Aside from serving as a hub for international flight connections and hosting European fashion shows in its massive fairgrounds, Düsseldorf has a tourism reputation that lags far behind better-known German cities. That doesn't mean there’s nothing special to see or do in this city on the Rhine, however. On the contrary, this stylish metropolis located about 20 miles from Cologne provides a mix of history, arts and design, and waterfront recreation.
What We Love
The MedienHafen: When the city redeveloped its old harbor’s warehouse district into a hip, visually compelling neighborhood, it invited some of the world's top architects — Frank Gehry, David Chipperfield, Joe Coenen, and Claude Vasconi among them — to redefine the skyline. The result attracted design firms, fashion businesses, and media companies, leading the area to be dubbed "Media Harbor."
Altstadt: Wander Düsseldorf’s atmospheric Old Town in search of a beer hall serving draft Pilsner and the local specialty: pig’s knuckles.
Best Known For
The Riverfront Promenade: Completed in 1997, this pedestrian promenade atop the now subterranean Rheinuferstrasse (roadway) hugs the embankment of the Rhine. Residents and visitors enjoy direct waterfront access. It's a pretty perch from which to watch boats float by.
The Königsallee: Referred to as the “Kö” by locals, this two-century-old, treelined boulevard that straddles a scenic canal is home to shops by top designer brands and the city's haute hotels.
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Who It's Best For
Shoppers: In 2014, the chic "Ko" was joined with Paris’s swanky Avenue Montaigne in a street twinning project. Both offer plenty of opportunities to wreak havoc on your credit card. Hey, at least you'll look aces.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Old Town Is Young: Düsseldorf is a university town, and Altstadt, while charming by day, becomes quite loud and chaotic after dark with hordes of reveling, beer-drinking students.
Donna Heiderstadt is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Coastal Living and Islands.