Shameem Allen explores four of Düsseldorf's nicest areas and discovers a creative cocktail of a city with something for everyone to enjoy.
Sitting pretty on the River Rhine, Düsseldorf is a stimulation of the senses, combining elegance, fun and hospitality beautifully. It's the North Rhine-Westphalian capital, offering visitors a rich mix of high-end dining, art galleries and shops, stunning architecture and of course, an Old Town that's affectionately known as 'the longest bar in the world'. Shameem Allen spends some time in the city discovering just what makes it so special, and leaves us with an expert tip-off for four areas that any visitor to Düsseldorf needs to discover.
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The Altstadt - The Historical Old Town
The Altstadt is Düsseldorf's historical Old Town and was almost completely destroyed in World War II. Thankfully, it was rebuilt faithfully along its original lines and today you can walk through labyrinthine alley ways and gaze at towering churches as they might have existed hundreds of years ago. At its centre, you'll find the Burgplatz. Once the castle of the Count of Berg and later the Dukes of Jülich, all that remains now is a single tower. Climb to the top for a coffee and magnificent views of the Rhine and see if you can spot the uniquely twisting spire of the Lambertus Basilika, one of the city's most beautiful churches and a legendary landmark on the Düsseldorf skyline. Next, head out to the fringes of the Altstadt to explore a vast array of fantastic art galleries and antique shops. We recommend the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen gallery of 20th century art featuring works from Picasso, Matisse, Mondrian and more, and the progressive NRW-Forum museum.
While the Altstadt might be advanced in age, its legendary moniker 'the longest bar in the world' gives away its youthful in nature. It's home to some 300 bars and discothèques, supposedly each with a bar-counter that connects to the next establishment. For an authentic taste of Düsseldorf, sample the city's famous copper-coloured local brew Altbier at Zum Uerige brewing house.
The Rheinuferpromenade - The Riverside Promenade
The Burgplatz in the Altstadt marks the beginning of the wave-patterned Rheinuferpromenade, one of the most beautiful esplanades in Europe. Running from the Old Town all the way to the MedienHafen, the Rheinuferpromenade is a 1,928-metre stretch of foot and bicycle paths lined with more than 600 trees. It's where Düsseldorfers come to roll boules, people watch on water-side benches and relax at river-facing cafés and bistros. Visit in summer, and you'll see the city take on a truly Mediterranean feel. A great way to experience the Rheinuferpromenade is to take a walk down its length and then catch a boat back down the Rhine, ending at a bank-side restaurants for dinner over a beautiful view.
The MedienHafen - The Modern Harbor
Follow the promenade along the river and you'll reach the MedienHafen or 'Media Harbour'. Redesigned from a relative waste ground of crumbling warehouses just 10 years ago, the MedienHafen is a relatively new point of interest on Düsseldorf's map and is where media, fashion, art and culture collide. Amongst glittering constructions from world-renowned architects such as Frank O. Gehry, David Chipperfield, Joe Coenen, Steven Holl and Claude Vasconi, you'll find a cornucopia of top-notch eateries. If you're after high-end dining, you could try for a table at the Michelin-starred Berens am Kai. If it's fully booked, which most likely it will be, not to worry: there's plenty of fantastic local restaurants around serving everything from contemporary Mediterranean menus to authentic Rhenish dishes such as Düsseldorf senfrostbraten (mustard-crusted roast pork).
The Königsallee - The Shopper's Paradise
Just a few steps away from the Altstadt, you'll find the Königsallee, Düsseldorf's premier shopping street. Affectionately known as the Kö, Königsallee is hailed as one of Europe’s most upscale shopping locations. On either side of the beautifully landscaped canal that runs down the boulevard's centre, you'll find luxurious showrooms where you can browse through the creations of international designers such as Armani, Chanel and Louis Vuitton or find treasures in exclusive boutiques. Make your way down the full kilometre of shops without buying anything and you can reward yourself with a break in one of the elegant cafés surrounding the Hofgarten, Düsseldorf's main park. On the other hand, shopaholics with some cash to spare can take a two-hour Personal Shopper Tour offered by the Düsseldorf Tourism Board.