With both historic and modern architecture, the mighty Rhine, several gardens and parks, street art, and a seemingly endless supply of galleries, museums, and concert halls, Dusseldorf is filled with enough attractions to keep travelers happily occupied for several days. However, travelers who have only 24 hours to experience the city can certainly zip through the main highlights of Dusseldorf.
A busy day needs to start with a big German breakfast. Fortunately, Dusseldorf has several awesome breakfast joints offering yummy bakery products, oven-fresh bread, eggs, sausages, sandwiches, coffee, and more, where travelers can kickstart their day.
Explore the Altstadt and Burgplatz
Be it as part of a guided tour or on their own, travelers visiting Dusseldorf can’t miss the Altstadt. This little square is jam-packed with more history, culture, architecture, and entertainment than anyone can possibly absorb in a day. The Altstadt is home to a number of great museums, including Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Museum Kunstpalast, and the Filmmuseum, as well as Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus (Theatre) and the Tonhalle (Concert Hall). Visitors can certainly check out at least one depending on their interest. Most travelers choose Kunstsammlung for its unbeatable collection of modern art. Burgplatz also boasts the ancient Schlossturm (with a maritime museum), the historic St. Lambertus Basilica, Kreuzherren-Klosterkirche, St. Andreas Church, and the famous Cartwheeler (Radschlägerbrunnen) fountain.
Rhine embankment and cruise
A nice leisurely stroll on the beautiful Rhine embankment is a must to enjoy the sheer buzz of the place and great views. Several cruise boats start from the Rhine harbor. Travelers with limited time can easily take advantage of the 45-minute or 60-minute cruise to gain a different perspective of the city.
The Medienhafen, just a hop from the Altstadt, is the most contemporary part of Dusseldorf. This part of the harbor retains its historic charm but also boasts the most futuristic architecture in the city. The most gawked at and photographed among these are the three Gehry buildings. Travelers who find themselves in Medienhafen can’t miss the Rheinturm, the icon of Dusseldorf dominating the city skyline. Medienhafen also has an endless choice of restaurants, so this is a good place and time to stop for a filling lunch.
Dusseldorf has a large number of green spaces, among which Hofgarten is the oldest. It is a great oasis to recharge after a busy several hours in the city. If it’s warm, Hofgarten offers plenty of shade from the afternoon sun as well. With towering trees, ponds, and shaded pathways, Hofgarten is the perfect getaway for travelers to catch their breath before carrying on with their whirlwind sightseeing.
Königsallee, Europe’s most glamorous shopping street, is a short walk from Hofgarten. Shopping or even window shopping here is an experience not to be missed. With the Who’s Who of the fashion world, luxury boutiques and the best restaurants and hotels lining this street, the bling of Königsallee is unbeatable. Moreover, this tree-lined boulevard with a canal running through it is a pleasant spot for a stroll. After a few hours of shopping, travelers might enjoy unwinding at one of the many lovely cafés and watching the world go by.
Evening and night
Travelers who are not ready to call it a day even after all the sightseeing can head back to the Altstadt to experience a lively evening, a delicious dinner, followed by bustling nightlife. The locals hang out at the Altstadt after work, so evening is a great time to get a real feel of the city. Also, there are rows of nightclubs and discos to choose from. These stay open till the wee hours. The Rhine promenade looks especially pretty at night with all the buildings lit up. The best part about visiting the Altstadt is that along with a whole lot to see and do, it also gives travelers the opportunity of telling their friends back home that they had a drink at the Longest Bar in the World. With almost 300 bars, pubs, breweries, restaurants, and cafés jostling for space here, travelers are really spoiled for choice. The Altstadt also has great hotels, so travelers wishing to enjoy the city till the late hours might want to choose one of them.
Join a guided tour
With limited time, guided tours often prove to be more convenient, as they help save time that would otherwise be lost on figuring out public transport and directions. Fortunately, Dusseldorf hosts a large number of guided tours suiting varied interests. Two of the most popular tours are the Old Town (Altstadt) walking tour that takes travelers back in time, and the Medienhafen tour highlighting a series of futuristic architecture. Other interesting tours include Nightwatchman tour, the Christmas market tour (seasonal), the Altbier trail, and more. For the more active travelers, bike tours are a great choice.
Take the hop-on-hop-off bus
Another great way to see the main sights of the city in a day is with the hop-on-hop-off bus. The bus stops at the main rail station, the luxury shopping street Königsallee, Old Town (Altstadt), Rheinturm, Eko-Haus, Rheinterrasse, Nordpark, and Hofgarten. Travelers are free to get on and off the bus at any stop they fancy and explore at their own pace. Travelers severely short of time can enjoy a full loop around the city in 90 minutes without getting off.