Well-connected thanks to its international airport and major train station, Düsseldorf is within a stone’s throw of three countries and yet retains its own unique flair in the heart of Western Europe. An advertising and fashion hub as well as an industrial hotspot, this cultural mecca overflows with trade fairs and business events. You might want to plan your trip around one of these events—like the very popular international boat show, or the well-visited steel trade fair—or try to avoid them to ensure you get a better deal. Either way, there's plenty of attractions and things to do to keep you busy during your stay. Tips for when it’s best to visit are below, as well as a few insider tips and some hints about getting around this highly-walkable city.
Everything you need to know about traveling in Düsseldorf
The best time to visit Düsseldorf
People from all over the world come to Düsseldorf for the atmospheric Christmas markets and Carnival celebrations in winter. Though to get a real feel for the city and its residents, a visit in spring is ideal—especially if you can time your trip with the annual Japan Day festival, a cultural highlight in the region. Summertime has a slowed-down vibe as many leave for the beach and you can feel like you have the city all to yourself—until you head to one of the many outdoor concerts or nearby festivals, where crowds congregate. Fall kicks off with Chinafest in mid-September and as the days get shorter and streets darker, residents tend to huddle inside more; as a result, there are more concerts, book readings and theater evenings than at other times of the year, which makes fall the perfect time to explore the city’s cultural options.
Where to stay in Düsseldorf
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.
Travel tips every first time Düsseldorf visitor needs to know
Over the last century, Düsseldorf has gone from a series of small villages to an international cultural destination. And though it’s grown into one of Germany’s most important places, the city with village (dorf) right in its name hasn’t lost its provincial feel. With a quiet, residential vibe, Düsseldorf has plenty to take in once you know where to go, from the magnificent architecture of the Medienhafen on the Rhine riverfront to the noteworthy attractions and art museums. People here prefer to keep to themselves while keeping up appearances, so leave the flip-flops at home and dress to impress in Germany’s fashion capital. You might just find yourself rubbing elbows with local celebrities at a gallery opening or while strolling along the Kö.
Public transportation in Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf is one of the easiest cities to get around without a car; it may be easier for visitors to the city to do without one, as parking and traffic can take a lot of fun out of your time in the city. If you’re in need of wheels and are keen to rent a small car by the minute, there’s a car-sharing service, Car2Go, with vehicles scattered around the city which you can access via an app. Still, traveling by car means you’ll miss out on some of the city’s prettiest sights, like the Rhine River Promenade, built atop the tunnel where the B1 (a busy thoroughfare) runs along the river’s embankment. Perhaps the most convenient way to take it all in is by bike—a favorite means of transportation here, even in rain and snow. If you’re going further afield, Düsseldorf has an extensive network of trains, trams and buses that are all run by the Rhein Bahn, making it inexpensive and convenient to get wherever you’re going in the city. Grab a Düsseldorf Card on your first day and enjoy unlimited travel on the buses, trams and trains run by Rhein Bahn within the city limits. To get to the city from the international airport, you can take a high-speed ICE train run by the Deutsche Bahn one stop or the slower regional S-Bahn S11, both of which will get you to the main train station in minutes.