Düsseldorf has long had a love affair with art, dating back to Jan Wellem's generous patronage, and the city has several high-calibre museums to prove it. Those museums and a stroll through the reconstructed Altstadt can easily fill a day – and that's before you allow time for some Altbier (dark, hoppy local beer).
Düsseldorf’s Altstadt, a mostly pedestrianised web of lanes cuddling up to the Rhine, is rightly (in)famous for its lively nightlife but also has lots of sights, from a grand baroque church to museums on art, film and ceramics, and a lively river promenade.
Once all working-class, Flingern, east of the Hauptbahnhof, is now the centre of all things stylish and cool in Düsseldorf. Its core drag, Ackerstrasse, is alive with harbingers of hipsterism; owner-run indie boutiques, homey cafes and minimalist-chic restaurant bars. Famous local band Kraftwerk’s old Kling-Klang-Studio is also here, rebooted as an edgy sound lab.
Getting here is easy: from the Hauptbahnhof it’s either a 15-minute walk via Worringer Strasse or a short ride on tram 709 or 719 to Wetterstrasse (head north for a couple of minutes to get to Ackerstrasse).
Königsallee & Hofgarten
,Nowhere does Düsseldorf’s reputation as a fashion capital find better expression than on its chic Königsallee. Along with Rodeo Drive and Fifth Avenue, the Kö, as it is fondly called, has long been one of the world’s most illustrious shopping avenues. Those who worship at the altar of ritzy brand names will be in heaven on this tree-lined catwalk of couture whose northern end spills into Daniel Libeskind’s striking Kö-Bogen, a sinuously geometric shopping mall completed in 2013. It flanks the Hofgarten, which provides a breezy respite from urbanity.
This once-dead old harbour area has been reborn as the Medienhafen, a hip quarter filled with architecture, restaurants, bars, hotels and clubs. Once-crumbling warehouses have been turned into high-tech office buildings and now rub shoulders with bold new structures designed by celebrated international architects, including Frank Gehry.
Düsseldorf's Edgy Architecture
Over the last 30 years, Düsseldorf’s architectural scene has been swept by a groundswell of creativity. Along the Rhine, striking postmodern icons by such design luminaries as Gehry and Chipperfield punctuate the Medienhafen, an old commercial port turned high-tech creative hub. Uptown, Libeskind’s sinuously geometric Kö-Bogen links a city park with the Königsallee shopping avenue. For the latest architectural marvel, you have to travel underground, where the six stations of the new Wehrhahn metro line deliver a striking – and ad-free – spectacle of dramatic sight lines, sound sculptures and 3D animations.
Düsseldorf has been an artistic incubator for more than 250 years, but its global glow has been especially bright in modern times. Paul Klee, Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter, Otto Piene and Andreas Gursky are among the key protagonists whose works grace this famous art museum. The collection is so vast that it is spread over two separate buildings – K20 Grabbeplatz and K21 Ständehaus. During opening hours, a shuttle bus runs every 20 minutes between the two.