In the far west of Germany, there is a great cultural tour to take. Great, beautiful cities lie in proximity. Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Cologne, and Bonn form a semi-circle of cities bordering stunning countryside. Start at Dortmund, in the north, and follow the way down to Bonn. In one journey, this tour would only take you an hour and a half. However, you should do it slowly, with time to appreciate each place along the way. They each hold unique appeal and enriching essence, yet together, give a well-rounded perspective of national culture. Read ahead for a guide around this tour of the west of Germany.
Dortmund, West of Germany
Dortmund is the city furthest north on this route and a grand place to start. You can recognize the city from afar by the distinctive U that sits above the skyline. This golden letter defines the location of the old Union Brauerei, one of Germany’s most famous breweries. Now you can journey to the top for stunning panoramic views and coffee at the top floor café. Be sure to try some beer while you are here – Dortmund supplies some of Germany’s best brews.
Another defining feature of Dortmund is its famous football team. If this is your thing, you can tour the Bundesliga team stadium. There is also a DFB Museum teaching you about the history and success of German teams in general. This is a nation famous for its football, and Dortmund is the place to embrace it.
For a break from the city streets, be sure to visit Westfalenpark. You can spend a whole day here. It is beautiful as well as interactive. From intricate flower gardens to adult play areas, family boat rides to quiet reading benches, you will be sure to find enough entertainment. Keep a lookout for flea markets, the children’s museum –even a nightclub.
The Florianturm is a broadcasting tower dominating the park. Since the 60s, it has offered magnificent views over Dortmund and the surrounding west of Germany. Just jump in the lift to the top and enjoy the amazing scenery from the outside deck.
Dortmund is a student city so there is a multitude of places to go in the evening. Wander around to find bars and clubs for a good night out. Ask the locals, they will reveal the cheaper hidden gems.
Wind your way southwards to reach the city of Düsseldorf. This is a favorite for tourists. The lighted evening streets draw in travelers from around the world for an authentic, typically German experience. But this city is more than just cute and quaint. It has a history of a strong creative spirit, influencing the architecture, nightlife, and art scene.
There is a buzzing atmosphere to the place. You only need to walk along the banks of the river to feel it. The perfect blend of modern and traditional creates a defined beautiful air. For classic Düsseldorf, visit the bars along the Altstadt. With many rising bohemian neighborhoods, it is not the only place for a good night out, but it is the most popular. Bars and pubs line the street. Everything is full of light and energy. Enjoy some local beer; join the crowds in the beer gardens in the summer and under cozy, wooden beamed roofs in the winter.
To experience the local arts scene fully, visit either the Kunsthalle or Kunstsammlung. They provide an impressive collection of contemporary paintings, drawings, and sculptures from the west of Germany. Alternatively, embrace the history of the city. Head towards the oldest part of town – Kaiserswerth. Here in the north of the city, you will found charming houses, ancient ruins, and a royal palace. Spend the day slowly wandering through the sites, stopping off at cafes lining the way.
Continue following the western semi-circle round to Cologne. The most defining aspect of this great city is its immensely impressive cathedral. It stands dramatically in the center of Cologne. With such a dominant presence, you cannot help but stand in awe at its base and look in wonder at the twin spires rising into the sky. Climb the 509 stone steps to the Dom at the top. The journey is tiring, but the view is infinitely rewarding. You gain tremendous views over all of Cologne, the river, the city and beyond. As well as knowing, you are standing within one of the most amazing pieces of architecture in the world.
Back on the ground, the streets of Cologne are just as appealing. Various museums host enticing cultural artifacts, including Picasso paintings, religious artwork and ancient Roman ruins. But perhaps the most interesting museum is devoted to chocolate. The place of your dreams – you can learn about the making of it and have plenty of opportunities to try some for yourself.
Cologne Zoo is another family favorite. One of the oldest zoological gardens, you can see a range of wildlife, including penguins and elephants. The park dedicates itself to teaching about animals and habitats in a respectful and ethical way.
Indeed, Cologne hosts a range of sights, entertainment, and activities. But the best part of the city is found by wandering the streets. Like any place, merely walking is usually the best way to soak up the local atmosphere. Colorful houses, street art, riverside cafes, narrow alleyways and large squares all make up the network of the city. It’s a clean, vibrant and colorful place, full of tradition and youthful energy. Sit and watch the life of the city – and do so with a famous Kölsch beer in hand.
Travel slightly past Cologne and you will arrive in Bonn. Here you will be welcomed with even more wonders celebrating west of Germany culture. The city was the home of Beethoven, and classical music lovers can visit the old house of the famous composer. There are more museums, specifically promoting science and technology. Also, those celebrating Egyptian history and zoology research.
For great views, head to the Godesburg Castle or Post Tower. Bonn is smaller and possibly greener than Cologne. Mountains lie just beyond the city, and cherry blossoms bloom every April. The merging of nature and city allows for a free and open feel to Bonn that is often lost in some urban areas.
North Rhine-Westphalia is the district of Germany you will explore during this tour of the west of Germany. It is in a great location, bordering Belgium and the Netherlands as well as being not too far from the great cities of Frankfurt and Hamburg. It holds fantastic potential in the towns that occupy the land. They lie close together, yet do not sprawl the surrounding nature. They are urban, yet beautiful, traditional and energized. Indeed, the west of Germany is well worth touring on your next visit to Germany.