Altstadt (Old Town)
The Altstadt or Old Town, located between the Rhine and Heinrich-Heine-Allee, is the heart of Düsseldorf. This pedestrian zone is said to be the "longest bar in the world" and most of the city's out- and indoor-events take place here, i.e. the Düsseldorfer Altstadt-Herbst , an end-of-summer festival. The Altstadt attracts both tourists and locals thanks to its beautiful location on the banks of the Rhine. Pubs, haute cuisine, snack bars and shops are all packed into this part of the city. Take the U-Bahn or a taxi to Heinrich-Heine-Allee and dive into the crowd. If the weather is nice, go for a stroll along the Rheinuferpromenade , where you'll have a beautiful view of the houses of Oberkassel, across the river. You can join the sporty crowd by renting a pair of inline skates from the G@rden Internet cafe, or simply sit down on one of the benches and relax.
Follow the Rheinuferpromenade past the 234 meter (768 foot) high Rheinturm telecom tower, and you'll find yourself at the harbor . This area has changed in appearance a few times over the last century. Many parts of the once active harbor were closed in 1976. Others were simply abandoned. The Landtag brought new prestige to this area in 1988. About ten years of construction have made the harbor the most modern and trendy area of the city. In the early 1990s a tunnel was built to keep the traffic out of the city center. The regional broadcaster WDR finished its light-blue building in 1991. In 1998 the Stadttor , a glass-column gate to the city, opened its doors. The unusual buildings directly at the shore, one white, one red, one silvery, were finished last year. The architect: is Frank O. Gehry, who also built the Guggenheim Museum in Barcelona. The area is becoming a central location for media firms, broadcasters and production companies. Many new bars and stylish restaurants have joined the so-called "media-mile."
Bilk is the students' part of town. This is mainly due to its location directly between the town and the university campus, as well as the public transportation hub at Bilk S-Bahnhof. There are many little shops in this area, including a few second-hand bookshops.
You can't leave Düsseldorf without having done some window-shopping along the Königsallee . It's one of the things people will ask you back at home: Did you see the "Kö"? Every reputable designer label can be found here somewhere. If you're interested in architecture you should have a look at the listed Thyssen-Haus , the slender, three-layered house next to the white, piano-shaped Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus . It's best viewed when strolling through the Hofgarten (just walk to the end of the Kö—direction of the Rhine—and then through the tunnel). If you walk on, you will see the Theatermuseum and the Jägerhof, which houses the Goethe-collection .
Watching the sun go down behind the beautiful facade of Oberkassel is a favorite pass-time for many Düsseldorfers. After sunset you can walk to the Oberkasseler Bridge , get into the tram, get out at the other side of the Rhine and walk along the banks—you may even come across a flock of sheep—or go window—shopping along the Luegallee.
Kaiserswerth is a beautiful historic site, and wasn't actually part of Düsseldorf until 1929. It is reachable by tram or car, and functions as a recreation area for the city folk. Go for a walk by the ruins of the castle along the Rhine, have a break at one of the beer gardens or market cafes, or treat yourself to a three—star meal by Jean-Claude Bourgueil.
Benrath — about ten kilometers (six miles) from the city center - is home to a beautiful 18th-century palace , complete with pond and gardens. Once the residence of Theodor zu Pfalz, it was designed by Nicolas de Pigage.
The regional capital of North Rhine-Westphalia is a lively metropolis brimming with culture, media, shopping, fairs, and service industries. It is a city befitting of the 21st Century. The gastronomic choice here is as diverse as the international character of its visitors. Whether you are after local specialties like Düsseldorf pork ribs in mustard sauce or scrumptious Oriental dishes, be it Sushi or Peking duck, or even light Mediterranean snacks, your desires are sure to be satisfied.
Local Specialties & Conventions
Even if you have a good command of High German, you may well have problems understanding the menu. The "Halve Hahn," for example, has nothing to do with chicken (as the name might suggest); it is in fact a portion of cheese studded with caraway seeds and served on a piece of dark rye bread. This specialty comes from the Harz mountains. Ähzezupp denotes a thick, creamy pea soup, while Flönz mit Ölk is a blood sausage made of freshly slaughtered meat served with onions. If you feel uneasy about any of these options, a visit to the Köbes should reassure you. The austere charm of this beer cellar can be off-putting to the uninitiated, but the waiters will be more than glad to serve you the nifty little beer which this establishment takes its name from—unless, of course, you make the faux pas of ordering a Kölsch (Colognes best-known lager). For, ever since the Battle of Worringen (1288), the two rival communities have held chauvinistic and contemptuous attitudes towards one another.
Altstadt (Old Town)
If this is your first time in Düsseldorf, make sure you pay a visit to one of the breweries or traditional taverns. These are concentrated in a narrow area of the Old Town, which forms the nerve centre of the city. Particularly recommended are Im Füchschen , Zum Uerige, En de Canon , and Zum Schiffchen . Locals and visitors wallow in a typical Rhineland ambiance as they sit cozily by the wooden tables or stand at the counter chatting and sipping their dark, aromatic Altbier, a top fermented brew from Düsseldorf, while they wait for the blue-frocked Köbesse (waitresses) to serve hearty regional food. During the winter months, the Rhinelander takes to large plates of mussels in onion sauce to warm up. The traditional Benders Marie is the city's oldest mussel restaurant and boasts twenty different ways of preparing them. In recent years, a younger generation of cooks has experimented with mixing traditional local dishes with international influences. The tasty result has been dubbed neudeutsch (neo-German), and fine examples of this phenomenon can be found at Hecker or Flachskamm.
Mediterranean specialties offer a more affordable means of quenching your hunger. Unfussy tapas are available from La Copa or Las Tapas . Or perhaps you have a soft spot for Lebanese Meze? In that case, Libanon Restaurant is your best bet. This opulent levantine establishment has become one of city's most popular gastronomic destinations.
A gem of Mediterranean fish cuisine is La Bouillabaisse . Marmoud Marnoui, the owner of this restaurant, has cooked his way into the hearts of Düsseldorfers with his imaginative scaled fish dishes. You can, of course, also get fish from the Rhine in its original state, namely raw in the form of sushi. Düsseldorf's restaurant scene benefits greatly from the city's large Japanese community. Authentically prepared Japanese specialties in varying price ranges can be had all over Düsseldorf. (Fai Sushi, Kikaku , Ohno-Ja , Nippon-Kan are just some of the notable examples. But Japan's neighbors also have their culinary representatives here, including Thailand ( Baan Thai ), China ( Peking Enten Haus ) and Korea ( Shilla ). The Indian subcontinent is also well represented, with aromatic and spicy tandoori dishes and other delicacies on offer at Chanakya .
Surrounding the City Center
If you prefer a less hearty meal option make sure to check out some of the Asian cuisine on offer. Edo in Meerbusch for instance is a good choice or Seoul in Friedrichstadt, which offers Korean specialties. Should your finances be well heeled, try one of the city's prestigious and accordingly pricey gourmet establishments. Star chef Jean-Claude Bourgeuil's Im Schiffchen or Aalschokker (both located in Kaiserswerth) have delighted even the most critical gastronomes over the years with their culinary creations. Other legendary establishments include Peter Nöthel's Hummerstübchen (Lörick) and Ingo Köthschneider's Canonicus (Gerresheim).