Düsseldorf with children: a weekend in the state capital
A city trip to Düsseldorf with children? How do you get it? For us, the short trip is, to be honest, due to my passion for collecting: Düsseldorf is the last state capital in which I have never been. So I really want to go there to get the whole set done. The family has to go. First we struggle: Is a whole weekend in Düsseldorf really worth it? Maybe it’s not enough to have a quick coffee while passing through to be able to check it out? But when I research what you can see in Düsseldorf, I come across more than enough sights for a weekend trip. And once we get there, we are amazed: Düsseldorf as a travel destination for a city trip with children, that really puts you in a good mood!
The Radschläger fountain in the old town shows one of Düsseldorf’s landmarks. According to legend, the children expressed their joy after winning a battle in the Middle Ages.
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Düsseldorf with children: content of this article
My experience report follows our own weekend program from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. These are the stops on our family trip to Düsseldorf:
- Accommodation tip for Düsseldorf with children: the youth hostel
- Over the Rhine bridge: on foot to Düsseldorf
- Get to know Düsseldorf with the Altstadt-Rallye
- Panoramic trip on the Rhine: a doubtful pleasure
- Very briefly on the Kö
- Across the city with the Düsseldorf Card
- Pine street instead of art museum
- Evening walk in the Medienhafen
- Brand new renovated: Aquazoo Löbbecke Museum
- Graduation in the Neandertal
- Tips for a short vacation in Düsseldorf with children (or without)
Accommodation tip for Düsseldorf with children: the youth hostel
The first thing we see from Düsseldorf is the youth hostel. This is where we check in after we tortured ourselves through the traffic jams in the Ruhr area on late Friday afternoon (although it wasn’t really that bad).
We have been big fans of youth hostels for a long time. A lot has happened here in recent years. Up and down the family rooms of the venerable institution often offer hotel standards nowadays (but of course also hotel prices). The Düsseldorf youth hostel has existed since the Wandering Birds movement in the early 1930s, but in 2008 it was completely renovated. The result is a house with around 340 beds in 96 rooms, which is ideal for families.
This is what our family room looked like. The boys immediately jump on their "discovery boxes". This also includes a bathroom with shower and a separate toilet. Really perfect for families.
Breakfast is always included. If you want, you can also have lunch and dinner. This evening we have a choice between vegetarian tortellini in cheese sauce and lasagna. We pick them up at the counter and hand in our food chip, which can be bought at the reception. (Tip: It’s better to check the menu at the entrance of the dining room first. On the second evening we buy the chips first and then realize that the selection today only includes poultry sausages or veggie sausages. Since I don’t like both, I have to limit myself to the salad plate which, like the dessert, is always included.)
There is also a free choice of salad buffet, so it’s not that bad.
Düsseldorf would certainly also have a lot of family-friendly nightlife to offer. However, we are completely satisfied to end the evening in our accommodation. It not only has a cozy bar that is even open all the time, but also a large games collection. We can choose board games from a long list for free.
The boys chose "Scotland Yard". There were also some especially for Düsseldorf, but they were more of an advertising medium for local companies. In any case, we had a lot of fun with the classic (although you can already see that Silas was tired at the end …).
For a family room in the Düsseldorf youth hostel, adults pay EUR 31.50 per night, children from four and up to twelve half. There are also special savings offers. Further information, including the necessary membership, can be found on the homepage.
Over the Rhine bridge: on foot to Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf’s skyline spreads out in front of us from the breakfast table. The youth hostel is on the other side of the Rhine in Oberkassel. Only a small street and a wide strip of greenery separate them from the river. While we are filling our rolls, we can see the first big pots cruising across the river.
Accordingly, it is not far to the first major attraction of the day. We walk less than five minutes until we have reached the Rheinkniebrücke.
We practically fall out of the youth hostel directly onto the bridge and can hardly get lost in the direction of the city center. Buses also leave from the front door, but when the weather is nice, the walk across the Rhine is wonderful.
The river is often referred to pathetically as the lifeline of the city. As we find out this weekend, that’s true. For us, Düsseldorf is above all two things: the Rhine, to which everything always leads back, and modern architecture.
We have both in view from the Rheinkniebrücke. The barges pull below us (so much more traffic than at home on our Mittelland Canal!). And on the bank we are walking on, the modern buildings of the media harbor are lined up on the right hand side.
At the end of the bridge we keep left, because our first port of call is the old town today. It takes us about half an hour to get there on foot along the Rhine.
