Düsseldorf

Düsseldorf is a city on the River Rhine in western Germany and is the capital city of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It is one of the economic centres of the country, and a major city within the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan area, with a population of almost 600,000.

While Frankfurt is the German hub for financial services and many other German cities excel in various branches of industry, Düsseldorf has the highest concentration of professional services, creative industries and media, and is regarded as the German capital of fashion. Düsseldorf also hosts a large number of German or European head offices of Japanese companies, and has a considerable Japanese population, forming over 1% of the city's population.

The city is famous for its nightlife, carnival, events, shopping and for fashion and trade fairs like the Boot Messe (trade fair for boats and watersports) and Igedo (fashion fair). Every year, more than 4 million people visit the Kirmes fun fair which runs for 10 days in the summer.


Understand

History

Quarters and city parts of Düsseldorf

Orientation

Düsseldorf lies on the River Rhine, or more precisely, mostly on its right (eastern) riverbank. The corresponding western riverbank is mostly occupied by the neighbouring cities of Neuss and Meerbusch except for a small bit of land on the left bank belonging to Düsseldorf, which forms the District 4.

Düsseldorf is divided into 10 districts (Stadtbezirke), which are referred to only using numbers. Those are further divided into "city parts" (Stadtteile), or neighbourhoods/quarters, which in turn have meaningful names.

Tourists are most likely to concentrate on District 1, with its quarters of Stadtmitte ("city centre") spreading northwest from the train station, as well as Altstadt ("old town") and Carlstadt on the Rhine. Many will continue further south along the Rhine through Unterbilk in District 3 to the haven (Hafen), which has been largely converted to commercial and leisure use from its original industrial and transportation functions. This whole area is rather compact, compared to the entirety of Düsseldorf, and mostly walkable.

Of the other districts and city parts, of interest to tourists may be the Benrath in District 9, with its grand palace and park and Lohausen in District 5, which contains Düsseldorf's international airport.

Spelling

In German, umlauts like ü can be transcribed as ue, so the correct spelling when no umlauts are available would be Duesseldorf. While normally, incorrectly replacing an umlaut with a single vowel will simply give a nonsense word, this is not the case for Düsseldorf. In fact, "Dussel" is a dated word meaning "fool", and "dorf" means "village", so "Dusseldorf" actually means "village of fools".

Relationship with Cologne

Foreign guests might not know that there is rivalry between the citizens of Düsseldorf and their neighbours in Cologne. So never ever order a “Kölsch” (a light beer brewed in Cologne) in Düsseldorf. If you do, some people might become very unfriendly. If they see you are a foreigner they will no doubt forgive you.

Tourist information

There are two main tourist information offices in Düsseldorf:

They offer a lot of brochures: a monthly calendar of events, a city guide and free maps with walking routes designed around a specific theme (e.g., "Art Route", "Düsseldorf in 1 Hour") and, last but not least, a guide for gays. You can also book their guided tours, and note that there are also tours for disabled and deaf people.

Get in

Düsseldorf's riverside by night

By plane

Düsseldorf International Airport, the third largest airport in Germany by passenger traffic, is within the city limits. As the distance is rather small and transportation links are good, the Cologne/Bonn Airport can be used as an entry point to Düsseldorf just as well. The low-cost airport in Weeze, in the east of NRW, has been branded as Düsseldorf Weeze, even though it is about 75 kilometres away from the city. In some cases flying into Frankfurt Airport and taking the train from there might be a good idea

Düsseldorf International Airport

  Düsseldorf International Airport (DUS) offers connections to 175 destinations worldwide. The airport is one of the main hubs for AirBerlin, Germany's second-largest airline and oneworld member. AirBerlin and its parent airline Etihad offer a number of services to Asia (via Etihad hub in Abu Dhabi) and North America. Their intercontinental competitors include Lufthansa (to Chicago), Delta (to Atlanta) and AirChina (to Beijing), as well as Etihad's archrival Emirates. Lufthansa connects to their intercontinental hubs Frankfurt and Munich via frequent flights.

Düsseldorf is also a hub for Germanwings, Lufthansa's point-to-point subsidiary that offers a wide selection of connections between DUS. Same can be said of AirBerlin, who have a large short-haul base there. Both airlines' flights are mostly geared towards the Mediterranean and intra-Germany flights, but you will find find flights to and from most major European airports operated by either of them or other major or minor airlines.

