Where to stay in Düsseldorf

Plan your trip with our guide to the city's trendiest neighborhoods, hangouts, hotels and must-see attractions
Photograph: Christian A. Schröder Düsseldorf
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Cobblestone streets and cutting-edge architecture, traditional beer halls and trendy cocktail bars, cozy cafes and swanky Michelin-starred restaurants—Düsseldorf is an ideal mix of medieval and modern. From the bohemian scene of Flingern to the futuristic skyscrapers of the redeveloped harbor or the bustling sushi- and sake-filled Japan Quarter, the city’s neighborhoods are remarkably diverse, each with its own distinct vibe. Between all the worthwhile attractions, restaurants and things to do, you shouldn't limit yourself to just one neighborhood: Düsseldorf is remarkably compact—eminently walkable and with an excellent tram system—making it easy to explore them all.

Where to stay in Düsseldorf

Market place in Altstadt (Old Town)
Photograph: Anıl Öztaş

Altstadt

Altstadt may be old – it quite literally translates as ‘old town’ – but that doesn’t mean it ain’t hip. In fact, the area is referred to by locals as the ‘longest bar in the world’ because it has almost 300 bars crammed into less than a quarter square mile. Basically, if you’re looking for Altbier – the traditional brew – look no further. As well as getting your drink on, visitors to Altstadt can enjoy lovely cobblestone streets, strolls along the Rhine and beautiful historic architecture, namely Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) and Schlossturm (the only surviving bit of the old palace). While Altstadt is undeniably picturesque, you should know that much of it was rebuilt after damage caused during World War II.

EAT

Quaint old German restaurant Zum Schiffchen, which doesn’t look too dissimilar to a British boozer (including the aging clientele), offers up some good traditional grub. Think homemade liver dumpling soup, grilled pork knuckle and sauerbraten (braised beef) served ‘Rhineland style’ with red cabbage, raisins and stewed apples. For a lighter meal, head to Wallstraße (Wall Street), where you’ll find Little Italy and restaurants serving great seafood and pasta; a particular highlight is San Leo.

DRINK

Old Town isn’t just about the Altbier; Düsseldorf’s other renowned libation is Killepitsch, a ruby-red liqueur reminiscent of Jagermeister. Order an ice-cold shot of the potent stuff at Et Kabüffke—either inside the intimate dual-level bar or, as the locals do, outside through a small window. Wine aficionados can cozy up in the tiny, candle-lit Eiskeller Weinbar, which features an expansive list of natural and biodynamic European labels, complemented by locally sourced meats and cheeses. 

DO

Ensure you visit the iconic traditional beer halls: Zum Uerige, Zum Schiffchen and Im Füchschen, where Altbier is still brewed on site. You can track these down yourself, or entrust your journey to a knowledgable local on one of many tours of the brewery-bars. Take in some culture at the K20 Museum, where you’ll find a wide range of pieces by Picasso, Warhol, Ernst, Klee and more.

STAY

The Derag Livinghotel De Medici is part hotel, part museum, with an astonishing private art collection—including a 19th-century Carrara marble Medici vase and ancient baptismal font—displayed throughout the hallways, stairwells and common areas. Inside historic buildings that date back to the 17th century, the 112 rooms and 58 apartments feature a mix of beautiful antiques and stylish modern furnishings, with the best rooms overlooking the quiet cobblestone courtyard and bright yellow spires of the neighboring St. Andreas church.

If you do just one thing…

One word: KreuzherrenEcke. This traditional little corner pub has been in Altstadt since 1954 and was once frequented by German artist Joseph Beuys and German novelist Günter Grass. Be sure to order a schnapps, as they have loads of flavours, and grab some peanuts from the bar.

Medienhafen
Photograph: Christine und Hagen Graf/Flickr

Medienhafen

This former industrial harbor has been transformed over the past decade into a vibrant hub for contemporary architecture, with notable buildings by the likes of Frank Gehry and David Chipperfield rising along the banks of the Rhine. It’s also become a center for media, fashion and other creative industries, which has in turn brought an influx of chic hotels, restaurants and bars to the rapidly redeveloping area. Do keep in mind that it’s still lacking in some amenities—there is no shopping and it’s about a 10-minute walk to the closest tram. 

