During our trip to Cologne for Carnival, Erin and I took a day trip to Düsseldorf. It took us about an hour to get there from where we were staying in Bonn, and it takes even less time if you’re already in Cologne.
Within Germany, Düsseldorf is known for a few things: high-end fashion, dark beer, and “the world’s longest bar” (more on that later). It also looks like something straight out of House Hunters International, and yes I watch that show, why do you ask?
If you’re in Düsseldorf for just one day, I recommend walking a loop around the city that includes the old city center, the fashionable high street, the breweries and bars, and the more modern neighborhoods across the river from downtown, making use of two large bridges over the Rhein. Here’s what we did with our eight hours in the city:
When we arrived in Düsseldorf, we made the short (~10 minutes) walk to the shopping district along Königstraße to ogle the price tags. Honestly, the prices are usually more amazing than the items themselves. I often find myself having this train of thought: “Whoa, €1400! That must be the most amazing pair – oh for that? I think I saw that at Target. Last year, in fact, now that I think about it. And I’m pretty sure it was on sale – twelve dollars. Meh.”
That said, the architecture was beautiful, the gas lamps and large trees gave the area a gothic/chic/northern european feel, and the street’s wide median had a canal running down the length of it. If I absolutely needed to spend €1400 on an amazing pair of ‘meh’, I’d want to do it here.
First beer stop! This is still Germany, remember, so there’s no such thing as too early. Düsseldorf is famous for its Altbier, which is a dark ale-style beer. There are five old breweries in the city center, and with only 8 hours to try them all*, we needed to pace ourselves – thus an early start.
The first one we went to was Füchschen Alt, which turned out to be my favorite. This one only contained indoor seating/standing, but the lively yet uncrowded atmosphere was perfect, and the beer was really good. I can say without a doubt, it was the best beer I’ve ever had at 10 in the morning.
Tour of the old city center. Here we walked around the cobblestoned streets of Düsseldorf’s Altstadt. The highlights for me were a small market selling clementines among other things, the old city hall building, and a statue of children doing cartwheels. There are many supposed reasons for cartwheels being a symbol of the city, but the most well-known of them is that after the Battle of Worringen in 1288, when Düsseldorf won its town privileges from Cologne, children were so overjoyed, they did cartwheels in the streets. Also, this may have been the start of a still-current rivalry between Düsseldorf and Cologne.
Second beer stop! This one was at Uerige. Here, the interior of the brewery was decorated to look like a forest, with trees and such painted on the walls. There were also signs with clever and/or creepy German sayings posted everywhere (one of them had a picture of a noose and said something like, “It is so beautiful a gallows, that one might like to be hanged there”).
Despite reading that in Düsseldorf it is nearly impossible to have an empty glass due to how fast the staff brings your beer, we had to wait quite a while for ours. We didn’t mind too much, though, since we were outside and the sun was shining.
We spent the early afternoon on the other side of the Rhein. This is the part of the city that made me think of House Hunters – the apartments looked expensive, had all the neighborhood amenities a HH character would want (large grassy park, easy access to downtown via public transport or bike, lots of pets, etc.), and just had that feeling of the kind of self-importance where the residents would find it normal to have their apartment search broadcast on television (I don’t really mean that in a bad way though; I’d live there too, if I could afford it).
We did find a tire swing in the park which entertained us for too long, and took in the view of downtown across the river. Düsseldorf sure is a pretty city.
Third beer stop! Next, we went to Schlüssel. This one was my second favorite, though to be honest it was getting hard to distinguish them by this point. Schlüssel means ‘keys’ in German, and the brewery gets its name from the city’s history. During the middle ages, the keys to the city gates were left at the nearby guest houses every night. As a result, the nearest restaurant/guesthouse was called “Schlüssel”, because, you know, Germany. This brewery took the name of the original restaurant in order to remember the history.
Düsseldorf claims to have the world’s longest bar, but they’re cheating a little. In reality, it is a series of consecutive bars on one street that may or may not be the longest of its kind. So, yea, I guess if you removed the walls separating them and connected the bars, you’d have the world’s longest. But if you removed all national borders and connected the autobahns, GermPolBelaRussia would be the world’s longest country, and I don’t see anyone making that claim.
What Düsseldorf does have though, is an extremely high concentration of bars. With 260 bars within a single square kilometer, perhaps their superlative should be about that.
Fourth beer stop! On the way back to the train station, we felt our thirst needed quenching, so we stopped at Schumacher. This brewery had a sports pub feel to it, as a result of all the football paraphernalia on the walls, and all the Fortuna Düsseldorf football fans hanging out there. Additionally, this one was actually just outside the old city center, so the surroundings weren’t as nice. The beer was indistinguishable from the others, and not as good as Füchschen’s.
As it was our last stop for the day and we were tired from all the walking, we finished our drinks quickly and went on our way.
With only a single day in the city, I’m sure we missed out on a few things. Our limited impression was that Düsseldorf has a good mix: if you want to be classy and fashionable, you can find what you’re looking for, and if you want to party, well, you can find that too. I probably could have spent more time there if it were available to us.
*one of the five breweries had absolutely no customers. We decided that if four of the five are full of people, then there must be a good reason to avoid the fifth.
Did we miss something? Let us know what you think of Düsseldorf!
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