Düsseldorf is not a pretty city, but it’s a fun one.
Heavily bombed during World War II, the majority of the city is new build, with an unfortunate amount of grey, dreary architecture. It has two big plus points though.
Firstly, the Rhine flows through the centre, an incredibly wide and busy river with strategically placed bars and cafes lining the banks so you can enjoy the activity on the river while you eat and drink.
Secondly, some original architecture remains around the old town – the Altstadt – and the pubs and bars that line the narrow streets of that area make for a lively night out.
I first visited on a Saturday in March 2015, with friends on a day trip from Cologne where we were staying, about half an hour away. There’s quite a rivalry between the two cities, not least in their local beers – Düsseldorf produces the dark coloured Altbier, while Cologne makes the pale Kölsch. Both very tasty, but don’t order the Kölsch in Düsseldorf (and vice versa!).
The weather that March was unseasonably warm and we sat outside by the banks of the Rhine in the afternoon drinking beer and eating bratwürst before making our way to the Altstadt for the evening. The atmosphere was lively and friendly, laughing groups of locals making their way from bar to bar and more than happy to have a chat with a group of English lads. It was such a fun night out – fortunately the trains to Cologne run all night so there was no rush to leave.
My second visit was in February 2017, a much colder and quieter Monday night. There were still people around the Altstadt though and I found a great little bar with live jazz to spend a couple of hours, before heading back to my hotel in readiness for catching an early train to Hamburg the next morning.
In summary – don’t come to Düsseldorf expecting beauty, but do expect a lot of fun.