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Düsseldorf is mainly known as a shoppers Valhalla, right next to the Dutch-German border. However, it would not be fair to say that Düsseldorf is just a shopping paradise. Although heavily damaged by bombardments during World War II, the Altstadt is an attractive, medieval center where you can quench your thirst in a cozy Kneipe (café) or enjoy an excellent dinner in one of the many good restaurants. The city is beautifully situated on the Rhine, with the old city on the right bank and the new Düsseldorf on the left bank. The entire city is a mixture of old and new. Apart from medieval mansions you'll find bold, modern architecture; in addition to traditional Kneipes there are ultramodern discotheques and besides modern art you can also learn more about the city's history in the various museums. No one has to get bored in Düsseldorf!
Still, let's start with Düsseldorf's shops. The Kö, as the Königsallee is called by Düsseldorf's inhabitants, is the main place to go for high-end shopping. Here, you'll mainly find fashion shops, where people with a heavy purse select their outfit for their next party or reception. Even if you do not plan on buying anything, it is fun to do some window shopping and watch the customers. The Kö is a typical boulevard for a nice stroll and the place to see and be seen. The Kö turns into the Schadowstrasse with similar offerings. You will find cheaper shops when walking towards the Rhine.
In the old days, a busy thoroughfare ran along the Rhine that somewhat hampered the view of the river. In the 1990s, the city council decided this had to be changed. The Rhine had to be returned to Düsseldorf's inhabitants. And so they did. The highway moved underground and aboveground they created the Rheinuferpromenade: A three-kilometer-long boulevard and park. Besides people strolling along the Rhine or chatting on a bench, the Rhine riverbank is the domain of skaters and street artists. On a beautiful day you can enjoy the sunset from the stairs of the Schlossturm. Along the Rhine you'll also find the 234-meter-high Rheinturm. This tower has an observation desk as well as a revolving restaurant.
For the duration of the riverbank renovation, temporary exhibitions were set up in the underground tunnel. And this gave art-loving Düsseldorf an idea: Kunst Im Tunnel! A tunnel between the tubes of the underground thoroughfare was transformed into a museum, where you can see changing modern art exhibitions.
Düsseldorf is an important center for modern art. The Kunstsammlung, which consists of two museums, K20 and K21, sets the tone. The names indicate what can be seen: In K20 art from the previous century, while K21 focuses on more recent works of art. Museum Kunst Palast houses a large collection of paintings, sculptures, glassware, ceramics, carpets and furniture from the sixteenth century to the present.
As already mentioned above: In Düsseldorf you can enjoy delicious food. Local specialties include the Rheinische Sauerbraten (a type of beef carpaccio with a sauce of grapes and almonds) and Reibekuchen (pancakes of grated potatoes). And then there is of course the local Düsseldorfer Altbier to accompany your meal. You can find more exotic eateries on and around the Heinrich Heine Platz.
Düsseldorf's Christmas market is world-famous, and rightly so. It is probably Germany's most beautiful, largest and most atmospheric Christmas market. This huge market is spread over six locations with each location having its own theme. Get a flyer at the tourist office to know where to go!
Düsseldorf is an excellent starting point for visiting the villages and small towns in the Rhine valley. South of Düsseldorf, just past Germany's former capital Bonn, lies Königswinter. Here you can take a rack railway to the top of the Drachenfels. Beautiful trails have been mapped out through the Siebengebirge, for example to the Ölberg, the highest point of the mountain range.
At approximately half an hour's drive from Düsseldorf lies the Neanderthal Museum. In the nineteenth century remains were found of prehistoric men. In the museum you can see how those Neanderthals used to live and work. It is also a fun 'DIY museum', with for example a Stone Age Workshop. The museum is located in a park where you can visit the original sites. There is also a zoo. You can easily get to the museum from Düsseldorf in your rental car by taking the A46 and the exit Hilden.
In Bottrop, 56 kilometers northeast of Düsseldorf, lies the Movie Park. It is a fun amusement park to visit with kids. You can for example walk around in a Wild West town, watch the Shrek movie in 4D (!) and there are various spectacular shows.
There are many parking garages in Düsseldorf's center where you can leave your rental car. You can also park out on the street, but only in streets with parking meters. If there are no parking meters, parking is prohibited! On the outskirts of the city there are huge P+R areas where you can take public transportation to the city center. This is the best option when the city gets very busy, for example when the Christmas market is on.
Düsseldorf Airport is located just north of the city. You can easily get to the airport (Düsseldorf International Airport) in your rental car by taking the A44 freeway.
Düsseldorf (Weeze) Airport, which is used by budget airlines, lies much further away. It is located 78 kilometers northwest of Düsseldorf, at about an hour's drive from Düsseldorf and can be reached via the A57 freeway.