36 Hours in Düsseldorf

 

Düsseldorf and River Rhine
Düsseldorf, on the River Rhine, is one of Germany’s five global cities.

 

Though once known as a city for industry, production, conferences and trade shows, Düsseldorf is being rediscovered as a home to culture, art, festivals, castles, fashion and nightlife. So much is packed into this small city on the Rhine, but if you’re in town for only 36 hours, here is an itinerary you won’t want to do without.

Day 1
10 a.m.
Arrive in Düsseldorf via Lufthansa’s business class. After an overnight flight complete with champagne, delicious food and a wide selection of movies, you will be ready to tackle the day.

11 a.m.
Transfer to the Steigenberger Park-Hotel, which sits in one of the most coveted areas of Düsseldorf, right in the heart of the shopping district on Königsallee, often called “Kö.” Steigenberger Park-Hotel is widely considered the best (and oldest) hotel in Düsseldorf. Tip: We suggest booking one of the hotel’s 12 suites for your VIP clients. These include a living room, bedroom, and bathroom with a deep soaking tub and separate shower stall.

Note: The city is undergoing major construction to expand its metro. The area in front of the hotel is affected by the construction, but only aesthetically. Noise disruption is minimal and the project is expected to move underground by 2012.

11:30 a.m.
Spend the morning exploring Düsseldorf’s many museums and galleries. The city is home to over 100 of them. One of the most famous is the K20, which recently completed a two-year renovation. The museum houses 20th-century art, from the early 1900s through 1945 (think Ernst, Picasso and Pollock). A second museum, the K21, showcases art from 1945 through the present.

Deluxe rooms at Steigenberger Park-Hotel
Deluxe Rooms at Steigenberger Park-Hotel have views of the park, city or opera house.

2 p.m.
The afternoon is a perfect time to visit Old Town, which marks the spot of Düsseldorf’s origin. We suggest stopping at Zum Schlüssel, a brewery in the heart of Old Town, for lunch. Tip: Try the rye bread roll with minced pork and onions, a Düsseldorf classic. This particular brewery pumps out the city’s supply of its local beverage, Altbier. Note: Altbier translates to “beer brewed in the old style”—and it is delicious!

3 p.m.
We suggest a little post-lunch retail therapy along the Kö. This stretch of high-end fashion is sure to please even the most exclusive tastes (think Cartier, Burberry and Tiffany’s).

5 p.m.
Surely you will want to freshen up before heading out for the evening. A perfect way to unwind and release any tension from the day would be a stop at the hotel’s steam room and sauna. Afterward, treat yourself to a bath in the deep soaking tub in your suite before dressing up for a night on the Rhine.

6:30 p.m.
Tucked away in Old Town is the tiny side street called Schneider-Wibbel Gasse, lined on either side by Spanish restaurants, and a must for dinner. The bulk of the restaurants on the street is owned by Primo Lopez, and you are guaranteed a hearty (and authentic) Spanish meal at any of the eateries. If picking one seems a daunting task, we loved Las Tapas.

8:30 p.m.
Düsseldorf is a city that loves to celebrate and finds a reason to do so every season. No matter what time of year you find yourself in this city, there will definitely be an outdoor event to go along with it. During the holidays the city comes alive with the Christmas Market, complete with brightly lit tented huts that sell arts and crafts. (Be sure to sample the mulled wine!) The fun continues throughout the year with the Carnival, jazz festivals, Japanese Day and Rheinkirmes, which is the largest festival on the Rhine.

The düsseldorf christmas market
The Düsseldorf Christmas Market is centred all around the Old Quarter.

10:30 p.m.
Old Town is locally dubbed The Longest Bar in the World, thanks to the 260 watering holes in the area. Check out the boisterous bachelor and bachelorette parties (known as stag and hen parties) that parade the streets dressed in ridiculous getups.

Day 2
9 a.m.
In typical Düsseldorf fashion, have breakfast at one of the many city cafés, where locals spend hours sipping coffee and people watching. One of the city’s most beloved cafés is Zum Goldenen Einhorn, which is the perfect spot to read a book over a breakfast pastry.

10:30 a.m.
Museums and palaces are central to the culture of Düsseldorf. In fact, the small city is home to over 20 castles. On such a short stay, we suggest touring Benrath Palace and Park Foundation, a pale pink palace decorated with elaborate white carvings and dotted with expansive gardens. Set aside three hours for a complete tour of the palace’s many rooms and intricately planned outdoor space. The adjacent Café Schloss Benrath is a great spot to relax over lunch.

2:30 p.m.
While the city’s reputation for production and industry is incomplete, it is still a piece of the puzzle. Düsseldorf’s main production center used to be the old industrial harbor. In 1999, the harbor was transformed into what is now the MediaHarbor—a trendy area with office space, restaurants, bars, galleries and hotels.

Note: The atmosphere in MediaHarbor is frenetic during the workday and into the early evening hours, but the scene tends to mellow down as the day ends.

4 p.m.
Düsseldorf is known as the City of Sport, and its almost 400 clubs have over 100,000 organized amateur athletes. Sports fans should head out in the afternoon to catch one of the many games. The city’s LTU arena has a capacity of 66,000 spectators.

8 p.m.
After a quick stop at your hotel room to revive yourself for dinner, head back out to MediaHarbor and pick one of the elegant restaurants on the water.