Dusseldorf is a city in Western Germany and the capital of the North Rhine region in Westphalia. The city sits right on the banks of the Rhine River and the first mentions of it date back to 1159. Dusseldorf had a hard time during the wars, but in the aftermath, the city was built back up to be stronger and even more grand than before. Today, the city stands as the cultural centre of the area and is known to have fantastic shopping opportunities, great cultural institutions and museums, and its locals are known to be quite passionate about the arts and fashion scenes.
If you are interested in visiting Germany then Dusseldorf should be on your list of places to see. Although the city has great retail centres, you don't actually have to spend a bunch of money to have a good time here. In fact, there are quite a few things that you can do for free if you know where to look! Luckily for you, we know all of the best free things to do in Dusseldorf and we don't mind letting you in on some of them. Since they are all free you can leave your wallet and your suitcases with Bounce luggage storage in Dusseldorf.
Check Out the Classic Remise Dusseldorf
There are quite a few museums in Dusseldorf that let you in with no admission fee, and this automobile museum is one of them! You will find the museum located in an old locomotive roundhouse, and you can actually see more than just cars here. Keep an eye out for old artifacts, model vehicles and uniforms alongside some pretty sweet vintage cars.
The museum doubles as a vintage car centre where they actually repair and refurbish old vehicles, so you might see some being worked on while you are visiting. On site there are also replicas of garages, car parts shops, dealerships, and service stations. There is a restaurant on site as well if you get hungry, and the food is very affordably priced.
Browse the Carlsplatz Markt
Are you a food lover? Turns out that Dusseldorf isn't only a great place to go shopping for fashion, but for food as well. The Carlsplatz Markt is free to browse, although we can't promise that you won't spend any money since you will definitely find something tasty that you will want to try. Take your time exploring since you will be safe from the elements under the market's glass canopy.
This vibrant market sells everything from artisanal cheeses and bread to fruits, fresh fish, poultry, meat and more. There are also spices, herbs, German mustard (a famous condiment that the city is known for) and more specialties that locals love, although foods from other places around the world can be found here as well. If you don't mind spending a bit of money, pick up some foods that you've never tried before! There is also a coffee shop on site if you need a little pick-me-up.
Walk Along the Rhine Promenade
The Rhine Promenade, locally called Rheinuferpromenade, is one of the many lovely places where you can take a walk in Dusseldorf. This scenic pathway takes you alongside the River Rhine and past some cool places like galleries showing art exhibitions, cute cafes, indie shops, and restaurants that you can pause at for refreshments.
The Rhine Promenade dates back to 1997 and was built to add a bit of life and relaxation to one of the city's busiest neighborhoods, and we can all agree that it does just that! The promenade stretches for about a mile but there are lots of benches and places to sit along the way. Sometimes it can be nice to just relax and watch the boats go by!
Get a Free Tour of the City Hall
The City Hall of Dusseldorf is actually a very interesting place to visit since it is composed of three buildings all dating from a different time in the city's history. These buildings include the Old City Hall, the Wilhelminischer Bau and the Grupello house.
The fun part of visiting Dusseldorf City Hall is that you can go on guided tours for free! On the guided tour you will be brought around a couple of rooms in the Lord Mayor, including the plenary hall and the reception room.
Explore a Local Park
If you enjoyed walking along the promenade you might want to explore some of the other greenspaces in Dusseldorf. They are nice places to meet with friends and family for activities like table tennis (if you bring your own equipment), or just to stroll through on your own. Not all of them are free to visit but a few of them are, including the oldest public park in the city! It is called Hofgarden and you should write it on your to-do list. Here you will find ancient trees that are hundreds of years old and colorful flowerbeds.
Another option is Südpark which has a petting zoo that you can visit for free. It is a popular attraction for kids and the park also features sprawling fields and pathways to discover, as well as sculptures and statues. The peaceful Japanese garden located in Nordpark's northwest corner is definitely worth visiting as well with its calming waterfall, captivating stone lanterns and perfectly maintained plants.
Take Advantage of Free Museum Days
We mentioned the automobile museum above, but it isn't the only museum that you can get free entry to. There are several others to visit during the museum Happy Hour where you can go without paying for the last hour that they are open, but it is not every day so you have to plan out your visit a bit more. The Kunstsammlung, which is a fantastic contemporary art museum off of Heinrich Heine Allee, can be visited for free once each month on the first Wednesday.