The airport is located about 15 kilometers away from the main railway station. Rather confusingly, the airport has two train stations: One directly underneath the terminal (only served by the S11 commuter trains) and a larger one a bit further away (served by commuter, local and long-distance trains). The former is called Düsseldorf Flughafen Terminal, and the latter is referenced as   Düsseldorf Flughafen by Deutsche Bahn. To get to "Düsseldorf Flughafen", you need to take the SkyTrain monorail from the terminal and ride it to the end, past the stop for parking garages. The SkyTrain ride, with waiting time and stops takes about 10-15 mins.

Fares are the same for both stations, and while more trains call at the larger of the two, it also takes more time to get there. The fastest and easiest way to Düsseldorf tends to be the station underneath the terminal; look for signs with a white S on a green circle. Trains run every 20 minutes, take 12 minutes to reach the Hauptbahnhof (Central Station) and cost €2.50. The ticket is valid for an onwards journey on public transport within Düsseldorf. A taxi to Düsseldorf costs around €22 and takes 20 minutes, the rate to the trade fair (Messe) is fixed at €13.

Cologne/Bonn Airport

Köln Bonn Airport (CGN) is a 60-minute drive or train ride away from Düsseldorf city centre. Trains run every twenty minutes during the day. Take the S13 commuter train from the airport towards Horrem. Change at Köln Messe/Deutz (not the Central Station/Hauptbahnhof) and take the S6 towards Essen. Tickets cost around €11 and can be bought from the machines in the train station, make sure to select that you want to travel by local transport only.

Weeze Airport

Weeze Airport (NRN) is used by smaller, low-cost airlines flying into the area (currently only RyanAir). The airport is 80 km from Düsseldorf main railway station, a 90 min drive by car or bus (bus: 6-8 departures per day, €14 fare). The airport itself is not connected directly to the railway network, something that is rather unusual in Germany.

If you need to travel from Düsseldorf main airport (DUS) to Weeze Airport (NRN), Deutsche Bahn is the easiest and fastest option. Just follow the DB signs at the DUS Airport. The train (S11 then RE10) gets you to Weeze or Kevelaer; then, change to a special bus, which takes you directly to Weeze Airport. Local bus fare is included in Deutsche Bahn tickets. The bus from Weeze train station leaves hourly for the airport until 9:20PM The train goes every hour.

Sometimes, it is cheaper to buy a SchönerTagTicket/Nice Day Ticket NRW (€ 28.50 single, € 39.50 for up to 5 people), valid all day on all public transport in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. This ticket can be bought online on DB's website, from stations, DB counters (where it costs €2 extra), bus drivers, or ticket machines.

If you want to travel from Düsseldorf city to Weeze Airport, you can also take a bus from the Busbahnhof, close to the Hauptbahnhof. The stop is only a 3 min walk from the Hauptbahnhof, behind the cinema at Worringer Straße. The bus takes you straight to Weeze Airport. Tickets can be purchased from the driver (ca 13 Euro). The same bus takes you from Weeze to Düsseldorf Hauptbahnhof, the main train station in 1 h.

By train

Central railway station clock tower

The   Düsseldorf Hauptbahnhof (main station) is a major stop for Deutsche Bahn (German state railway). There are different types of trains such as S-Bahn, Regionalbahn, and Regionalexpress.

All tickets will have to be validated before departure. For the trains like Regionalbahn or Regionalexpress there's an orange machine before you go up the stairs to the platform, where you have to stamp your ticket.

The Rheinbahn tickets for the local Stadtbahn (subway) and Straßenbahn (tram) service need to be validated on the actual trains although you will find stamp boxes at the entrance to the platform as well.

Failure to stamp the ticket in the appropriate machines ("entwerten") will result in either a 40 euro on- the-spot fine or being brought to a police station by the security where the police will request your I.D. such as your passport for later prosecution. Not being German, not understanding the language or complicated system, or the fact that you have purchased a ticket will not be accepted as excuses: if it is not stamped, it is not valid, and travelling with a non-stamped ticket is considered an offence.

By car

Düsseldorf is connected to the following highways: A3, A44, A46, A52, A57 (via Neuss) and A59.