EAT

Germany’s most famous street food, currywurst, was born in Berlin, but this steamed-then-fried sausage—doused in curry-flavored ketchup and usually accompanied by fries—is done to perfection at the casual bistro-style Curry. Swanky spots in the area include Rocca Im Gehry’s, a sleek steakhouse tucked inside one of the trio of Frank Gehry-designed harbor-front buildings, and the Michelin-starred Berens am Kai, which serves fresh seasonal dishes in a modern, light-filled dining room.

DRINK

Set 168 meters (or about 550 feet) above the city in the iconic Rheinturm (TV tower), M 168 offers spectacular panoramic views of the skyline through cantilevered windows—and some rather well-crafted cocktails, too. The upscale MeerBar, inside the red-brick Gehry building, serves top-notch drinks to a fashionable crowd in a glamorous chandeliered space. Come summer, locals flock to Pebble’s Terrace, at the tip of the harbor peninsula, to sip cocktails while lounging on huge cushions strewn along its stone steps.

DO

This is prime Instagram territory, with innovative architecture everywhere you look. Stroll around the harbor and over the pedestrian Living Bridge to capture photos of modern masterpieces by Frank Gehry, David Chipperfield, William Alsop, Steven Holl and Claude Vasconi, to name a few. For breathtaking panoramic vistas of MedienHafen, the Rhine and Altstadt, head 575 feet up to the observation deck in the city’s tallest building, the Rheinturm; on a clear day, you can see as far as Cologne Cathedral. 

STAY

With its 16 stories of multi-colored windows and bright red roof jutting out over the harbor, Innside Düsseldorf Hafen is one of the area’s most distinctive buildings. Also known as the Colorium, the hotel, designed by British architect William Alsop, features 134 contemporary rooms with fantastic floor-to-ceiling views of the Rhine, the TV tower and surrounding architectural gems. The View, the aptly named top-floor bar and restaurant, is a great spot for drinks—and where hotel guests can enjoy an excellent breakfast spread.

If you only do one thing…

See the landmark Frank Gehry-designed Neuer Zollhof—a trio of twisting, leaning buildings clad in contrasting facades of white plaster, red brick and shimmering stainless steel.

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Kiefernstraße
Photograph: Michael/Flickr

Flingern

West of the city center, the former blue-collar district of Flingern has emerged as one of the hippest, most creative neighborhoods in the city. Old factories are being converted into trendy galleries and artists’ studios, while independent boutiques, vintage stores and stylish bars and cafes line its leafy streets. The mile-long Ackerstraße is the heart of this up-and-coming area, while to the south, the edgy, graffiti-lined Kiefernstraße remains the center of street art in Düsseldorf.

EAT

Occupying a prime corner spot on Ackerstraße, Café Hüftgold is a top spot for homemade cakes—expect a wait on weekends and late afternoons for the traditional German kaffee und kuchen (coffee and cake). The upscale brasserie Franz is a warm and welcoming spot for down-to-earth classics such as entrecôte with pommes frites, hearty fish soup and flammkuchen (Alsatian pizza).

DRINK

A bit of a misnomer, Café Lotte isn’t a café but rather a pleasant corner pub that serves a wide range of local beers, including Altbier on tap. Vintage décor, good music and a relaxed vibe make the petite Pechmarie a local favorite, especially for fans of gin and tonic.  

DO

Cool indie shops abound here, with most clustered along the main thoroughfare, Ackerstraße. Wunderwerk produces sustainable, organic, Scandinavian-influenced clothing, including its own line of eco-friendly denim. The concept store Plup (short for Planet Upcycling) is stocked with recycled designs, like waterproof bags crafted from old firehoses and parachutes and trivets made using old skateboards. Plan your visit to the private contemporary art gallery Philara Collection, housed in a former glass factory; it’s open Thursday evenings and with a guided tour (in English) on Friday at 4 pm.

STAY

The boutique Hotel Friends features 40 individually designed rooms with quirky décor like a retro forest motif, an over-the-top Harry Potter theme (replete with an owl) and a rock-n-roll fantasy lined with vintage music posters. The lobby lounge and bar has a groovy 70s vibe, with flea market-sourced furniture and original artwork.

If you do one thing…

Walk along Kiefernstraße, where apartment building facades have been enlivened with graffiti in colorful, wild patterns. Just across is a long stretch of wall that serves as a rotating forum for the latest in street art.

