Sundays in Düsseldorf: Top Outdoor Things to Do
Sundays are funny days out here in Germany. Unlike at home, where Sunday provides yet another excuse to head to town, purses ready for action, the entire Vaterland shuts down and shopping is strictly verboten.
There are a few exceptions, but even in big cities if you want to buy anything at all, you will need to head to the main station (Hbf), airport or a petrol station. Sunday is still a day of rest out here; a day to go to church, spend time with your family or grill sausages in your back yard. In theory this is a rather nice idea, but practically speaking it can be incredibly inconvenient. Naturally shops in such places charge higher prices, are more difficult to get to and have rather limited stocks, but really there is no other choice!
Having spent many a Sunday considering what options I have of things to do in a city where normally entertainment options are endless, I have now compiled a list of what there is to do, in the city, on those days of rest.
1. Schlosspark Benrath
Schlosspark Benrath is one of the city’s loveliest green areas, with a selection of planted gardens along with wild wooded areas to explore. Why not sit back and relax in the fancy but affordable cafe, or if you feel a little more adventurous, make your way through the park and sit beside the river Rhine watching the boats go by.
How to get there: The most direct route is by taking the U74 from Hbf which takes roughly half an hour. You can also take the 701 although the journey takes slightly longer. Time it right and the Sbahn or Regio Bahn will take you from the Hbf to Benrath, and then it is a 10 minute walk to the Schloss.
For more on Schloss Benrath click here
2. Nordpark: Japanese Gardens & Aquazoo
Nordpark (North park) is only a short, 15 minute ride by U-bahn from the city centre and is another great place for visiting on a Sunday. Offering everything from fountains, sculptures and decorative flowerbeds, to children’s playgrounds, the Aquazoo, Japanese Gardens and a handful of cafes, there is no questioning why this park has become one of the most popular places in the City.
Particularly visit-worthy in the spring and summer months when the trees are adorned with blossom and the flowers are in bloom, this is the perfect place to bring a book and a picnic for an afternoon in the sunshine.
Do not leave the park without visiting the Japanese Gardens, in the north-east corner. A twisting path through the park allows visitors to explore every corner and the cloud-like shaped trees, create a rather reflective atmosphere. Everything in this park has a deep symbolic meaning – from the ways the trees have been planted and shaped, the positioning of the pond, stones and lanterns as well as the seating area surrounding the pond.
Finally, for visitors with children, there is also the Löbbecke Aquazoo (although this will be closed until Spring 2015 due to renovations)
How to get there: Take either the U78 in direction ESPRIT arena/ Messe Nord or U79 in direction Duisburg/ Wittlaer.
3. Unterbacher See
What could be more perfect on a sunny afternoon than dipping your toes into the cool water of the Unterbacher See (Lake). For the more physically able/ active among us, the lake offers a variety of sports such as beach volleyball, pedal boats, surfing and mini-golf. For those of you more like me (ie. lazy) there are also a number of places to grab something to eat, or purely laze around – although I would warn you, parts of the beach are reserved purely for FKK Nudists – so unless you fancy joining in, avoid these!
How to get there: Unfortunately it is quite difficult to reach the lake without a car, although there are a few bus/ tram routes which will take you within a 15 minute walk from the lake. The best option is the 737 bus to Unterbach Friedhof – then there is approximately a 15 minute walk to the lake.
4. Boat trip on the river & a walk around Kaiserswerth
With the river Rhine on the city’s doorstep, a sunny Sunday afternoon is the perfect time to indulge in a boat trip up to the charming Stadtteil of Kaiserswerth. Boat company Weisse Flotte make this trip five times on a Sunday from the Altstadt, with the earliest departure at 11am and the latest at 5pm. The trip takes approximately 1 hour and costs 18euros – rather costly but well worth it for the lovely views and the provision of free wine and beer on board.
As one of Düsseldorf’s oldest quarters, and perched right on the banks of the river, Kaiserswerth provides a nice place for a walk, either along the river or through the village’s maze of alleys. The area’s architecture is eye-catching and a sweet building with bright coloured shutters is never far away. Not far from the ‘centre’, along a peaceful tree-lined walkway are the ruins of an old castle, as well as a number of small pubs and eateries, all who offer pleasant beer gardens and delicious food. The Beer garden at Galerie Burghof, is a must in good weather.