Of course, we always have to stop to keep an eye on the traffic on the busy waterway. exciting!
Get to know Düsseldorf with the Altstadt-Rallye
Among other things, the discovery box that the boys found in our room contained the brochure of a city rally. The attached route leads us past all the sights of the old town and encourages us to take a closer look at certain points.
The puzzles don’t always seem very clear to us, because sometimes we can’t find any clues to the solution on site and have to guess (or google). But the rally is particularly good as motivation for the boys to run.
For example, we also find Düsseldorf’s oldest house from 1288. Of course, it houses a pub.
In this way we become acquainted with the “longest bar in the world” when Düsseldorf’s pub mile is famous. It is still quiet at this early hour, but the fact that there is a lot of celebrations here is also obvious to the children. Fortunately, at ten and thirteen, they are not yet of critical age, so there is enough attention left to historical sights.
We have our lunch picnic on the Rhine stairs. This is a bit of Düsseldorf’s version of the Spanish Steps in Rome: everything meets here to make contacts and look at the Rhine.
The Rhine stairs, in the background the castle tower with the Maritime Museum and the curiously twisted church tower of the Lambertus Church are shown.
Panoramic trip on the Rhine: a dubious pleasure
Our next item on the program is a panoramic trip on the Rhine. The passenger ships leave directly on the Rhine stairs.
As I said: Düsseldorf’s flagships are the river and the architecture, and a boat trip combines the two in an excellent way. But. At least at lunchtime our boat is so full that we have little pleasure in our ride. Company trippers, bowling groups and hen parties round the other tables in the belly of the ship close together (on the panorama deck, we had no space a quarter of an hour before departure).
After all fellow passengers have disembarked, the boat looks very nice again. We should probably just accept that we are not suitable as panoramic tourists, after all, we have already troubled.
The ship first sails in one direction, then in the other, past the state parliament and through the media harbor. Explanations come from the tape, first in German, then in English. We try hard to at least extract some information from the synopsis, but the Spanish women next to us chatter so loudly that we will soon give up.
We try to see it positively. Sitting for an hour is good for our feet. And out of the hatch, I take some pretty water-side photos of the Gehry buildings in the Medienhafen.
It’s not like there is nothing to see on the Rhine tour. The extravagant buildings by Canadian architect Frank Gehry at Neuen Zollhof are among Düsseldorf’s landmarks.
Very briefly on the Kö
After our boat trip, we complete our city rally, which takes us to the very edge of the old town. It is becoming much more modern here. Behind the courtyard garden, we are particularly impressed by the building complex of the Kö-Bogen, which was designed by the Polish-American star architect Daniel Libeskind. You don’t really see such extravagant lines (as a country egg like we do) every day.
For us country eggs, the big city with all its daring architecture is already an adventure.
Then we are already on the Kö – on Königsallee, Düsseldorf’s boulevard. Here, expensive boutiques are lined up. The women below us look to the left in the shop windows, the men to the right on the street, where other men are taking suitable coaches for a walk. It is Saturday and it is incredibly crowded.
Düsseldorfer Kö on Saturday.
We make it from the Kö-Bogen to the subway station Steinstraße / Königsallee. Then it’s enough for us, and we rush down the stairs into the underground, away from the masses of high-heeled shoes. For Düsseldorf with children (and us shy pack in general), the Kö may not be the right one.
Across the city with the Düsseldorf Card
Our Düsseldorf trip includes the Düsseldorf Card, which gives us free entry to ten different museums, discounts in two dozen other establishments and free travel on all public transport in the city area (from 18 euros for a family, more information on the Düsseldorf website). Accordingly, we can take the next train carefree and drive all over the city until we agree on where we want to go.
Would also have been an option: the North Rhine-Westphalia art collection, where there is discounted entry with the Düsseldorf Card.
I have written out a long list of possibilities. Düsseldorf is full of art and galleries, and that would be the Possibility for us art building, just to take a look at something. But now the weather is so fantastic that none of us want to go to the museum.
Our public transport Ödyssee ends in Flingern. This is Düsseldorf’s slightly alternative district. I guess he is likeable to me straight away because it reminds me of Hanover-Linden, where people “lick” on Limmerstrasse (what could be translated as strolling with a Lunger factor, roughly what we do here).
In the cake corner there is "really real cake", for 2.70 euros a piece. Clear recommendation!
