A layover in Düsseldorf, Germany gives visitors plenty to do both inside and outside the airport. As the third largest airport in Germany, the Düsseldorf airport is a hub that provides great access to the nearby city.
I had a solo layover in the city on my way to Iceland and fortunately enjoyed fantastic weather. Düsseldorf surprised me with the range of things to do, all crammed into a relatively small space – the city has a population of just 593,682 people (2013). Read on for my tips for making the most of a layover in Düsseldorf.Düsseldorf Airport
Upon arrival at the airport, ditch your bags for just €4 by leaving them in the bag storage located by car park P3.
A short walk away is the S-Bahn, the terminal train station where visitors can take the S11 from the airport to the city.
Get off at Hauptbahnhof, then take any subway in the direction of Neuss, Krefeld or Messe and get off at Heinrich-Heine-Allee, an interchange underground station on the Düsseldorf Stadtbahn lines. It’s then a 7-8 minute walk to Aldstadt.
For this journey, I paid a little more than €6 for one adult return day ticket. Note, the ticket machine at the airport only accepts notes of €10 or less and no debit or credit cards.
Düsseldorf Bus Tour
There’s many tours that you can take around Düsseldorf, depending on the time of day you arrive and your area of interest. I opted to try the Düsseldorf City Tour and City Card, which gives visitors the flexibility to join a hop on/hop off tour of the city. The card also permits you to travel on public transport free of charge.
The hop on/hop off bus tour lasts no more than 90 minutes and will take you right around and through the city centre and on the Rhine. Visitors can get off at any stop and explore at your own leisure. The bus tour is narrated through pre-recorded audio in 11 languages, allowing visitors to learn more about each attraction and the history of the city.
A 1-day-ticket for the bus tour costs €15 for adults and €8 for children.
A visit to Düsseldorf just wouldn’t be the same without a trip to Aldstadt, also know as the Old Town. Visitors can wander the pedestrian-only streets and visit the restaurants, bars and shops. Trying the Althbier is also a must, Düsseldorf’s very own beer.
Immermanstrasse and Coloured Boulevard
Located near to the tourist information office, Immermanstrasse is a Japanese area with reputedly the best restaurants to be found outside of Japan. I didn’t get a chance to try any food but did find my way to a shop for bubble tea, a milky tea served with balls of tapioca – delicious.
Walking along Immermanstrasse leads nicely onto the Coloured Boulevard.
Coloured Boulevard is an artists’ collective street display of art. It’s a great location combined artistry in the heart of the city. This part of the city reminded me of street art in Berlin.
Hofgarten and Theatermuseum
A short walk away from the Coloured Boulevard is Hofgarten, also the location of the Theatermuseum. As the central park of Düsseldorf, gardens are a lush green space with formal flowerbeds, a pond, bandstand and Henry Moore sculpture.
Unfortunately the Theatermuseum was closed on the day of my trip, but it’s location in the Hofgarten is ideal for visitors wanting to experience culture in the heart of Düsseldorf. The Theatermuseum is free to visit with the DüsseldorfCard.
Düsseldorf’s Carlplatz Market sells a range of fresh produce, flowers, cheese and spices. The market is open from Monday to Saturday each week.
I browsed Carlplatz Market during the busy lunchtime and there’s plenty of options for food and drink, ideal for dining solo or in groups.
For lunch I returned to try Creperie des Amis to enjoy a warm savoury crepe for just €4.
Museums and galleries
The DüsseldorfCard provides visitors with the option to visit a range of galleries and museums free of charge.
The Heinrich-Heine-Institut is home to the only museum for Heinrich Heine, who was born in Düsseldorf in 1797. It presents manuscripts, first editions and letters, contemporary portraits, a special library and changing exhibitions of Heinrich Heine’s work.
Kunsthalle Düsseldorf is an exhibition hall for contemporary art for visitors to explore free of charge. During my trip, the centrally located venue was displaying an exhibition by Rita McBride, an American artist and sculptor based in Dusseldorf, Germany.
The Stadtmuseum is the oldest museum in Düsseldorf. I visited the museum as part of my day trip, seeing a range of painting and artwork including oil paintings donated by the estate of the Freiherr of Stutterheim in 1873.
Rhine embankment promenade
The Rhine embankment promenade links Aldstadt to the modern harbour of Düsseldorf lined by cafés and bars. It’s also a great spot to see the Rheinturm, home to an observation deck and the largest digital clock in the world.
Covering a distance of 1,928m, the promenade is the perfect place to relax and watch the boats and ships passing by, before walking back through Aldstadt to Heinrich-Heine-Allee for the S-Bahn connection back to the airport.
I had around 9 hours in Düsseldorf and was really surprised by just how much I managed to cram into my layover. From sightseeing to exploring museums, visiting the market and even having enough time to soak up the sun by the Rhine, it’s a compact but neatly arranged city. With a few hours to spare, it offers lots to see and do for visitors wishing to get out of the airport and into the heart of the city.
Many thanks to Düsseldorf Tourism Board for the provision of the DüsseldorfCard and HopOn HopOff CityTour ticket.