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.
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.
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.
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.
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.