
Ready for another snack? Make your way to the Carlsplatz.
This market has grown over the years since its inception in the 1200s or 1300s. Running Monday through Friday from 8am to 6pm and Saturdays from 8am to 4pm, the Carlsplatz is a place to do your produce shopping, grab a quick coffee, or to escape from work for an hour for a delicious meal. With over 60 stands ranging from selling ONLY potatoes and onions to flowers, to freshly ground coffee to chocolate covered licorice treats, the market has something for everyone. And should definitely be on your list of things to do in Dusseldorf.
KaffeeReich at stand D2 is a great spot for a cheeky coffee among some friendly faces! Follow your nose and around the corner, they hand roast all the beans from around the world each day.
Finally! It’s time to head to the charming Altstadt, or old city center. It carries the nickname of “The Longest Bar in the World” amongst locals, and it sure seemed like that to me! Dusseldorf has two local flavors that you’ll have to sample while wandering the streets. Altbier and Killepitsch are very different ends of the spectrum, but worth experiencing both.
Killepitsch is best experienced at Et Kabuffke Killepitsch Stube on a corner in Altstadt across the tourism office, conveniently the best place for Altbier is on the other corner! This delicious liquor reminded me of a cross of Fernet Branca and Jagermeister. So, not for the faint of heart!
It’s best enjoyed in shot form and before noon, or is that just me?
This little shop is made for tiny tiny people and you absolutely must venture to the second level to fully experience it.
Altbier also needs to be on your list. And you could certainly have yourself quite the bar crawl if you wander around trying to find all the different varieties and “best” version of it. Each pub has their own specific recipe and method, so you could get pretty tipsy trying them all.
But either way, both shops should be on your list of things to do in Dusseldorf.
After a shot [or two] spend some time exploring the beautiful streets of the old town. Cars are scarce here and there is ample shopping to be had so off you go! Make sure to meander through the Marktplatz square with the Town Hall and the large equestrian statue of Elector John William II erected in 1711. The Castle Tower right on the banks of the Rhine is another important stop, as it’s the only remaining piece of the old castle that used to dominate the area.
This area of Dusseldorf is very much rich with the beauty of old Europe, and you could literally spend hours wandering the stone streets, bopping into shops that sell homemade mustards, trinkets, clothing, and so much more!
Finish your perfect walking tour off with a visit to the world’s largest digital clock otherwise known as the Rheinturm. If you’re feeling swanky, you can venture to the top for a fine meal, or just to take in the sights!
A few mentions, if you’re gluten free, I was actually quite impressed with knowledge and prevalence of gluten free food and products. I ate at a delicious crepery with gluten free crepes both sweet and savory, called Bistro Erminig that was absolutely fantastic and right in the old city so it’s a great breakfast or lunch spot (or really a whenever spot!).
Another favorite was Isabella’s Gluten Free Patisserie. As I mentioned there were two locations, one small window shop in the shopping street of Königsallee and a larger, cafe style (gorgeous) location across the Rhine in Oberkassel. Along with being entirely gluten free, they also offer vegan breads, and lactose-free treats as well. Isabella is an absolute sweetheart, you should probably stop in whether you are a gluten enjoying human or living without.
If exploring on foot isn’t for you, wait for my next installment about things to do in Dusseldorf on four wheels 😉 Magically, I didn’t end up in a hospital! Until then… -M