How to get there: The best way to get to Kaiserswerth is to take the U79 from Hbf/ Heinrich-Heine-Allee which runs every 10 minutes. The journey time is approximately 25 minutes and you need to get off at Klemensplatz.
Read more about my Sunday afternoon in Kaiserswerth here
5. Grafenberger Wald (Wildpark)
For any nature or wildlife lovers, a stroll through the Grafenberger Wald (Forest) should be high up on your to-do list. Nestled in the large expanse of forest is the Wildpark (Wildlife Park) home to over 100 animal families, from deer, wild cats, foxes and even wild boar. Entrance to the Park is free.
How to get there: There is no direct route to the park by public transport but I would advise taking taking the 703 (from Heinrich Heine Allee ) as far as Staufenplatz and then continue up the hill by foot. Alternatively, if you have access to a car, the Wildpark has a sizeable car park.
6. Feste Zons
The next thing on my list has to be Feste (Fortress) Zons. The trip to this old city can be made, once again by boat (also the Weisse Flotte) or if you have access to a car, by taking a car ferry across the river via Stadtteil Urdenbach. This medieval fortress was once a toll fortress and the well-preserved nature of the city wall, gates and streets make for a nice walk.
How to get there: Without a car, the journey to Zons is rather lengthy although it is possible to get there by public transport from Neuss. Should you have a car or a bike, the crossing from Urdenbach by ferry is rather pleasant. There is a small cost involved which can be found in more detail here.
Perhaps not the most uplifting outing for a Sunday but one full of history and culture, is a visit to the Nordfriedhof (North Cemetery). As the largest cemetery in the city, Nordfriedhof spans over 70 hectares and is the resting place for a number of particularly famous Düsseldorfers.
How to get there: Bus 834 will take you directly from Hbf to Nordfriedhof every 10 minutes.
8. Socialize with a Beer/ ‘Kaffee und Kuchen’ along the Rheinufer
A popular place regardless of the season, weather or day of the week is the Rheinufer. The Kasematten hosts a number of bars, cafes and restaurants, all ready to serve everything and anything, from ice cream and waffles to Pizza or even just an Alt Bier. For such a prime location with wonderful views of the busy river Rhine, the prices are fair and the atmosphere is friendly, cosy and relaxed. Definitely the best place in the city to kick back and relax with a drink (or two!) and hanging around to catch the sunset is worthwhile!
How to get there: The Rheinufer is, at most, a 1o minute walk from the U bahn stop Heinrich Heine Allee.
9. Promenade along Königsallee
A must do whilst in Düsseldorf includes blending in with the rich and famous by taking a stroll along the picturesque and idyllic settings of Köningsalle. Literally meaning ‘Kings Street’, this luxury shopping street is certainly fit for Kings, with every premium brand you can think of plus some more! After eyeing up a vintage Cartier or Rolex at the end of the street, you will pass by the likes of Gucci, Prada, Tiffany’s and many, many more. But don’t fret, its only window shopping so you can be as wanting and greedy as you like. Should you need a pit stop (window shopping can get tiring!) there a plenty of cafes and restaurants along route, or should you prefer a spot in more natural surroundings the Hofgarten is close by, offering waterways, places to sit and people to watch.
How to get there: The U78/ 79 will take you to Koenigsallee in under 10 minutes. Alight at Steinstrasse. You can also take the tram (704/ 709/ 719) to Graf Adolf Platz and start your walk at the top of the avenue.
10. Local Festivities
One of the things I love about Düsseldorf, is that there is always something going on. From concerts, trade fairs, rallies, operas and traditional festivities there is truly something from everyone. Perhaps the most popular of these include the Japan Fest in May, the Kirmes (Fun fair) in July, Erntedankfest in October (find out more here), Oper am Rhein at the end of June as well as Hoppeditz’ Erwachen (or the beginning of Karnival) on 11th November, not forgetting the Karnival itself in February.
To find the up-to-date calendar of events and find out what is going on in the city, I would highly recommend checking out the Tourism and Marketing Boards ‘Highlights’ here.
Have you been to Düsseldorf before? If so, do you have any suggestions for things to do outdoors?
I would love to hear any comments or recommendations!!