Get around

By local transportation

Düsseldorf tram (Straßenbahn)

The bus, tramway (Straßenbahn) and subway (U-Bahn/Stadtbahn) (Map) networks - impressive for a city its size - are operated by Rheinbahn AG. There is also a suburban railway network (S-Bahn). Most destinations in Düsseldorf can be reached by local transportation. Tickets must be purchased and postmarked before using the transportation service. Tickets are bought from vending machines on the tram or subway stops. There are many different ticket types and the vending machine's instructions in several languages including German, English, and French. To the average traveler, these three are the most relevant ticket types:

Stamp Box

The tickets for areas B, C and D are for the suburban areas. In general these tickets are needed only if you are visiting someone living or working there; the main sights and establishments are all located in the A-area. If you enter the details of your trip into the VRR website (linked below), then the required ticket area for that journey will be shown.

Timetables:

By car

Those who want to drive in the city center should be aware that it is an "environment zone" similar to that found in many other large German cities. Cars are required to have a sticker declaring the car's pollution category.

By bike

There are several bike hire vendors in Düsseldorf, which offer daily or longer term bookings, for ~9 euro/day, or less for longer rental times.

You can hire bikes (Fahrradverleih) from the "Hauptbahnhof" (main station) at the RadStation (in German), which is owned by the City of Düsseldorf and can optionally be booked a day in advance online. You can also park your bikes under cover here for 0.70 euros/day.

A commercial service is run by Nextbike (in German), but requires free registration to receive the combination lock codes to access the bikes. A working mobile phone is also required. You can pick up a SIM card fairly cheaply from a local mobile phone store.

By foot

The city centre is not that large and most attractions are in a walkable distance from another.

By taxi

Officially licensed taxis are always ivory coloured

Taxis are widely available, the two largest taxi companies being Taxi-Düsseldorf and Rhein-Taxi. As in most of the rest of Germany, officially licensed taxis are are always in ivory colour and on the back window you always find a black number on a yellow patch.

When riding a taxi, the starting fee is 4,50€. Price per km is 2,20€, waiting time 35€ per hour, which is calculated in steps increasing by 0,10€ each 10,29 seconds. Additional surcharge for a journey with more than 4 passengers is 7,00€ and an obligatory flat rate between the fairgrounds to the airport DUS and, vice versa is 20€, each direction. Credit card service fee is 2,00€. According to the Düsseldorf taxi-regulation you find an identity card of the driver and information about the tariff. Taxi drivers are not allowed to refuse a short ride or indeed to anywhere in the city or to the direct neighbour cities.

Be aware that neighbour cities have individual tariffs wich may differ from the these of Düsseldorf. So it is normal that a jouney from for example, Mönchengladbach to Düsseldorf is less expensive as the exact same way from Düsseldorf to Mönchengladbach

See

The city was largely destroyed in World War 2, and there were very few old buildings left. People interested in modern architecture, however, will have much to see in Düsseldorf. Also, there are many modern artworks in the public, and on Stresemannplatz Square and the Rhine Bank, there are palms, not really the first thing you'd expect to see on a cold day in October.

The northern end of the Königsallee with the Triton fountain

Stadtmitte

Stadtmitte is the first part of Düsseldorf most travellers see, as it extends northwest from the Hauptbahnhof. It is a very no-nonsense district mostly filled with offices and retail, with few historic buildings, but not without its charm. The Königsallee at the western end of Stadtmitte, close to the Altstadt, is an internationally famous boulevard and luxury shopping street running along both banks of the "Kögraben" canal. On balance, the area around the Hauptbahnhof may seem relatively seedy for a city lauded for its living conditions - the general rule is that the farther from the train station and closer to the "", the nicer the neighbourhood. You may also want to stroll along another shopping street, the Schadowstraße - see the #Buy section of this guide for more tips.

The quarter between Berliner Allee, Klosterstraße, Charlottenstraße and Graf-Adolf-Straße is known as the Japanese quarter (Japanisches Viertel), as the many Japanese companies tend to place their head offices there. This in turn results in the proliferation of typically Japanese service providers, including many restaurants and specialist stores. Moreover, the Japanese companies often provide company apartments to their employees within the quarter. The Asian feel of the district has recently been augmented by the addition of many Chinese and South Korean establishments.

