Dusseldorf might not be the first spot in Germany you’d think of for a weekend break.
But there’s plenty to see and do — and eat and drink — in this city of 600,000, especially with its fantastic Christmas market in full swing right now.
Its air of prosperity is evident everywhere, especially among citizens who dress to impress as they peruse swanky shops on the Konigsallee or head out to enjoy a beer in the Altstadt (old town) near the banks of the Rhine.
Dusseldorf might not be the first spot in Germany you’d think of for a weekend break but there’s plenty to see and do
Where to stay
25 Hours Das Tour
You get superb city views from the 16th-floor restaurant and 17th-floor bar of this slick, modern hotel. Most rooms are large, some with balconies. All come with air conditioning and powerful rain-head showers. Breakfast is £18 extra; so unless you’re really hungry, it’s best to find a cafe nearby. Doubles from £61 (25hours-hotels.com).
This former theatre only opened as a hotel this year and is about 200 yards from the Konigsallee, Dusseldorf’s swishest shopping street. The owners’ philosophy is ‘lean luxury’ — just paying for the things you need without splashing out on those you don’t. Rooms, whose sizes go from ‘Nest’ via ‘Cosy’ to ‘Wow’, are low on clutter but definitely not sparse, and have high-quality soundproofing and blackout curtains for a good night’s sleep. Doubles from £56. (ruby-hotels.com).
Just a five-minute walk from the main train station, this hotel has 40 bedrooms which are all individually designed and have themes based on the likes of Lady Gaga and James Bond. The lobby doubles as a stylish, popular bar. Breakfast is £13 extra. There’s a small shop that sells everything from beer to toothbrushes. Doubles from £66 (hotelfriends.de).
Henri Hotel Downtown
Occupying a former office building, the Henri has 79 rooms and you can walk to the old town in about 20 minutes. ‘Studios’ are compact but have a designer finish that avoids the usual same-everywhere hotel furniture feeling. There’s a compact gym and a spa on site. Grab a coffee and croissant from the House Kitchen restaurant for £3.90. Doubles from £75 (henri-hotels.com).
What to see and do
One of the seven Christmas markets taking place in the centre of Dusseldorf until the end of December
There are seven Christmas markets taking place in the centre of Dusseldorf until the end of this month, each with its own traditional theme.
Although separate, they’re all within walking distance of each other.
As well as stalls with old-fashioned gifts and plenty of roasted almonds and Glühwein (mulled wine), there’s a skating rink at Corneliusplatz, a huge, light-decked Ferris wheel at Burgplatz, and live music — everything from bluegrass to gospel and carols. For an Instagram moment, have your photo taken inside a giant snow globe. Visit duesseldorf- tourismus.de.
Modernists in charge
The architecturally eclectic Medienhafen, where the likes of Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano and Sir David Chipperfield were given free rein when redesigning this once-depressed dockland
You can spot the rather brutal 218m-tall Rheinturm (Rhine tower) all over town — and the best views of Dusseldorf are to be had from the top.
There’s a restaurant and a bar, too, with live DJ sets till 1am on Saturdays. Tickets are £4.25.
Wander a bit further along the river and you come to architecturally eclectic Medienhafen, where the likes of Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano and Sir David Chipperfield were given free rein when redesigning this once-depressed dockland. Visit rheinturm.de.
The Konigsallee, pictured, is the most fashionable street in Germany’s most-fashionable city
Known simply as Ko to locals, the Konigsallee is the most fashionable street in Germany’s most-fashionable city. Stroll along its canal and browse inside boutiques such as Prada and Burberry.
Nearby Schadowstrasse has more wallet-friendly choices, while a short wander in the opposite direction brings you to the old town, the Altstadt. This is the place for a few beers; not for nothing is the area called ‘the longest bar in the world’.
Try a shot of the local liqueur killepitsch at Et Kabuffke on Flinger Street. If you want to bring back a local souvenir, there are more mustards than you can shake a bratwurst at in the Dusseldorfer Senfladen on Berger Street.
Art and design scene
Dusseldorf has a vibrant cultural scene and its Kunstpalast (entry £12) has been a museum of art for more than 300 years, although in its current home since just 2001.
You’ll find paintings, sculptures and drawings from medieval to modern periods.
Until early January, an exhibition on the life and works of designer Pierre Cardin is on. Visit kunstpalast.de.
One of the best places to sample a beer is in the Aldstat, pictured
Where to eat
This friendly neighbourhood spot on Loretto Street is open for lunch and dinner in the buzzy Unterbilk district, with its many eclectic independent shops. A good mix of meat, fish and pasta dishes — as well as creative puddings — are offered including Waldorf salad with chicken breast (£8) and Toblerone mousse (£4.70). Visit robskitchen.de.
German enjoy a beer or two, and in the heart of the old town, you can pause at this atmospheric brewery that dates back to 1862 to sample a local Doppelsticke or an Old Alt. In the evenings (and on Sundays from 1.30pm), tuck into hearty grub to go with your ales, including bratwurst and mashed potatoes (£11.60) or wiener schnitzel with fried potatoes and salad (£13). Visit uerige.de.
It might seem strange to recommend a restaurant that seems to be straight out of Tokyo, but Dusseldorf has one of the largest Japanese communities in Europe, and you’ll often find homesick expats here slurping authentic ramen and gyoza. A bowl of chicken teriyaki ramen is £12, or you could ‘go large’ for an extra £1.70. Visit takumi-duesseldorf.de
Looking through the window of one of the branches of this bakery chain is quite an eye-opener, with an astonishing range of freshly baked goods to tempt you. Don’t be put off by the queues — start with a smile and a ‘guten tag’ (hello) and a member of staff will do their best to find someone who speaks English. Or just point. Put together a takeaway picnic to enjoy by the Rhine. Visit baeckerei-hinkel.de.
EasyJet (easyjet.com) flies London to Dusseldorf from £43 return. A ten-minute train ride from the airport to the centre is £2.30.
A 48-hour Dusseldorf Card (£13.50) gives free public transport in the city and discounts on guided tours and museum entry. Visit duesseldorftourismus.de/duesseldorfcard/