Things to do in Dusseldorf, Germany

Stuart Forster provides an overview of the art museums, shopping and other things to do in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Disclosure: Some of the links below and banners are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

If you’re planning a trip to Germany and looking to add a hip, multi-faceted destination to your itinerary, then you may find Dusseldorf worth a visit.

Over recent years this city by the River Rhine has been quietly winning positive reviews for its luxury shopping and innovative architecture. The city celebrates its openness and cultural diversity, facets reflected in Dusseldorf’s influential contemporary art scene.

Dusseldorf or Düsseldorf?

Germans balance a pair of umlauts over the ‘u’ of this city’s name. So don’t be surprised to see Düsseldorf written on signs and departure boards when you’re in the country. More than 641,000 people live here, the capital of North Rhine-Westphalia. With more than 18.1 million inhabitants, it’s by far Germany’s most populous state.

Locals suggest the exchange of ideas from so many minds and the multiculturality of the region helps account for the vibrancy of their city.

They also joke that staying ahead of neighbouring Cologne, with whose residents a long-standing rivalry is shared, is driving them onward to bigger and better things.

You’re also likely to hear proud boasts about Dusseldorf’s public transport infrastructure and the broad range of entertainment and sporting opportunities. Along with parkland and riverside spaces that explains for why Dusseldorf is ranked as one of the planet’s most liveable cities.

In its Quality of Living City Rankings 2023 report, the consulting firm Mercer rated Dusseldorf tenth on its global index.

A popular German city

In 2023 the German National Tourist Board ranked Dusseldorf as the country’s 71st most popular attraction. In 2018, just shy of five million overnight stays were recorded.

Many more guests spent a day in the city before moving on to accommodation elsewhere.

Cafes and restaurants in Dusseldorf’s Altstadt

The narrow streets of the Altstadt (Old Town) are a popular draw for residents and sightseers from further afield. The lanes of the historic city centre are dotted with more than 260 restaurants and bars, meaning it’s a good place to get an initial taste of Dusseldorf.

After strolling through the Altstadt turn onto the Königsallee, known locally as the KÖ, the city’s main shopping artery. In addition to flagship stores of luxury fashion houses and the Galeria Kaufhof department store at Königsallee 1, you’ll be able to dip in and out of numerous cafés and chic restaurants.

Shopping on the Königsallee

The Königsallee was built around a moat and originally conceived as a residential area. You can still see the moat and fountains at the heart of a park in which the leaves of chestnut trees provide shade during summer. In addition to venerable buildings with stone facades, you can head into airy, contemporary malls.

Stilwerk, a lifestyle and fashion hub, and Kö-Bogen, a luxury retail centre with an eye-catching façade designed by Studio Daniel Libeskind, are just two of the buildings encapsulating Dusseldorf’s modernity and vibrancy.

The largest fair on the Rhine

If you’re visiting during July and want to enjoy a taste of regional heritage, head to the Größte Kirmes am Rhein, literally the ‘largest funfair on the Rhine’.

The annual festival with a funfair will be held in 2024 from 12 to 21 July. Visitors can ride carousels, roller coasters and view the Altstadt from the revolving vantage point of the big wheel.

DJs and musicians perform onsite, helping to create a fun, entertaining environment that reaches across age groups to draw well over four million visitors a year.

Currywurst and roast almonds

This broad appeal makes the Largest Fair on the Rhine Germany’s fourth biggest city festival. You’ll be able to taste a selection of snacks. The aroma of roast nuts drifts temptingly from the stalls as they are prepared.

You can also grab freshly made fish sandwiches and Currywurst (sausage smothered in ketchup and served with a dusting of curry powder). Currywurst is by far the most popular snack in the country and is usually served with a portion of French fries.

Along the bank of the Rhine, you can visit city landmarks such as the 14th century St Lambertus Church, easily identifiable thanks to its twisted steeple, and the nearby Schlossturm (Palace Tower) at Burgplatz.

On summer evenings you’ll see hundreds of residents out enjoying the sunshine on the waterfront promenade.