To the west of the Königsallee, encoraching on the territories of Altstadt and Carlstadt, is the Bankenviertel, where traditionally the big international, national and local banks have had their headquarters or local offices. This afforded the area between the parallel Kasernenstraße, Breite Straße and Königsallee with many impressive office buildings, many dating back to the 19th century, and continues to affect the local rents, highest in the city. Apart from banks, media (especially those concentrating on business and economics) and professional services firms also occupy much of the office space available.

By order of elector Carl Theodor the architect Nicolas de Pigage planned and implemented the first public park in Germany, named Hofgarten. It became the prototype of the English Garden of Munich. In the oldest part of Hofgarten you find the Jröne Jong (local dialect, meaning green boy). From there the “Riding Alley” leads strait forward to palace Jägerhof, which today houses the Goethe-Museum. People like the self-luminous park benches on Riding Alley. And last not least Hofgarten houses some sculptures of famous artists.

The Old Town

Altstadt

The Old Town of Düsseldorf, almost completely destroyed during World War II, was rebuilt according to historic plans on its foundation walls, which makes it look like a real historic town. Today the Altstadt is a popular shopping mall and at night and weekends turns into the “longest bar of the world”. Within one square kilometer, you will find about 260 bars, coffee shops and snug brewing houses. The old town is the home of “Altbier”, a top-fermented, dark beer. They say it tastes best at the historical brewing houses. There, the “Köbesse” (local dialect: waiters) may be somewhat harsh but they are warm hearted. If your beer glass is empty the next “Alt” comes without you even having to order it. Many times the first "Alt" comes without even having to order it!

The promenade on the bank of Rhine is one of the most beautiful ones in Germany, and it is situated on the correct side, the right bank, because the sun shines onto this side all day long (the citizens of Cologne used to say the left bank of Rhine is the correct one because the centre of Cologne is situated there), The promenade leads from Parliament via Mannesmannufer, Rathausufer, Burgplatz, and Tonhalle to Rhine-Park. It was created by constructing a tunnel in 1993 and moving motorized traffic underground, so that the riverside became a pedestrian area. Most gangways for boat trips on Rhine are situated near to Burgplatz. Many coffee shops offer seats outside where you can watch and be watched when the weather is fine. The pavement of the promenade is an artwork too; its sinuous design reflects the waves on the river.

Inside the old town, but everywhere in the city also, you will find lots of marvellous old gas lamps. Beside Berlin Düsseldorf is the city with the most gas lamps in Germany.

City Monument
Promenade Rathausufer along the Rhine with the Pegeluhr

Neander – if this name reminds you of prehistoric men you are absolutely right.

A man named Joachim Neander worked as an assistant priest for the reformed religious community of Düsseldorf between 1674 and 1679. He became known as a composer of many chants. For inspiration he very often visited a wild valley east of Düsseldorf. To honour him, this valley was named Neander-Valley about 1800. It is just the same Valley where they found in 1856 the bones of prehistoric men, the famous Neanderthal-man.

Rathaus (City Hall) and Jan Wellem in front

Carlstadt

Carlstadt is Düsseldorf's smallest Bezirk by area, whose development started in late 18th century when the old fortifications of the city became obsolete and the need for more housing pressing. It is named after Prince-Elector Carl Theodor, whose domain encompassed the city at that time. Different in character from the business-oriented Stadtmitte and noisy Altstadt, the Carlstadt charms with its baroque façades, chess-board-like street plan and relative prevalence of greens.

Carlstadt is known for its many antique and art traders, upscale jewellery stores, as well as many museums, galleries and other cultural institutions. Among the artists who have over the years chosen to live in the area were Clara and Robert Schumann. The most commercially active are the Bilker Straße and Hohe Straße. A more historic part of the Bezirk is to be found between the Citadellstraße, Schulstraße and Anna-Maria-Luisa-Medici-Platz.

Unterbilk and Hafen

Gehry Buildings

Other districts

Benrath Palace

Pillar Saints

Throughout Düsseldorf you may encounter life-size figures of people standing on advertising columns, the so-called pillar saints. There are nine of them, it is a project of artist Christoph Pöggeler (born in 1958 in Münster/Westphalia). Humans, removed from their daily routine and put on a pedestal, become noticeable as individuals again and also refer to groups of society like children, business men, vagabonds and strangers. The position of the sculptures are:

Do

Events

Buy

Kaufhof an der Kö by night

Königsallee, called the by the locals, is the city's main boulevard with high-end stores and boutiques, as well as gourmet restaurants and luxury hotels.