Takumi Ramen
Photograph: Courtesy Takumi

Japan Quarter

Just a few blocks west of the city’s main shopping avenue  Konigsallee, the ritzy designer boutiques and chi-chi cafes give way to sushi bars, ramen shops and store windows stocked with kimonos, oriental spices and manga comics. The commercial hub of Düsseldorf’s Japanese community—one of the largest in Europe—this compact district resembles a miniature Tokyo, with much of the action centered around Immermannstraße, Oststraße and Klosterstraße. Though its restaurants are the main draw, Japantown also has a handful of Asian supermarkets and bookstores worth exploring.

EAT

Ramen is king here: Choose from a huge variety of noodle and broth combinations (miso, soy, curry) and customize it with your own ingredients at the bustling corner spot Naniwa. For sweets, head to Bakery Taka, a tiny shop crammed with shelves of Japanese pastries, matcha-filled buns, breads and the famous Japanese rice cakes, Mochi.  

DRINK

Everything from traditional tea to bubble tea to matcha hot chocolate is on the menu at Sphere Bay Manga Café, where you can also admire the framed manga and anime works on its walls.

DO

Shop for Japanese comics, books, cookbooks and magazines plus cool gifts like bento boxes—and of course, Hello Kitty merch galore—at Takagi Books & More. Just about everything you need to create the perfect Japanese or Korean meal can be found on the cluttered shelves of Shochiku, including kimchi, packaged noodles, sauces and rice, plus there’s a great selection of colorful Asian candies.    

STAY

Reflecting its surroundings, the boutique me and all hotel Düsseldorf features an Asian-inspired design throughout its 177 rooms, including sliding wood doors that separate the sleeping area from the bathroom, rice-paper lighting fixtures and large black-and-white photos of cherry blossoms above the bed. The huge walk-in rainforest showers are particularly inviting.

If you do one thing… 

Queue up for what’s considered the best ramen in the city at Takumi, which imports its noodles from Japan and serves it in a rich, buttery Sapporo-style broth. 

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© Bar Alexander

Unterbilk

Unlike many areas of central Düsseldorf that cater to tourists and luxury shoppers, Unterbilk feels like a real neighborhood, where locals actually live, shop and eat along its quaint, quiet streets. The district’s restaurants and cafes are small and homey—unlike the flashy dining spots in nearby Medienhafen—and the shops and boutiques favor independent designers. Even the busier main streets—Lorettostraße, Bilker Allee and Gladbacher Straße—have a relaxed, friendly vibe.

EAT

The combination deli-café Bernstein & Inbar is a popular lunch spot for locals, who gather at the long communal table to dine on a daily selection of nicely priced quiches, salads, soups and pastas. Beyonce’s favorite cupcakes hail from Düsseldorf (though they were brought to her in Paris), baked at Homemade We Eat Fine, owner Sonja Andishmand’s pretty, flower-filled café and patisserie. Frida pays homage to the famed unibrowed painter, with her image decorating the brightly colored walls of this charming, wallet-friendly tapas bar.

DRINK

A great spot for an aperitif, Café Modigliani is lined from floor to ceiling—and even on the ceiling—with art posters; drink prices are affordable and the crowd is mostly local. Keeping the original sign of the drugstore that once stood here, Seifen Horst is an undeniably trendy watering hole specializing in German beers like the famed Tannenzäpfle from the Black Forest. It boasts a breezy courtyard garden in warmer months.

DO

From vintage finds to chic independent designers, Unterbilk is brimming with great boutiques. Null:Zwo:Elf is filled with up-and-coming new designer labels and offers a highly curated selection of streetwear. For handcrafted jewelry and cool graphic posters and cards, check out The Bird Who Told. The massive Wandel-Antik Vintage is a treasure trove of vintage goods, from antique furniture to cool retro lamps to art deco bar carts.

STAY

The hip design hotel The Fritz offers 31 chic, minimalist rooms featuring soundproofed windows, modern, spacious bathrooms and free Wi-Fi. The hotel restaurant, Frau Franzi, was recently awarded a Michelin star for its innovative small plates.

If you do one thing…

Pop by the stylish wood-paneled Bar Alexander and share a cocktail flight—featuring four different mini-size cocktails per person.

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