Visiting the Kögraben in autumn is one of the many pleasant things to do in Dusseldorf, Germany. Photo courtesy of Dusseldorf Marketing. (© Düsseldorf Marketing & Tourismus GmbH – photographer U. Otte.)
Visiting the Kögraben in autumn is one of the many pleasant things to do in Dusseldorf, Germany. Photo courtesy of Dusseldorf Marketing. (© Düsseldorf Marketing & Tourismus GmbH – photographer U. Otte.)

Best places to photograph in Dusseldorf

If you want memorable photos of the Dusseldorf skyline you have the option of including the Rheinturm, the telecommunications tower whose M168 observation platform offers views from an altitude of 168 metres. Booking a table in the tower’s revolving restaurant, QOMO, also means an opportunity to point your camera down over the city.

From the Rheinturm you’ll see Wilhelm-Marx-Haus. Designed by Wilhelm Kreis, it was built between 1922 and 1924. The 57-metre-tall building may not seem remarkable by today’s standards, yet it’s regarded as Germany’s first skyscraper.

If you appreciate modern architecture then stroll along to the MedienHafen (Media Harbour), where you’ll see designs such as the striking Neuer Zollhof buildings by the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry. The district is regarded as the city’s creative hub and a pleasant place to wander if you want to gain an impression of the positive buzz presently palpable in Dusseldorf.

Football in Dusseldorf

Dusseldorf will host five of the fixtures during the UEFA Euro 2024 championship. The games will be played at the 47,000-capacity Düsseldorf Arena.

Home to Fortuna Dusseldorf, who finished third in Germany’s second tier in 2023-24, the stadium is more commonly known as the Merkur Spiel-Arena. Using public transport, the ground is a little over 30 minutes from the Altstadt.

Art Museums in Dusseldorf

Creativity, though, has long been associated with the city, whose Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (Academy of Fine Arts) is associated with many outstanding names, including Joseph Beuys, Andreas Gursky and Gerhard Richter. If you enjoy visiting independent art galleries then it makes sense to check local listings for the latest shows.

You also have a number of art museums to choose from. The Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen has three exhibition spaces showing works from the 20th and 21st centuries. If you’re pressed for time but want to see artworks by the likes of Max Beckmann, Wassily Kandinsky and Andy Warhol then prioritise a visit to the K20 gallery at Krabbeplatz.

If you enjoy art, check out the Kunsthalle Dusseldorf website for exhibition news.

With an upbeat international atmosphere, there’s much to explore in Dusseldorf, making it a good entry point to Germany and well worth exploring during a stopover or over a weekend.

Map of Dusseldorf, Germany

Zoom into the Google Map, below, to find places of interest in and around Dusseldorf:

Google Map of Dusseldorf, Germany.

Books about Dusseldorf

Planning a trip to Dusseldorf and Germany? You can buy the following books from Amazon:

DK Eyewitness guide to Germany.

Lonely Planet’s guide to Germany.

Played in Germany: A Footballing Journey Through A Nation’s Soul by Kit Holden.

The Düsseldorf Art Academy: Making History.

Hotels in Dusseldorf

Search for accommodation in Dusseldorf via

Further information

For more information see the Dusseldorf Tourism and Germany Travel websites.

Both photos illustrating this feature were provided courtesy of Dusseldorf Marketing (© Düsseldorf Marketing & Tourismus GmbH – photographer U. Otte.) The headline image shows the city’s Media Harbour.

Stuart Forster, the author of this post, is a travel writer who speaks fluent German. His work has been published by the i-Paper, National Geographic Traveller and many more titles.

Thank you for visiting Go Eat Do and reading this post highlighting things to do in Dusseldorf. Looking to visit Germany? You may also enjoy posts about top things to do in Munich and sauna culture in Germany.

If you enjoyed this post why not sign up for the free Go Eat Do newsletter? It’s a hassle-free way of getting links to posts on a monthly basis.

‘Like’ the Go Eat Do Facebook page for more photos and content.

A version of this post was first published on Go Eat Do on 16 October 2015.

Post a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.