10 things you must see and do in Düsseldorf

  • Things to do
  • Germany
  • 6 min read
10 things you must see and do in Düsseldorf

Düsseldorf will surprise, delight and dazzle you. This dynamic German city of fashion, music and art is less than five hours from Calais!

One of the major cities of the Rhineland, Düsseldorf is closer to Calais than you might think, and offers a great escape into Germany. World-renowned as a centre of fashion, architecture and art, it boasts a host of attractions, and blends an edgy exciting feel with typical old world German charm.

Music fans will know Düsseldorf as the birthplace of electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk, and it is the fashion capital of Germany, with 800 fashion showrooms, the exclusive Königsallee and a host of fashion weeks and shows throughout the year. The distorted Frank Gehry buildings on the waterfront draw architecture lovers from around the world. Whether you visit in the summer months or for the celebrated Christmas market, here are the best things to do in Düsseldorf.

Illuminated ferris wheel next to two historic buildings with a row of bright street lamps

Where is Düsseldorf?

Düsseldorf is in western Germany, around 55km from the Dutch border. It is the capital city of North-Rhine Westphalia, close to Leverkusen, Bonn and Cologne in the Rhine Valley.

Driving to Düsseldorf from Calais

It takes around four and a half hours to drive to Düsseldorf (toll-free) from the LeShuttle Calais Terminal. Take the A16 towards Dunkirk and then into Belgium, and then the E40 via Ghent and Brussels. Follow the E314 European route into the Netherlands and then across the German border, following the A73 autoroute via Mönchengladbach to Düsseldorf.

Things to see and do in the city

From high fashion to inspirational art, arresting modern architecture to quaint cobbled enclaves, Düsseldorf doesn’t disappoint. A book about the city’s art movement was called Dazzledorf, and it will certainly surprise, delight and, yes, dazzle you.

Stroll along the Rheinuferpromenade

A wide walkway beside a river in a city, with green space in the foreground

Running for 1.5 km from the Burgplatz to the Rheinturm, the promenade along the river is the beating heart of Düsseldorf. It is the place where the locals come to hang out, meet friends and take in the glorious sunsets over the Rhine. Whether you’re on the way to the Altstadt or the Rhine Tower, take a stroll here and grab a beer or lunch at one of the many bars and restaurants along the Rheinuferpromenade. You will be in the company of cyclists, rollerbladers, joggers, dog-walkers and party-goers. After dark the lights from the buildings illuminate the water and it is a magical scene. 

Shop till you drop in Königsallee

The Königsallee (‘the King’s alley’) is Düsseldorf’s most famous street. This is where you will find exclusive flagship stores like Prada, Gucci, Dior, Chanel and Louis Vuitton. With a canal down its centre, this grand shopping boulevard is the place to shop like a celebrity.  If the price tags of the clothes are a bit much, grab a coffee at one of the many cafés on the Königsallee, and people watch on the ‘Champs-Élysées’ of Germany.

Admire the views from the Rhine Tower

An observation tower illuminated at night

The Rheinturm is the most prominent feature on the Düsseldorf cityscape. The tallest building in Düsseldorf, the tower was built in the early 1980s and symbolises the modern character of the city’s architecture. The observation deck at 168 metres offers panoramic views of the city and river below. On a clear day you can even see as far as Cologne cathedral, 40 km away. Higher still is the QOMO rotating restaurant, with 144 window seats. It takes 72 minutes for a full rotation – enough time for a delicious two course dinner!

There are daily and night tickets for the observation deck. Entry to the restaurant is free, but make sure you book a table ahead. 

Explore the nightlife of the old town

Five glasses of dark beer on a tray being held by a waiter

The Altstadt is the place for a great night out in Düsseldorf. With over 300 brewpubs, bars, clubs and restaurants in an intimate few streets, the area claims to be ‘the longest bar in the world’, so called because the watering holes are so tightly packed!

The local brew is ‘Altbier’ – distinctive to Düsseldorf, it is served in small (to some) 200ml glasses and is brewed without additives so you shouldn’t get a hangover, or so they say. More good news is that at some of the more traditional pubs you don’t even have to go to the bar to get served – the waiters will keep topping you up until you put a beermat on top of your glass to say you’re done!

You could do one of the city’s brewery tours or just try your luck, sampling the beers from the famous old brew houses like ‘Im Füchschen’, ‘Kurzer’ and ‘Zum Schiffchen’.

Marvel at the North Rhine-Westphalia art collection

The Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen is a collection of 20th-century art that is one of the city’s great cultural achievements. The museum began with the purchase in 1960 of 88 works by Paul Klee, and now features paintings, sculpture, photographs and installations by Picasso, Matisse, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock and Piet Mondrian.

There are three venues across the city – the K20 at the Grabbeplatz, the K21 at the Standehaus, and a lecture and rehearsal space at the Schmela Haus. The K20 building of curved black granite is in keeping with Düsseldorf’s cutting edge architecture.

Visit Germany’s first public park at Hofgarten

Two people walking in a city park by a green statue towards a modern building

The Hofgarten is a large green space in the city centre, first landscaped in 1769 – making it the first public municipal garden in Germany. It is called the ‘green lung’ of Düsseldorf and covers 28 hectares from the Königsallee right up to the river bank. Dotted around the wide paths are statues of German composers, sculptures by Henry Moore, ponds and lakes and all kinds of garden styles, from German Baroque to English landscape. It is a marvellous hideaway from the noise and bustle of the city for a while.

Enjoy a drink in the Burgplatz

The Burgplatz is the main city square in the Altstadt. It is at the northern end of the Rheinuferpromenade and is lined with bars and restaurants, and also houses the old castle tower. Now a fascinating museum about the city’s history, the tower is the only structure that remains from the original castle.

In summer the Burgplatz is the perfect place to quench your thirst after a stroll along the riverside, and in winter it is one of the locations of the famous Düsseldorf Christmas market. The festive ferris wheel in the Burgplatz is one of the highlights!

Kaiserswerth: one of the old neighbourhoods of the city

Kaiserswerth is a historic neighbourhood around 25 minutes away by train from the centre of Düsseldorf. It is a quiet enclave of brightly coloured old houses, cobbled streets and cosy boutiques. It is also the location of the Kaiserpfalz, an Imperial castle that stood beside the Rhine in the Middle Ages.

There are some well preserved ruins, and as is the way many of the houses of Kaiserswerth were built from the stones of the castle. Also in the area is the site of the hospital where Florence Nightingale served her nursing apprentice before going to the Crimean War, and the local hospital takes her name.

Two gables of old houses with a church spire between them

The medieval church of St. Suitbertus

Not far from the Kaiserpfalz is St Suitbertus basilica, which dates from the 11th century. The gold shrine inside houses the relics of the eponymous saint, who founded a monastery in the area in the 8th century. The church has some attractive stained glass windows and is free to have a look inside.

Markt auf dem Carlsplatz

Cheek-by-jowl with the Altstadt is Carlsplatz, the city’s market square. Here is the place to come for your fresh fruit and vegetables, flowers, German meats, cheeses and pastries. There is a market most days of the week and regular festivals and events, from pumpkin carvings to wine tastings and Easter egg hunts.

Explore Düsseldorf with LeShuttle

Just think, you could be in a city like Düsseldorf in less than five hours drive from our terminal in Calais! Plus, it only takes 35 minutes to get to Calais via LeShuttle from Folkestone.

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