The best things to do in Dusseldorf

Old meets new in the city of Dusseldorf on the banks of the River Rhine in western Germany.

The Altstadt district has a rich history dating back more than 700 years, with sites of extraordinary heritage and significance. Outside of this area meanwhile, steel and glass come together to create futuristic-looking architecture and skyscrapers that tower high above the city.

Park up, wander the cobbled streets and you’ll quickly see why Napoleon named it ‘Little Paris’. With so many attractions in this exciting city, it’s hard to know where to start. To ensure you don’t miss anything, this guide takes you through some of the best things to do in Dusseldorf.

Head to the top of the Rheinturm

The Rheinturm (or Rhine Tower) was completed in 1981 and is a great starting point when you first arrive in the city. This is Dusseldorf’s most recognisable landmark and one that dominates the skyline, making it the perfect place to get your bearings and an understanding of the city’s layout – as well as enjoying some breath-taking views. 

You’ll see the tallest building in the city long before you reach it. Make sure you take a moment to look up and admire it from the ground – it’s particularly impressive from down below.

The observation deck is 168 metres above the city. On a clear day, as well as taking in the panoramic view, you can see out as far as Cologne. It’s a fantastic spot to enjoy a drink in Dusseldorf’s highest bar or dine in the revolving restaurant, enabling you to take in the entire city without leaving your seat.

The observation deck is open from morning to night, and parking is available at a charge.

Shop on Königsallee

One of Europe’s most stylish shopping streets can be found in the centre of Dusseldorf. Known to the locals as ‘Kö’, this mile-long street stretches from Graf-Adolf-Platz to the Hofgarten, where it ends with the Triton Fountain.

The street, which has been compared to Avenue Montaigne in Paris, is home to a number of designer boutiques – such as Chanel and Louis Vuitton – as well as many more high street stores.

Wander along the tree-lined stretch of water that separates the two sides and stop at one of the restaurants for a bite to eat.

Visit Altstadt

Known as ‘the longest bar in the world’ as there are more than 300 bars and pubs within the Altstadt, the Old Town is a lively, thriving area – and a perfect place to explore if you’ve parked up for the night.

Among the narrow streets you’ll find a wonderful selection of restaurants as well as the city’s most stunning churches and intriguing museums.

Here you can also see the Town Hall in the Marktplatz and Castle Tower.

Relax in Hofgarten

Enjoy a moment of peace and tranquillity in Dusseldorf’s oldest park, which dates back to 1769. Known as the ‘green lungs’ of the city, the sprawling 70 acres can be found close to its heart, bordering Altstadt.

The River Dussel flows slowly through the park, as ducks bob up and down on the water’s sparkling surface, while ponds, fountains and sculptures provide the prettiest of backdrops.

This is where you’ll find the Schloss Jagerhof – a Rococo style former hunting palace once frequented by Napoleon – now a museum dedicated to the work of German poet Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe.

Explore Schloss Benrath

The Baroque palace of Schloss Benrath is around a 20-minute drive from the city centre. Here you can breathe in the fresh air as you walk among the luscious green trees, bushes and colourful flowers in the 148 acres of gardens.

The palace itself dates back to the 18th century, when it was originally built for Prince-Elector Charles Theodore. Today it is one of the best preserved in the whole of Germany. In the west wing, you can visit the Museum of Natural History, while in the east you’ll find the Museum of European Garden Art.

Both museums open slightly longer on weekends in the summer, and you can purchase a day pass which includes a guided tour of the palace.

Unwind in Nordpark and discover the Eko Haus

At 90 acres, Nordpark is oneofDusseldorf’s largest and most popular parks. Wander down walkways and through meadows, under trees, past ponds and fountains as the water glistens in the sun.

There are several themed gardens to discover here, including the Japanese gardens in the north-west corner.

There’s a large Japanese population in the city – reflected also in the many restaurants showcasing sushi and other delicacies around Dusseldorf – and this space represents the bond between the two. Among the maples in this serene setting, you’ll find Eko Haus – a centre for Japanese culture where exhibitions and tea ceremonies are held.

Admire St Lambertus

This medieval church is believed to be one of the oldest buildings in Dusseldorf. When you’re admiring the Gothic exterior your eyes will be drawn up to the unique leaning roof – according to local legend, this was done by the devil in a fit of rage. 

Inside, you’ll find the remains of the city’s patron saint, St Apollinaris, as well as the tomb of Duke Wilhelm V of Jülich-Kleve-Berg, known as William ‘the rich’, whose sister Anne of Cleves was briefly the wife of Henry VIII of England.

Appreciate art at the Kunstsammlung

Dusseldorf is famed for art and is home to more than 100 galleries, as well as the Kiefernstrasse Community – a road decorated with the most magnificent street art.

However, if you visit just one venue, make sure it’s Kunstsammlung – one of the most significant in the world. This is comprised of K20 Grabbeplatz and K21 Ständehaus and houses works from the 20th and 21st centuries, with exhibitions hosting both exciting new work from rising stars, and masterpieces from established greats such as Ai Weiwei.  Parking is available beneath the main building at K20.

Car rental is an ideal way to get around the city, and we have convenient collection points, so you can easily pick up your vehicle when you arrive and discover the best things to do in Dusseldorf at your own pace. This is also a perfect way to explore the surrounding region,  or take a wider road trip around Germany.