Alternatively, the Filmmuseum, the City Museum or Stadtmuseum, Heinrich Heine Institut and a couple of others are free every Sunday making that the perfect time to go museum hopping. These institutes are great activities for a family day outing, and even a small museum can have some really interesting interactive exhibits or special exhibitions that can teach you something new.
Discover Schloss Benrath
Schloss Benrath, also known as Benrath Park, is one of the city's highlights and it stands out from the rest of the greenspaces around the city. It dates back to the middle ages, although it got a bit of a redesign in the 19th century. The park spans 16 hectares so you will have quite a lot of ground to uncover.
This park is actually the grounds of the city palace which follows a Baroque style and is quite beautiful. Unfortunately, the Benrath Palace requires a ticket to enter so you will have to pay to get inside. However, you can spend several hours just walking around the tree-lined walkways and discovering the herb garden, fountains, ponds and other gems found on the grounds.
Listen to Live Music with Stadtklang
Stadtklang, or "city sound" is the name of an events organizer in Dusseldorf. They are responsible for setting up live concerts and musical performances around the entire city center, and they are free to attend!
The concerts are sometimes set up in local bars or restaurants so you might have to buy a drink or a meal if you want to stay to enjoy the music. Still, going out to eat delicious food with live entertainment for free is pretty cool and a great way to spend the evening when you want to save money!
Look at Cool Street Art
Dusseldorf locals love art and fashion, and they even like to decorate some of the buildings in the Old Town (near Dusseldorf Central Station) and the city center with street art. One of the best places to go to admire the creative murals is Kiefernstraße in the east of the city where you can admire painted facades on every house that you pass by. The area, which used to be popular for squatting, has a lot of personality and you will love exploring it!
There are lots of other streets around town where you can see huge murals and beautiful artwork as well. Take a stroll down Helmholtzstraße, Ellerstraße, and Brause on Zimmerstraße to see some more! They really bring color and life to the city.
Get Festive at the Yearly Christmas Market
In most parts of Germany Christmas is a pretty big time of year. The same goes for Dusseldorf, which goes all out with festive decorations and events. One of the highlights of the season is the Christmas market that takes place in Schadowplatz.
This market is small but comfortable and welcoming, and you can take part in all sorts of Scandinavian-inspired activities. Little wooden stalls are installed around the area and they often sell things for you to buy as gifts or stocking stuffers, as well as a tasting station for the yummy holiday drink Gluhwein! The holiday market is free to visit and is a nice place to get festive during the wintertime.
Go to the Botanical Gardens
If it is a nice sunny day and you are looking for somewhere to go, keep the Botanical Gardens of Dusseldorf in mind. The gardens span 20 acres and are housed at Heinrich Heine University. Consider coming here for a family day activity since they offer free admission for everyone!
On the grounds of the garden, you will find several greenhouses as well as an orangery, and all together they house over 5,000 different kinds of plants. Your favorite spot will probably be the geodesic dome which, standing at 60 feet tall, is big enough to house exotic plant species originating from around the globe. The gardens offer fantastic photo opportunities of beautiful plants and flowers, so make sure that you pack your camera with you.
Learn More About Dusseldorf's Mustard Scene
As we mentioned above, Dusseldorf is actually quite famous for its mustard and there is even a shop showcasing some of the best flavors and varieties that the city is known for! The store called Senfladen offers tastings, workshops and special events, and although some of them will cost a few euros to attend, you can still check out the store for free.
You will even find a small museum inside that can tell you a little bit more about the history of the city's favorite condiment. Take this opportunity to expand your mustard palate a little bit and try some wacky new flavors like coconut curry, chili or garlic! The mustards do cost money but are priced very affordably.
Experience the Local History at Kaiserpfalz
Kaiserpfalz is the name of an old fortress that once stood in Dusseldorf, although now it is mostly turned to ruins. The castle, which can be found on the coast of the River Rhine, is said to date way back to the 10th century and is in good shape considering its age.
Much of the structure has fallen but some of the castle's arches and walls have managed to survive the test of time. It can be really interesting to visit ruins like this one that have lived through different wars and battles over the centuries. It is surrounded by beautiful lush greenery that also makes it a nice spot to just relax and enjoy the views of the river.
Saving Money While Visiting Dusseldorf
A lot of the top attractions in Dusseldorf don't actually involve dishing out a lot of money, and aside from spending a few euros on public transport for getting around, you can have a great vacation in Germany without breaking the bank.
When you'd like to save money by finding free things to do, Dusseldorf has you covered with museums that can teach you about the city rights and history over the years, markets where you can browse authentic local products or food, parks and gardens to explore, as well as beautiful modern architecture that can all be seen without paying a thing!