Should I try to get to Düsseldorf, if only for a day?
March 13, 2009 8:31 PM   Subscribe

Traveling around Germany for a week: should I do Düsseldorf or not?

I (US-living, 23 year old, female) am spending a month traveling in Europe in June; sadly I'm only going to be in Germany for one of those weeks.
I've just started researching what I where I want to visit while I'm there, and I keep getting stuck on Düsseldorf.

I remember my dad telling me how much he loved it (he was there for a few days in early 2000's), but as I'm looking into it now, I can't quite see why he was so enthralled. The problem: my dad passed away a few years ago, so I can't ask him why he so emphatically thought I should make sure to get there.

More info:
-This is not my first trip to Europe, but it is my first visit to Germany.

-My dad was very well-traveled and had excellent taste, or at least, taste very similar to mine, so I'm not doubtful that there is much to be appreciated in the city!

-I am planning on visiting Berlin and Munich, and I would really enjoy a relatively less "touristy" city in the little time I have leftover, and possibly something more rural. I'm very open to suggestions at this point, however, so if a day in D'dorf en route to a smaller, but still visitor-friendly town works, that would be great.

-train or plane is my preferred transportation method

-I'm a recent college graduate, so my budget is around 100$USD/a day, maybe a little more.

-I'm more of a cultural/historic traveler than a nightlife/shopper. I do love festivals and outdoor markets, though.

-Although I plan on going back to Germany, I don't know if another opportunity will present itself in the next 3 or so years.

Onto the question: If I had tons of money and time, I would love to check out Düsseldorf, but, aside from the connection with my dad, is it worth prioritizing it this trip? If so, what are the best things to see and do? If not, any other cities you'd recommend to a first timer? Any ideas are welcome, as I eat up travel talk there days.
posted by bluestocking to Travel & Transportation around Dusseldorf, Germany (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I wouldn't, I didn't find it very interesting when I spent a weekend there.
posted by dhoe at 12:32 AM on March 14, 2009

I can't speak to Düsseldorf as I have never been, but if you are in the Munich area then I would suggest Nuremburg, about an 1h 45m north of Munich driving. I don't know about the trains. It is one of the nicest walled old towns I have visited, and the cultural history -- specifically around Nazi Germany but also including a nice castle etc is all over the place and rather stunning.
posted by sundri at 1:41 AM on March 14, 2009

Depends on what you are seeking. That is one of the most industrialized regions of Germany, and while a lot goes on there, it isn't always the best looking region. Very urban, very crowded, a lot - Dusseldorf, especially - was heavily bombed and rebuilt after WWII. Lots of immigrant workers means good food, though. You can find more picturesque small cities in other, prettier parts of Germany. Places that are good for walking around: Munich. Berlin. Hamburg. Bremen. Southwest Germany (Saarland)
posted by zaelic at 3:12 AM on March 14, 2009

-train or plane is my preferred transportation method
-I'm a recent college graduate, so my budget is around 100$USD/a day, maybe a little more.

consider taking the high-speed I.C.E. train from berlin or munich to duesseldorf. you can still snag deals for as little as 29 euros if you book early enough (they go up to 59 and 89 euros) on the deutsche bahn website and the train is unlike anything you are accustomed to. they also leave and arrive smack in the center of town.

duesseldorf itself is cool and just across the river from equally -and perhaps even cooler- cologne. visit the historic old town and enjoy the churches, bridges, alstadt bars and all that. it's not a bad place to choose for a visit.

personally though... I'd pick hamburg.
posted by krautland at 3:49 AM on March 14, 2009

Go to Hamburg instead of Düsseldorf. The thing people usually like about Ddorf is it's "classiness" (i.e. it's a bit over-posh). If you like "classy", you'll love Hamburg - and there's much more to see and do there, no matter what your interests are (if you like outdoor markets, you must check out the Isemarkt - it's supposedly the longest market in Europe and certainly one of the nicest. Takes place every tuesday and friday.)
posted by The Toad at 5:16 AM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

should you decide on hamburg do ask for recommendations here again. I live there but didn't want to derail this thread.
posted by krautland at 5:34 AM on March 14, 2009

Like sundri says, Nuremberg (which is 1 hour on the ICE, maybe 2 hours on a regional train, away from Munich) fits all of your criteria, but I would suggest Bamberg if you're looking for a place with history that also escaped the war and the subsequent rebuilding. It's two or three hours on the train north of Munich and perfect for a day visit.
posted by cmonkey at 6:41 AM on March 14, 2009

I spent 8 months in Dusseldorf, 8 in Munich, and 8 in Hanover; and I have traveled to most places throughout Germany. Dusseldorf is my favorite city in Germany period. But I also did a lot of the nightlife and beer drinking in the cafes on the river that might not interest you as much. The altstadt with the Rhine river going through it is really great in any season. There are lots of great markets there too.

Good luck!
posted by Slenny at 6:42 AM on March 14, 2009

not worth it. with your limited available time, i'd skip duesseldorf. the only thing it's kind of famous for is the Königsallee.

it's is not bad, but i'd rather choose some city situated somewhere between munich and berlin. depends on what your looking for - I suggest checking out a smaller place with a medieval flair to it. Nuremberg is nice, but I can also suggest Erfurt (beautifully restored after the wall came down, lots of churches and half timbered houses), Weimar, Leipzig. All beautiful, all worth visiting. And you can relax, walk around, chill out...
posted by waldlaeufer at 10:41 AM on March 14, 2009

I studied abroad in Leipzig and LOVED it. It's a big university town with fun nightlife and great culture. There's a number of notable cultural places, including a great Cold War museum, a monument to The Battle of Nations, and the church where Bach was cantor (and is buried). Best of all, Leipzig is really easy to get to and get around in. It has one of the largest train stations in Europe and a fantastic local transit system.
posted by JuiceBoxHero at 1:19 PM on March 14, 2009

I've been to Europe eight times, always passing through Deutschland (because German is my second language, among other reasons), and I almost always spend some time in Düsseldorf. But it was bombed so heavily during the war, almost everything there is no more than 63 years old. If you want historical, go somewhere else -- and if you're into Berlin and Munich, that's your week right there (and not enough time IMO).

Warum D-Dorf? A couple reasons -- its proximity to Amsterdam, as well as Wupertal, where you can ride the Schwebebahn.

Lodging recommendations: if you're poor, there's a hostel across the river, but if you have some cash stay at the Hotel Komet.
posted by Rash at 3:51 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm going to agree with some of the above posters and say Hamburg rather than D-Dorf. I suspect your father had an experience, going out with a bunch of friends, meeting someone special, whatever. It's an urban space like many other wealthy cities.

But Hamburg has all that with the green spaces, the little lakes, quite a cosmopolitan vibe near the University. Check out the Art House cinema (Abaton Kino), there is the most amazing Farsi restaurant nearby but it defeats my google-fu at the minute. I love the Anthropolgical museum also in the Uni district. The Museum of Sex near the Reeperbahn is quite interesting as well. Take a boat out on the innen Alster lake if the weather is good.
posted by Wilder at 10:12 AM on March 15, 2009

Response by poster: Follow-up: I've decided to just add another week to my trip, allowing me to get to both Hamburg (sounds lovely!) and Düsseldorf. And now I can tell myself that the rail pass I wanted is worth it, so it all works out!

Thanks, all.
posted by bluestocking at 5:39 PM on March 16, 2009

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