Zollverein XII is a former industrial coal mine, established in 1846 and operational for a further 140 years. Often referred to as ‘the most beautiful coal mine in the world,’ it represents a time of prosperity and architectural evolution and it is recognized as a World Heritage Site. Considered a masterpiece of Bauhaus architecture, designed by architects Fritz Schupp and Martin Kremmer, it was the last remaining active coal mine to close in Essen and, supported by various organizations, is now open to the public with tours, events and exhibitions suitable for the whole family.
Address: Zollverein, Zeche Zollverein, Essen, Germany, +49 0201 246810
Grugapark and the Botanic Garden are an oasis of tranquillity and natural beauty right in the heart of Essen. The Botanical Garden was established as a scientific planting experiment in 1927 and is now home to hundreds of plants and flowers, including the largest collection of conifers in Europe. Highlights include a medieval-style herb garden, a Mediterranean orangery and Rose Garden complete with picturesque water lily pond. It is also home to the fantastical Ronald McDonald House, designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser in 2005 and part of the Ronald McDonald House Charity.
Address: Grugapark Essen, Virchowstr. 167a, Essen, Germany, +49 020188 83 106
What’s the only thing that could improve a lovely, quaint café, already serving a large selection of teas, coffees, wines, beers and homemade snacks? Why, books of course! And that’s exactly what earns Café Livres a coveted spot on this top 10 list. The décor is French, the food is German, and the large collection of books come from all over the world. Truly, this is an international sanctuary of culture, inspiration, and ideas. Even the menus are books!
Opening hours: Tue to Thu 9am – 9pm, Fri 9am – 10 pm, Sat 10am – 10pm, Sun 10am – 8 pm
Café Livres, Moltkestraße 2a, Essen, Germany, +49 0201 64 93 67 74
The exquisite curved and asymmetric architecture of the Aalto Theater was born from the imagination of Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, who conceptualized the theater in 1959. Building only began 30 years later, 7 years after his death. The theater is characterized by its non-geometric forms and curved shapes that showcase a flowing structure, inspired by nature and exquisite to behold. Considered the largest opera house in all German speaking countries, the 1750 square meter stage area contains one main stage and two additional smaller ones. It can accommodate 100 musicians on an impressive six orchestra platform.
Address: Aalto Musiktheater – Theater & Philharmonie Essen, Opernplatz 10, Essen, Germany, +49 0201 81220
Paradise for water sports enthusiasts and trail wanderers, Baldeneysee is used for leisure activities all year long. Standing at the intersection of manmade and nature, Baldeneysee was once a weir for water purification of the Ruhr River, and today it boasts a large bird sanctuary, and is a shelter for red-eared sliders.
Address: Baldeneysee, Essen, Germany
A Spanish restaurant with an insatiable taste and passion for life and food, Viva-la-Vida is a petite but charming place to meet for gatherings and Mediterranean delights. The staff is all family, accustomed to both regulars and the curious. The atmosphere is as warm as the sun in July, bringing the Spanish soul all the way to Essen. The menu is as colorful as it gets and the taste is always fresh. The tapas are a definite highlight, made in the traditional Spanish manner and costing only three euros!
Opening hours: Tue to Sat 5pm – 11pm, Sun (Closed) to Monday 5pm – 11pm
Viva la Vida, Cäcilienstraße 4, Essen, Germany, +49 0201 45865837