Düsseldorf is Germany’s richest city. A short stroll around the city center is all you need to feel it – well-heeled locals strolling down the promenade along the river, Prada, Blvgari, and LV storefronts glittering at you from all angles.
But. . . the city has a bit more to it as well 😉 The previously mentioned riverfront, perfect for walking, jogging, or drinking cocktails along, truly innovative modern architecture placed seamlessly between old traditional buildings, and a thriving international food scene.
The city has its very own airport, hardly a 5 minute train ride from the main train station of the city.
Deutsche Bahn runs regular service to Düsseldorf from all over Germany.
Detox to Retox: Ellington Bar, Pizzeria Colosseo, Naniwa
Fit Food: Byblos, Nooij Dutch Deli
The weather gods were on our side in every way imaginable – the weekend arrived hot, sunny, and very unlike the typical weather. Museum visiting plans were thrown out the window, the usual way to enjoy a German city in the usual German grey weather.
Leaving from the NH City hotel, the forecasted high of 23 degrees was already promising to be true.
First priorities – brunch. A quick 10 minute stroll led us to Nooij Dutch Deli. Set back from the street in a brick warehouse, the light flooded café is all kinds of Instagrammable. Sunshine poured in the huge windows, highlighting the irresistible looking cakes and loaves on offer.
Sitting outside, we perused the menu of Dutch-named options – Delft, Amsterdam, Den Haag, Haarlem. Order the “Bergen” for a truly Dutch experience; toast with Vanilla Vla (a popular drinkable yogurt), hagel slag (the incredibly popular chocolate sprinkles to top your toast), Gouda cheese, and peanut butter.
More traditional fare like fried eggs and toasted bagels, alongside fresh juice and hot coffee, are offered. Now, we were ready for the day.
The Dusseldorf Altstadt (old city center) hints at the wealth in the city. Streets are immaculate, lined with the intimidating storefronts of Prada, Louis Vuitton, and Fendi. Amazing modern architecture populates the spaces between the old preserved pre-war buildings.
Bar after bar offers Altbier, the famous Düsseldorf beverage, dark and served in small glasses.
Along the river, cafes are wedged tightly along the prime real estate, packed with people enjoying the incredible October sunshine. The K20 and K21 art galleries show rotating contemporary art exhibitions along with a permanent collection.
At the Rhine tower, pay 9 euros for an elevator ride to the top. The panoramic views are worth every penny.
The Noordpark, a quick tram ride from the center, provides some greenery amidst the business. A vast botanical garden including a Japanese garden and fountain park, it’s a breath of fresh air.
After a long day of walking in the sunshine, feeling a little hot and a little sunburnt, it’s back to the hotel for a quick R&R break. Soon though, thirst and hunger tells us that it’s time to explore the darker side of Düsseldorf. Opting to stay outside the city center, we went for Lebanese at Byblos – fattoush salad, tabbouleh, vegetarian and beef kibbeh, and of course, some Baklava to round it off.
For post-dinner drinks, Crystal café is a quaint homey neighbourhood joint, whereas down the street at Ellington bar, swanky cocktails and bow tied waiters rule supreme.
Another amazing sunny day arrived, the perfect motivation for getting out of bed for a jog. My feet pounded the pavement with the airy feeling that comes with a crisp morning and the whole day to look forward to.
Düsseldorf is a lovely city for a run, with a wide even pathway along the river and many fellow jogging-enthusiasts to keep you going.
Sweat showered off and cheeks still flushed, we headed to Drei Raum Bistro for yet another sunny brunch. Reservations are recommended.
The Strammer Max is a mammoth and quintessentially German breakfast. Thickly sliced bread is topped with a generous layer of butter, ham, Gouda cheese, fried eggs, tomato, and remoulade sauce. For something a little more manageable, the scrambled eggs were creamy and delicious.
Today we manage to find a small corner to perch at one of the cafes along the river. The crowds were out in full force again, the effects of Vitamin D doing wonders for the typical stern expressions. Relishing the warmth, we whiled away a couple of hours, chatting, sipping drinks, enjoying.
Deciding to venture into the dangerous shopping area seen previously, we discover luxury housewares along with all the designer clothes. Manufactum stocks high-end kitchen gadgets, aprons, cosmetic bags, stationary, candles, and so on, all those little things you didn’t know you needed but cannot resist upon seeing them. They even make their bread into a work of art.
For the evening, we continued with the theme of international dining and headed to little Tokyo. This area of Düsseldorf is rife with tiny ramen shops and sushi restaurants, and be prepared to wait in line to squeeze into one of the popular joints. Naniwa is a corner shop, packed to the brim with people and serving tummy-warming giant bowls f ramen.
Another day, another brunch. After a brisk walk to wake us up, we arrived at Greentrees, to the North of the Altstadt and serving uber-healthy cold pressed juices, smoothies, salads, and treats.
I opt for the Geilo Greens smoothie bowl – spinach, ginger, cucumber, mint, avocado, and apple, whipped into a puree and topped with housemade granola, chia seed, oats, nuts, and strawberry.
The last half day is spent taking one last stroll around the gorgeous old town center, truly a unique architectural gem in Germany.