On Bilker Allee, corner of Zimmerstrasse, we find the Kucheneck, a super-sweet mini-café in red and white. There are only three tables, but an enormous selection of cakes that taste like home baked. While the boys indulge in their slices of cake (unfortunately not me), residents carry large quantities of them out of the store.
Pine street instead of art museum
Then we take the bus to Kiefernstrasse. This is our alternative to the art museum, because the Kiefernstraße is a veritable open-air gallery. Every single house is extensively designed with street art. As everywhere else, the line between "authentically happened" and "officially licensed" (what purists call "urban art“Consider less valuable, as I learned from heroic weather the other day).
Such cool, large-scale murals are not "self-authorized" on the wall in a night and fog campaign.
The pine road was to give way to an industrial area in the early 1980s. But living space was scarce, and so a number of squatters opposed the demolition. In the meantime, the leases have been legalized and the pine road shimmers between real alternativeity and tourist attraction.
In the Kiefernstrasse there is Düsseldorf’s last punk rock club, a children’s and youth center, play equipment and also plain graffiti. We like the mix.
We only share the colorful facades on this September afternoon with an elderly woman in an apron, who is rolling a cigarette on the steps of her apartment building. So we have more than enough leisure for all the details and we each choose our favorite house.
The one with the comic book heroes is the boys’ favorite house (although Janis also raved for a green Portuguese tile look). I especially like the police gnomes in the bottom right.
Evening walk in the Medienhafen
On this day, we take a last detour to the Medienhafen. That is a bit the hip counterpart to Hamburg’s HafenCity. Many modern prestige buildings have been built here in recent years, and a lot more are to follow.
Because every house looks different, there is a lot to see in the Medienhafen. Incidentally, that is the name because in the 90s mainly companies from this industry settled there. There is now a very wide range.
There is another city rally here that is specially tailored for children (it wasn’t in the old town). But the air is a bit out now, we walked a lot. So we only admire the facades that are on the direct way home (and are a little annoyed that the day only has 24 hours and we only have this one for downtown Düsseldorf).
Brand new renovated: Aquazoo Löbbecke Museum
The next morning we enjoy our youth hostel breakfast in a five-star location with a view of the Rhine. Then we have to hurry, because on Sunday morning we have a very special date.
The Düsseldorf institution is called Aquazoo Löbbecke Museum and has been closed for almost four years. After having been completely renovated and redesigned from scratch, the symbiosis of aquarium and exhibition is now again welcoming visitors. Unfortunately, the big reopening falls on September 22nd, two weeks to our Düsseldorf trip. We are privileged to be able to draw the blogger joker and enjoy an exclusive mini-tour from zoo director Jochen Reiter before the official appointment.
When we visited, everything was still cordoned off. In the meantime, all guests are welcome again.
The Oman-Kuhnasen rays in the new Anton Lendle Basin cannot be seen in any other zoo in Germany.
Graduation in the Neandertal
We spend the rest of Sunday in the green Neandertal, which is barely half an hour away from Düsseldorf city center.
The main attraction here is the Neanderthal Museum, which presents our early human relatives in great detail. Here, too, I will limit myself to a simple one: “Make sure you do it!” In the meantime there is also a detailed report: “Neandertal: excursion into the early history of mankind”.
Blogger meets Neanderthals. Fortunately, who of us looks more likeable is not up for discussion.
Tips for a short vacation in Düsseldorf with children (or without)
Finally, I have a few general tips for Düsseldorf with children.
- A normal weekend is running out. If you can, treat yourself to three days in the state capital, not only to see the main sights, but to really get a feel for the city. After all, we had a nice, completely filled day in the city without having seen a single museum from the inside.
- If the weather permits, run! That the public transport in the Düsseldorf Card "all inclusive“Is great. But at least a little stroll along the Rhine must be possible. If you descend in the youth hostel, the half-hour walk across the Rheinkniebrücke to the old town is the one >
And finally, a very special attraction in Düsseldorf: the pedestrian traffic lights "with orange". Totally practical! I wonder why this pilot project did not prevail across Germany.
transparency Note: We were on the road at the invitation of the Düsseldorf Tourist Office and the Düsseldorf Youth Hostel. We received our accommodation with partial meals, the Düsseldorf Card and the tickets for the boat trip free of charge so that we could report about it. The same applies to the guided tour of the Aquazoo Löbbecke Museum and entry to the Neanderthal Museum. Our opinion does not influence this fact (but it does do the simple possibility of being able to form one at all, which is why we thank you very much for the support and generally give honest feedback).
If you’re interested in how this blog is funded, read here.
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