The Essential Guide to North Rhine
Collected by Paul Sullivan , AFAR Local Expert
In recent decades, postindustrial North Rhine has experienced a creative resurgence, especially around former rust belt cities like Essen, Duisburg, and Dortmund, which are now linked by the fascinating Industrial Heritage Trail. The region also has its fair share of scenic landscapes—particularly the charming Siebengebirge area, the pleasant Sauerland, and along the Rhine River—as well as bustling cities like Cologne, Düsseldorf, and the former West German capital of Bonn, where you can find culture, leisure activities, and shopping in spades.
46509 Xanten, Germany
Germany’s largest open-air archaeological museum, Xanten explores North Rhine’s Roman history, bringing it back to vivid life with reconstructions of baths, temples, city walls with guard towers, and even a gladiatorial amphitheater....
Gelsenkirchener Str. 181, 45309 Essen, Germany
Once the largest coal mine in the world, with the largest coking plant in Europe, the Zollverein is now a 247-acre complex dedicated to the creative industries, with everything from a design museum and performing arts center to a science hub and...
Ständehausstraße 1, 40217 Düsseldorf, Germany
The former seat of the Parliament of North Rhine–Westphalia, this grand neo-Renaissance building is known for its cutting-edge art exhibitions. Originally designed by architect Julius Raschdorff and renovated by Munich firm Kiessler &...
Klosterstraße 42, 40211 Düsseldorf, Germany
This Michelin-starred restaurant is legendary among local gastronomes for its unusual but delicious mix of European and Japanese cuisine. Opened in 2003, the spot is named for head chef Yoshizumi Nagaya, who studied with the famous Toshiro...
Hirschstraße 12, 42285 Wuppertal, Germany
Originally built for entrepreneur Kurt Herberts, this giant park in a wood above the Wupper Valley sat abandoned for years before British sculptor and Wuppertal resident Tony Cragg purchased it in 2006. That same year, he set about redesigning the...
Domkloster 4, 50667 Köln, Germany
One of the most famous sights in Germany, the Cologne Cathedral (known locally as the Kölner Dom) lives up to the hype. Its Gothic exterior, and especially its soaring twin spires, can be seen from all over the city, and its immense...
Krefelder Str. 25, 50670 Köln, Germany
A long-standing favorite in Cologne, especially among Francophile locals, Le Moissonnier is a small but charming bistro that’s been serving creative, beautifully composed French dishes since 1987. Run by native Frenchman Vincent Moissonier,...
Friesenstraße 64-66, 50670 Köln, Germany
Cologne is famous for Kölsch beer, which can be found all over the city in bars, restaurants, and cafés. It’s particular pleasing, however, to drink the lager in a local brewery such as this one near Friesenplatz, which has been...
Gereonskloster 12, 50670 Köln, Germany
The 19th-century, neo-Gothic building that houses The Qvest hotel used to store Cologne’s city archives—and makes for a striking first impression. Inside, surprisingly modern spaces, designed by owner Michael Kaune (famed for his Qvest...
Belvedereallee 5, 52070 Aachen, Germany
Located on Aachen’s Lousberg hill, this revolving restaurant sits on the eighth floor of a concrete water tower, built in 1956 by architect Wilhelm K. Fischer. Launched in 1966, it closed for a few years, but reopened in 2005 and is now back...
Bundeskunsthalle, Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 4, 53113 Bonn, Germany
One of Bonn’s leading cultural institutions, the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany (known simply as the Bundeskunsthalle among locals) is dedicated to a mix of art, culture, and science. Designed by Austrian...
Georgstraße 28, 53111 Bonn, Germany
This pleasant, laid-back restaurant, located on the periphery of the Altstadt (Old Town), is one of Bonn’s more popular dining spots. Here, guests enjoy a constantly changing menu of fresh, seasonal cuisine in a small but charming space. On...
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