Partner content: Düsseldorf

Düsseldorf has yet again taken sixth place in the world ranking of cities with the best quality of life — and for good reason.

Friday, May 31, 2019,
By Düsseldorf
Photograph by Düsseldorf

Düsseldorf has yet again taken sixth place in the world ranking of cities with the best quality of life — and for good reason. This creative hub on the banks of the Rhine is an ever-changing tapestry of artists, museums and events, from the classic to the contemporary.

The capital of Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia region, the vibrant city of Düsseldorf has it all: from Königsallee — known affectionately as the ‘Kö’ — one of Europe’s most luxurious shopping boulevards, to the historical Altstadt (Old Town) with its charming little streets crammed with hundreds of bars and restaurants. All this plays out against a vibrant cultural scene that offers inspiration and a broad range of recreational activities to both locals and visitors alike.

Düsseldorf is a city in which grand museums, private collections and many small galleries co-exist and mutually influence each other. In recent years, Düsseldorf has become an important centre of contemporary art. Apart from the established museums such as the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen with its high-calibre collection of artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, and the Kunstpalast, today it’s the many new museums that are shaping this city on the Rhine.

The Julia Stoschek Collection in the city’s Oberkassel district is a private international collection focused on video art. The Philara Collection in the lively district of Flingern is a new private museum for contemporary art, housed in a former glass factory with a 6,500sq ft roof garden for sculptures. Elsewhere, the Philara is also home to a spectacular bar that offers a beguiling mix of urban industrial charm and art. Case in point is Pardo’s at the Kunstsammlung Nordhrein-Westfalen K21, designed by Cuban artist Jorge Pardo, which is itself a work of art, with colourful bubble patterns on the walls. The KristallBar at the Kunstpalast features the spectacular installation, The Autonomic Nervous System, by Swiss artists Gerda Steiner and Jörg Lenzlinger, and is the perfect place to spend some time over scrumptious snacks and delicious drinks.

The world-renowned Kunstakademie is at the heart of this cluster of museums and galleries. Andreas Gursky, the world-famous photographer, is the best-known representative of the Düsseldorf School of Photography. He still lives and works in the city, helping to shape the next generation. Until recently, he was teaching as a professor at the Kunstakademie. Legendary felt-hatted artist Joseph Beuys also studied and taught at the Kunstakademie. Today, he’s universally known as the Warhol of the Rhineland.

Away from the classic scene, international urban artists have created many hidden art spaces throughout the city that are shaking up its cultural offerings. Paste-ups, sticker art, street art and eye-catching graffiti and murals by regional and international names such as Naegeli, Ardif and Pixel Panc0ho can be seen all over the city.

The centre of Düsseldorf is also home to the six underground stations on the ‘Wehrhahn Line’, all designed by local architects and artists. The six new stations were opened in February 2016 and, since then, have been impressing people with their painterly, sculptural, interactive, acoustic, interstellar and geometric qualities. The New York Times enthusiastically described the line as, ‘Art and 3D magic in a German subway’.

The place where Düsseldorfers most like to meet is the Altstadt, known as the ‘longest bar in the world’ because of its 300 food and drink establishments, where locals, expats and travellers constantly come together. This central melting pot has a longstanding tradition: the German punk scene was born here at the ‘Ratinger Hof’ at the end of the 1970s.

From here, it’s a short hop to the ‘Salon’, as it’s known by locals. Officially known as the ‘Salon des Amateurs’, it’s one of the most important clubs for electronic music. Long a global brand, the operators also stage DJ nights in Amsterdam under this name.

NEU! and Kraftwerk — two of Düsseldorf’s leading bands — played their first concerts in the 1970s in the neighbourhood. Kraftwerk was founded in Düsseldorf in 1970 and went on to influence musicians all over the world. Without the ‘robots’, hip hop and techno would have had a completely different sound.

When Kraftwerk perform in Düsseldorf, it’s like The Beatles appearing in Liverpool. In fact, The New York Times once wrote that Kraftwerk were “The Beatles of electronic dance music”. In 2017, Kraftwerk once again performed in Düsseldorf for the start of the Tour de France, giving a spectacular open-air concert in the space between NRW-Forum Düsseldorf — an international exhibition centre for photography, pop and digital culture — and the Kunstpalast.

Those seeking to soak up some inspiration from the artistic and musical scene, and spend a weekend following in the footsteps of Beuys, Kraftwerk, Gursky and many other artists, will be perfectly placed to do so in this city with its 26 museums and over 100 galleries. While here, numerous new boutique hotels from Ruby Coco and the 25hours Hotel to the Henri Hotel are guaranteed to provide the perfect home away from home.


The chance to climb in Tomás Saraceno’s 80ft-high installation, in orbit, in the grand hall of the K21 Ständehaus


T: +49 211 17 202-867


This content was written by and is brought to you by our sponsor. It does not necessarily reflect the views of National Geographic Traveller (UK) or its editorial staff.

Read More