The Schadowstraße is another major shopping street, much more affordable, with department stores and apparel shops from local and international chains.

Another famous department store in Düsseldorf is the Carsch-Haus at Heinrich-Heine-Platz. Opened in 1915 by Paul Carsch, it was rebuilt after the Second World War and continued in operation until 1979, when its façade had to be moved 23 metres back to make room for the U-Bahn station. After this meticulously performed operation, it remains continually open since 1984 under its historic name, despite changing hands and becoming a part of the Hertie chain and ending up as part of Kaufhof AG. Kaufhof positions the store as slightly more upmarket than its own-brand Galerias.

Other high-end fashion retailers to be found in Düsseldorf include:

Independent fashion

Those who like trendy fashion should visit the quarter of Flingern, especially Ackerstraße. Recently the quarter has turned from a residential to a creative district, offering stores like the trendy ones you will find in Berlin. Also the district of Pempelfort (Tußmannstraße) and Unterbilk (Lorettostraße) demonstrate that there is a fashion scene beside international fashion houses.

Local specialties

Eat

Characteristic Rhenish dishes like Düsseldorfer Senfrostbraten (mustard roast pork), Rheinischer Sauerbraten (marinated beef with raisins), Halve Hahn (rye bread, slice of cheese, mustard and gherkin) or Ähzezupp (pea soup) are offered everywhere within the old town.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

A typical cafe scene

Düsseldorf is known for its many bars in the downtown (Altstadt) area. In fact, many people refer to the Altstadt as the "longest bar in the world" ("Längste Theke der Welt"). The most common drink is "Altbier" or simply "Alt." This dark beer, served in small glasses, is available at practically any restaurant in the city. Altbier is only brewed in breweries around Düsseldorf. Some of the traditional breweries are the "Uerige", "Füchschen", "Zum Schlüssel" and "Schumacher".

In the Altstadt you can enjoy Schlüssel, Uerige, Schumacher, and Füchschen beers, at traditional brewery restaurants. The waiters at these traditional restaurants are called "Köbes." These waiters will replace empty glasses with full ones when they see one. Typically new visitors to the city are surprised by a new fresh glass of Altbier in front of them when they did not order one. To signal that you are done and do not want any more Altbier, simply place your coaster ("Bierdeckel") on top of your glass, and the "Köbes" will not automatically refill you. Bolkerstraße (Zum Schlüssel, Schumacher), Flingerstraße (Uerige), Ratinger Straße (Füchschen) and Kurzestraße (Kürzer) are the main places where you find all kinds of pubs and breweries. A variation of the Altbier is called Krefelder. It's an Altbier with Coke.

During summer months the Altstadt will come alive after work. People standing outside the pubs and enjoying their beer and good company. This will be especially so on Wednesday evenings on Ratingerstraße. The street will be packed full of people with a great chilled atmosphere. Be aware though of broken glass on the cobbled street. But if you have a chance to go, do not miss it.

Besides Altstadt, which some might consider to be slightly artificial, there are many others places around the city to enjoy beer or cocktails as well. During the last years, Medienhafen (Media Harbour) has become one of very popular quarters; especially during the summer. Other, rather non-touristic areas, include Pempelfort (Nordstraße), Unterbilk (Lorettostraße, Düsselstraße), Oberkassel (Luegallee), and Düsseltal (Rethelstraße).

Sleep

Many new hotels were opened in the Hafen area

Budget

Mid Range

Splurge

Cope

Religious services

Holy mass in catholic churches in downtown Düsseldorf:

Stay safe

Düsseldorf is generally as safe as other European cities of similar size. However the surroundings of the central railway station might be a bit intimidating, particularly at night, if there are junkies around.

Respect

Düsseldorf is in a strong rivalry with its neighbor city Cologne, especially concerning comparisons between the local beers. Cologne is almost twice the size of Düsseldorf in terms of population, and the Cologne Cathedral is known nationwide. Düsseldorf is an economic powerhouse and capital city of the state of NRW. If you have been to Cologne, try to avoid any comparisons between the two cities.

Go next

Brühl: Augustusburg Palace and Gardens

Close by

International

Due to Düsseldorf's proximity to the German/Belgian/Dutch border weekend trips to foreign destinations are easy to arrange.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, March 28, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.